how to incorporate music into your child's daily routine

February 2, 2010

Last week, I shared a GIANT list of 100+ songs to sing with your child (and the books to go along with them). Today, I thought I would give some tips on how to incorporate these and other songs into your child's daily routine by sharing how Juliet and I do it. Hopefully, this will give you a good place to start and allow you to customize it and make it work successfully for your own family.

How do I choose the songs?

With such a huge list, where do you start? I recommend starting with what you love. Did any of the songs on the list jump out to you? Did you think, "Hey! I haven't thought of that song in years!" or "I loved that song as a child!" Go with those! Your enthusiasm for the song will go a long way in getting your child exciting to sing it, too. (And it doesn't hurt that you already know the tune!)

For me, I jumped at the chance to sing the California Gold Rush song Sweet Betsy from Pike, Toora, Loora, Loora,  and the Red River Valley because I remember my dad singing them to me as a little girl. 

{Click on any song title in this post to hear them sung on YouTube.}

After you've checked out and enjoyed a few familiar tunes, take a risk and choose one you don't already know. I have been overwhelmed at how many beautiful songs I have gone my entire life without ever hearing! Two that we experienced, learned, and fell in love with together are Froggy Went a Courtin, and All the Pretty Little Horses (I know! How did I miss that one?) We loved Froggy Went a Courtin' so much that we added the book illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky to our home library. The illustrations are just incredible.

Once you've picked a few new ones out, it's time to figure out the tune! All of the books on my list have the actual music somewhere in the book. If you play an instrument, you can pick out the tune. (I did this on the piano for a lot of the lullabies in Lullabies an Illustrated Songbook.

Don't worry if you can't play the piano! YouTube is the perfect resource for learning the tune to almost any song. You might find some odd versions and videos out there, but at the very least you can pick up the tune.

How do I use the songs?

The easiest way to incorporate these songs is just to add the books to your book pile. Do you usually read books together before bed? Try singing a few together during that time. Maybe start with a song and end with a song or alternate between a regular story book and a song book.

As you get more comfortable with this, consider setting aside a special "singing time" that you take part in everyday just as you have a special reading time. For us, it's right after Juliet takes her bath. She gets out of the tub, gets her pajamas on and we sit down in the hallway and sing through a few songbooks. It's easy to do because we've attached our singing time to something we do together everyday-- getting ready for bed--but you could make yours at whatever time works for you. Maybe you are morning people and like to start the day with a few songs? Or maybe right before nap time is a good time to snuggle up and sing together.

Sounds great, but one little problem. I can't sing!

First of all, let me assure you that I cannot sing either. I have never been and never will be asked to sing in public. But the great thing about singing with kids is that they don't care at all about how good or how bad your voice is! They just love that you sing. I'm serious. Is you kid around? Burst out singing Skip to My Lou at the top of your lungs and see what they do. I guarantee that after the initial shock wears off, they will be jumping around, clapping and singing with you in less than 10 seconds.

We've learned that the more we sing together, the more these songs stick in our memories. By intentionally making time for music in our routine, we've discovered that we break out in spontaneous song more and more throughout the day and have even found ourselves making up songs of our own.

If you take the time to plant the seed of music in your child's heart, it will send down roots, and begin to grow. In no time at all, you'll get the privilege of hearing a tiny, little voice floating up from the backseat singing something like, "O, give me a home! Where the buffalo roam! And the deer and the antelope play!" and asking questions like, "Why does your Bonnie lie over the ocean, mommy, why?"

So, which songs are you going to choose? I'd love to hear about the songs you love and any suggestions you have for ones we don't have on our list!

I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday--head over to We Are That Family for more great tips!


Infant Bibliophile said...

This is such a great post! I'm going to try to track down some of these songs, on youtube and in songbooks. There are many I don't know. My son's favorite things to do with music are "name that tune" (which he has perfected), and a homegrown ridiculous game, calling singing songs wrong. Example: "Humpty Dumpty sat on a fish..." Two year old: "no!!! wall!!!" We use it to entertain him during diaper changes, road trips, etc. I really wanted to comment with this funny story, though. My husband often whistles classical music songs to our son and quizzes him as to who wrote them. He's gotten surprisingly good at identifying mozart, beethoven, bach, mendehlsson, etc., though he doesn't get all of them by any means. Well, just lately my son has started singing nursery rhymes (he had never sung them before, just listened). Tonight at the dinner table, he said, "Beethoven go dun dun dun dun!" (in the right tune). My jaw hit the floor. They really are sponges! Thanks again for this great series of posts.

Debbie said...

Great post! Selena and I sing a lot around here.

My Dad always sang or hummed when he was busy, I guess I picked it up from him, so my kids and Selena are use to hearing me sing anything that comes to mind, or hey I have a blast making up my own little tune about something we might be doing. It is fun!

I quote my Dad, "A song in the heart makes the day go by and the work seem easier."

Playing by the book said...

A super duper post Vanessa! I want to go to the library RIGHT NOW to get some new song books! Unfortunately both girls have horrible coughs and temps so we won't be going anywhere today, and singing might be a little difficult but still, this is an inspirational post!

vanessa said...

Thanks for all the great comments and ideas! I really love the "sing the song wrong" game and the thought of teaching kids to identify musical composers! That is just amazing. If only I were more skilled. :)

Zoe, I'm so sorry to hear your girls are sick! I hope they feel better and are back to their singing selves very soon!

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