Especially for Parents: Sing, Sing a Song

Angie Williams, Director of Marketing and Finance

As I approach a milestone birthday this fall, I have a greater awareness of the changes that come with the middle-age stage of life. Recovering from long runs takes more time than it did a decade ago, and there are a few more forgetful moments when I ask myself, “what was I doing again?” Not to mention the additional “love lines” that raising children in a busy season of life adds to one’s face. In terms of memory, however, I have always been astounded by the mind’s ability to remember music. I can still recall all the lyrics to countless songs learned throughout my childhood and young adulthood—even songs I have not heard in many, many years. It’s no wonder that we learn our ABC’s with a song—putting together words and a tune makes things stick.

Music is a powerful tool with many benefits. We have written in the past about how music supports math concepts such as patterning and special awareness through rhythm, beat, and repetition. A recent article in the Exchange early childhood magazine titled, “Music is for Everyone,” describes additional benefits of music-making: there are social and emotional and benefits such as promoting prosocial behavior, reducing stress hormones, and cultivating the pleasure of dancing and singing together. In addition, music-making has cognitive benefits around language development and, as alluded to above, preserving aging brain function. I would add to this list that exposure to a variety of music can increase cultural awareness and understanding.

I recently took a flight out of MSP and in the terminal, they placed a piano at which anyone is welcome to sit and play a tune. A young man was at the bench playing a beautiful song; it had the effects of decreasing my stress level and making me feel a connection with him and the strangers around me who were also enjoying his music.

The value of music in our lives is immeasurable, and as parents it is easy (and fun!) to support our children’s participation in music-making. (Active participation, and not merely passive listening, is important in order to fully realize music’s benefits.) We don’t have to have any special talent for music, nor do we need a particular goal for ourselves or our children around musical skills. We just need to model music-making and join in with our children when they are singing, drumming, or dancing to music. The title of this article is from a song I remember from my childhood; the lyrics that stick in my head the most are: “Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong!” In spite of my inability to carry a tune, these words are my own call to action with my children today.

Resources: “Music is for Everyone,” by Anne Sailer and Lili M. Levinowitz, Exchange, July/August 2019

https://www.carnegiehall.org/Blog/2016/01/Why-Making-Music-Matters-Music-and-Early-Childhood-Development