Open Discussion Forum

Expand all | Collapse all

Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

  • 1.  Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-08-2021 07:21 PM
    I keep hearing about the value of singing instructions and singing during transitions. I would really like to implement this. Trouble is that I'm not a good singer. I also don't really know what this looks (sounds) like. I'm assuming it's like the Clean Up song from Barney. For those of you who do this in your classrooms, could you give me songs that you use?

    ------------------------------
    Monica
    Pre-K Teacher
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-09-2021 01:29 PM
    Hi Monica,
    I used to worry about my singing talent when teaching young children as well. Over the years, I've learned they don't care if you can carry a tune in a bucket, so long as you sing! They are also much more tolerant of others when they learn you model that they don't have to be perfect to participate. Here are a few resources that I hope can help!
    https://www.earlychildhoodeducationzone.com/best-preschool-transition-songs/
    https://teachingmama.org/10-preschool-transitions-songs-and-chants-to-help-your-day-run-smoothly/
    file:///C:/Users/djackson/Downloads/Transition%20Songs.pdf

    Best of luck!

    ------------------------------
    Deanna Jackson
    Upper Arlington, Ohio
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-10-2021 01:28 PM
    I've had good luck with singing instructions/transitions. Young people don't know good singing from bad, they just like novelty.  I chose a well known tune and added my own words. That way, they may sing along. It can rhyme but I don't think it matters if it doesn't.

    Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush:
    Now it's time to pick up the toys, pick up the toys, pick up the toys,

    Let's all help pick up the toys, so we can go outside." or whatever comes next.

    Happy Birthday:
    Let's pick up the toys, let's put them away, let's all work together, to pick up the toys.   OR
    It's time for a book, please come take a look, please sit by my chair, that's good - right there."


    Put Your Finger in the Air:
    Put your bottom on the floor on the floor,
    Put your bottom on the floor on the floor,
    Put your bottom on the floor - before I count to four (raise fingers 1-2-3-4)
    put your bottom on the floor on the floor.
                                                      

    ------------------------------
    Vicki Knauerhase M.Ed.
    Child Development Specialist (retired)
    Weston OH
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-10-2021 07:36 PM
    My version (years and years ago):

    Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug
    Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug
    Put your bottom on the rug, and give yourself a hug
    Put your bottom on the rug, on the rug!

    I sang EVERYthing.


    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Adjunct Professor
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 09:24 AM

    Yes! This is awesome suggestions to use singing to get children's attention & compliance! 

    I think it is important to add a couple wonderful ways singing together in preschool fosters growth & relationships:

    1. singing & moving in rhythm together fosters mutual positive feelings, and grows facilitates group bonding! Our brains are wired to notice & respond to movement & rhythm; this neural wiring is a pathway to positive creating positive relationships (& we all know the importance of positive relations between teachers & children in early childhood classrooms; it also build strong positive PEER to PEER relationships!).

    2. "Bad singing" or not perfectly in tune singing is not a problem for young children's development of music appreciation; miraculously- young children will still develop good "pitch" discernment, even when they are surrounded by out of pitch singing! All it takes us a bit exposure to simple, in pitch singing to get the ball rolling.

    3. Different "parts" of singing & music stimulate different brain regions & foster a variety of neural pathways for future learning & development. Singing rhyming words or "sound-chunk" will engage the areas of the brain involved in vocabulary, language & reading. Want to "build" great readers &  spellers? Start with rhyming sounds: HEARING words sounds with rhythmic rhyming is more developmentally enriching for young children that using tools like flashcards for letter recognition! A great source of the sounds that stimulate pre-literacy skills is nursery rhymes. Dr. Seuss's books also stimulate this learning in English language learners AND dual language learners. Of course, use care when selecting your books- choosing books that feature many different races & cultural backgrounds is important to building an inclusive classroom of empowered future citizens & kind neighbors!

    6. Singing directions & information can help children remember & internalize the lessons. During early childhood, people are actually developing their "internal voice" or "inner dialogue" from the outside in; we speak to others before we talk to ourselves, & what we hear at this time can become pieces of our inner dialogues even before we DEEPLY understand what those words mean. A child "singing" their multiplication tables or alphabets does not mean they have a REAL understanding of what they have memorized, however, it does facilitate later learning & understanding of these concepts!

    5. Helping children learn pitch or rhythm is best accomplished with "songs without words." Singing nonsense words like "la la la," humming or making animal sounds in pitch and rhythm will engage the "musical" brain regions better than songs with words ( even humming the words to a "song with words" will engage the language areas and  "over-ride"  the music areas during early childhood... Music Together is a great source for information on how children develop their "inner ear" & their ability to express their inner ear to the outside world.). Neither brain region is more important developmentally; it's just good to remember there are so many DIFFERENT areas of development & try to create opportunities for all kinds of growth!

    5. Don't give up if some children don't sing out loud during group singing times, they are singing at home, I promise!  Keep it fun & simple. It is important to recognize & respond to unique, individual responses to music & rhythm like swaying, humming, tapping & "echoing."  Learning to sing, just like learning to speak, involves the coordination of so many tiny muscles! It takes time to learn to articulate! Also, speaking or singing out loud can be very stressful for some children. This is especially true for many dual language learners who can go through a silent phase before speaking out-loud in public. If you have concerns about a child who is not speaking in class or with peers, you are better off using music time to WATCH how that child is responding. Looking for other areas of difficulty may help you've a better set of eyes for early screening. Silent children who show other anxious behaviors, or less verbal children who act out or hurt peers may have underlying developmental issues that need special attention. Use your music times to collect observations & possibly share with parents if you feel another set of expert eyes maybe helpful.

    Calling out children who are not singing will only increase anxiety. Scolding a group for not singing enough can make group music time feel like a chore, & increase noncompliance & acting out. Trust your own enthusiasm & joy to win the group over: a fun, active silly song often works better to get control over a class than a lecture. Bonus: you can practice self-regulation by ending a rowdy dance along with a soft, slow song & some deep breathing to get ready for transitioning to a new activity.

    6. Lastly, but maybe most importantly, in person singing is much more enriching than recordings or videos of music & singing.

    You can't "ruin" their ears!
    So sing! They listen, they learn & they love!



    ------------------------------
    Margro Purple
    Rockville, MD
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 10:11 AM
    Margo, thank you so much for all that valuable information!

    It was interesting to read what you included about music and the brain. "HEARING words sounds with rhythmic rhyming is more developmentally enriching for young children that using tools like flashcards for letter recognition! " This is so true and even for adults who are language learners. I've been trying to learn another language and when I attempt to watch or listen to something in that language, I can't understand it much at all because all I can do is read it!

    Due to my lack of musical skills, music in my classroom has always come from recordings. I sing along as well and it helps by giving me the lyrics that I forget and gives me the tune. I'm going to try to sing sometimes without a recording. I'll likely start with baby steps and keep the volume low on the recording.

    I know people say that kids don't care but they're human beings, so some will care. For instance, I was reading a book that is also a song, and when I sang it, one of my kids covered his ears! Poor kid. I assaulted his ears! So, it's good to know that at least my bad singing isn't going to interfere with their development. 





  • 7.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 12:00 PM

    Hi again Monica,
    I totally understand your hesitation or discomfort with singing in public- for many of us it is a bit like jumping off a cliff! It's good for us to remember the discomfort that comes with trying something new, especially in public!  Sadly, many preschoolers are already self conscious about a wide range of abilities from singing,  to drawing, to even just being "smart enough", & the kids who cover their ears or critic are sometimes the most self conscious...
    However, a lot of different things could cause a child to cover their ears, and an opera singer using perfect pitch would probably get the same reaction...🤣
    Fortunately, your students have a kind, sensitive teacher modeling the way to handle an embarrassing moment like some one covering their ears when you sing! Model kindness in response to a first offender, & redirect group attention by laughing it off, but be brave & continue on- then you're SHOWING them how to accept less than perfect & still have fun!! My voice is far from perfect, I don't have even near perfect pitch & I can't read music! Lucky for us these skills are not the most important ones for early childhood teachers to foster musicality in our students & share the joy & gifts of singing!
    There is nothing wrong with using recorded music in your classroom! I love teachers bringing recorded music into "non music class times too! Stretch their ears beyond the same old children's tunes & try including music from other cultures & genres too, from classical to jazz to country- so long as you give them quiet breaks ( and noisy breaks too) recorded music enriches early childhood development in many ways. One of my favorite ideas is reaching out to families to find music from their home cultures & bring it into the classroom. 

    One of my favorite recorded pieces of music to share with preschoolers is Buffy Saint Marie's performance of  "Listen to the Wind Blow" from Sesame Street back in the 70's. It is a great song for the Spring, & for scarves during circle time. As a white woman from Mpls. MN, I did not feel like singing this song was entirely appropriate for me, but I really wanted the preschool class to hear & enjoy it as much as I do!  Most preschoolers have never heard singing from any of the many American Indian cultures, so they often respond with giggles to the opening. This gives me a chance to model empathy for unfamiliar languages & customs- " Sure, that singing is new & different, that kind sound a little funny. It also sounds very beautiful & strong; I really live to hear that different way of singing! How does it make you feel? Excited? Big? I wonder how it makes you feel?" 

    Anyway, I've really wondered away from the primary topic here, sorry! Just love to encourage all this music, wonder, play & multiculturalism is all preschools as much as possible! 

    Here's the clip of "Listen to the Wind blow" Susan from Sesame Street also sings this song, and the interplay of styles is magic!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dyEE7EQx5Z0



    ------------------------------
    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-13-2021 11:16 AM
    During my early years of teaching, there was a first-grade teacher who taught almost everything through music. She would play the piano and the students would sing about the sounds of the letters. She did this also with number facts. The children loved the singing. Was the teacher a great singer? No, but she did play the piano/keyboard, a skill that used to be required for early childhood and elementary education majors at the College I attended. Her competency at playing the piano was beyond the College requirement, but we can all do what she did without an instrument.

    Don't worry about whether you are a singer with a great voice. Don't worry about what tune you use. Just sing!

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-12-2021 05:40 PM
    Your points are so true, Margo. Thanks for elaborating.

    We also sing all the time - making up our songs based on situation/time/mood of our infants/toddlers. We also include various tones/pitches in our songs....like
    "Itsy bitsy spider - we sing big black spider in loud/hoarse voice (big clapping hands/stretching arms); one in normal voice and third version in soft/sharp voice (small finger movements) with hand gestures that matches the voice. Or singing in animal voices with actions.
    We do lots of action songs as infants and toddlers are tracking our voice/movements plus learning to repeat actions - helps in developing co-ordination of their arms/legs/expressions.
    Best part is we can sing in any way we can as our kids don't need opera singers but real people singing to them.
    Thanks,

    ------------------------------
    Jagruti Patel
    Owner/Provider
    Patel Family Child Care
    Redlands CA
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-10-2021 09:42 AM

    Monica:
    I agree that the children aren't going to care how your singing voice sounds.  They'll be happy to sing with you and listen to you.  I want to encourage you to make up songs on the spot.  "We're walking, walking, walking across the room."  "I see Jaffa cleaning up, cleaning up cleaning up..."  "Come on over to the big rug, the big rug, the big rug, come on over to the big rug it's time to read a story."
    You can use a tune you already know or just warble it out.  With practice, this can become easier and is effective as both a guiding strategy and a stretch reliever.



    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 08:59 AM
    I love that many of us are advocating making up our own songs in the moment.  One fun part is that the children might start making up their own songs also.  My post said that it was also a good "stretch reliever". That was auto-correct.  It's also a good STRESS reliever.

    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-10-2021 11:32 AM
    As a past toddler teacher, I sang a lot.  But mostly they were made up "piggy back" songs.  Using a familiar tune (Are You Sleeping or Twinkle Twinkle or...) I just made up songs about what we were doing.  Maybe:  Let's clean up now, let's clean up now, put away our blocks; put away our blocks; we're getting ready for snack time, we're getting ready for snack time; here we go.   I didn't worry about my voice or being in tune, I stopped worrying about rhyming on the spot.  My biggest issue was when they would say "Sing it again" and I had no real idea what I had just sung ;-)   It gets easier as you do it.

    ------------------------------
    Joanna Grymes
    Arkansas State University
    State University AR
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-10-2021 10:03 PM
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

    I wonder if it matters if the songs are consistent? Making them up on the fly sounds easier to me than having to remember lyrics+tunes but if I made them up then I would likely forget them. If I sang the same songs over and over, the kids would be able to sing a long with me.

    ------------------------------
    Monica
    Pre-K Teacher
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-13-2021 07:59 AM

    Your question about consistency is a good one, & the answer lies in what is your the desired impact of your singing.
    if you want to gain the kids attention & help give transitions a little fun guidance, than just singing off the top of your head is wonderful! If this is when you choose to sing out praise or recognition of good transition behavior, than just being consistent in singing names & praises is enough. You do want to be consistent with this practice if you want the children to consistently show those behaviors. But having some novelty & randomness in exactly WHAT is sung or the tune that is sung may actually create more anticipation & excitement for the moment! Granted that if you sung silly stuff, the kids will get a bit excited, and giggly & your singing may become the "main event," I think it would be a fun class practice! Remember the old episodes of "Romper Room when the star would look through her magic telescope & "see" Sarah & Jacob, Yolanda & Matt? Even through the TV & knowing she would never "see Margro", I looked forward to that time in the show!
    if you are hoping to reinforce pre-literacy skills, repetition would be needed & more beneficial. If you are hoping to reinforce music development, repetition is also a needed component, however, a little novelty, whether expected or not, will always make things more fun & engaging. 

    Do you want the music & singing to reinforce particular behaviors like HOW to put away the blocks, the order of or steps to follow for some skill set like hand washing ( 1st roll up sleeves, next turn on water, next wet our hands, next get 1 pump of soap etc) repetition & a simple tune with few words & easy rhymes is best. Want to keep your transition times orderly & quieter? Pick a simple, slow & soft song with few words & use is habitually so the kids will " hear it in their heads"! automatically, & be more likely to sing it out loud rather than talk or engage in other activities & it will set the pace of their actions to a certain degree.
    I think one of the best ways teachers can impact & improve their class rooms is to think about what you really want to accomplish or teach & then try and observe how your actions are working to create your desired outcome. So many times, what we do does not really help bring about what we want to actually teach or accomplish - especially in the longer view ( ie yelling for kids to be quiet & sit down- it may be a great shocker the first time, but if you watch, you will see the children imitating your "blow up" behavior in the worst times, & if you turn to it semi- regularly, your class will learn to ignore it, and get louder in the king run...).
    Hope this makes sense & is helpful,
    Margro Purple



    ------------------------------
    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 10:33 AM
    I love all of these great suggestions!! This discussion actually made my day because I'm finally back in the classroom and I'm feeling a bit "rusty" on my old routines, including singing. I learned a lot of songs from a wonderful veteran teacher and I make up my own. I had to laugh when I read Joanna G.'s post--my kids ask me to sing it again and like you I have no idea what I just sang! Luckily they don't care if I switch it up a bit.

    I wanted to add that mentioning a child's name in a song can get everyone's attention and motivate the other kids to get on board with cleaning up or whatever you're doing. When it's naptime, I sing "Liza's on her mat. Liza's on her mat! Hooray for Liza! Liza's on her mat!" It's amazing how quickly the others will get on their mats so they can have their special song. (Just make sure you don't forget anyone! )

    ------------------------------
    Meredith Tally
    Co-Owner / Lead Teacher
    SSLC
    Denver CO
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 06:31 PM
    I always added children's names, too!  "Sarah is a helper, a helper, a helper. Sarah is a helper; she's putting away the blocks."  A child will say, "Im putting away the books!"  "Yes!  Juan is a helper, a helper, a helper.  Juan is a helper; he's putting away the books!"  And so forth.  I never (or rarely) had trouble with clean-up time.

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Adjunct Professor
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 11:41 AM
    Hi Monica
    Just sing with joy! The quality of your voice is an adult perception. I promise the children in your care will be delighted by the rhythm, rhyme, repetition  and meaning as much as the tune.  My advice is to keep it genuine. Children learn through imitation and as teachers and caregivers,, we strive to be worthy of imitation.In actions and words .Do  people  always sing instructions every time we speak? Of course not. Think about how adding a little tune or spoken rhyme can  elevate a daily chore  or expectation into something special. " Take a seat Pete" usually brings a giggle. The Barney clean up song to me, gets kind of tiresome.( Sorry Barney fans) I like clean up to be a bit peppy and cheerful so I try to put a peppy song to that task. I find happy little repetive tunes in American folk songs like " She'll be coming around the Mountain" and camp fire singalong. Elizabeth Mitchell is one of my favorites. Substituting lyrics with a phrase that describes the task can enliven the child's imagination. " Blue bird Blue bird fly through my window... Oh  baby(  bunny. blocks, trucks  or whatever play thing needs to back to rest) are you sleepy?   Hope this makes you smile!

    ------------------------------
    Lynn Coalson
    Owner Operator
    Outside Kids
    Atlantic Bch FL
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-11-2021 01:50 PM
    I love this subject, I cannot  sing but in my Early childhood classroom my students  luv my singing,  I made up a song for when it is time to put our library books away and join circle time the children love it and sometimes make up new lyrics.

    ------------------------------
    Shakima Virgil
    NC Pre k Teacher
    Burns Child Care
    Clinton NC
    ------------------------------


  • 19.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 04-14-2021 02:20 PM
    Piggybacking on what others have said here. I do a clean up time song with the ukulele but it could be done with just voice or maybe voice and clapping-- "Dance Party Clean Up":
    Dance party clean up, dance party clean up time
    Dance party clean up, dance party clean up time
    Dance party clean up, dance party clean up time
    Everybody freeze!

    (I just alternate between two easy chords.)

    Then I stop playing and call out all the children who are helping-- then continue with the song.

    We don't do it every day-- we also do secret mission clean up and kids vs. grown ups--but it's often requested by children.

    In my experience what other people have said here has been really true-- when I'm starting to get frustrated with children who aren't listening to me, and then I switch into singing, my own frustration level goes way down:)

    ------------------------------
    Encian Pastel
    Children's Community Center, Gender Justice in Early Childhood, Bay Area Childcare Collective
    Richmond CA
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 20 days ago
    Encian, your students must be learning so much from you and your ukulele playing!

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 21.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 21 days ago
    Three thoughts about this wonderful discussion.  First, it is the feel of how you sing that makes or breaks it.  If you sound like it is a chore to sing, it will feel like a chore to listen to it.  But if you sing with pleasure and expression, that is what students respond to.

    Second, I won't say that children don't know whether you sing in tune or not, because every human has their own level of musical "IQ" and some children have developed "an ear" for pitch.  However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't all sing with students, because in early childhood, it is about exploring materials, concepts, skills, and enjoying the ride all the way.  Have fun singing and the notes/pitch/tempo become far less important. Just refrain from saying "I can't sing" because that invites judgement and self-consciousness, neither of which are helpful as we encourage their growth mindset.

    Third, some states like Illinois do have education standards for various art forms, including music.  And often there are specific standards for preschool.  So it is good to check out what that looks like in your state, and let that guide what you do with music activities, exploration, and the techniques of using singing voice in place of spoken voice at will.

    It's time for The Arts to become essential content areas for all educational models and all ages : ).


    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 20 days ago
    I'm always torn when I hear, "It doesn't matter if you sing in tune." It is so right to encourage ALL teachers to sing, sing often, and sing joyfully. It is so correct to say that singing with very poor pitch matching is still much better than not singing. But live, in-person singing and chanting by people with good pitch-matching and rhythm is crucial to a child's developing musicianship. Directors who do everything they can to ensure that at least one teacher in a classroom can and will sing often with accurate pitch and rhythm give the children in their care an important piece of development. If a teacher can work in alignment with a pedagogy (Orff Schulwerk, Dalcroze, Kodaly, Suzuki, Music Learning Theory) the revenue will be so much more!

    A few years ago I became interested in music in EC, even though I had very limited musicianship. I attended a workshop on Music Learning Theory, the research-based theory of Dr. Edwin Gordon. It was amazing and I would encourage every teacher who already has a foundation in music to find out more (The Gordon Institute for Music Learning has low-cost online intros over the summer and gives tons of support thereafter). Use the information to bring research-based music development to your classroom! I would recommend it for anyone, but if, like me, you don't know the difference between Major and Minor, it would be a big investment of time to get full value from the experience.

    Most EC programs are miles from a research-based music pedagogy. Unless the Director is aware of music pedagogies, even a program that hires a music specialist is likely to choose on the basis of that teacher's personal musicianship and not knowledge about how children learn to express and imagine music.

    ------------------------------
    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 19 days ago
    Hopping in here as a musician and a music specialist and a preschool music teacher who (pre-Covid) sang with lots of kids and classes every week.

    I think the delicate balance in everything being discussed here is that many teachers have wrongly gotten the impression that they cannot sing, or they feel embarrassed to sing, like many adults do.  Many people think that you have to be trained to sing. And so even if someone has the impulse to sing with their classes, they are afraid that they will be doing it wrong.

    As a professional musician I would push back on that and bring children as the proof that anyone can sing, that in essence our voice is our first instrument, and our unfiltered instinct is to sing until that might have been shamed out of us by critical people - most of whom were probably walking around with the same ideas that I wrote above!  Children sing to themselves as they play, they make up songs all day long.  They don't know to worry about being in tune, so they are naturally reflecting the music and tonalities that they hear around them.  As could adults if they weren't self-sabotaging and worrying about the result of a song.

    So I would just encourage anyone who feels inclined to sing with their classes to do so.  Children will appreciate it.  As someone said, they might notice if something is out of tune, but they won't care, and they won't judge you. And you will not be ruining their musical hearing - that would take the entire world being out of tune for that to happen.  As Mars said up above...if you are doing it because you love to and it feels right, it won't be a chore and it will be an expression of your natural art.  If you are worried about whether you are doing it right, that will come across.

    Regarding singing instructions - that is great, but even that will stop being effective if it is overdone!  In the beginning the kids will really pay attention because it is new and novel...because it breaks through as something different vocally.  If you find that they have stopped paying attention to the singing instructions at a certain point, change it up and come up with a different way to give the instructions for a while.

    And regarding what Jeanne said here about getting music training, if you can, awesome!  But if you can't for whatever reason, advocate for your center to hire a preschool music specialist, and then use that person's presence every week or whenever they come in to be your personal music ed trainer!  Sing with them, participate in the lesson, learn the songs that they are presenting, learn the tricks that they are using.  It's really a music class for everyone, and you as the teachers are getting a tuition free music ed class by being part of the class.  There is nothing that a music ed person loves more than hearing the teacher report back all of the ways that s/he/they used the songs that were taught on music class day throughout the week.  I always tell the teachers to go ahead and record something I am doing that they would like to use and are afraid that they won't remember.  (But not all music ed teachers feel good about that so ask first!)

    Bottom line...please sing...often...with your heart...knowing that the joy of music is way more important than worrying about whether or not you would ever win American Idol or any of those shows!

    ------------------------------
    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 19 days ago

    Hello again,
    I just wanted to pull the discussion back to the original question- is it good to sing instructions in preschool instead of "talking them." The answer to that is simply, YES!
    As for needing a trained music teacher in eavery classroom- that's a big ask. As a preschool teacher who became "intrigued" with teaching music as a way to bring fun & socio-emotional learning & both fine & gross motor & experimental play with instruments, I began reading developmental research in music education, & then realized I didn't need to " reinvent the wheel." Instead, I signed up for a Music Together teacher training. It took place over one long weekend in NJ- & it was amazing, involved & extremely demanding!! I cannot say enough about the high level of knowledge & professionalism!!  Because I have a graduate degree in human development & extensive knowledge of neurological development, much of the course work was familiar to me. However, the idea of specific musical ability development: pitch & rhythm, & how to best foster it in preschoolers was new to me.  My main point is really this: you need to ask the basic questions about what you developmental area you are trying to stimulate, & think through whether your class practices match that goal. Yes, if you are truly interested in fostering the development of pitch & rhythm, get a TRAINED, competent music teacher & carve out specific time for the type of activities that meet this developmental goal.It's not just singing, " Mary had a little lamb" & playing freeze dance... so directors, hire REAL music teachers & please pay them what their professional skill set in actually worth! The lesson playing & practice that goes into a decent music class is extensive even though it looks simple. I highly suggest looking to a program like Music Together, one that is based in developmental theory & has selected musical pieces specifically to foster the development of pitch & rhythm in young children while engaging their sense of play & child centered, emergent curriculum.
    on the other hand, if your program's goal is a break for indoor, gross motor activity, go ahead & turn on the music for some free form freeze dance. Not only will they get their wiggles out & be ready to learn, but you will be giving them valuable time to practice self regulation as they take it from loud & fast to silent & still!
    Want to get the whole class to attend to instructor directions without raising your voice or using a megaphone? Then sing you instructions!
    Want to foster great readers & super spellers? Then it's time to break out the nurses rhymes and Dr. Seuss, to help children learn the basic blocks of speech & literacy- word sounds ( not letter sounds, but "chunks" of words...).
    I could just keep listing more & more different musical activities that support a multitude of important developmental skills- music should be interwoven into ALL preschool classrooms, just like play, basic group social skills!
    Just remember, playing freeze dance to opera & Mozart recording is awesome, but it doesn't guarantee perfect pitch ( it can help it along though), and singing "This is the way we wash our hands" enthusiastically but out of tune will not raise tone deaf adults. 

    Thanks for giving this topic & my take on it your time! ( also, please forgive the typos & quirks, I am writing this off the top of my head & with out a proof read as usual!),
    Margro Purple

    Margro Purple



    ------------------------------
    Margro Purple
    Rockville MD
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 18 days ago
    For teachers and specialists thinking about they ways music fits into an EC program, Margro mentioned Music Together and I mentioned Music Learning Theory. Like Margro, I was not a musician (much less a music specialist), but suspected that developing children's musicianship should be seen an essential part of ECE. The more I learned, the more convinced I became. The MT program and the MLT approach both reference a body of research that indicates that the synaptic pruning process that happens in EC has permanent impact on the child's capacity to achieve as a musician.

    It may be a Big Ask to have thoughtful music pedagogy as a part of every quality EC program, but I would still ask it. For me, it is absolutely on the level of developing literacy, introducing scientific method, and promoting self-care. Thoughtful music pedagogy has become a very inconvenient ask because so many Americans have let music go as a part of a well-rounded education. It is easy to find a classroom without a single teacher who feels confident and knowledgeable enough to lead music experiences for the children. And Margro is absolutely right that learning enough to take it on (for the musically impoverished) can seem overwhelming.

    Do it anyway. Bring in a specialist or commit a long weekend to attending a Music Together workshop - it is designed to include all teachers who can succeed at pitch-matching and basic rhythm activities, but still has deep, rich content. If you have actually studied music, commit 2 weeks to an MLT experience, or just buy "Music Play" and try some of the activities. Read a little of the theory behind the design each day (gives clear, concise summaries of the theory and method).

    Americans are 2 or 3 generations out from people who consistently expected music education to be a part of general education. It will be hard to recover, but we can recover. I am so happy to have taken these steps for the children in my care.

    ------------------------------
    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 18 days ago
    Jeanne and Magro, yes yes and yes!

    My mom was a preschool and elementary school teacher trained in the mid40s.  One semester of beginning piano was a required class, as was singing and music pedagogy every single semester.  It was just expected.  Most classrooms had pianos.  In general people sang much more in those years.

    In contrast to this country, I did my training in Israel where I grew up.  There are no preschools anywhere in that country that do not bring in a music specialist on a weekly basis.  It is a valued and essential part of preschool culture. While there are lots and lots of problems with the broader Israeli culture, just like any place in the world, singing is not one of them.  People still get together and sing as adults.

    Jeanne and Magro are recommending MT and MLT which are both very well respected programs for people who want more training.

    Another avenue is to attend your local AEYC conferences if you can.  I just presented 3 music workshops at OAEYC last week.  I assume that every state has a similar offering.  Most of the teachers who attended my workshops were not music specialists, but they got an immersion of 4.5 hours of music curriculum and background.  The conference was full of music offerings beyond mine as well of course.  You could easily spend the entire three days learning music curriculum and pedagogy.

    One more plug: check out the Children's Music Network.  Music Together is a business member and many MLT teachers are as well.  Lots of free online offerings, including a monthly early childhood song swap, where people get together online and share songs, so a great way to learn new songs about any topic you might be presenting in your classrooms.

    And I do want to circle back as Magro did to the initial question again...sing directions? Yes.  Sing songs? Yes.  Don't feel super trained but love to sing and recognize the value?  Go for it.

    Off to sing :-)




    ------------------------------
    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 17 days ago

    In the absence of music education per se, have you ever thought of embracing working with pure Sound and Silence in your classrooms?

    After all when you think about it sound comes first, before anything we call music and there is nothing else that children love and adore doing more then making sound endlessly!

    Pre K and Special Needs teachers are my heroes! And as a teaching artist I have created Creative Sound Play, a robust tried and true method for general non music teachers to work only with Sound and Silence their students, not music.

    Creating sound helps children focus, feel safe, engage, enhance active listening skills,  and develop intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. It's fun, doesn't require learning anything new, and gives children joy to make, captures their imagination, and inspires curiosity.

    Sound with the right approach is perfect for short, thoughtful, smart transition games and exercises that can support and integrate with any subject or curriculum.

    As teachers and children master Sound, it's perfect for ensemble play and can lead to all children creative sound sculptures together or alone.

    Most importantly it's easy to learn, almost common sense like, and helps teachers teach and manage their classrooms better.

    I've never met a child whether verbal or non who didn't love making sound!!!



    ------------------------------
    Hayes Greenfield
    Founder
    Creative Sound Play
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------



  • 28.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 17 days ago
    Hayes, your program sounds spectacular as an addition to, or better still a part of, a thoughtful pedagogy for music learning. I wouldn't say "in the absence of.." but perhaps it could be a first step.

    Tell us more about the program. Sounds very intriguing.

    ------------------------------
    Jeanne deMarrais
    The Mulberry Tree
    Santa Monica CA
    ------------------------------



  • 29.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 17 days ago
    I’m intrigued as well! Do you have a video. I’m more of a visual learner. I’m having a hard time figuring out what this looks/sounds like.




  • 30.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 17 days ago
    Hi Jeanne Marie and Monica,

    Thank you so much for your inquiry and yes, if you go to my website at www.creativesoundplay.com you can see all about how I approach using sound and silence. There are a few videos and even a free lesson which will give you the best insight.

    Please know I'm not trying to replace music at all.  Music informs every aspect of my life and it should be, as far as I'm concerned a very regular part of every schools curriculum from Pre K to 12 .

    But what I've grown to realize is how deep and overlooked sound is in education in terms of Pre K, Kindergarten and Special Needs of all ages.

    In essence, Sound and Silence is an elegant interconnected educational learning ecosystem that plugs into the very essence of the joy and fun all children get from making sound. It's just tremendous.

    ------------------------------
    Hayes Greenfield
    Founder
    Creative Sound Play
    Brooklyn, NY
    ------------------------------



  • 31.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 17 days ago
    Music Together is indeed a very developmentally appropriate program for teaching musicology and I love their simple assessment concepts.  (I used to teach MT.)  It certainly is an option for sites and agencies to consider.

    I think it's important for teachers to know the range of what music in early childhood education can look like, just like we have an understanding that young children learn math via quantity and subitizing small numbers, rather than starting with trig and calc.  Likewise, music is related to auditory processing, math, literacy, movement and other areas of development, so starting in the right place does matter.

    Teachers can begin using music at whatever level they are comfortable, as many have stated, because it is the intention and message that matters the most.  Will having some guidance in music enhance learning across several domains for young children? Yes, it will.  Of course that is not required for singing of instructions to be effective.  Sing joyfully, pleasantly, and mindfully.  Avoid expressing any negative emotions (disrespect, boredom, anger) through singing because music amplifies it. Sing with positive energy and intentions!  And jazz musicians sometimes say, don't wear it out!  Enjoy it -- together : ).

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 32.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 19 days ago
    Singing is something I used in my classroom everyday with children and even with adults.  During staff meetings, adults talk about as much as children do and transitioning from greeting to getting the meeting started can be just as difficult with adults!  I have a very strong musical background and can sing well and in tune, however, on the fly in the classroom, that doesn't always happen and I sometimes just sound like a giant garbling sounds from my throat.  Children are bascially non-critical and do not judge you.  As a matter of fact, they find it amusing.  If you are are more of an introvert personality or are just self-conscious, use props.  If you feel that you're voice isn't great, then give it to Mr. Froggy or Miss Muffins the puppet.  Or you can use an instrument - a simple one like a bell or triangle and ding it once with a follow-up two-toned call.  I go around the classrooms all day singing a little ditty to greet the children.  Even at home, calling my dog involves singing so much that my dog responds only to the song and my daughter and 3 year old nephew use the same call to get her to come to them.

    ------------------------------
    Tracy Jane Valdez
    Apple Valley CA
    ------------------------------



  • 33.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 18 days ago
    Tracy, I love the puppet idea!

    ------------------------------
    Monica
    Pre-K Teacher
    CA
    ------------------------------



  • 34.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 18 days ago
    Thank you everyone for keeping the discussion going! I'm really interested in learning more. I'd love to attend a workshop that's geared to teachers without a background in music.

    I mentioned how I use recordings when singing with my kiddos as a strategy to help me with my issue. Another thing I do is read books that are also songs or that have a musical flow. The children participate in singing/reading with me. It's beneficial in various ways. Pete the Cat books are some of my favorites to read/sing. What musical books do you love?

    ------------------------------
    Monica
    Pre-K Teacher
    CA
    ------------------------------



  • 35.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 13 days ago
    Let's remember that singing is not all about Pitch.  Singing is also Rhythmic!  You can't have music without rhythm.
    Maybe we can lay out some places to begin that rely on teachers speaking in rhythm.  Making a beat is easy and can be done with spoken word, with pats and claps, with instruments, but it is incredible with voice alone.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    ------------------------------



  • 36.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 13 days ago
    Monica hi,
    I also love love love to sing books, and here is a list on my website:
    http://joaniecalem.com/books.html
    And here is a longer list:

     

    A SUMMERY, SATURDAY MORNING, by Margaret Mahy #

    A'FROGGIE WENT A-COURTIN', by John Langstaff *

    A-HUNTING WE WILL GO, by John Langstaff *

    ALL IN THE WOODLAND EARLY, by Jane Yolen *

    ANIMAL BOOGIE, by Debbie Harter *

    A WEED IS A SEED, by Ferida Wolff #

    BARN DANCE, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

    BEAR'S NEW FRIEND, by Karma Wilson *** #

    BEAR SNORES ON, by Karma Wilson *** #

    BIG PUMPKIN, by Erica Silverman #

    BRINGING THE RAIN TO KAPITI PLAIN, by Verna Aardema

    CAROLINDA CLATTER, by Mordechai Gerstein

    CATERPILLAR SPRING, by Susan Hood

    CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault ***

    DE COLORES, pictures by David Diaz*

    DOWN BY THE STATION,  by Will Hillenbrand *

    DO YOU SEE A MOUSE? By Bernard Waber

    EARTHSONG, by Sally Rogers */**

    ENGLEBERT THE ELEPHANT, by Tom Paxton *

    FARMER JOE AND THE MUSIC SHOW, By Tony Mitton

    FIDDLE-I-FEE, by Melissa Sweet *

    FIREFLIES, FIREFLIES LIGHT MY WAY, by Jonathan London #

    FIVE LITTLE SHARKS, by Steve Metzger

    FOLLOW THE DRINKING GOURD, by Jeanette Winter */**

    FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey *

    GOIN' TO BOSTON, by H. Ellen Margolin *

    GOIN' TO THE ZOO, by Tom Paxton *

    GOING TO SLEEP ON THE FARM, by Wendy Cheyette Lewison #

    GOODBYE GEESE, by Nancy White Carlstrom

    HAND HAND FINGER THUMB, by Al Perkins ***

    HEY LITTLE ANT, by Phil and Hannah Hoose *

    HICCUPS FOR ELEPHANT, by James Preller

    HONEY, HONEY, LION! By Jan Brett

    HOWDY-DOO-DI, by Woody Guthrie *

    "I CAN'T" SAID THE ANT, by Polly Cameron ***

    I KNOW AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A PIE, by Alison Jackson *

    IN THE FIDDLE IS A SONG, by Durga Bernhard

    JUMP, FROG, JUMP!, by Robert Kalan ***

    JUNGLE DRUMS, by Graeme Base

    JUNGLE DRUMS, by Deanna Wundrow

    LALA SALAMA, by Hannah Heritage Bozylinsky #

    LISTEN, LISTEN, by Phillis Gershater

    MARSH MUSIC, by Marianne Berkes

    MAX FOUND TWO STICKS, by J. Brian Pinkney ***

    MILLIONS OF SNOWFLAKES, by Mary McKenna Siddals #

    MY FAMILY PLAYS MUSIC, by Judy Cox

    NATHAN'S FISHING TRIP, by Lulu Delacre

    OFF WE GO, by Jane Yolen

    OVER IN THE GARDEN, by Jennifer Ward *

    OVER IN THE MEADOW, by John Langstaff *

    OWL MOON, by Jane Yolen */**

    PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON, by Peter Yarrow *

    QUICK AS A CRICKET, by Audrey Wood

    QUIET NIGHT, by Marilyn Singer

    SKIP TO MY LOU, Nadine Bernard Westcott *

    SLOWLY, SLOWLY SAID THE SLOTH, by Eric Carle

    STAND BACK SAID THE ELEPHANT, I'M GOING TO SNEEZE, by Patricia Thomas

    STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING, Illustrated by Susan Jeffers #

    SUMMERTIME, by Dubose Howard */**

    TANKA TANKA SKUNK, by Steve Webb

    TEN ON THE SLED, by Kim Norman*

    THANKS FOR THANKSGIVING, by Julie Markes #

    THE ANIMAL LULLABY, by Tom Paxton *

    THE BIG WIDE-MOUTHED FROG, by Ana Martin Larranaga ***

    THE BUTTERFLY ALPHABET, by Kjell B. Sandved *

    THE EARTH IS GOOD, by Michael DeMunn ** #

    THE FIRST MUSIC, by Dylan Pritchett ***

    THE LION AND THE LITTLE RED BIRD, Elisa Kleven

    THE LISTENING WALK, by Paul Showers

    THE MAGIC HOUSE,  by Robyn Harbert Eversole

    THE MARVELOUS TOY, by Tom Paxton *

    THE SNOWMAN, by Raymond Briggs

    THE TEDDY BEARS' PICNIC, by Jimmy Kennedy*

    THE TREE IN THE WOOD, by Christopher Manson */**

    THE WAY TO MY BEST FRIEND'S HOUSE, by Nancy White Carlstrom

    THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A TROUT, by Teri Sloat *

    THUMP THUMP RAT-A-TAT-TAT, by Gene Baer ***

    TIGER CAN'T SLEEP, by S.J. Fore ***

    TIME TO SLEEP, by Denise Fleming ***

    TO BE A DRUM, by Evelyn Coleman **/***

    TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON, by Leo and Diane Dillon*

    TOO MUCH NOISE, by Ann McGovern */** #

    TRAIN SONG, by Diane Siebert

    WE'RE GOING ON A NATURE HUNT, by Steve Metzger

    WHEN THE LEAF BLEW IN, by Steve Metzger

    WHEN WINTER COMES, Nancy Van Laan #

    WHEN I FIRST CAME TO THIS LAND, by Oscar Brand*/**

    WHO HOPS, by Katie Davis

    WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE'S EARS, by Verna Aardema



    ------------------------------
    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 37.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 13 days ago
    Joanie, do you remember how in the first Toy Story movie the little green aliens all went "OoooOOOooo" when they saw Buzz Lightyear for the first time? Well, I made the same sound when I saw your book list. I visited your link and found your Very Hungry Caterpillar reading/singing lovely and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing.

    ------------------------------
    Monica
    Pre-K Teacher
    CA
    ------------------------------



  • 38.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 13 days ago
    LOL!  I'm glad it was helpful.  Singing books are one of my favorite things to collect!

    ------------------------------
    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 39.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 12 days ago
    "Owl Moon" is a favorite of mine as well!  Once I used this book as the inspiration for my preschool class to create a music theatre piece. The children turned the story into a song (original lyrics,) made costumes, chose roles and acted it out while singing (with me on the uke.)

    It was part of the joy of being teacher / artist. We take a chance by "going off-road," putting forth an open question, and hoping one or more children will make the initial spark.

    The moment of the 3-year old who dared to put a melody to the first lyric of the song...  I'll never forget it.  Families really enjoyed getting a song book with our class' lyrics, the music sheet for both voice and uke, and a description of the process from first reading to final rehearsal.

    ------------------------------
    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------



  • 40.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 12 days ago
    Yes to Owl Moon.  I love that your class turned it into a dramatic piece and made up a song to go with it.

    Here is another one...written by my friend Bruce O'Brien. It has beautiful hand motions to go with it, which unfortunately you can't see here in this YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcW2rpQxdmY

    ------------------------------
    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH
    ------------------------------



  • 41.  RE: Singing Instructions Rather Than Speaking Them: Looking for examples

    Posted 12 days ago
    Hi, Monica,
         In childcare you don't have to be a good singer because the kids mainly just enjoy having that music time. They sing and I know for a fact they think they are the best singers in the world because they have their little heads held back and just singing away. But we use youtube and cd's to song along with.

    ------------------------------
    Shonda Wilson
    Owner
    Creative Learning Academy LLC
    Quincy FL
    ------------------------------