Studies have shown that children who study music perform better in other subjects than their peers. One of the reasons for this boost is the creative thinking skills that music teaches. Even if you don’t have formal music training, there are many things you can do to build a love for music in your child. It’s never too early to start – even newborns enjoy listening to soothing lullabies. Below, check out of the different types of songs to sing that can encourage creativity in your toddler, preschooler, or elementary school-aged child.
One of the most important skills that children learn when they are young is a sense of independence. Toddlers are notorious for their “I can do it myself” attitude. Because of this, most kids love the opportunity to provide input or make a decision. Take advantage of your child’s creative mind by singing fill-in-the-blank songs with your child. These songs usually have a simple, repetitive framework, allowing the singer to pick new choices each verse.
Some Fun Fill-in-the-Blank Songs to Sing With Your Child:
1. “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” – This classic children’s song helps kids learn all of the sounds that farm animals make (as well as animals that may not usually be found on the farm, if your child is feeling silly). Children love deciding how the song will go and never seem to tire of coming up with new possibilities for verses. You may even learn something in the process if your child isn’t sure what sound a giraffe or penguin makes.
2. “Hello, My Name is Joe” – This cute song tells the story of Joe, a busy button factory worker. In each verse, the boss gives Joe another button to push with a part of his body. Your child will love coming up with new tasks for Joe to complete with different body parts and motions.
Songs to Develop Rhythm
Rhythm is the regular, repetitive pattern of sound, often referred to as the beat. An understanding of rhythm is one of the basic skills required in music. While it is certainly a skill that can be taught in formal music training, having an intuitive feel for rhythm is a huge advantage.
The good news is that children are born with a feel for rhythm. Studies have found that newborn infants will match their breath patterns to the rhythm of a song. By using rhythmic songs, you can develop this innate ability even further. Learning to recognize these patterns in music will help your child think creatively about patterns they encounter elsewhere.
There are many songs to sing that can help with developing a sense of rhythm. Movement songs that incorporate clapping or moving to the beat are a great place to start. Echo songs, where you sing a line and your child repeats it back to you, will help your child learn to imitate rhythm as well as pitch. You should also include chants, which are words spoken in rhythm to a steady beat.
Some Fun Rhythm Songs to Sing With Your Child:
1. “If You’re Happy and You Know It” – A childhood favorite for many, this song asks your child to clap their hands to the beat at certain points in the song. Although this song is typically sung with the same three options (clap your hands, stomp your feet, and shout hooray), you can get an added bonus from this song by turning it into a fill-in-the-blank song and letting your child create new options.
2. “Are You Sleeping?” – This English translation of the French children’s song “Frère Jacques” uses an echo. Take turns with your child singing the lead and the echo.
3. “Phonics Chant Song (A-L)”, “Phonics Chant Song (M-T)”, and “Phonics Chant Song (U-Z)” – These phonics chants combine words and clapping to a fun beat that changes periodically. While developing their musical creativity, your child will also learn letter sounds and words that start with each letter.
Although there may not be words at all, or the lyrics may be in a language you do not speak, classical music is another great opportunity for fostering creativity. As you play the selection for your child, encourage them to move and dance to express the feeling that the music conveys. Many compositions can be quite long, so you might want to begin by playing only a portion to match your child’s shorter attention span.
After the song is over, talk to your child about what they felt while listening. Remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers, as these songs create different emotions in different people.
Some Classical Music to Play for Your Child:
1. “O Fortuna” – A beautiful composition that you’ve probably heard in commercials, this song is full of dramatic and subtle moments.
2. “Four Seasons” – Each season is given a song in this suite. Compare the songs to the feeling of each unique season.
Beyond enjoying these songs to sing together, there are many things you can do at home to develop your child’s creativity and love for music. If you want to further inspire them and strengthen their skills, consider signing your child up for music lessons. Whether your child wants to take private voice lessons or music lessons to learn an instrument, they will learn advanced skills that they can apply to any type of music they want to pursue in the future. Music is a lifelong journey, and one that will take your child far. Encourage your little ones as much as possible!
Photo by Eneas De Troya