Thursday, July 5, 2012

If you've got a song in your heart, you can sing!

The children at my centre have one full hour of music instruction per week, delivered in two 30-minute sessions. It's one of the few times when they are expected to sit on their bottoms, pay attention, and answer questions, following someone else's agenda. They love it, most of the time. I can see hints of their advanced music knowledge spilling over into other areas; using musical dynamic terms to describe volume, drawing musical notation elements in their artwork, linking fractions to note values, and so on.

Recently, a new music teacher has taken over, as our beloved Miss Jesse is moving on to new, exciting opportunities. The new teacher has some different expectations, and it will take some time for her and the children to come to terms with what works the best for our class. She was surprised this week when she introduced a new song and the children began to sing along right away. "You guys are picking this up quickly!" she remarked. What she doesn't realise is that they aren't "picking it up" so much as they are jumping in impulsively, almost instinctively, relying on the groundwork of ear training Miss Jesse spent the past eighteen months fostering in them.  They've got great intonation and rhythm sense, and need only one or two repetitions of a simple melody before they're willing to try singing along. They are quiet and tentative at times, and bold and brave at others. Some are quicker to sing out than their friends, and no one thinks there is anything wrong with that. They make mistakes, sound bad sometimes, forget that 'forte' and 'yelling' are not the same thing. Generally, though, they make a joyful noise together.

Over the past two years, my brother and I were spearheading a choir at our church. We struggled desperately to convince people to join us, and heard the same thing over and over again: "Oh, you wouldn't want me... I have a terrible voice... I can't sing anymore... No one wants to hear me..." What a tragedy that what seems to be an innate human ability has been discouraged, even squashed, in all these adults. My preschoolers know that singing together is natural and fun. What if all these adults had been given the chance to flex their musical muscles as young children, when they still didn't know that they "couldn't sing," before some misguided choir master in elementary school asked them to "sing very softly"?

Recently, a flashmob video started making the rounds on the internet from Spain. Watching it makes my heart happy. The music is lovely, and flashmobs are cool, but the thing that really makes me smile is seeing all the small children in the crowd reacting naturally to what they are experiencing. I think we can learn something from them.

No comments:

Post a Comment