By Melanie Lewis
Musical kids. Are they born that way or do they become inspired by their environments? I wondered this as I watched in awe at 10 year old Emily Webster featured in June’s issue of Around Wellington. She clearly enjoyed singing and playing guitar. I wondered how she came to choose her musical interests. I wanted to expose my kids to music. Partly, because of the “Mozart effect” theory, which suggests that “listening to Mozart makes you smarter” and has a beneficial effect on mental development. And I also knew from my own experiences with choirs and orchestras how much fun it was to participate in musical activities. It would then be up to them to take it from there.
From the time my kids were born, we were singing lullabies to sooth their colicky restlessness. As they grew older we were singing “the Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus” together. With a limited repertoire, I found the library had several baby-play/song books. Wee Sing Children’s songs and Finger plays by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp are classics from the 70’s. Gymboree also had a book of different songs and activities. The kids participate more with finger plays. One particular favorite of ours is “Five little ducks went swimming one day.” It’s a bath time hit. You’ll need 5 rubber ducks in the bath tub or swimming pool. The song goes like this: “5 little ducks went swimming one day, over the hill and far away, momma duck said quack, quack, quack and 4 little ducks came back…and so on. At the end Momma duck says quack, quack, quack and all the ducks come back and I throw all the ducks up in the air and back into the bath.
As they’ve gotten older, I’ve introduced them to more grown-up fare. Although they don’t rock-out to Green Day, they enjoy the oldies station on the radio. There are a couple of CD’s out that they enjoy. One in particular is Ziggy Marley’s Family Time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB8mZMEo_6k
Although many kids can sing “High School Musical” from start to finish, my group has their focus on commercials like the McDonalds filet-o-fish. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bJOIqVAD-s&feature=related. I figure as long as they’re singing and having fun, it’s a success. This spring, my 5 year old joined a children’s choir at church. The ages ranged from 5 to 15. The director gave us a CD with the songs and piano accompaniment to listen to and sing along. WOW! He was humming and singing to himself.
It wasn’t until recently that they started to take an interest in some of the noise-makers around the house. It seems a natural progression to want to play air guitar and try to make a coherent song on the mini piano keyboard. The sounds were getting more organized and made-up little tunes with nonsensical lyrics were showing up. An 8-week stint for piano lessons, however, did not yield virtuoso talent much less burgeoning interest for my 5-year-old.
Time will tell what kind of music my kids will be interested in. We’re creating memories and lots of digital video files for posterity. At least we’re having fun with our special musical moments and that’s the most important thing.
Visit this site for more interactive children’s songs:
Melanie Lewis is the mother of two boys, ages 3 and 5. She is married to a self-described geek and works part-time. She enjoys reading, gardening and playing with her Blue-mitted Ragdoll cat Percy and Golden Retriever Rosie.