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Vocal Music in Early Childhood Education

Posted by on in Music Education Research
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Singing lessons in early childhood education have long been utilized by teachers. Not ‘singing lessons’ in terms of learning how to sing, but as a vehicle for teaching and learning a concept. We know that song makes things easier to remember because it connects facts to long-term memory. And that’s also why singing is always a part of early childhood MUSIC lesson plans.

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But did you know that group singing is therapeutic and makes people happy? It’s actually a proven scientific fact. Here’s a link to the actual study:http://pom.sagepub.com/content/33/3/269.short

While the study was done in 2005, it really didn’t become part of the public consciousness until Time magazine published an article on the benefits of group singing in 2013: http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/

Early childhood education benefits from music teachers who use this approach whether it’s in a classroom or a choir setting. And the benefits are amplified when this approach is used in low income schools, special needs settings or in response to a devastating event within a school community. If you are a music teacher in any of those three situations, please consider adding group singing to you music lesson plans even if there is no possibility of having the students perform. The act of singing together is what matters.

You can even have group singing lessons by giving simple pointers about proper posture and how to open the mouth correctly when singing different syllables. This will take group singing to the next level by giving the students confidence in their abilities. Even a little push of self-confidence is better than not helping them at all. And as you already know, always compliment and praise the students when singing. No one wants to sing if they get insulted.

Finally, remember we are talking about early childhood education and your music lesson plans. These simple approaches may be too pedantic for older students or students in more advances situations. If nothing else, think about the benefits of vocal music for the little ones, read the case study, the Time Magazine article and then draw your own conclusions because only YOU know what’s best for YOUR students.

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Comments

  • Diane Woodward Monday, 13 October 2014

    This brings back good memories for me. We didn't have Early Childhood or even Kindergarten when I was young (school started at 1st in Texas in 1958), at least not in public school. I was very lucky to have a music specialist teaching us in first and second grades. We didn't have a music room. He came to our classrooms. His name was Dr. Willmann...yes, my first music teacher had his doctorate! My best memories are of the times the whole school (1st-2nd) would go in the auditorium and just sing, all classes together. I still remember some of those songs..."My Little Red Wagon" was one. That happy feeling most likely influenced me to go into teaching music.
    Now, there is no time for fun things like that. I wonder how we managed to learn to read, write, do arithmetic, color, and still have time, not only to have sing-a-longs, but to go outside for 20-30 minutes TWICE a day. Our kids now have one 15 minute recess and I have to do choir after school two days a week. We are pounding them with testing constantly and behaviors have deteriorated with the new "Common Core" standards. Kids have less fun, but seem to know a lot less than they used to, even ten years ago. :(

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  • Rodney Thursday, 23 October 2014

    Great article! Not only should singing be included in all elementary music classes, but is a great way for core teachers and instrumental music teachers who will occasionally "think outside the box" to motivate students as well. I love it when I hear teachers have students chant or sing answers in choral response just to increase the energy and happiness in their classrooms. I enjoyed Diane's response - I thought of my own experiences in (what was then) rural Oklahoma learning folk songs - good times! Yes, things are very different now.

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