I want to start by saying I am not a fan of singing competition shows like “The Voice” or “American Idol,” not because I don’t like hearing the talented singers on the show, but because I feel like they are teaching people to judge others’ singing abilities — more importantly, their own singing abilities. It is strange that we do this with singing but not with other disciplines. For instance, people don’t watch the Food Network and say after an episode of “Iron Chef” that they can’t cook because the people on that show are so amazing at cooking. If this were the case, everyone in the world except chefs would starve or have to go out for dinner every night!
Why do we do this with singing? I hear all the time, “My child just loves music, but I am not a singer; I don’t know where they get it.” Or, “I am tone-deaf… how can my child sing well? Thank goodness they have you for a teacher.” Musical aptitude is just the “music potential” for a child, and every child has the capacity to make music. Every person is at a different level of development for basic music competency. Basic music competency means a person is able to move to the beat of a song and sing in-tune. Basic music competency can improve over time with practice, play, and sometimes, a more positive outlook.
A child’s primary caregivers, such as parents, teachers, grandparents or anyone with whom the child spends a good amount of time, can affect a child’s music learning. If you show excitement for singing (whether you can sing in-tune or not) your child will develop a love for singing. The love will translate into more singing, which will help a child develop his or her singing skills.
In addition, children’s brains are programmed to absolutely love their primary caregiver’s voice. This is called filial imprinting, where a child will recognize his or her parents’ voices as a baby (from hearing it from inside the womb). In-tune, beautiful tone or not, children are wired to feel an emotional response to their parents’ voices. Remember how you felt when you were homesick at camp, how just hearing your mom’s voice over the phone made you feel? It’s the same idea. Many parents read before bedtime, but how many sing a lullaby? By the way, any song can be a lullaby if you just slow it down and sing it softly! Your child will love it and will see your love for sharing your voice with him or her.
I don’t know a single child that I teach who doesn’t love music. I don’t mean “music” as the music classes I teach at Harrisburg Academy… I mean music… You will find music everywhere when children sing while playing in homes, cars, stores, and all around us. In my experience, all children are musical. All children have a love for making their own music, for experimenting with sounds, their voice, and instruments. Children love to talk about music and learn, but beyond that, children love to create music. I have seen children expand their confidence through singing.
Today I ask you to be positive and confident, and share that positivity and excitement for singing with your child! Share your voice! Don’t be a Simon Cowell to yourself… share your song from your heart, and remember the Zimbabwean proverb: “If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing.”
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.