In addition to my weekday job, I spend my Saturday mornings in a room with children ages birth to 5 and the adults who love them facilitating an early childhood music and movement program. Now if you look at the amount of time I spend learning the music, planning the classes, and practicing my lesson plans it really doesn’t pay for me to do this job. But if you look at the benefits I receive that have nothing to do with the money I make, I am more than compensated for my efforts. I get to play percussive instruments, dance with scarves, watch parents bond with their children through music, watch adults really play, and hear some beautiful singing. And, I get to sing! I sing to learn the music, I sing to practice the music, and I sing to lead the music. I need this job because I need to sing.
This past Saturday my director, another teacher and myself held a Holiday Sing-a-Long party for all the families in the program. We had a room full of people of all ages part-singing, singing in rounds and playing with rhythms. The way community can be formed in a room in just 45 minutes never ceases to amaze me. The level of energy in the room and the smiles on the faces of each person, young and not as young, made the effort of the party well worth it.
Google the benefits of singing and you will find website after website stating statistics about heart health, boosting the immune system, releasing endorphins for a “runners high” without running, calming while energizing, reducing stress and anxiety while raising confidence and feelings of well-being.
After reading those stats you’ve got to ask yourself, why don’t I sing more or why don’t I start singing? And why don’t I do more singing in my classroom? You don’t have to have a great voice, you just have to commit to the act. You need to breathe deeply, open your voice wide and let it out. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. You can play a song on a CD or iPod to which you and your class (or your family!) can sing along or you can just lead the song with your voice. Choose a song that most people know or choose a favorite of yours and teach your students. Watch the smiles appear on the faces, watch the tension melt away, and feel the energy shift to focused and positive. This holiday season give yourself and your students the gift of song.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.