During my time at Rhythm Rumble I have spoken to a lot of adults about their lack of musical talent. It usually is expressed after they have been watching me conduct a music class and with a tinge of insecurity announce “I can’t sing, I don’t have a musical bone in my body!” But I am here to challenge that statement.
The early learning sector is quite knowledgable and passionate about musical education and there is an expectation that Educators incorporate music in their rooms everyday and what I’ve heard from educators is that they aren’t comfortable singing to the children especially if there are other adults around.
It is definitely a cultural challenge, as some cultures have music and dance so embedded in their culture that it is second nature to sing. I recall a moment I was waiting for a meeting and there was a young African woman holding her baby and she was singing to the baby in soft melodic voice. The child was calm and nestled into the mothers neck. It struck me that she wasn’t concerned about me, the stranger that was sitting near by and could hear her. I find the Australian culture doesn’t encourage this openness with singing, it is revered for those with special talents and not for the “common” person.
I also recall when I was a child and singing the National Anthem in the school assembly, I use to belt it out and was loving life when a friend mentioned I was making to much of a “big deal” about enjoying it. It subconsciously squashed the notion that I could sing, and went through the rest of my life singing in the car alone and never in public!
When we refer to parents singing to their children it is insinuated to be in your home as a lullaby, or to help them brush their teeth, not as a general way of life. So I completely empathise when Educators and parents comment after class that they aren’t musical and they can’t sing.
But the truth is we all have a voice and our hearts all beat a rhythm, we just have to pay attention and listen to it. I obviously had to get over the hurdle of singing in public when I started Rhythm Rumble because you can’t teach music to preschooler’s if you don’t sing!
I started with simple songs with a small range, like so many nursery rhymes that you already know. I recorded myself so I could listen back and make sure it was in tune and over time my confidence grew and so did my repertoire. I have a few song ideas here
Fast forward 7 years and I was at the hospital with my 11 year old for a broken finger and my 20 month old who after 4 hours had had enough of hanging out in hospital. In order to settle him I started to sing Inanay (if you aren’t familiar with the song please listen to it here.) Anyway, it worked he relaxed and settled in his pram. The following day my daughter and I returned to the hospital for further treatment, this time I didn’t bring my baby! As my daughter was receiving her treatment the therapist recognised me and said ” oh you were here yesterday with a baby, we all heard you singing and we thought what a lucky baby!” I was certainly taken aback but I’m glad I wasn’t fearful anymore about singing in public because he is a lucky baby.
Can I tell you a secret? The truth is children don’t care if you’re not an amazing singer, they only ever respond if they feel the love. So sing them songs, especially songs from your culture or childhood that have a special place in your heart because that is what will make the most impact.
Happy Music Making