[Dear Parents (a.k.a. "a child's first teacher"),
I write this out of an abundance of caution, and with the awareness that you know your child better than anyone else. As you listen to, comment on and converse with your children regarding their singing, please be lovingly affirming of their efforts, and critical only of the song's content and character, rather than the child's singing skill. A statement about one's voice is often perceived as a commentary about the child's personhood or character, whereas statements about external instruments are more easily externalized and received objectively.
While singing is a natural expression uninhibited by rules and formulae, singing tunefully is a learned (and often hard-earned) skill. It is important to beware of being overtly affirming or jokingly critical of the child's voice, which could inadvertently make our children uncomfortable, anxious, and reticent to try again. (Yes, even complimenting a child's voice can discomfit them, leading them to be highly self-critical.)
To me, there is nothing more indicative of the sheer essence of joy, hope, and humanity than a voice spontaneously raised in song. Through the years, I have had several friends, colleagues, and even students tell me that they loved to sing as young children, but that somewhere along the way, someone said some little thing that broke their spirit for singing. To my way of thinking, this is an intolerable tragedy.
Generally, children enjoy singing, and are inherently able to express themselves through music. It is our job, as supportive adults in the children's upbringing, to deliberately encourage the development of skills objectively while encouraging musical expression whole-heartedly. Thank you for co-teaching with me: I count myself very fortunate indeed that "my kids" have such great parents.
- What is this song about?
- What would happen if you sang this song slouched over / standing tall? Show me!
- If you were to add a new verse, how would it go?
- Is there a game for this song?
- Are there motions/movements for the song? Teach me!
- Is there more to this song?
- I learned a song like that when I was a kid, but mine sounded more like ___. How/where is my version different?
- Tap the rhythm for me!
- What is the highest/lowest note you know in the song?