We Can Teach the World to Sing (Singing for All Ages)
by Janice Jarrett, Ph.D.
Humans Are Wired for Sound: For up to four months after birth, babies remember music they listened to in the womb. Before she could even crawl, I heard my daughter singing along to melodies from TV themes. And according to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, singing was a path to the evolution of speech.
Classes for Toddlers: Who hasn’t seen toddlers bouncing and singing to music, even before they can walk? Their whole bodies reflect the joy music inspires. Happily, there are group classes for toddlers and preschoolers that enhance developmental physical and social stages of early childhood with movement, simple musical instruments, and singing.
Lessons in Grade School: I’ve had more than one call from mothers saying: “She won’t stop singing. Can you please give my six-year-old voice lessons? She won’t stop asking.” Some six-year-olds are ready for one on one lessons. Age-appropriate music has repetition and rhyme schemes, stories, and easy melodies. The fun involved in music-making invites engagement, self-expression, and develops both physical dexterity and confidence. Children learn more and are more motivated to learn when learning is fun.
Lessons for Higher Grades: Confidence and a sense of achievement can be particularly helpful during the sometimes painful or challenging middle and high school years. Even for shy students, singing can offer a way to excel and help strengthen personal identity for a young person coming into his or her own. Music’s variety offers a broad cultural exposure, and the discipline involved in learning it is challenging but attainable. Music’s goals provide “transferable” skills that enhance other subjects like math, science, and literary arts. Of note, microsurgery is common among influential contemporary singers. Learning proper techniques at this young age is a way to avoid harm, and protect vocal health no matter the preferred music style.
Voice Lessons for Adults: Scientists continue to affirm that music stimulates the healing and happiness chemicals in the brain, not to mention benefits to mental health. Many of my adult students take lessons because they miss singing like they used to. Adult students with little experience, and those who were discouraged from singing while young, often say they’ve always wanted to know if they could sing in tune. I can’t adequately express how gratifying it is to watch their progress, returning confidence and technique to former singers, and helping beginners, whether it’s to sing professionally, or to sing with confidence for their own enjoyment.
In Steve Martin’s play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” even Einstein and Picasso, if they hadn’t chosen science and art, flat out stated that they would have become singers! We should teach the world to sing.