Friday, September 24, 2010

Going a bit off topic -- The Power of Music

In late July, I read an entry on the Laurie Berkner Band Blog and it talks about the magic of music. A paragraph there reads, "We want to know if your kids have any "magic songs" - what songs make them feel happy, special, and/or magical inside, or calms them down? What song is a "must-have" in the car? What about at bedtime? Bath time? Etc." (full article at Ever since reading this, I've been thinking about it and how it relates to each of my 3 children. Now the time has come to put some of these thoughts here.....

Probably the earliest songs that we sung to our kids to calm them down that they reacted positively to were songs that we made up our own words, or at least modified the existing words to ones that seem to fit the moment. For example, I sing the "I Love You" song, usually to Rachel and Simon (until recently) every night before bed. It's sung to the same tune as "Are You Sleeping" and it's sung through 3 times -- it mentions each kid's name in each of the three positions and when singing it to only Rachel and Simon, I'd switch the order daily as to who's name went first. We also sing "Go To Sleep" (Brahm's Lullabye) with a slight modification to words that Kevin made up for Daniel when he was a baby. The words to both songs are below.

However, there have been many other songs have also done the trick. For Daniel, the first one was probably children's song "The Ants Go Marching". He always enjoyed anticipating the next number or the rhyme or performing the motions. But when he was about 16-18 months old (or so), we discovered "The Wiggles" on Playhouse Disney. This was a HUGE introduction for him for many many many songs. His favorite song, from that time forward for probably close to a year, was "Rockabye Your Bear", by The Wiggles. He loved the song, in any form that it was performed. It would be a direct performance on the screen, or at a "Wiggly Concert", or it would be sung by myself or his Dad -- any way he'd get to hear that song, it would be a hit. He also discovered "Can You Point Your Fingers and Do The Twist". This one didn't have the same impact right away, but he loved to dance to it, and after Rachel and Simon were born, Kevin would sing it while putting Rachel and/or Simon in their carseat, Daniel would dance to it, and it would keep them all entertained (which makes it the first comfort song for Rachel and Simon).

Then, when Daniel was just over 2.5 and the twins were about 10 months old, we discovered the Laurie Berkner Band, by recommendation of a friend of mine. We started seeing her performances on (then) Noggin's Move To The Music that was sometimes tacked on at the end of a VOD Blue's Clues (Daniel discovered Blue's Clues just when I stopped working). The two songs that kept coming up were "Under A Shady Tree" and "Googleheads". The kids liked "Shady Tree", but "Googleheads" continues to be an ABSOLUTE favorite of Rachel's. As soon as she hears it coming on either Jack's Big Music Show (which the twins LOVE) or just the next song playing in the car, she starts shouting "EYES"!!!!!!!

We have also used songs to help Rachel get through tasks that she doesn't want to complete. I will sing a song to her and when the song is over, the job is done. The most popular ones for that is "I'm Not Perfect" or "Mister" (both LBB songs) but we've done several songs by The Wiggles in the past as well, and it's usually while I'm combing out her hair. She knows to anticipate when I'm getting near the end and we always end these songs the same way. I've also started using this technique sometimes when she's sitting on the toilet -- she needs to try until the song is done. Then she can get up and play. It's helpful to get her to stop rushing which often leads to accidents.

Simon is the most interesting one of the three when it comes to music. From the time he was about 4 weeks old, we noticed that he responds to music. My parents stayed with us for a week to help me make the adjustment from being a mother to 1 to a mother to 3 (my in-laws were here the week before) and also just give me some extra hands to help as I recovered from the c-section. My mother noticed one of her first days here that he would quiet down if she started to sing to him. It didn't matter what. Just the sound of a melody was soothing. Consequently, I've been looking into music programs for him starting this term, whereas I'm waiting a little longer for the other two -- if he is so responsive to music, we should be using it. Unfortunately, most programs I've found for preschoolers, much less preschoolers with special needs, meet during the day, while Simon's in school. So, I'm trying to do things on my own and will look for next term. I can only imagine how wonderful that outlet would be for him -- and it would be so nice for him to have his own special way of expressing himself.

Rachel and Simon's newest "magic song(s)" are both by the Laurie Berkner Band. The first one is "The Goldfish Song". This gets sung EVERYWHERE -- at mealtime, while waiting for the bus, while getting dressed, in the tub, on any little whim -- the only place I don't let them sing it is at bedtime. They both love it. Also, for the last two weeks or so, I've replaced the "I Love You" song with "Moon Moon Moon". The strange part is, the first time I sung it to them, I realized about halfway through, I didn't know all the words (or tune) if I wasn't singing along with the CD. So, I made it up. I was mostly wrong, but that doesn't matter -- I have to continue singing it just that way. Funnily enough, when they hear it the correct way on the CD, it doesn't phase them. That's Laurie's way and Mommy sings it Mommy's way at bedtime. No worries!

But all 3 of my kids love to sing along with music whenever they possibly can. Sometimes they'll do it at the top of their lungs. Other times, in a high-pitched monotone. Sometimes with the dancing. Sometimes while they are simply lying in bed. But they always want to hear it.

It's just the "Magic of Music".

I Love You Song (to the tune of "Are You Sleeping") (sung 3 times, each time moving the names around so that everyone is first, middle and last name recited once)
I love Rachel; I love Simon
Yes I do; Yes I do
I love Daniel too
I love all of you

Go To Sleep (Brahm's Lullabye) (name order switches nightly)
Go to sleep; Go to sleep
Go to sleep Rachel and Simon
Go to sleep; Go to sleep
Go to sleep both of you.

You've had a busy day
And you should be so tired
I hope that you're sleepy
And that you're not wired.

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