Music-making doesn’t have to be serious. It can also be hilarious.
If you teach music in any capacity, think about the times it has most brought a smile to your students’ faces. For me, it’s when ridiculous silly songs and silly voices are used. Take for example the song about the tree in the wood. You know the one: “The nest was on the branch and the branch was on the tree and the tree was in the hole and the hole was in the ground …” Even my most reticent third graders will break into a giant grin and start singing heartily when that song is in the lesson plans for the day. They think they are just having a good time. I know that they are learning to sing and to love music.
Music in the Home
I can help these students begin to love music when I show them how much fun music is; however, if you are a music teacher or church musician, you know that you have a limited influence on the children you educate. The little amount of time you have with your students each week is important, but it cannot replace the amount of time children spend in their homes with their parents and families. When the parents and school are on the same page, the school merely supports the work the parents are doing in raising their children. When the parents and school are not on the same page, though, the hours a child spends at school are not enough to instill in that child that which we might wish him or her to know.
In order to know and to love music, children must grow up with it in their homes. Yes, singing hymns should be a priority for any household, but children should grow up surrounded by music-making of (nearly) any kind. Children will imitate those things adults do that look fun. When an adult, especially a parent or primary guardian, expresses joy in music-making, the child will quickly catch on and grow to love music.
Music That Is Silly and Humorous
This music-making can and should include silliness and good humor. My dad constantly made up little songs or came up with his own words to familiar melodies—even to hymn melodies!—that humorously teased his children. Our family not only went to church and sang hymns and took formal music lessons, but we also whistled and sang parodies and played Disney songs on the piano and listened to CDs of all types of music. We still all sing and make music delightedly because our family culture included music-making in every way, especially silly and humorous ways.
When a family develops a culture of music-making and parents instill the joy and the fun of it in their children, children come to love music. And even though they may delight in silly songs, they also come to love all music in general, including sacred music. The pastors at my church are on a mission to make our middle schoolers sing, especially during chapel. As one pastor commented, the boys need to sing so that when they become fathers, they can teach their families to love to sing. It is the father who leads his household and will affect his children’s church-going and hymn-singing attitudes for the rest of their lives. A household with a loving, committed father is a good thing; a household with a loving, committed father who loves to sing is a really good thing. My husband and I see the truth in this daily—not only are our mothers church musicians, but both of our fathers love to sing and sing in their homes regularly. We ourselves now love to make music and to sing.
Parents, music is a delightful and joyful thing. You should want your family to be comfortable making music and desirous of making music. Do not be frightened by what might feel like foreign territory to you. You all listen to and enjoy music, so share that with your children! Sing silly songs and make up parodies. Create music videos and dance around your living room. It is not as difficult as you might think. Teach music in your homes. Fathers, sing in front of your children. It is a gift you can give them that will bring them joy for the rest of their lives.
To start making music as a family, bring home the new children’s hymnal, One and All Rejoice