Mary Thienes - Schunemann
All young children love to sing!
When I taught kindergarten, years ago,
I would ask the children on the first day:
“Who loves to sing?” Every child would
raise their hand and shout “Me!” Needless
to say, this is not the case with all adults!
We so often are robbed of this joy of song.
I have heard many heart wrenching stories from adults who long to sing but
no longer can.
There is a saying from Zimbabwe: “If you can walk, you can dance, If you
can talk, you can sing!”
I encourage us to raise our voices joyfully with these wonderful children
in our care and keeping…they will return this joy tenfold and we as adults
can recover a birthright and deep sense of connection to a higher part of
ourselves we thought gone forever!
I remember as a child hearing humming and singing around our home,
especially from my grandparents. My grandfather Alvyn had a special
whistle he could do through his teeth! This happy sound permeated the
house every time we visited him. It is my greatest memory of him! My
grandmother Gladys always had lovely songs to sing and was forever drawing
us to the piano to sing with her. All homes and hearts are so gladdened by
Singing is a gymnasium for a child’s body and soul. Hiring a
private singing coach for your child can be one of the best things you
can do for them. Singing works deeply
into our children’s physiology: deepening breath and heart rate, altering
brain wave patterns and strengthening the immune system. It also releases
endorphins, the body’s pleasure hormones, into the brain and body. Singing
also exercises all the muscles in the head and neck, providing the pump
action which empties the Eustachian tubes, helping to keep children free
from middle ear infections! We all know how painful and damaging those can
be for children! Singing can also help to build a child’s confidence and
self-esteem, and can increase their capacity for self expression.
Recent research also indicates that a wide range of early music
experiences have a powerful effect on the preschooler and kindergarten age
child, influencing their language development, as well as increasing
concentration, memory, visual and listening skills, spatial orientation
and physical coordination. For children, we know how important these are
as building blocks for their future learning and success in life. And
singing can be done in such fun and meaningful ways!
Many children today suffer from a wide variety of ailments and imbalances,
from insomnia, to lack of sleep, to diabetes and depression. We now have
the second most highly depressed population of teenagers in this country,
second only to Japan. We must ask ourselves not only why is this
happening, but what can we do to help. Singing is one of the greatest
“Children are also experiencing a tremendous lack of sleep and rhythm in
their lives. Sleep as we know, is of critical importance to a child’s
health, well being and inner balance. The more we can establish a joyful
rhythmic organization to their day and evening before bed, it is more
possible to have a peaceful, ‘rest-filled ‘ sleep. We can create a
rhythmical; harmonizing mood by singing through the day and evening with
our children. In addition to having a harmonizing effect on their
physiological processes, singing lullabies before bed supports our
children emotionally, helping him or her towards balance and peace.”1
Our voice is our first and primary connection with our children. The baby
in utero begins forming the ear already at six weeks. In the mother’s
watery home, the vibration of voices and sounds rock and resound through
her growing, developing, tender body. In this way, we can help to form the
structure of her physical body, Studies have shown that singing can also
be tremendously calming to the unborn child.
After birth, the child is like one great listening ear. She listens with
her whole body. She will be most highly attuned to her mother’s voice. As
she grows, the voices of those around her become deep conveyors of love,
warmth and connection. Through our voices, out support and encouragement
can resound through our children, and become a healing balm for their
bodies and souls.
In their first two years, children babble all the sounds that exist on the
planet. We allow a child great joy by encouraging her to utilize her full
vocal potential for as long as possible without forcing her into exact
words too soon. We can also have fun imitating her at this age. It can be
highly freeing for our voices as well as very fun. When the child reaches
the age of one and a half to two and a half, she will focus on the mother
tongue spoken around her, and begin to imitate it more and more. It is
through our human interactions that singing, speech and laughter begin.
The child learns all of its vocabulary and speech skills through listening
to ‘live’ adult conversation!
A friend wrote me the other day: ”I get teary-eyed each time I hear my
children start to make up songs with silly words. Finding the words to
match the music is a very complex skill! They delight in themselves with
their silliness and at the same time they are processing their world in a
very special way! To sing about what happened today or what is going on
right now in the moment helps a child process and develop their growing
soul life. Yes, my children are always happiest when they are singing.
Musical transitions also make my children happier. Songs are so subtle and
deeply ingrained. I can call my children to the dinner table as many times
as I want, but when I start singing our blessing song…Blessings on the
Blossom, they move to the dining room table almost unconsciously, and how
much nicer an experience it is for them.”
If we start singing with our children when they are young, song will
become a part of family life that can continue into a child’s teenage
years. These years can be particularly troublesome for many children. It
is not an easy time to be a young adult in the world. What we can do as
parents and teachers is to expose our children to the best and highest
music we can find, music filled with idealism, joy, optimism and hope for
the future. These are qualities they urgently need to feel, and singing is
an easy, accessible, joyful way to fill them with these ideals.
Singing is one of our most direct ways to access our deepest spiritual
selves. All cultures of the world speak of the spiritual significance of
song and its deep health giving benefits. We can find simple ways to
integrate singing into out homes and classrooms and create meaningful,
deep memories for both children and adults. By integrating singing into
our homes and schools, we help to strengthen the health of our children
and our children’s children! Do not be discouraged if you feel you cannot
sing, or have been told you have no voice! The voice simply needs to sing
to dust the cobwebs away! Our voices are a God given gift and want to be
sung! Renew your friendship with your voice and the world of song again.
and sing, sing , sing with our children!
“Singing is the best form of illness prevention, the easiest
bridge-builder between human beings and the most wonderful gift adults can
give to their children! Singing can help generations navigate the time and
space that separates them, thus weaving a bridge of love, health and joy
around the world!”
1,2 Dr. Michaela Glockler, M.D.
Pediatrician, Dornach, Switzerland
by Expressed Permission of : Mary
Mary Thienes- Schunemann
has a bachelor's degree in Psychology, a musical instructor for LifeWays
childcare trainings, is a Waldorf Teacher, music educator, singer,
composer, inspired mother and homemaker! She teaches singing workshops
around the country, and gives private music lessons in her home in
southeastern Wisconsin. She is the president of the Rafael Foundation for
New Impulses in Music, and is the director of the women's vocal ensemble
Avalon a cappella. She works out of the principles of the School of
Uncovering the Voice, and has studied singing extensively in Europe and
America since 1989.
on the links to read our articles by
about Mary Thienes-Schunemann
the Soul : Sing a Song with Baby
Children Sleep . . .
are Love Songs
Michaela Glockler M.D.