Thursday, May 20, 2010

"All I really need is a song in my heart..."

Nannying gives me a lot of exposure to a close cousin of children's literature: children's music. My charges listen as closely to lyrics as they do to stories, and it's a lot of fun to see how they understand both.

A (20 months) has certain sounds or gestures she makes at appropriate times. Lately, the girls are listening to a lot of Raffi. Every time the farmer "stamps his feet and claps his hands," A knows it's time to clap her hands, too. (I may need to teach her to stamp her feet, too, just because that would be really cute.) She has routines just like that with books; there are pages for making animal sounds and pages for pointing out the moon. Newest development: when we get to the B page in Dr. Seuss's ABC, she says, "Ba ba ba ba." Not that I'm proud of her or anything.

For S (4 and a half), listening to music is more a matter of interpretive dance. She doesn't just happy-tap with Elmo, she emotes with Ernie, clutching her heart and swaying until I am fully convinced that she, like her orange accompanist, does not want to live on the moon. The meanings stay with her, too. Just like with books, she'll bring up questions later that come straight from songs, or she'll sing her own versions, just as she makes up forgivably derivative stories.

So yeah, consider me on the list of people who support the use of music in education. You can put my name right under Will Schuster's.


  1. Yeah, mine either (not that I had as much music exposure as you did). But hey, at least it improves the odds.

  2. Hi Shoshana,

    This is Emilie at Damsels in Regress. I really like your blog! Did you name it after the scene in Anne of Green Gables where Anne walks the ridgepole of Moody Sturgeon's house and breaks her ankle? (If not, tell me where else this is a reference to!:)

  3. do the kids listen to the raffi song "warm up time" when my mom taught preschool my dad had to play it way to many times to make old school illegal copies on his dual casste stereo my sister and i were in middle school at the time and had to mock it by calling it walnut time

    also while nannying watch out for miss babcock

  4. I really think you would have enjoyed JonArno's Poetry class because he is quite impassioned about how music functions as a text for children!

  5. Emilie, nice to "meet" you! I like your blog as well. Yes, my blog title is an homage to Anne and her foolishness. (Thank goodness for Anne's foolishness!)

    Michie, no, I've never heard that Raffi song. There may have to be some YouTubing. And don't worry, this nanny watches out for everything from Niles the Butler to talking umbrella handles.

    Kristin, that doesn't surprise me at all based on his poetry. I'm sorry I didn't get to take the class with him (though I also learned a lot when I took it with Lissa Paul).

  6. Shoshana, I really enjoyed this entry, and as soon as I read the title, I had to smile because I began singing Raffi's tune in my head. My wife and I have a 19-month old, and Raffi is our constant car companion these days. Nothing like music to enjoy a car ride that might otherwise become chaotic! Thanks for the great entry and blog!

  7. Thanks, Luke! I agree - thank goodness for kids' music that adults can enjoy (and not just have to endure).