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Singing Children, Happier Children

by 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 feel they
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 keepingthey 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 song!
Singing is a gymnasium for a childs 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 childrens physiology: deepening breath and heart rate,
altering brain wave patterns and strengthening the immune system. It also
releases endorphins, the bodys 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 childs 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 illness preventions!
Children are also experiencing a tremendous lack of sleep and rhythm in their
lives. Sleep as we know, is of critical importance to a childs 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 mothers 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 mothers 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 songBlessings 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 childs 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 childrens 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

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.