Thursday, March 4, 2010

Aren't we all singers? or What happened to singing in the Classroom?

Here is a letter I wrote to Rick Morris, a renowned education workshop presenter and master problem-solver. I highly recommend checking out his New Management website.

What I see as the challenge in the subject of my music workshops is getting teachers to realize the value and rewards of singing regularly with their students. To engage in this, they have to be comfortable with their voices and be open to launching into songs with their classes.

The advantages to teaching with songs are many. One of the most obvious is rhythm and rhyming enhance input/output of concepts, vocabulary, etc. Many teachers use CDs for this purpose and that's fine. But I want them to be mindful that we are all natural music-makers and singers, and that uplifting our voices together in song is a life-affirming, creatively-fulfilling part of our human experience.

Yet it seems that so many have come to think that if you can't sing perfectly you shouldn't sing at all. When teachers believe that they can't sing, they convey this notion to their students; the students pick up the idea that there are people who don't sing or that have bad voices. Singing and singing together may be considered a luxury or worse, trivial.

Problem: While singing is inherent in each of us, invaluable as a means to build community and foster safety, and is an excellent classroom tool, it is getting lost as a communal means of sharing information, feelings and beauty. It is being relegated to special occasions and experts only.


  1. You're right, Lisa! We ARE all natural singers!
    My 5 year old makes up little songs all the time. When I was a child I made up songs all the time too (actually, I still do now and then!)

    But, I still think we could use even MORE music in our lives. Thanks for the reminder!!!

  2. well, here's another question. how can you get everyone to be runners? i'm not trying to diminish this issue. as a music instructor, i would love every teacher, and student to feel comfortable singing. yes, most of us can talk and walk. does that mean we all must run, dance, and sing? i don't have the answer to this.

    however, here's a thought. i most recently heard an interesting response to the quote "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." maybe the question isn't so much "how to make them drink", as to "how do you make them thirsty?"

  3. You sure know how to expand my mind here! Great correlation you make about how talk is to sing, as walk is to run. And they're all healthy things to do.

    There's the expression "to dance is to live; to live is to dance." I believe more dancing would be good for all of us, too.

    I want to know what you've come up with for making us "thirsty" for the arts. I think you're really on to something with that!