Music – For Education, For Therapy

Although I have no real musical abilities – I can’t read sheet music and even the guitar and harmonica defy me when I attempt to make music on them – I dearly love music. I’m mainly a rock and roll kind of girl, although it fluctuates and rolls – sometimes celtic, sometimes metal, a little grunge, a healthy dose of alternative, and more.

I am attempting to share with Emily this love – and we regularly listen to Dino O’Dell, Mr. Stinky Feet, the Laurie Berkner Band, Peter Paul and Mary, and Beethoven’s Wig – to name a few.

I have sung to both my girls from birth onward. Silly songs, kids songs, made-up, impromptu songs – you name it.

Singing to Teach Language

I had read somewhere that hearing music and learning to sing helps kids to develop their language skills, so I have often made a habit of singing in the car, at home, while cooking, cleaning, or when my daughter’s were first waking up and going to sleep. So, yeah, basically anytime is good for singing!

Music for Therapy

The other day Emily was singing what she refers to as her ‘champion song’ – which is basically an anything goes kind of song that tends to go on and on and on. It’s good for car rides, especially if I’m alone with her and really need to concentrate on driving. She finished and asked, “Mama, is singing good for you?”

“Actually yes, Emily, it is very good for you.” I then told her about Gabrielle Gifford, the politician who was shot in the head in Arizona, and how she learned to speak again by singing to her favorite music. I explained that the woman had been hurt very badly in the head. “Sometimes, when there is a bad head injury, people can’t walk, feed themselves, or talk. Music therapy helped re-create the paths in the brain that she needed to get those things done.

By the way, I felt rather brilliant for describing the neurons and synapses as roads and highways. “We use roads to get from place to place, and in the brain, it is kind of the same, we need roads that get us to things like eating, walking, talking.” I explained, “And music therapy helps create those roads in the brain. In some ways, I helped you build your own roads in your brain by singing and talking to you.”

‘Cause It’s Fun

My eldest, Danielle once commented, “Mom, you are the only one I know who will make up a song about trying to get out of a parking lot.” She said this as I was belting out an impromptu song questioning the thought processes behind the design of a convoluted parking lot design that had me driving in circles.

Sometimes I will begin to sing, loudly, if Emily is about to fall asleep in the car and I need for her to be awake. Or if I simply want to entertain her.

She now does the same thing, singing about landmarks, places we are going, just about anything that comes to mind.

Beethoven’s Wig and Haydn’s Surprise Symphony

Emily now ad libs songs with a classical base theme. She learned this from listening to Beethoven’s Wig – which introduces children to classical music, but with a funny kid-centric twist…Wikipedia sez…

“Beethoven’s wig is very big”, to the tune of the allegro con brio of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

And the song Haydn’s Surprise Symphony brought back memories of middle school where I distinctly remember being introduced to classical music with Haydn’s Symphony which made me jump, along with the rest of the class, when the instruments quite suddenly blare out. I loved the story behind it as well.  Or what I thought was the story. According to Wikipedia…

In Haydn’s old age, George August Griesinger, his biographer, asked whether he wrote this “surprise” to awaken the audience. Haydn replied:

No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new, and in making a brilliant debut, so that my student Pleyel, who was at that time engaged by an orchestra in London (in 1792) and whose concerts had opened a week before mine, should not outdo me. The first Allegro of my symphony had already met with countless Bravos, but the enthusiasm reached its highest peak at the Andante with the Drum Stroke. Encore! Encore! sounded in every throat, and Pleyel himself complimented me on my idea.[1]

No matter, I still love the symphony.

What kind of music do you homeschool with?


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