‘Voice, Movement and Play’ is the name of a new group for parents and children that I have recently been involved in and an experience I had to share.
As adults we are often trying to reconnect to our playful child, looking to re-experience our initial attachments, and learn how to just have fun again and explore the world in a safe environment. It is exciting and a privilege to be part of this initial play and singing experience with children. Parents have often reflected with me that they don’t know what to sing to their children, or are worried because they don’t know how to sing and believe they sound terrible. The songs we sing in the group are all songs that we grew up singing and are simple and fun, like nursery rhymes and folk songs. I say to them ‘What you sing is not important, the best voice is not important, what is important is that you spend some time connecting, nurturing, and having some fun with your children. So let’s get singing, moving, and playing’.
We spend the first part of the group within the structure of the sons singing such playful favourites as ‘Three little monkeys’ or ‘Old Macdonald had a farm’. I gauge whether the kids attending the group need more movement or just love to sit and sing and use songs that are good for these needs. We also involve playful aspects to this such as becoming monkeys or choosing things on the farm that the kids are interested in like horses. The children also get to play with instruments involving a sensory experience into their play and giving accompaniment, rhythm and beats to songs. We go with what interests the children most and have fun with whatever we make.
The last part of the group is always free time to play with other kids, make more music, or draw allowing the children to explore their environment and trust their own instincts. I love watching them get creative with puppets and cushions, jumping and playing together.
In the group we spend time singing songs that are all designed for babies and children. They all have movements that benefit brain and body development, and they all involve using voice to connect and play with the children. Recent research shows that singing lullabies to your baby is incredibly beneficial and music with your children has lots of great effects for mood and emotion regulation.
In a recent study with paediatric patients at the Greater Ormond Street Hospital in London it was found that singing lullabies to children reduces anxiety and perceived pain. They found that live singing is likely to soothe pain to a greater extent than recorded music. This is because facial expression and visual stimulation are important. Equally as important is that the adult can suit their style of singing voice to meet the needs of the child.
So whether you are singing to your inner child or one sitting in front of you. Whether you are in the playground, at home on the lounge, allow yourself some fun and lets sing together!
‘The only thing better than singing is more singing’ – Ella Fitzgerald