Singing for Children

Thoughts on mood, music and its impact on children

This weekend was my niece’s 5th birthday. In many ways the party was everything is what you would expect: 40 odd small people charging round shouting and laughing. There was gym equipment to play on and party food to be eaten (not to mention 40 layers of pass the parcel).

In the midst of this I found myself looking after the birthday girl’s younger brother. He’s usually a bonny wee chap but this weekend had been long and tiring for him so the noise proved too much. Being a good godparent, I offered to take him somewhere quiet for a break.

He was clearly upset as he cried into my shoulder blade while I walked him round the closed café. For want of something else to do that might soothe him I began singing to him. On a whim I chose the shanty “Bold Riley”. I’d love to say that the effect was instantaneous but it took a couple of verses. The crying slowly became more of a burble. Clearly, he preferred my singing to the screaming of 5 year olds, I went through my repertoire of quiet songs to sing to him. I’ve no idea what the staff thought of the whole affair.

I began thinking about the impact of singing on people and their moods, specifically in the shanty singing sessions I deliver. Previously when I’ve delivered the session I’ve opened with something easy and progressed to more complex responses and finish with something big and bold.

Now I’m thinking of an alternative approach: I’m thinking of building the set from a point of view of the emotion of each song. Definitely open with something big, engaging and simple to learn: it will get the students involved and overcome the natural reluctance to sing in public. Then progress to something more involved, I think. Build to something high energy and upbeat, to ensure that everyone is having fun. Previously I’ve ended on something big and enthusiastic but now, maybe, I might opt for something more low key, tuning down the energy and the volume to bring everyone back into the here and now so they’re ready to get on with the rest of the day. Having just tried it at home, it makes a more complete arc and a pleasing end point.

The power of song to evoke an emotion never ceases to impress and surprise me, the power of singing together even more so.

Thanks to my sister for agreeing to my posting this. She has since informed me that the wee fella loves music, having a mobile in his cot that plays Mozart. He clearly has high standards!


Posted by Past Participants Andy in Session design, Thoughts, 0 comments