Why We Sing

Sing! Sing! Sing! It is so important to our health, our self-esteem, our sense of community, etc. We need to be reminded and need to remind others. Our voices are instruments we carry around with us at all times. We can make music in any place, at any time. It’s a gift we can give others, to sing and teach them how to sing.

Do you realize that most of us live in cultures where instead of making music, we consume music? We buy and sell and listen to music, but we don’t make music. There was a time before recorded music when almost every family had a piano in their home, and someone in the family knew how to play. Now? Everyone has a device that plays music for us.

I had a friend who took a trip to South Africa. In the area where she visited, she said the children sang all day long – as they were getting on the bus and going to school and in all other regular parts of life. Oh, to live in a culture like that!

So, our music classes are some of the only places where children will be encouraged to make music.

First, let me quote from one of my favorite books* to remind you how singing changes lives. And tomorrow… let me give you some ways you can explain it to others.

  • Music charges the brain, energizing it like a million-volt battery.
  • By charging the brain, singing serves a basic function – it satisfies the hunger for mental stimulation.
  • The ability to sing involves the ability to hear sounds inside the head. Inner hearing is an essential mental process – everything from reading to problem solving requires inner hearing.
  • Music making helps the child distinguish different sounds.
  • Making music is a terrific aid in improving memory.
  • When we sing and make music, we are using both sides of the brain – both the logical and the creative side. The more we sing, the more we strengthen the communication between the two sides of the brain.
  • Sound production is good for the body. When we sing in a group, we can feel the vibrations on our skin and in our internal organs. We are receiving a marvelous massage of sound, both inside and out.
  • The ability to sustain a rhythm, to feel the pulse both physically and mentally, is extremely important for learning.
  • Child can learn social skills through singing.
  • Music making can building communities, whether these communities are schools or entire cultures.
  • Singing brings people together and helps form group identities.
  • It is not good enough to stand by and listen to others. We must each make music ourselves.

Can I hear an “amen”? So what can we do?

  • Sing often! Create an atmosphere of singing.
  • Encourage those who feel self-conscious about their voices.
  • Sing in the range of your students. Younger students need to sing the notes between Middle C and the octave C above that. They need to practice sirens and saying “yoo hoo” and other activities to place their voices in the right range. They need to practice the difference between singing voice and talking voice. (see Voices post)
  • They need to sing inspiring songs that tell a story (ballads here, Spirituals here), songs that reflect their cultural identity (see songs from different countries & cultures) here, silly songs, songs with games and movement, etc.

Sing and Shine On: An Innovative Guide to Leading Multicultural Song by Nick Page

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