We do a lot of silly, impromptu singing in this house. Even before Miles was on the scene, Mr. Chumsley and I would make up stupid songs about whatever we were doing. (Truth be told, it was mostly me, but Mr. Chumsley would sometimes get in on it too.) I’ve done a bit of semi-serious singing at various times in my life too*, but the silly singing is a constant.
Right from when he was born, Miles really responded to music. We’d make up silly words to familiar tunes, or just sing aimlessly about what was happening . We would spend hours singing to him, learning which songs worked best in different situations – getting him to stop crying in the middle of the night, or during a diaper change, or at other times finding out what would make him giggle. Throughout this time we heard various theories about music and babies, and figured all that really mattered was that we were all having fun. We didn’t sign up for any classes or anything, singing was just a part of what we did.
Back in July, Miles started singing tunes that we recognized – Frere Jacques and Row Row were the first to be mastered. It was so amazing to hear his little voice piping out more or less recognizable tunes and rhythms. Eighth notes gave him trouble at first, but now “sonnez les matines” is right on time. He is taking after me and mostly singing his own words to the songs, although every now and then he settles for the traditional lyrics.
We are now taking some music classes at the local community centre, and Miles adores them. It’s a parent participation class, so I really like it too! The philosophy behind it is really in keeping with our approach to singing around the house; the teachers believe that music should just be a part of everyday life, that everyone has the potential to be musical, and that music shouldn’t be just a passive experience. Anyone who’s seen Miles enraptured with a shaker or drum will know just how active toddler music-making can be!
Miles now sings himself to sleep most nights. We listen in on the baby monitor as he goes through his expanding repertoire, and grin to ourselves.
* Here is a shameless plug for my choir’s upcoming concert. You should come if you’re in town – it’s going to be great!