Yesterday a child in my class had a very difficult drop-off. All the words in the world from Mom, and all her hugs and reassurances just didn’t make a dent. I was equally unsuccessful in helping Mom to say goodbye and leave. Eventually she just had to leave. And, there was her child, crying and not wanting to be consoled at all. We headed outside to the playground, and this child simply sat down on the walkway, three steps beyond the door, full of tears. I sat down right beside her, and then I started to sing. The first song was, “Oh Mr. Sun”. I sang that song so many times, yet each time I would change phrases like, “please shine down on me” to substitute the name of that child. Then, I changed phrases to name other children, the ones that she could see close by. At this point she was not crying, but certainly was not ready to play.
So, I sang again. Actually, it was non-stop singing, making up words to any tune that came into my head. I just kept singing about the children, the playground, the birds; anything that popped into my head. When I did this, I made sure the words were rhyming words. If I started a phrase, I often stopped at the rhyming word. Eventually, she chimed in to fill in that word. Then we moved to the big swing. I made the swinging match the beats of the music. This is where things changed. The swing added natural rhythm to the song. That rhythm is the core of music; it’s what brings all feelings to the surface. It is soothing, whether it makes you cry or feel good. It is the heart of passion in music. We sang, swinging in the swing, over and over again.
I kept on singing, and she sang along. She laughed when I grasped for rhyming words, or when I made up a tune that was fast or slow, high or low. Now she was part of this. Together, we sang our hearts out. Singing works! In the simplest of ways, it makes you feel good, and it is pleasurable. In a deeper way, it is very connective, bonding you to a person, a time or a place. Music does this too, but singing brings music full circle. Pretty powerful stuff.
I frequently do my singing in the children’s bathroom at school. I’ll sit on the bench while they do their business and wash their hands, and just make up something; often about our current chapter reading book, or about a math game. It’s easy and fun to sing words, any words at all. We’ll sing adding numbers, sing about the characters in books, sing about each other. A song seems to ‘cement’ words and concepts, make them more powerful. It reinforces what we have learned in a fun way. A song can be a mini lesson, much more than rhyming and syllables.
Most importantly, singing is the heart and soul of connecting with each other. There were no words to help this child when she came to school. Even a hug was rebuffed. Yet, singing brought her comfort, and that comfort allowed her to participate in so many things. I didn’t need my autoharp; the singing alone did the job. It was a wonderful morning.