Singing a Peace Song

Singing and music with children is transforming.  It happens every time; as soon as I pull out the autoharp or ‘song jar’ I have a classroom of children who are craving the experience of music and singing.  I’m not a big fan of playing a music CD with children, with the exception of one song; “Bells of Peace” by Jack Hartman.  I love that song, and so do other teachers and children in our school.  Liam just adores the song.

Liam alone

Each October children gather at our school’s Peace Pole.  It’s an obelisk with ‘peace’ written in multiple languages.  We sing songs of peace as part of a rededication ceremony.  Something wonderful happened at our ceremony last week.  When the entire school began to sing “Bells of Peace” I caught Liam’s eye, and he caught mine.  We sang together.  It was just the two of us even though the room was overflowing with children, families, and teachers.  We were alone, yet together.  We sang our hearts out.  And, we sang our hands out, as we use sign language with this song.

Of course we have to practice many times.  The words, “They ring from your heart”,

Liam, heart

“Your mind and your hands”

Liam, hands

…are very powerful words.  They’re words that you feel when you sing.  Sometimes you have a tough time singing because the words get caught in your throat.  That happens to me.

Teachers talk about ‘moments’, capsules of time that make a difference or leave a big impact.  Singing with Liam was one of those moments.  Music is everything to young children; it engages their minds and moves their bodies, it reaches deep into their souls to make them laugh, or beg to sing again and again.  It’s that powerful.  That’s why I sing to a child in the bathroom, or at rest time, or sing on the playground.  I sing any moment I get, because it makes a difference.

Yo-Yo Ma said, “Music is the glue that joins people together.”  He was so right.  Liam and I were certainly glued.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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