One of my most favorite things in the whole wide world is using music in the preschool classroom. I could sing and dance all day if given the chance - starting with morning greeting right through the late afternoon wrap up!
Years ago, I stumbled on the secret to building my knowledge of preschool music and fingerplays. This is something you won't be taught in early childhood education classes and you won’t read it in books either so be sure to get your pen out and write it down...
PRACTICE IN YOUR CAR!
Yep, when you’re driving around - turn off the radio and just start singing preschool songs! At first it may seem awkward. When you pull up at a stop light and the guy in the car next to you is looking at you like you've lost your mind, just pretend to be coughing or something.
Use a tape recorder
Another thing I carry around is a little hand held tape recorder. I sing the song into the recorder when I am first learning it so when I get into the car and can't remember the words or tune, I just flip out my recorder and hit play. Then I turn if off and sing it without the help.
Years ago I was returning to Indiana from a trip to an early childhood conference in New Orleans. I had to drive straight through and didn't arrive in Indy until the next morning. What saved my life and kept me awake all night? That little tape recorder with all the Jean Feldman songs (this was before she had any recorded music you could buy). I had taped her singing at the conference and sang them over and over again all the way home. I still know every one of those songs by heart. Try singing for 12 straight hours or more in a row and you will remember them too!
Are you kidding?
No, the reality is that the better you know a song the better you will be able to use it successfully in the classroom. You can use music all throughout the day to give directions, teach concepts, and entertain but you have to really know the songs to do them well.
The better you know a song, the more you will like it and the more you will use it. When you sing a song that you know well - your students will pick up on your enthusiasm and grow to love the song too. Besides, after putting in all that practice, your going to want to make sure your students learn those songs:)
Not a Singer?
It doesn't matter. Just sing anyway. In fact, practicing in your car will help you build your confidence and your skills. Don't forget to also practice those chants, poems, and fingerplays too! But don't eliminate the music - your students will pick up on your attitude about singing so give it your best shot and just have fun!
I have a CD player so why do I need to sing?
CD's are fabulous too - they provide wonderful opportunities for music and movement as well as learning new songs to sing. However, there is nothing like being able to whip out a tune when you need your students to give you their attention, clean up the classroom, or wash their hands. Singing gives you more control over when, where, and how you can use the music and it role models a love for music.
Remember...You have the power to influence student attitudes about singing - so use it to help children love to sing!