March 3, 2015

Cultivating a Love for Music and Singing Without Having To Hear Five Little Monkeys 700 Times A Day!

I wrote before about how we've had music playing throughout the day and how important I feel this is for my girls. I came across this article by Rice University Shepherd School of Music and just had to write about it. I've always known that singing is one of the "most important primary musical experience(s)." It doesn't matter if you can carry a tune or not, what matters is how the brain responds to singing and the many benefits children can attain from daily song:

“While singing, children develop listening and cooperative skills, coordination of the tongue and lips, gross and fine motor skills (through creative movement and keeping the beat), self-control, concentration skills and memory.”

"Singing encourages brain and language development. Reading, playing pretend games and singing are the three essential educational activities parents should do with a child."

I'm decent enough at singing and some of my favorite memories are of the musicals I did and being part of a choir in high school and college. My sister and I would spend hours just driving around belting our favorites from Wicked and Rent. I didn't put headphones on my belly while pregnant but I sang to them constantly. I also started early on building a playlist of for us to listen to during the day. I knew I wanted to expose them to a wide variety of music, not just children's songs.

I want them to learn to sing and appreciate the creativity of music in general. At the daycare we spent so much time listening to various children's cds non-stop every day. Even our rest time music was classic lullabies. One day I was so over it so popped my own ipod in with a playlist of my favorite songs. I added some of their favorites too like Hannah Montana, Fresh Beat Band and Disney songs. The kids loved the mix and I didn't lose my mind. We also replaced our lullabies with an Irish Relaxation playlist that we still listen to at night here. Kids can appreciate good music just as much as we can and it doesn't need to be kids version either, although the Rock-A-Bye Baby mixes are amazing, we have an entire playlist of them.

It's one thing to hear music all day and something else entirely to cultivate a love for singing which I believe to be truly beneficial, much like the article I referenced. It's the ultimate release to just rock out when you're angry or sing until you cry when your heart is broken. Sappy country break-up songs have gotten me through some of my roughest times. As a teen the angsty whines of emo music made my life liveable. Frank Sinatra's My Way and Yellowcard's View From Heaven got my sister and I through our grandfather's death. Even now at 30 years old when I'm having a bad day I just put on Let It Go and sing my heart out.

So, save your sanity, skip the children's CDs and just expose your kids to real music! They'll get plenty of their ABCs and Five Little Monkeys at school, playgroup or by you teaching them. No need to have a marathon of The Wiggles in the car every day unless you want to or your kid demands it ('cuz whining over that could drive you just as crazy!) Whip up your own playlist and be sure to add my favorites too!

Also, before I ever even dreamed of becoming a mother I would hear parenting love songs and my heart would feel so happy so of course I made sure to add those to our playlist. I'm starting my list for you with as many of these as I can find because I feel like it is one of the true joys of being a Mom - singing these lovely songs to your little one. I hope through daily exposure to good music and singing I can illustrate my love for them and help them understand the joy that is singing your heart out.

Ideas for A Playlist both Mom and Babies Will Love


Parenting Love Songs 

I can't listen to some of these without crying. When they come on I put a baby on my hip and laugh through the tears while we dance and I sing to them. Some of them are real love songs but the lyrics totally work for baby.

Love of My Life - Carly Simon - My all-time favorite. We sing it every day.
"From the moment I first saw you, the second that you were born, I knew that you were the love of my life. Quite simply the love of my life."

The Promise - Tracy Chapman
"Oh, I've longed for you, and I have desired, to see your face, your smile; to be with you wherever you are. Remembering, your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace. I'll find, my way, back to you. If you'll be waiting."

You and Me Against The World - Helen Reddy
"And when one of us is gone, and one of us is left to carry on, then remembering will have to do. Our Memories alone will get us through. Think about the days of me and you, You and Me against the World"

Can't Help Falling In Love - Ingrid Michaelson (Our wedding song!)
"Like a river flows, so surely to the sea, oh my darling so it goes, some things are meant to be."

I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders
"When the night falls on you, baby and you're feeling all alone, you won't be on your own, I'll stand by you."

Lullaby - The Dixie Chicks
"As you wander through this troubled world, in search of all things beautiful, you can close your eyes when you're miles away and hear my voice like a serenade."

I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
"There's no need to complicate. 'Cause our time is short. This oh, this oh, this is our fate. I'm yours."

In My Life - The Beatles 
"But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compared to you."

God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
"I may not always love you, but long as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it, I'll make you so sure about it. God only knows what I'd be without you."

Sweet Child Of Mine - Guns N' Roses
"Now and then when I see her face, she takes me away to that special place and if I stared too long, I'd probably break down and cry. Oh, oh, sweet child of mine."

Landslide - Fleetwood Mac (or Dixie Chicks)
"Well, I've been afraid of changing, 'cause I've built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, even children get older, and I'm getting older too. Oh, I'm getting older too"

I Will Take You Home - Grateful Dead (This was my father daughter dance song at my wedding)
"Just when everything gets scary, Daddy's come 'round for his darlin' again. Hold my hand with your little fingers. Daddy's loving arms gonna gather you in."

Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
"Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by."

Never Saw A Miracle - Curtis Stigers
"But I never saw a miracle, 'til baby I found you, I prayed I'd find my heaven, then all my prayers came true"

Lullaby (Good Night My Angel)  - Billy Joel 
"I promised I would never leave you, and you should always know, wherever you may go, no matter where you are, I never will be far away."

Just The Two Of Us - Will Smith
"Touched your head gently, felt my heart melt, 'cause I know I loved you more than life itself. Then to my knees, and I begged the Lord please Let me be a good daddy, all he needs."

I'll Always Be Right There - Michelle Branch
"When you're all alone, and you need a light, someone to guide you through the night, just remember that I am here, to hold you close and dry your tears."

Country Songs about Parenting

Country music is a goldmine for sappy yet sweet parenting songs and some of my absolute favorites. If you can stomach the twang these are guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye while you croon to your little one.

It Won't Be Like This For Long - Darius Rucker
"It won't be like this for long. One day we'll look back laughing at the week we brought her home. This phase is gonna fly by, so baby just hold on It won't be like this for long."

Then They Do - Trace Adkins 
"I swear that I can't wait till they grow up. Then they do, and that's how it is. It's just quiet in the mornin', Can't believe how much you miss, all they do and all they did. You want all the dreams they dreamed of to come true, then they do."

In My Daughter's Eyes - Martina McBride
"And when she wraps her hand around my finger, oh it puts a smile in my heart. Everything becomes a little clearer, I realize what life is all about."

Teenage Daughters - Martina McBride -
"Their beautiful, wild and free.Everything we wish we could be. But their still crazy. Oh you know, the make us crazy."

All-American Girl - Carrie Underwood
"And now, he's wrapped around her finger, she's the center of his whole world. And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect All-American girl."

My Wish - Rascal Flatts
"My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to. Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, you never need to carry more than you can hold."

Butterfly Kisses - I like the Faith Hill and Tim McGraw version -
"And I thank god for all of the joy in my life Oh, but most of all, for butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer."

I Loved Her First - Heartland
"From the first breath she breathed, when she first smiled at me, I knew the love of a father runs deep."

My Little Girl - Tim McGraw
"Sometimes you're asleep I whisper "I Love You!" in the moonlight at your door. As I walk away, I hear you say, "Daddy Love You More!"

Just Fishin' - Trace Adkins
"She ain't even thinkin' 'bout what's really going on right now but I guarantee this memory's a big 'un. We ain't only fishin'."

Tough Little Boys - Gary Allen
"Well I didn't cry, when Old Yeller died, at least not in front of my friends, but when tough little boys grow up to be dads, they turn into big babies again."

I've Been Watching You - Randy Atkins - "I've been watching you Dad, ain't that cool? I'm your buckaroo I want to be like you."

Stealing Cinderella - Chuck Wicks
"If he gives me a hard time, I can't blame the fella, I'm the one who's stealing Cinderella"

Some Songs On Our Playlist Just Because I Want My Girls To Know Them 

(don't judge me)


Under Pressure - David Bowie and Queen - To help them release frustration and get over the bad days. Because no matter how stressed I am I can sing it and feel better

Let It Go - Queen Elsa of Arendelle/Idina Menzel - To help them feel empowered. Because when the beat drops you feel invincible. Also, the message isn't too bad either.

Respect - Aretha Franklin - To teach them that if he doesn't respect you he doesn't deserve you.

Defying Gravity - Elpheba and Glinda/Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith - To show them the joy of singing a duet with your sister and how a great show tune can change any bad mood.

The Luckiest - Ben Folds - To help them know what a real love song should sound like.

My Way - Frank Sinatra - To get in touch with their roots. Half my family is Italian and we love Frankie. It also has special meaning for my grandfather.

Fifteen - Taylor Swift - To help them through what was one of the hardest times in my own life and to teach them that in their life they will do much greater things than dating a boy on the football team.

MmmBop - Hanson - To teach them that Mommy was clearly a teeny-bopper to hold on to the ones that really care 'cause in an mmmbop they could be gone.

You Mean Everything To Me - Shawn Mullins - To teach them that love heals everything and they are no exception to that rule. And yes this is that guy who also has a song called Lullaby that is not really a lullaby. This one is beautiful.

Happier - Guster - To teach them that it's important to be happy but not to hurt others in the process. Isn't that what everyone else gets from this song?

Same Love - Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis - To teach them acceptance.

Don't Stop Believin' - Journey -AKA The soundtrack of my college years.  To teach them that sometimes you just need to belt out an 80s rock anthem to feel better.

Call And Answer - Barenaked Ladies - To teach them to think of others feelings and how their actions have consequences.

Perfect - Pink - To teach them that they are perfect just as they are.

Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen - To share an old family favorite. Because... it's epic and I remember my parents played it constantly when I was growing up - it was my mom's "cleaning" song.

Try - Colbie Caillat - This one is self-explanatory if you listen to it.

So there's my ever-incomplete list of songs for my girls. It works for us as I love singing and hope they get the same joy out of it as I do. What are some songs that have special meaning to you that you want your babies to know? Will you sing to them like I sing to mine?


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