As a vocalist, singing has always been important to me. Growing up, I always noticed how most people shied away from singing, and aside from the musicians I know, that still seems to be the case.
I hear things like “oh no, I don’t have a good voice” or “you sing so much better than me!”, and I am here to tell anyone who is guilty: stop it!!
Your voice is great the way it is, no matter what you believe. Please remove those phrases from your vocabulary if you’ve said them, because I am going to tell you why everyone should be singing!
The traditions of singing go back thousands of years.
Back in the olden days, singing was a way to share stories, pass on information, teach children important lessons, and most of all, connects us to those we sing with. Years ago, it wasn’t about who was the best singer or who could hit the highest notes, but about connection and community.
This is still true today, and we know that those who participate in group singing describe greater connections to their peers. Singing is also good for our respiration, heart rate, clearing out sinuses (seriously), and releasing those happy hormones. Singing literally makes us better!
Some of the first sounds we hear are our parents’ voices.
When we are in utero, we begin to hear the world around us, muffled and filtered through our mother’s womb. We hear our mother’s and father’s voices, as well as the music that they listen to and the world around them.
Tiny babies have strong reactions to their parents’ voices and familiar music, even at just weeks old. Babies will orient themselves toward those familiar sounds, and throughout childhood (and arguably life), children have the strongest reactions to their parents’ voices.
So often in music class, parents tell me that they don’t want to sing because “my child likes your voices so much more”, but that simply isn’t true! I see so much more engagement and bonding happen between parents and their children when mom and dad begin to sing. I might have a pretty voice, but they’ve got the most important voice.
Communication can be built through singing.
When children are on the verge of a communication breakthrough, you will often hear them babbling and making sounds that mimic the contours of speech. That musical babbling they’re making is preparing them to communicate. As caregivers and parents, you can validate those sounds, and echo or respond back to them, which will definitely get the attention of a child and encourage further responses.
Singing is also an excellent way to naturally repeat key words and phrases that children are trying to master. All music has repetition, but any part of a song can be easily repeated to create more opportunities to target specific words or phrases.
Singing can be a great way for children to explore themselves.
For most of us, our voice is our loudest and most clear representative of ourselves. We communicate what we want, need, and who we are with our voices. We may not realize it, but our voice is a huge part of our identity.
Children are trying to figure out who they are and are willing, but may be unsure how to explore the things they can and cannot do. Singing is a great outlet for that! When singing, especially making silly noises, or mimicking animals, or even cars and trucks, children have a safe space to explore their voice.
By giving children a set of parameters, such as “sing like a cow or an airplane”, we are giving them boundaries, but also freedom to explore, which allows them choice but also a sense of safety. Vocal exploration is so important, and that is usually when I see confidence soar in my music therapy sessions and music classes.
Singing has so many benefits — way more than can be covered in a single post — and I hope these ideas illustrate all of the reasons why singing is so important. I’d love to hear from you: What other benefits have you observed from singing?