Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sing Sing Sing!

Hi Miss Julie posted a great piece on singing in storytime today, and it's motivated me to finally, FINALLY write down my experience with singing in storytime. I've been thinking about and planning this post for, oh let's see...wow. Over a year ago

Stage Fright

I don't use recorded music in storytime, except when we've had a storytime that was specifically ABOUTexploring music. Because I believe there is lots of great recorded music out there, I play music before and after storytime. I rotate the CD each month. This helps me learn new songs, highlights our music collections, and sets the stage for storytime really well.

There are two main reasons I don't use recorded music DURING storytime. First, my personal storytime philosophy emphasizes modeling behavior to parents and caregivers. I want them to have NO REASON not to sing at home, and I don't want them to feel like they need a certain CD to sing at home. Second, I can't sing along with recorded music.

If you had told my 10 years ago that I would regularly and happily sing in front of people I would have literally started to cry. For years, I listed wanting to be musical as the one thing I would change about myself if I could. I couldn't even hum a few bars of a song in front of a friend without tearing up with embarrassment and wanting to hide under the bed.

I did, however, always love camp songs but could never figure out why I could happily sing those songs but nothing else. Despite a few years of piano lessons and band, I don't understand music. I don't know how to change the key, and if someone is singing differently than I am able to (pitch? key?), I don't know how to adjust. In fact right now I have a mom/nanny who sits right in front during storytime and she sings really well...and it's totally throwing me off the same way recorded music does.

I had a HUGE revelation when I realized that I wasn't a soprano. I know, that sounds dumb, but so much singing is soprano and I always tried to emulate that. Once I had that revelation I was able to understand why I could sing songs I knew very well, but nothing else. I have to know a song really well in order to be able to sing it within my range. When I'm in my range I have a fairly nice, serviceable voice--and I love singing in storytime!

I can't read music, so to learn new songs I listen to them over and over until they're in my head. Then, I sing them over and over--usually in the car--until they are second nature to me.

Now singing is one of my favorite parts about storytime, even though it doesn't come easily to me. I'm never afraid to sing with children, no matter where I am. There's such joy in holding a friend's baby and bouncing out a little tune. So much of the feedback I get from parents and caregivers is about favorite storytime songs. Just sing, you won't regret it!


  1. Man, I'm so happy you posted this, because now when we drive to MI and a favorite song of yours comes on and you can help but sing it, I'll just stare at you and make everything super awkward.


  2. Great post Anna!! It also alleviates some of my own concerns about never using CD music in my storytimes. My predecessor was always playing music CDs to sing along with but... that just feels so awkward to me. I have no problem singing myself (though I really want to expand my musical repertoire) but playing a musical CD and trying to interact with it (whether it's singing it or even doing movement with it) is so bizarre to me.

    Great post and I'm glad you're in your music comfort zone!

  3. Good for you Anna! Singing with children is so much fun :) I hope posts like this one inspire others to try it if they have been hesitant before.
    I also like singing a capella during story & circle times. I have used CDs when we're using shakers / scarves or dancing around because I like to get in on the action to demonstrate (and have fun :)) & it can be hard to keep the song going while jumping & boogeying. I also really enjoy the music from many children's music artists and want to expose the children to some of my favourites. It's also great for setting the tone at the beginning of storytime (think "It's a Beautiful Day" Kathy Reid-Naiman)
    During circle or storytime I prefer to sing myself because:
    - I tend to ad lib quite a bit - I like to shorten, lengthen, quicken, draw out, emphasize certain parts etc. as needed to fit the day - and CDs don't give you those options
    - I agree that we need to model singing for the parents & children
    - I don't like to fiddle with a CD player / iPod etc. I like there to be a nice effortless flow, uninterrupted by irritating technical glitches or juggling remotes.
    Sorry for rambling on so long :)
    Thanks again for telling us about your experience of singing in storytime!


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