The Language of Life: Making music while parenting
Parenting involves countless hours of teaching, and teaching while parenting consists of constant repetition. In order for everything that we feel is important to sink deep into our children's hearts and minds, we repeat key items almost daily, if not hourly. "Put your shoes away so no one will trip over them," and "do your homework when you get home from school" or "clear your dishes when you are finished eating."
Parents can behave as if the seventh or 20th time something is said will make such a marked difference in that particular moment, that children finally will place the fact into their mental "life lessons" file and, suddenly, they won't need any more reminders about the matter.
While repetition is a great tool to use for teaching or learning just about anything, repetition without structure isn't the same thing and often little impact. The use of structured repetition works in music: verse, chorus, verse, same chorus, verse, same chorus, maybe a bridge, and then the same chorus again to end.
And what is the difference between a good song and a hit song? Song structure.
So is the difference between good parenting and great parenting structure? Perhaps. The process of learning anything is easier when music is added, and this rule certainly applies to parenting, so music can - and should - be applied more often in parent-child relationships.
Just as parenting and learning a foreign language are similar processes, they are both enhanced when music is added. The copious amounts of practice drills involved in mastering a foreign language are very much like the daily activities of parenting, which require constant recaps and reviews.
Word pronunciation and emphasis take on new life on a foreign tongue when a musical backdrop is added. And what was seen as a struggle with unfamiliar words and sounds only moments before, suddenly becomes a fun activity when foreign songs, rather than words, are being taught. Bursting out with a show tune on the virtues of remembering to do homework during a hurried evening routine might not be beneficial. But a short rhyme or song about the school day not being over until all of the homework is complete, could be a fun and effective way for your child to independently make sure they are prepared each night. Or rephrasing a popular chorus from your child's favorite song that reminds them to clear their dishes, will likely earn a memorable laugh and save future frustrations for all involved.
Global Language Project successfully teaches foreign languages to young children free of charge and uses music as a part of their successful teaching technique. Because GLP realizes the critical role that music plays in the language learning process for both the children and their parents, they are releasing "Coloreando," a collection of traditional children's songs from Spain and Latin America, performed by Marta Gomez. The recorded songs allow parents to teach, sing, play and most importantly, have fun with their children of all ages, while they all also happen to be learning a foreign language.
Repetition and structure are key elements to great music and to great parenting. If music is a universal "language," so is parenting. Watching a mother in Russia, Argentina or Los Angeles shush her wiggly child at a wedding requires pretty much the same gesture. But if those mothers chose instead to hum their child's favorite song in his or her ear to shush them, it is likely they would universally receive the same satisfactory response.