If you've ever taken a Music Together® class you will be familiar with the phrase "what else shall we add to the song?". This short phrase is in fact, one of the single most important pieces that can help to support the development of your child's musical journey!
Encouraging your child to explore the music in any way in which they are comfortable is very much part of the plan! When a child changes the words, even the actions they are not only developing their imaginative play, their literacy and motor skills they are also making the music their own and that builds a comfort level for them which supports the development of their basic musical competence. Basic musical competence is the ability to sing in tune and move with rhythm.
The first thing for your child to see is that we will add almost anything to the song, including ideas which seem way out there. We aren't looking for logic here but instead for each child to see that playing with the music is fun. Each child needs to feel they can play with music before they start to make music. As adults, we are so used to seeing performers on stage making music that it's easy to forget that they too played with music before making it.
And, although not everything that your child adds or does with the music will feel accurate, part of what they are learning is that not everything will work! It's important for them to know that we can add dinosaurs, trucks, things from outer space and visits to grandma's and equally important for them to see that sometimes we have to change or adapt their suggestions just a little to fit the music. (The "we" here is your teacher!!) Eventually your child will come to recognise that the teacher has made a small change and they'll begin to try making changes themselves so that their suggestions fit more easily into the space and time available in the song - for most kids that's a long way down the line! By giving children the opportunity to play, add and explore the songs in the way that springs to their mind we are building their musical experiences and that's something which is absolutely crucial on the road to basic music competence. Just as you pull skates on to your toddler in order for them to learn to skate, rather than sit them down to watch skating, playing with the music allows the opportunity to begin that energetic and thriving bond with music which can last a lifetime!
Next time your baby is bouncing to music or your toddler is adding all the dinosaur names they know to a song or your 5 year old is singing their made up story, smile, sit back, add to the ideas yourself so that your are stimulating the spiral of learning and enjoy all the growing which is happening through play!!