AN I SHARE WITH YOU THIS CLIP? One son was giggling over it after dinner and when I saw it I knew I had to publish it.
The experience of trying to capture a small child singing is very similar to the Looney Tunes cartoon One Froggy Evening. But get a car full of siblings together to melt the ice and some serendipitous slapstick and I can be the proud parent, though not having much direct input into this little movie.
I have been asked about how to teach children to sing. Let me take these three pieces as a starting point: Gaudete, Twinkle and Jesu Rex Admirabilis.
I can hardly remember when we learned Gaudete, but it is sung with gusto every Christmas, sometimes even managing the four part chorus. Twinkle twinkle little star is hardly a notable achievement, but even singing little folksongs like that is a part of our musical heritage which is also diminishing.
Jesu Rex Admirabilis was a piece tackled last year with a group of Catholic homeschoolers. I taught the top line to the younger children and the middle line to the older children, hoping to recruit some fathers for the bass line, but that fell through, so ended up singing the bass line myself transposed up an octave (or two). We took pretty much all year to bring it together, but it was very worthwhile.
I wonder if I could have taught this to my own children without the homeschooler group. Teaching your own children is a bit like supervising piano practice. Teaching other children is more like a lesson. In a lesson you have a finite time to convey a finite set of ideas. The limits help you to be cheerful and give a sort of detachment from how the class does – you can walk away at the end and try again in a couple of weeks. With your own children on a day to day basis it can be harder to be positive and suppress the urge to keep going until it’s right (or until the child stomps off in frustration vowing never to sing again).
There are more thoughts on this difference in this article by a piano teacher: Teaching my own children to play piano. All up it is a worthwhile undertaking, but important to keep perspective, patience and perseverance.