I love music! I love singing to my kids and my kids love my singing. Ok, the last part isn’t true, but I still love music!
Music is everywhere and children love music! Growing up, I remember a friend of mine had a really pronounced stutter. She was so self conscious of it and some kids really made fun of her in class, but she could sing like a rock star! She had no issues with singing and the confidence music gave her was incredible. She glowed when she sang! She eventually grew out of her stutter, but the vision of her singing has always struck me as inspiring.
The benefits of music for children, especially preschoolers, is well researched and documented. Music can calm them, energize them, reset their mood. Really this is true for children of any age (including our own inner child!). We collected some of the benefits to remind us how important music is in all our lives.
7 Benefits of Music for Children:
For more details on the importance of music for preschool children, please check out the sources at the end of the article.
In our quest to learn more about how music benefits children we were fortunate to have musician Linda Arnold join us for a Q&A. Linda also generously donated autographed CD’s of her wonderful children’s music to The Blue Rose Foundation’s schools. Thank you, Linda!! You can find out more about Linda below and at her website.
Linda Arnold, a musician in her own right, was an early proponent for getting children involved with music. Linda understands the importance of music for everyone, but especially how music can help children adapt and communicate their feelings.
What is your first music memory?
My first real memory of having a relationship to music was when I was seven years old. I was walking around on the large porch of my family’s home in upstate New York, singing made-up words to the trees and sky. I remember vividly the feeling of sensing a connection to all the world around me. Singing from my heart created a special feeling for me I could not fully understand, but I knew it was important.
Tell us about your start in music?
I started playing guitar and writing songs for fun as a teenager. In college, I majored in Theater Arts, studied voice, and sang and danced in several musicals. Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls” was my favorite role. Tap dancing was just so much fun!
After college, I was interested in acting, but when I became pregnant with my first child, I started writing about my experience. I was a huge Joni Mitchell fan, so I wrote lots of songs using guitar open tunings, even one on dulcimer. I did not know anything about the music business, but recorded and released the album, “Nine Months,” anyway.
Singing Broadway songs onstage had been easy, but when I first started performing my own songs I was terrified. I sang for couples at prenatal birth classes and Macy’s hired me to sing at its maternity fashion shows. It was definitely an unconventional entry into the music business. Later, I submitted the album (which included a moment from my daughter’s birth in the last song) to Moses Asche at Folkways Records. He loved it and released it on his label, which is now distributed by The Smithsonian.
Did you always focus on young listeners? What drew you to music for this age group?
After my first album, I wrote and recorded songs for documentary films and continued writing and performing for adults. As my daughter grew, she was so enthusiastic about music that I was always searching for albums for her. Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, Burl Ives, and Malvina Reynolds were some of the artists we listened to back then.
At five years old, she came to me and said “Let’s write a song.” I grabbed my guitar and asked, “What should it be about?” “A short giraffe on a crooked path” was her wonderful reply. That song became the first I wrote for kids called “Do You Know What Magic Is?” Writing for children was so much fun and rewarding that I never looked back.
What has been your favorite part about creating and sharing music with this age group?
Having the opportunity to make a positive difference through music in the lives of young children and their families is an honor and responsibility I cherish. Children are so open, loving, and creative. I love playing with them in the musical world of make believe, where anything can happen. Watching their eyes grow wide with wonder when I pull a puppet from a magic bag melts my heart!
It also has been a path that allowed me to share joy with my own family. When I first started my career, as the mother of a young daughter and son, every day included endless inspiration for songs. Magic horses, popcorn, treehouses, dinosaurs; we lived it and I wrote about it all, involving them in the fun. The kids always joined me in the studio, and as my daughter grew older, she often accompanied me on tour.
What have you witnessed about how children respond to music?
Children love music and rhythm. They do not have inhibitions about singing out loud and dancing if they are given positive encouragement.
Music also helps children connect with their feelings, both joyful and sad, and allows them to celebrate the wonder and playfulness of childhood. I spent a lot of time singing in classrooms, and music and singing was a valuable contribution to their emerging literacy, as well as a way to punctuate their day with a relaxing, enjoyable experience.
Take us through your creative process.
Sometimes songs come quickly and spontaneously from an inspiration I have while playing with children. Other songs may require research and lots of preparation before I can even go to the piano or guitar.
For the album I created called “Splash Zone” for The Monterey Bay Aquarium, I spent weeks learning about the ocean animals that live among the coral reef and rocky shore habitats which complemented the Aquarium’s exhibits. With input from the Aquarium’s marine biologists and the Director, I let all the information settle, played around with Caribbean and South African rhythms, and the songs began to emerge. I knew the main concepts and marine science I wanted to express, but always kept in mind the goal of creating songs children would find fun and engaging.
I always marvel at how a song comes together, often in an unexpected way. There are those songs that can take days of rewriting to finish, but over the years I have learned to relax and trust the creative process.
Do you have a favorite song or songs? What is it (are they) and why?
I cannot really choose a favorite song. There are so many I love. If you asked what song has been the most meaningful, I would have to say “For Baby” by John Denver.
I learned to play it on guitar as a teenager, then later sang it for my own children. It was one of the first songs I chose to record for my first lullaby album, “Lullaby Land,” for A&M Records. When my grandchildren came along, I was singing it again, and a few years ago at the end of my own mother’s life, I sang it for her to help ease her passing.
Were you ever surprised by what song became a favorite of your young listeners?
“There’s a Dinosaur Knocking at my Door” has always been really popular. My daughter was eight years old singing the lead when we recorded it. The chorus is very catchy and there is something about a wacky, loveable dinosaur coming to play and making a big mess that really appealed to kids. What surprised me was when a Jewish version of the song appeared. An educator had adapted the song for fun, using the same popular chorus with some new lyrics for a verse. That version where the dinosaur comes for Shabbat, evolved like folk songs do, through word of mouth, changing over time with different input. Later, several Jewish artists approached me for permission to record it and I happily agreed. It has always delighted me that Tyrone the dinosaur took off on a unique adventure of his own!
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your music?
A few years ago, when my daughter became pregnant with her first child, we created a mother/daughter lullaby album called “Love You To The Moon And Back,” which I am so proud of. Now, my filmmaker son, who has his own beautiful two-year old daughter, and I are planning to create new music videos with my songs when it is safer to bring children together.
When I think back over my career in music, I realize my musical journey has always been influenced by motherhood, and songwriting and performing have been and continue to be a family affair.
We are so incredibly grateful to Linda Arnold for agreeing to allow us to highlight her in our blog this month. For more information about Linda and her music, please visit her newly renovated website.
We have another fabulous Silver Linings and Post Covid Dreams to share from one of our incredible supporters who got outside and learned a couple of pretty great things about herself in the process.
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