When I first became a children’s librarian, I knew one of my biggest hurdles was going to be singing in front of people. I had this vision of myself at the front of the room, having to sing even something as simple as Itsy, Bitsy Spider, and my voice cracking because I started too high, or sang out of tune, or couldn’t remember the words. It was VERY intimidating to think people were going to listen to me. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a performance–I still felt like I was going to be bad, and people would judge me for it.
10 years later, I sing in almost every single program I run. Sometimes, I’m the only one in the room singing. Sometimes, everyone joins in. But it still becomes obvious to me how nervous people get singing in front of others, especially when the program consists of not much more than songs.
Here’s why it’s good to sing in front of children (and anyone else, really), and why nobody really cares:
- Unless you’re doing karaoke, don’t worry about knowing all the words, singing out of tune, or finding the right rhythm. Just sing. It feels good, it’s fun, we used to do it fearlessly as children for both of those reasons.
- Singing to children is a form of early literacy. Children love to hear music. Singing songs with them as you do things (driving, cooking, cleaning the house), is helping them to learn the sounds of words, the way words are split apart into syllables, and it’s a good way to bond with your child.
- When you sing during a program at the library, nobody is listening to you. Trust me…everyone around you is thinking and worrying about the same things—how do I sound?
- Your child has no judgement toward how you sing. You could be an opera singer, or a woefully out of tune shower crooner…..they have no idea. Honestly. They’ll think you’re great. They just want to sing along…and they’ll learn to do it, but you have to try, too.
- Dads….if you’re in a room full of women and children for a program, and there is singing involved, do it anyway. Yes, we can hear you. Yes, you’re probably the one we’re all listening to. And yes, we’re aware of every single note you sing. BUT…..it’s awesome to hear dads sing! That tenor or bass in a room full of female voices only makes us feel more confident. There’s no hiding your voice, so we can all sing a little louder. No one hears us. So, in the end, we all end up winning!
And a tip for singing with your child…..make sure you sing in a higher voice than you might normally. It’s going to sound funny to you, and maybe you won’t be able to reach all the notes, but children have naturally higher voices, and they don’t know how to sing the same notes in a lower pitch. They’ll try to match your notes, so sing up high and you’ll raise a reader!