Music is a great tool to use in the classroom for young learners who are developing language skills, but what is the best way to introduce a new song to children?
Before you can teach a song, you as the leader must know it. Listen to it over and over until you can sing the song spontaneously. As leader, you want to enjoy yourself as enthusiasm spreads! Even if you don’t have musical talent, you can teach a new song!
Provide opportunities for the boys and girls to hear the song before singing. The music can be playing in the background as children arrive, while engaging in craft activities, and also during snack time.
Children learn a song by hearing it many times, as memorization occurs via repetition. Knowing a song by heart, so the melody and lyrics will stay with children forever, is the goal.
Before actually singing the song together, ask questions. Be sure boys and girls know the song’s meaning and also the significance of unfamiliar words.
Some songs have more of a story to them and can be difficult to teach by gesture alone. For these, you can teach the song with visual aids. For example, classic rhymes/stories like “Five Little Monkeys,” “Ten in the Bed,” “The Wheels On The Bus,” or “Old McDonald” all have many picture book versions available. Read the storybook first so that students understand what is happening when you sing the song. As you read the storybook, you can sing some of the words to introduce the melody of the song. After reading the book, try doing a simple craft or coloring page related to the book as you play the song in the background. Then sing the song and have the students follow along with the gestures.
As the kids grow older, you don’t want to repeat songs as much. Students will have their favorites that they like to sing many times, but you won’t be repeating songs every week like we do with the younger learners. So, you’ll need to build more exposure to the song into one or two lessons, and then go back to it every once in a while for review. I have some thoughts on teaching songs to elementary school students.