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Singers Make Better Writers


What's the best way to make your child a good writer? A nickel reward for every correctly-spelled word? Lock him or her into a padded cell with only paper and a pencil for six months? A brain transplant?


No, no, and noooooo. Just get your child involved in singing. Sing in the car. Sing along to CD's. Join the church choir. If your child shows a lot of interest, consider voice lessons.


You'd be surprised to learn of the powerful effect that vocal music has on a child's ability to communicate with words. That's why smart teachers always use songs and music in the classroom to supplement written expression.


All of the cognitive skills that come with singing translate beautifully into communicating with written symbols. Instead of converting the sound of music into musical notation, though, your child will be converting the sounds of words into written expression. But it's the same cognitive process.


One of the most basic advantages is the way singers tend to have a talent for rhythm in writing. Their writing is almost like words dancing on a page, alive and interesting, instead of just plodding along. They are writers who vary their sentence length to make reading more fun, and exercise the implicit but silent sounds of syllables for a more pleasing expression - yes, "musical."


Think about it: writing is nothing more than speech, caught and formalized into meaningful form. In the same way, singing songs is sound, caught and formalized into meaning and expression. Just as with writing, there's more going on than just words strung together, a song with meaningful lyrics is much more than just a tune.


You know the immense variety of types of songs? Hillbilly songs . . . cantatas . . . rock songs . . . lullabies. Each has a style, purpose and different "rules." Well, there's an equally immense variety of types of writing. Teaching a child to appreciate and participate in different kinds of singing will equip him or her to feel comfortable taking on different tasks of writing.


Songs "work" a child's brain in so many ways: reading and, often, memorizing the lyrics . . . at the same time, "reading" the musical notation to set the pitch . . . calibrating the rhythm of the syllables to the rhythm set in the music . . . expressing the emotion and meaning of the words . . . blending melodies and harmonies . . . thinking of how the song is being received by the listener just as a writer thinks about how the words are going to be understood by the writer.


The older the child gets, the more challenging the lyrics and the musical range of the songs being sung should become. The more complex the music that is sung, the more complex the text that the child will be able to absorb in reading, and produce in writing.


And that's music to a parent's ears!



By Susan Darst Williams Grammar Granny 031 2006


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