I was recently introduced to a great duo in the music education sphere called Music with Donna & Andy. Read on for some free song resources, a special membership, and to learn why Singing at Home is the Best!
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The Gift of Music
Get 36 songs, coloring pages, and lyrics + 350 activities by Donna & Andy. The membership includes songs from 3 CDs!
From Donna: Singing at Home is the Best!
Singing is an important part of children’s music education.
A young child playing with her toys is just as likely to sing as to talk as part of her play. Words don’t matter and the tune may never be sung the same way twice, but it is a form of self-expression and it often comes from a place of deep contentment.
Children playing together on the playground will naturally incorporate the singsong chant “na na na na na” that can be found in every culture in the world. These three tones (so, mi, and la) are so natural and so prevalent that they form the basis for many early childhood game songs.
Music is the cornerstone for much of the learning that takes place in very young children. Clapping rhymes (Patta-cake), lullabies (for soothing), singing the Alphabet (organizing foundational concepts) and songs that develop a vocabulary for the world around them (Old MacDonald, Twinkle, Twinkle) are all foundational building blocks that are more concretely internalized because of the addition of singing and chanting. In short, the addition of music helps learning take place and is enjoyable at the same time.
Donna’s Music Education Goals
As a music educator for over 35 years and as a recording and performing artist for over 25 years, to sing with children is a natural part of what I do. The original music I write has strong foundations in things that are of interest to children and the events they experience in their every day lives. Imaginary characters from my songs have become part of the family as my children and my grandchildren have grown up singing my songs. We sing lustily in the van when driving together. We have our own concerts and dance parties and celebrate the joy of music in our home.
My career as a performer and a recording artist allows me to share my music with others who may find it less comfortable to sing with children. Recordings are a way to provide access to music that parents can learn along with their children, and enjoy a shared musical experience. Parents will be able to sing along, but they do not need to be the sole support for their young singers. In the homeschool setting, if there are older siblings, they can also join with their younger siblings and parents for a great time of connection and having fun. Everyone can learn together and enjoy the experience.
What Donna & Andy Offer
Parents and grandparents who want to continue to give their children opportunities to sing still need to decide what to play and where to find it. As the duo Donna & Andy, we offer the option of our award-winning CDs as well as digital options for our music. It is easier than ever for parents and grandparents to access our music and provide a top-quality musical experience for young singers at home. With digital downloads or streaming, music can be accessed by youngsters on their own personal devices or shared with the entire family.
Children are often sophisticated listeners and they deserve music that has musical depth and authenticity. They may be singing simple melodies, but if they are singing along with a high-quality recording the experience will be far more satisfying. Older siblings will be far more content to join in if the music has interesting musical accompaniments and styles. You will not have to wonder about the quality of the music we are offering to you and your family. Our music is composed and recorded utilizing key elements that are crucial for a superior music experience.
How do parents with little or no music background search out the best music for their children?
Four Key Elements
When looking for music I strongly recommend that the following four key elements should be present:
- A good singing range for young voices is important. This will allow children to sing along in an appropriate vocal range and facilitate their ability to match a pitch/sing in tune. Unchanged treble voices (all children up to the time of voice changes in males) will need to sing in a lighter, higher range than the range most adults will find comfortable. This range is from middle C (C4) to D5 (nine notes higher than middle C). The tune of the song needs to lie within this range of notes. There may be a few notes on either side of the range, but those outlier notes should be infrequent. As adults we often gravitate to music that is in a lower range, which is more comfortable for our developed vocal cords, but difficult for a young developing voice. Remember, the goal is to provide the opportunity to sing along!
- Age-appropriate lyrics. If you think the lyrics aren’t really important, think for a moment of all the things that we teach our children using music – the alphabet being the best example. What we sing over and over again becomes internalized. Search out songs that stimulate the imagination with lyrics that are not trite. Children’s music can be rich in expressive text, imagination and exploring their world. Children can learn how to express their feelings, understand the world around them and have fun through the music they learn to sing. Repetition may be good for quickly learning a song, but too many repetitious words will quickly drive the supervising adult to find the mute or off button. There are good songs “out there” (not just Donna & Andy songs, although we think we are offering you a superior musical option). Don’t settle for something just because it is labelled as a “song for children”. Be as discerning about choosing good music as you are about finding good literature and stimulating creative activities for your youngsters.
- Music can help develop your child’s vocabulary. It can also introduce them to words you may not want them to weave into their conversations. Personally, I don’t want to use music with my students or my own children if the lyrics contain words that I will need to work at banishing when I take the kids to visit their grandmother.
- Good music quality. This varies with personal taste, but a good general rule is to choose music that does not cause you, the parent, to run for ear plugs. Songs for children will involve repetition and may have childish topics (such as the reinforcement of learning the days of the week, or how to wash your hands) but the music and the vocal delivery of the lyrics should be the best quality you can find, even if the subject matter is child-centered. When choosing music for your children, if you also enjoy the musical presentation, it will make sharing music together as a family a more enjoyable thing to do.
Donna & Andy Music Memberships
Learn about the different Donna & Andy Music Memberships here. There is even a free one!
Who are Donna & Andy?
Donna Rhodenizer has taught music for 35 years! She is also a performer and composer, having composed music for choir, handbells, violin, and piano. Andy Duinker is a singer, who (in addition to performing with Donna) sings big band and swing standards, his own original songs, contemporary folk songs, traditional ballads, beloved sea songs, and songs for kids.
Holiday Music with Donna & Andy
- Valentine’s Song: “The Penguin Ball”
Your students and children will love this 3/4 time waltz. See video performances by young singers and listen to multiple audio tracks.
Get “The Penguin Ball – Super Pack” and enjoy “The Penguin Ball” audio tracks, print music, and activities that enhance the song experience.
The Super Pack includes:
– 6 audio tracks
– print music
– cross-curricular activities