In my weekly music classes, each lesson begins with a “Hello Song”. It is typically a simple folk song in which the lyrics were changed to fit the purpose of my class. Besides being a good marker for the beginning of class, it is a wonderful activity to help introduce and instill the musical concepts that we practice weekly.
While I play the “Hello Song” on the guitar, my students and their parents join me in singing along. Parents tap or bounce their child to the steady beat. I like to sing a few verses that suggest tapping the steady beat on different body parts such as their shoulders, knees, head, etc. This is a great way to sneak in learning opportunities for labeling body parts which help to promote language development.
After practicing different ways to play the steady beat, we go around the circle and acknowledge each student in the class by singing their name. Using children’s names in the “Hello Song” is important for many reasons. A child’s name is their identity. When you greet a child by their name it helps to validate who they are as well as is affirms their presence in class, therefore promoting self-awareness and aiding in the development of self-esteem. This is also a great opportunity to teach the concept of taking turns. As we move around the circle from child to child they learn that the spotlight will be on them when it is their turn and then move on to the next child. It becomes a subtle way to teach children how to share attention.
Singing the “Hello Song” is also a wonderful social activity. As we are singing and acknowledging our friends, we like to encourage children to wave and greet the other students in the class. This can be a great way for the children to learn about the social rituals in our society. It also helps each child to feel welcomed and included as part of a group activity.
Finally, singing the “Hello Song” at the beginning of every class helps to promote routine. When the children hear the “Hello Song”, they know what to expect. Making them aware of what comes next helps them to experience a comforting sense of self-control. It is a simple tool to make transitions between activities smoother, both in music class and life itself. Taking the song home with you and making up your own verses for bath time, clean up and meals can help make mundane tasks fun and exciting.