Routines, traditions, and being a musical family…

Wrapping up Routine Songs Focus… 

After a week of blogging, I’m reaching out to anyone who read my blog to comment on how they used the songs and activities that were covered. Please let me know if you have anything to add to the discussion. As parents, we learn so much from each other and talking through our struggles together. Even though I teach music and think about music education constantly, there are definitely times when I struggle to make music a meaningful part of my interactions with my children. Please comment on any of the following:

  • Which songs were most useful to you?
  • Which songs did your children enjoy?
  • In what ways did adding some music to your routine change the dynamic of that particular moment?
  • Was it a struggle to add more music to your routine?
  • Does it feel natural to you to sing and play musical games with your family?
  • Growing up, do you remember certain songs or musical activities that were a part of everyday life or part of yearly celebrations?
  • How much does your musical life with your children mirror your musical life growing up?
  • Are there musical family traditions that you carry on?

There are so many different ways that we interact with music, and each family has its own dynamic and its own traditions. Think about what makes your family unique. Try to carry on those traditions and pass on those happy memories to your children. Those types of memories that are shared from one generation to the next are powerful and beautiful. They help form our musical selves.

Music has the power to instruct, inspire, share experience. In whichever way you want to share this with your little ones is something valuable that you give them. Check out this commercial from Apple from this past holiday season. It’s a tear-jerker because everyone can relate to the bond between the grandmother and granddaughter that was forged through song. That song is a shared experience. The grandmother gave her granddaughter the song, but what she didn’t expect was getting it back. That is the beauty of a musical gift; it’s so easy to give back. (Sans all of the technology, in the case of our young children.)

My next post will cover what it means to be a musical family and how to alleviate the stress of thinking “are we not musical enough?” or “what does it mean to be musical?”

Another Lullaby…

“A la Nanita Nana” is one of my favorite lullabies. It was originally a Spanish Christmas Carol, but it has become popular as a lullaby in Spain and South America. Can you imagine a Nana singing this to an infant? I used to sing this to change up our lullaby routine when my children were very little and the bedtime routine was much longer. I always found this song very calming. Did you ever feel the need to change from your usual lullaby? Were there songs that go you through comforting a tired and cranky infant in the middle of night? Were there songs that you sang more for yourself than for the baby?



A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea,
Mi Jesús tiene sueno, Bendito sea, bendito sea.

Fuentecita que corres clara y sonora,
Ruiseñor que en la selva cantando lloras,
Callad mientras la cuna se balancea.
A la nanita nana, nanita ea.

A la nanita nana, nanita ea, nanita ea,
Sleep, sleep my little Jesus,
May peace attend Thee,
may peace attend Thee.

Little fountain that runs clearly and sonorously
Nightingale in the woods singing she cries
Quiet while the cradle rocks
A la nanita nana, nanita ea.

Waiting Songs…

When you’re little, waiting is THE WORST THING EVER! If you’ve played one too many games of I Spy, try singing a song next time. Here’s two songs from different countries that you can try.

A Ram Sam Sam – Morocco (go to Wikipedia to hear midi and read about the game)

A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
A rafiq, a rafiq
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam
A rafiq, a rafiq
Guli guli guli guli guli ram sam sam\

Part of the fun of this song is starting to sing it slowly and each time getting faster and faster. It leads to lots of giggles, but it might earn you some funny looks in the checkout line! This might be a good one if you have to wait in the car, since you can play the game with hand movements while sitting.

Kye Kye Kule- Ghana (go to Mama Lisa’s to see video)

1. Leader: Kye kye kule*
Group: Kye kye kule

2. Leader: Kye kye Kofi sa
Group: Kye kye Kofi sa

3. Leader: Kofi sa langa
Group: Kofi sa langa

4. Leader: Kaka shi langa
Group: Kaka shi langa

5. Leader: Kum Aden Nde**
Group: Kum Adende
Kum Adende
Kum Adende, hey!

Because “Kye Kye Kule” (said chay chay koolay) is a call and response song, children can repeat what you just said, so they can sing it even if they don’t know it. Because each verse goes with a part of the body (1. Head 2. Shoulders 3. Hips 4. Knees 5. Toes), kids can touch each body part (think “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” but without the little ones always being behind!) after you show it to them and as they sing it back. This is a great song to help shake the sillies out!

Do you have songs that you sing to help make waiting easier? To which songs and games do your children respond best? If you’ve got a sure-fire boredom-buster, please share!



Whether you consider your household very musical or not, you almost certainly have lullaby time, especially when children are very little. Lullabies and the memories of their singing stick with us to adulthood because that time is such a special part of parent-child bonding. Every culture has lullabies and they share many of the same characteristics. If you want to read an interesting article on lullabies, check this one out:

I remember fondly my mother always singing “Rockabye Baby” to me and “Twinkle Twinkle” to my brother. It never bothered me that my mother is, in her own words, tone-deaf (and while I admit she’s not a very good singer, I don’t know that I’d go that far). As a parent, I found that I chose to give each of my children their own lullaby, although we sing many different songs at bedtime.

Lullabies needn’t have words, and sometimes it’s even more soothing when you hum them. My daughter often asks me to “hmm hmm Rockabye Baby.” My singing songs with words would often keep my son awake, his eyes glued to my face while I was singing, so I found myself using words less and less.

When my children were particularly fussy as infants and singing the same short melody wasn’t working on only chipping away at my own sanity, I’d often sing Schubert’s “Ave Maria.” The melody and its length seemed to calm them, and the prayer uplifting and fortifying for me.

What are your favorite lullabies? Favorite memories of lullabies? Do each of your children have their own lullaby that is especially theirs?

Clean Up Songs

Everyone needs a clean up song! There are so many and so many ways you can make one up. If you don’t already have a favorite, you can try one (or all!) of these from this video from

We use the good old Barney stand-by in my house, probably because it stuck with me from having to tolerate my cousins watching Barney.

“Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere. Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share”

If you don’t have one of your own, try making one up. The easiest thing to do is to substitute your own words to a tune or song you already like. If Barney isn’t your style, you can try something more contemporary. My kids like this song from Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s easy to change “Let’s dress up!” into “Let’s clean up!” Ad lib your own lyrics to the clean up situation “everybody in the house clean up, put all your toys away. If you want to go outside, you better get them away.”

The simpler, the better, so your little ones can sing along!

You don’t have to be a musician to teach your kids music…

I’m linking this post on parenting tips for making music everyday.\

The most important thing to remember about encouraging musical growth is that kids need to be participating in music regularly. If Mom or Dad (or better yet, Mom AND Dad) sing and play music at home, music becomes something that “we do.”

Relax. You don’t have to be playing concertos or singing arias to make this happen. Make music part of your routine. Everyone knows lullabies, so start there. Do you have a clean-up song? Learn one or make one up. If your children are very young, the simpler, the better.

We have a bath time song that’s just “Bath time, here we go. Bath time, here we go.” Sometimes I improvise a little with “Bath time, up the stairs. Bath time, take off your clothes.”

Challenge yourself to come up with a new song for your routine this week. Try to sing it every time. Don’t worry if it’s not exactly the same each time! Music never is exactly the same during every performance!

Let me know if you’ve tried a new song at home!