“Row, row, row your goat / Gently up the tree…”

17 Jan

Changing the words to songs, or making up entirely new words altogether, is a fantastic way to play with music: It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s goofy, and kids LOVE it. Young children learn through play (so the more we play with music, the more about music they learn), and when we play with changing or inventing lyrics, one aspect of music-making they are learning is, believe it or not, composing. Composing! Isn’t that something that only musical geniuses do? People like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven? Nope. Everyone can make up music (not as scary as “compose”), and won’t it be wonderful for our children to grow up knowing, as a matter of fact, that they can create (compose) their own music? By singing/chanting our own words to songs/chants, we’re giving our children the clear message that composing our own music is just something we do, like brushing our teeth before we go to bed or looking both ways before crossing the street.

So, go ahead and row that goat right on up that tree. You’ll take your kids on a wild ride that will help them develop their unique musicality and creative freedom. It’ll be fun to see how you and your kids get that goat down from up there…

Goat clipart courtesy www.Clker.com.


2 Responses to ““Row, row, row your goat / Gently up the tree…””

  1. Jim January 17, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    The example you use is interesting. We have a video of Henry singing “Row, row, row your pizza, gently down the pizza…” etc. When we showed the video to his pre-k class, their favorite part was him singing that song (which went along in that vein) even though it was less than 10% of the video.

  2. annesailer January 19, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I love this, Jim. In my experience, pre-schoolers especially love the surprise of hearing different words in songs — maybe because it “breaks the rules,” maybe because it expands their understanding of what’s possible, maybe because they love that little thrill that comes with being caught off guard. Henry-the-Composer gave his pre-k classmates a little extra surprise that day, and who wouldn’t love hearing that, after all, “life is just a pizza?”

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