arts in education

Harmonizing Breeds Harmony

It is summer camp season and the thing I miss most is not running around the lake in the morning (HA!) or the Mississippi summers, but I miss Song Session! Each morning and evening, after breakfast and dinner, the whole camp would be lead in song for what was never long enough. We sang all kinds of songs – Hebrew, Jewish, English, old fashioned, original…but it really brought us together as a camp, as cabins, as people.

The Association of Teaching Artists posted this article this morning. Here is a highlight:

The researchers conclude that engaging in the “shared goal of vocalizing and moving together in time” strengthened the children’s “sense of acting together as a unit.” Their results support the hypothesis that music — at least in part — evolved as a way of fostering group cohesion, by “generating an intuitive feeling of community and bonding among the performers.”

After giving myself a high five to discover have research that supports something I’ve felt for a while, I considered how I have seen this in action and the possible implications. In preschools where I have worked as a creative drama teaching artist, I have seen teaching lead children in song during clean up time and before eating (so children will all clean up the whole mess, not just their mess, and so lunch time will be kinder and gentler and the students all begin eating together). I’ve felt how working on a musical with people you don’t know bring you together quickly, in a way that I haven’t felt with other work. I know militaries use chant and songs and sororities and fraternities do too.

When I taught Neighborhood Bridges this school year to 4th graders, we sang this very silly song, the Tootie Tah, after some of the sessions. When I teach it again this year, I will try it each time and see if it helps bring the kids together as a group more quickly. I wonder where else I can add music to my life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts or reflections.



One thought on “Harmonizing Breeds Harmony

  1. Singing together is a wonderful thing, and we just don’t do it enough. Honestly, I think it’s hard to find songs that we all share — it’s hard to find much of anything that we all share. I remember teaching college students that had never heard any nursery rhymes, and barely knew fairy-tales (unless Disney had turned it into a movie). Pop culture is everything. But I don’t think it’s hopeless — I think we all just have to be willing to learn songs that are new to us, and not judge. 🙂

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