Why do people sing songs

Sing with children

Children like to sing - together with other children, together with adults or alone, in guided situations or accompanying their game, sometimes also lost in thought. They sing well-known songs, are curious about new ones, invent their own song variants or new melodies and texts and express what they think, feel, want and what they dream of.

In day-care centers and schools, it is important to actively take up and strengthen the children's joy in singing and to involve the children's families in the process. There are numerous occasions for singing: Every birthday child is happy about a serenade, the spring festival is musically designed with suitable songs, Advent and Christmas carols announce the upcoming festival, dance, movement and play songs invite you to join in and the singing of greetings - And farewell songs are a widespread ritual to start and end a day together in the day nursery, in kindergarten, in after-school care or at school.

Fundamental aspects: song selection and song editing

Children like to sing songs that appeal to them emotionally, that they can experience holistically and that enable them to make contact with other children. The following aspects can be helpful for the selection of suitable songs and when considering how to develop them.

Song selection

  • Content and text: Is the content understandable for the children and does it reflect their interests? Does the song suit the current situation or the season? Does the text appear appropriate in terms of the linguistic requirements?
  • Structure and scope: How many stanzas does the song contain? Can the number be reduced if necessary? How long are the verses and the chorus?
    It is possible to learn the chorus of a song first and add the stanzas according to the children's requirements. Verses that can be invented or selected by the children themselves are particularly popular.
  • Key and pitch: Is the song notated in a pitch favorable for children's voices? The key should be chosen in such a way that the tones are mainly in the range between f1 and d2 and are not below the tones c1 / d1 in depth and are not exceeded in height e2 / f2 (cf. Arnold-Joppich 2015, p. 108; Ernst 2008, p. 13; Mohr 2008, p. 9). Children who have sung a lot have a larger vocal range than less experienced children. If necessary, the song can be transposed into a suitable key.

  • Rhythm: What demands does the song make on the children's rhythmic abilities? Do constant or similar patterns of note and rest values ​​occur or are the rhythmic structures varied? Are there rhythmic peculiarities?
  • Melody: How does the melody go and what is the size of it? Repeated notes and melodies that progress gradually or in small pitches are easier to sing than melodies that have larger jumps. A range that does not significantly exceed an octave is favorable. Does the song have an appealing melody that catches the ear and is easy to sing along?
  • Overall, is the song appropriate to the children's vocal abilities?
  • Can every child take part? Does the song make it possible to involve children with different musical experiences, with different language skills and with different physical requirements?
  • Does the song fit the singing event and the children's group?
  • Does the song give the children space for new experiences?
  • As a whole, is the song appealing and does it seem appropriate to motivate the children to sing?

Song editing

The following collection offers suggestions for making song singing diverse and varied. A suitable selection can be made for each song and supplemented with your own ideas and spontaneous ideas from the children.

  • Content-wise attunement to the song with a story or with a poem, with pictures or with objects.
  • Warm-up exercises for the voice at the beginning of the singing, possibly integrated into a short story related to the content of the song (warm-up story / vocal training story).
  • Speak the text in different ways: at different speeds, at different volumes, with different intonations and intonations.
  • Rhythmic speaking of the text.
  • Use of memory aids for the text (images, gestures, objects, keywords). Usually the children have suitable ideas for movements and accompanying gestures that can be taken up.
  • Presentation of the melody by hand signals ("air writing"); With older children, the melody and rhythm can also be visualized using graphic notation, for example using picture notation or line notation (lines of different lengths indicate the duration of the sound, high notes are placed on top of the page and low notes on the bottom).
  • Pre-singing and post-singing of the song in different variations: different groups take on different parts of the song, change between a soloist as lead singer and the group to repeat the sung passage.
  • Accompaniment with body instruments (e.g. clapping, slapping, stamping, snapping), rhythm instruments (e.g. rattles, tonewoods, drums, triangles, bell rings, etc.), with self-made instruments or with everyday materials (e.g. kitchen utensils, Objects from the children's room or from the school bag) as well as natural materials (e.g. branches or tree grates).
  • Accompaniment with stick playing (glockenspiel, xylophone, metallophone, possibly supplemented with sound modules for individual tones) or with an accordion instrument (guitar, piano, accordion).
  • Execution of movements, design of a dance.
  • Development of a scenic design, possibly also with costumes, masks and props.

Song example: "Welcome, dear people!"

Figure 1 see brochure on the “Music Day in Bavaria” 2015, p. 16

Possible accompaniment: ostinato, e.g. with stick playing, boomwhackers

Figure 2

This short welcoming song by Helmut Maschke with a length of four bars can be worked out very well with children due to its catchy melody and its simple rhythmic course. The song title announces the content of the text and is taken up at the beginning of the verse. Couple rhymes make it easier for children to memorize the text. The text variant offered, in which the repetition of the welcome greeting in measure 2 is replaced by interchangeable verbs, prompts you to carry out the corresponding activity. In further stanzas, which combine greetings in other languages ​​with short sections from the German text, the children encounter languages ​​from other countries. The multilingualism means that everyone is welcome! In addition to the stanzas offered with passages in English, French and Spanish, the song encourages the inclusion of even more languages ​​in other stanzas - especially those spoken by the children singing along. The melody is divided into four sections and runs after the prelude on different pitches in the same direction of movement. With a quarter note, the prelude to the last section is twice as long as the other prelude eighth notes. The pitch range of the song ranges from c1 to d2 and is within the pitch range suitable for children of preschool and elementary school age (cf. Arnold-Joppich 2015, p. 108; Ernst 2008, p. 13; Mohr 2008, p. 9).

The song can be accompanied by chords on the three main levels in F major (I. level: F major, IV. Level: B major, V. level: C major). The harmonies change every half bar and the harmony scheme of bars 1 and 2 is repeated in bars 3 and 4. The two-bar accompanying ostinato (see musical notation / Figure 2) is based on this as a repeating pattern that can be played with stick playing and boom whackers.

Here is the audio sample of the song on the homepage of the Bavarian State Coordination Office for Music.

Building blocks for getting to know and creating the song

The following suggestions are to be understood as building blocks for a varied work with the welcome song. Depending on the requirements of the children and the context of the music-making situation, the modules can be flexibly selected and combined and also encourage variation and additions. Some components can also be transferred to other songs.

To get in the mood and to get to know the song

  • Warm-up story for activating body and voice in connection with a content introduction to the song:

The caregiver (parent, daycare worker or teacher) tells the following story and demonstrates the exercise, the children imitate it with an appropriate number of repetitions. A suitable occasion is chosen as the context, where there is something to celebrate and several people greet each other, e.g. B. a birthday party, a visit from the grandparents, a party in the day care center.


A big festival is ahead: ... [name a suitable occasion]. There are a few things to prepare for the celebration to be a success and an unforgettable experience for everyone:
The apartment / day care center / the school building [name appropriate building] must be cleaned:


We sweep the floor.

Perform rhythmic sweeping movements with an imaginary broom, speaking "sh-sh-sh" with diaphragmatic impulses

Body activation and relaxation


Diaphragm activation

We clean the windows.

Imagine cleaning a window, making yourself tall and standing on tiptoe

Body activation

We blow the dust from the lamps, from the cupboards, from the tables ... [add further pieces of furniture].

breathe out evenly and long on "ffffff"

even exhalation

Now we're brushing the dust off our clothes.

tap the individual parts of the body with light tapping movements: arms, shoulders, chest, stomach, legs

Body loosening

"Ooooh! Aaaah! “Everything is very clean and shines in the sun.

several exclamations with drawn out vowels

Activation of the voice, resonance through vowels

A celebratory meal should of course not be missing! We cut vegetables for the soup: carrots, potatoes, leeks, ... "clack-clack-clack ...".

speaking quickly with clear articulation

Articulation, relaxation of the tongue

It's going to be a wonderful vegetable soup, and it already smells so good!
Inhale the scent with relish!

Breathe in with pleasure, breathe out evenly and long

Deep breathing

The soup is ready, now we are going to prepare a lemon cream.
For this we need lemon juice. Pure it tastes quite sour - "Uiiiii!".

Repeat “Uiiiii!” Several times as an exclamation in high pitch

Activation of the head voice

The lemon cream is a great success, it tastes delicious! You try a large spoon and enjoy the excellent taste. "Mmmmm!"

Mimicking lemon cream food; Say “Mmmmm” as voiced and with pleasure several times

Loosening of the mouth, lips, and tongue;
Promotion of the resonance through Klinger

Now it's time for the guests to come! You wait longingly, you can hardly wait and you go outside the door. You can see the visitor from afar, wave to him and shout "Haaallooo!"


repeated calling; Ring third as interval; the starting tone is sung one tone higher with each call


develop melodic listening;
train the melody memory

When the guests have come a little closer, you call out again: "Hello, hello, hello!"

4. Sing the 4th section of the song (bar 4 with upbeat) to and from

Getting to know and singing a section from the song

Finally the guests are with you, you shake hands with them and greet them with a song: "Welcome, dear people ...".

Audition of the first verse of the song

Transition to getting to know and singing the song


  • Several auditions of the song, there
    • the children move freely in the room and wave to each other with "Hello ..." (4th section, bar 4);
    • the children move around the room and look for a partner whom they shake hands with when they say "Hello ...";
    • do the children perform the activity mentioned while singing the text variant (2nd line);
    • the children walk around the room or clap softly (with two fingers), each time on the basic beat.

To develop the song

Depending on the song and requirements of the children, there are different possibilities to work out the text, melody and rhythm.
Suggestions for the song example "Welcome, dear people!":

  • Rhythmic speaking of one- or two-bar text sections: speaking before and after, groups speak alternately.
  • Rhythmic speaking, whereby individual words are left out and added by the children (first rhyming words, later also omit other words).
  • Rhythmic speaking with self-invented gestures or movements that clarify the content of the text, e.g. B. Shaking hands with "Welcome" in measure 1 with the right hand, in measure 2 with the left hand, with "happy" in measure 3 stretch both hands upwards, with "Hello" in measure 4 wave, possibly with the right and left hand alternately. For many songs, instead of gestures and movements, images can also be used to visualize the content.
  • In the case of stanzas with non-German text, children who have the respective language as their mother tongue can act as "experts" in the role of auditor. The suggestions mentioned above can also be carried out in connection with the foreign-language text.
  • Clarifying the course of the melody by means of aerial writing: the relative course of the pitch is indicated by hand movements - low notes below, high notes above; Jumps, linear and wave-like movements can also be visualized.
    Variant: Graphical representation of the pitch movement in connection with the duration of the note by means of lines of the appropriate length. Graphic forms of notation for one measure on cards are assigned by the children to the section sung.
  • Rhythmic pre- and post-singing of one- or two-bar melody sections on tone syllables, e.g. B. "no" or "you".
  • Rhythmic accompaniment with body percussion, whereby each note value is represented by a different body sound. Examples: slapping the thighs on eighth notes, stomping on quarter notes.

The separate practice of text, melody and rhythm can sometimes be helpful and advantageous - for example, concentrating on the melody when difficult tone jumps occur, or the targeted practice of rhythmically complex passages - but is not fundamentally preferable to combining two or three parameters.

In order to address as many children as possible in a group and to do justice to different types of learning, different approaches should be taken into account, including the use of movements to address the kinesthetic and, if necessary, the tactile sense, and working with images and graphic representations for the visually oriented Learner as well as approaches that focus on listening. By repeating the individual stanzas several times with variations in tempo, volume and mood or expression, the children learn and internalize the song and still sing it enthusiastically even after a large number of repetitions.

For the arrangement of the song

The combination of singing with movements and gestures, different forms of accompaniment and verses in different languages ​​invite you to shape the song in a diverse - and with repeated singing in always new - ways. Special motivation creates the opportunity to present the song to other children, parents and siblings in a small performance.

  • Design with gestures or movements:
    The gestures possibly already carried out in connection with getting to know the song can be taken up and, if necessary, varied or supplemented. The alternative version of the text in German offers suggestions for various forms of movement. Free movement in the place or in the room as well as the joint definition of a sequence of movements - e. B. steps in a circle, turns, etc. - enable the children to implement their own forms of movement.
  • Accompaniment with body percussion:
    Clapping, slapping, stamping, snapping - body sounds can be used to create accompanying forms of very different complexity. Simple accompaniment forms follow the basic beat in quarter notes, whereby a constant sequence of four different body sounds can be specified for each measure or different body sounds can be performed in cycle-wise alternation. More demanding accompaniment patterns are created by combining different note values ​​and possibly pause values.
  • Accompaniment with stick games or boom whackers:
    The ostinato for accompaniment (see Figure 2) can be played on stick chimes - xylophone, metallophone, glockenspiel or sound blocks - or with boomwhackers.Bass xylophone, bass metalophone or bass sound modules can be used for the bass voice (lower accompanying voice), while bass tubes or octavator caps can be used when working with boomwhackers. The ostinato begins with a full measure, ie only on the second sung syllable "kom", and sounds twice per verse.
  • Singing in different languages:
    In the stanzas with parts of the text in different languages, the change between German and English, French or Spanish text is particularly effective when one group takes over the passages in German and another group takes over the sections in the other language. The last section (bar 4) can be sung by both groups together. Children of other nationalities are happy to help practice further stanzas with greetings in their mother tongue, and when singing they provide a sounding model for correct pronunciation.

Perhaps this song can be a contribution to overcoming linguistic barriers - by singing in other languages ​​and even more by making music together, in which the music is used as a language that everyone can understand.


  • Arnold-Joppich, H. et al. (Ed.) (2011). Singing in elementary school. A textbook and exercise book for practice. Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Arnold-Joppich, H. (2015). Dealing with the child's voice - “voice education”. In M. Fuchs (Ed.), Musikdidaktik Grundschule. Theoretical foundations and practical suggestions (pp. 106-119). Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Brünger, P. (2008). Singing in kindergarten. In A. Lehmann-Wermser & A. Niessen (eds.), Aspects of Singing. A study book (pp. 65-77). Augsburg: Wißner.
  • Busch, B. & Müller, S. (Eds.) (2015). Singing in day-to-day life. Conception of the PrimacantaKita training for educational professionals. Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Ernst, M. (2008). Practice singing with children. Communicate, accompany and conduct songs. Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Fuchs, M. (2015). Singing in music class. In M. Fuchs (Ed.), Musikdidaktik Grundschule. Theoretical foundations and practical suggestions (pp. 120-141). Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Keller, R. (2015). Singing - holistic support. In: M. D. Loritz & C. Schott (Eds.), Music - Didactics for Elementary Schools (pp. 91-105). Berlin: Cornelsen.
  • Mohr, A. (2008). Songs, games, canons. Voice training in kindergarten and elementary school. Mainz and others: Schott.
  • Pachner, R. (2015). Practice of singing. In: In: M. D. Loritz & C. Schott (Eds.), Music - Didactics for Elementary Schools (pp. 82-91). Berlin: Cornelsen.
  • Foundation “Singing with Children” (Ed.) (2010). Singing in kindergarten: manual. 111 songs with design ideas for singing, playing, moving. Rum / Innsbruck and others: Helbling.
  • Wieblitz, C. (2007). Lively children's choir. creative - playful - dance. Suggestions and models. Boppard on the Rhine: Fidula.

Further contributions by the author can be found here in our family handbook


Dr. Julia Lutz is junior professor for music education / music didactics with a focus on elementary school at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen and lecturer at the Institute for Music Education at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

discontinued on September 07, 2016