Growing an appetite for singing in our homes and in our churches
For more than 30 years I've witnessed the power of singing, writes Andy Bodkin. Here's why
Music is all around us, on the radio, in shops, in our cars, TV, live concerts. It helps us “feel” the scene in a film and it helps us express what we might otherwise find difficult. We listen to it when we exercise, when we’re driving, when we are sad and when we are happy. Music has a profound effect on our lives – it has the power to move us and unite us. A power that can’t be underestimated.
Yet, over the last 100 years singing together has become less of a social, family activity and more of a solitary one. While it may still happen in a few families, gone are the days of an evening’s entertainment sat around the piano, singing songs or listening to a piece being sung to us or sat listening to the wireless. Occasionally we may still all listen to the same song on TV or on the radio in the car, but my guess is we are all listening via headphones or a digital device in our own rooms.
We all have differing tastes in music, but there is something very powerful when we connect and sing together. Sure, it can start off a bit awkward and we might even feel a little embarrassed, but just try it, you’ll soon find everyone finds their place and their voice. One thing is certain it will create memories and draw you together.
Making music and singing collectively also has proven impacts on the social behaviour of children of all ages. We’ve seen these impacts again and again during our 30 years publishing for 18,000 primary schools. Making music together can encourage co-operation, belongingness, collaborative learning, social advancement, solidarity, taking turns and teamwork. That’s not a bad list from having fun singing together!
In this context, singing together isn’t about how well you can hold a tune or your sense of rhythm, or lack of it, it’s about having fun together. It’s about enjoying life and all that God has created, the wow and wonder of his creation, the breadth of life that there is in this amazing world. We may be very surprised if we throw caution to the wind and start singing our hearts out, intergenerationally, not only in our homes but also in our churches.
Singing or just enjoying music with child is a great way of opening conversations around big subjects such as bullying, self-esteem, health and wellbeing. When looking at songs to launch Same Boat Music we really tried to not shy away from these big subjects, songs such as “Lord I pray” that explores confession, or “I’m OK” which can help a child understand self-esteem. Simply by listening to a song and asking a child how that made them feel could well spark the start of a meaningful conversation.
Music can also just add fun to our day! Trying making pancakes with the song “We’re Making Pancakes” playing, or planting seeds in the garden with “The Seed Song” and before long everybody will be singing! Just make singing and music part of your everyday life and it’s true there is a song for every occasion.
Singing as part of a group can evoke a sense of belonging to the singer and the listener to something bigger than themselves. It can help us to explore both our independence and our interdependence. We suddenly realise that we have to not only be a participant but an observer, sing our own part but pro-actively listening to those around us. As our voices start to join together something starts to happen, and we focus on being a cohesive whole and not individuals. This uniting can also be seen in participants at music concerts, many people from a variety of background but there for a single purpose, to experience music together. Music becomes the focus that unites and helps override our differences.
We model something to our children when they see us worshipping. We show them that we want to set our sights on something beyond ourselves and give praise and worship to our creator and saviour. As adults we also learn from our children. We see the fun children have when they sing. Singing should not be a single generational experience but one we do corporately across the age groups so we can learn from each other.
There is also something powerful about a child singing a song in church and then being able to bring that experience home and relive it as they sing it again within the home environment. It’s a great way to carry on the discussion of what was learnt in church back into the home. It’s also a great evangelistic tool, children love to sing, at home, in the car, walking down the street!
Andy Bodkin has been working in the world of Christian music for over 25 years. In 2016 Andy left his previous role as a Global Executive for CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) and has recently taken on the role of Group CEO at Out of the Ark Music, a leading educational publisher of Primary School music.
Same Boat Music is a new venture from Out of the Ark, creating and distributing all age worship music for churches and families internationally.
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