One thing is guaranteed to get me bawling - I’m talking full ball ugly crying accompanied by a couple of whimpers and a few snorts. It is in Mamma Mia 2, when they get to the baptism scene at the end and Meryl and Co sing a rewritten version of My Love My Life by ABBA. The song hits me right in my heart. I can be driving, teaching, vacuuming and the minute I hear it, the tears come and I can’t control it.
In many of my classes I have had one or two children, from babies to 5 year olds who have had such a visceral reaction to a song. It’s happened to Puff the Magic Dragon, We Are Young by Fun and most recently to Over the Rainbow when I had Remy come and sing with me on a Facebook LIVE, when one mum wrote to me about her baby boy:
L started crying when you were singing Over the Rainbow and then again when Remy came on. So beautiful...He was looking at the TV and he scrunched up his face and burst out crying. He’s not even 1 and a half yet!
Emotional wellbeing is one of the key learning outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework. Children learn to understand, self-regulate and manage their emotions and this in turn helps them to understand the feelings and needs of others.
Crying is a natural form it emotional self-regulation which ends in happiness as is shown in the diagram below.
So when a child cries during a song in my class I see it as a sign of great emotional intelligence and sensitivity, which will one day lead to that child being a great friend to someone. And when I cry during My Love My Life, I just let myself do it now, without berating myself for being a sookie la la! I think it is so important for both adults to see crying as a sign of strength rather than weakness. If we are able to sit comfortably with our tears, we are better able to teach children that it is OK to express their emotions.
There is no better way to express our emotions and get in touch with our inner selves, than through the power of music.