When most of us think of karaoke, we think of one of two pictures, little Asian men singing bad renditions of Madonna songs, or the tone-deaf guy with the leather jacket, disco shirt and bad comb over (as if there is such a thing as a “good” comb over) taking himself far too seriously as he desperately tries to croon his way into the heart of the girl at the bar who was kind enough to acknowledge his presence when he dropped a cheesy line though his drunken stupor. In either case, the idea of karaoke as an aid for helping your kids to succeed in life probably seems, at first glance to be an oxymoron. Bear with me though, for when you realize what an incredible tool karaoke is, you will undoubtedly rush right down to the local Y’all Mart to buy a player and some discs.
Kids learning to read often find the task daunting, frustrating, and anything but fun. It’s even less fun if the other kids read better or if adults have to help them too often with the words. Karaoke is a really fun outlet. Not only are the words highlighted on a screen as they roll by, but they are words to songs with which your children are familiar. Start out with the tracks that include the singer’s voice. Seeing the words on a screen and hearing a musician they love pronounce those words correctly in a flow that makes the words mean something as they string together in a times beat will help improve your child’s recognition of words, ability to pronounce those same words when seen in other venues, and allow them to hear the proper pronunciation of those words without feeling stupid for not having figured it out themselves. It’s a fun way to learn, in a format where children have no idea that they are learning. In time, you will be able to use the music track while your kid sings the words back without the aid of the musician and in so doing, they will read the screen better than they have ever read anything before.
Most people have trouble speaking in front of others, no less singing in front of others. Karaoke offers a venue for this to happen in a way that is non-threatening, and in a way that will help your child build confidence. Our voices are like instruments. In time, all but the most tone deaf will learn to play those voices with confidence. One doesn’t have to be good at karaoke in order to have fun doing it, and the process of doing our best in a creative venue is good for self confidence. A kid that can sing karaoke will have an easier time standing to deliver a book report to the class.
Along the same lines, your family members will have varying degrees of talent when singing karaoke. It’s a good thing for kids to see that there is no shame in the variance of talent that is experienced by all of humanity. If they are better than you, say so! That’s another great ego booster for a kid. As a parent, you don’t need to worry about your kid’s ego being too big. If their heads get too big their friends will have your back. It’s your job to make sure that you are the one person who is always their biggest fan!
Kids also find themselves learning and appreciating music as the result of karaoke. There is a difference between knowing some songs and having music in your life. You know the difference instinctively, so I will not labor point further than to say, it’s your job to lead your kids to music.
If I were to ask you what the best day of your life was before your kids were born, there is an 80% chance you would relate a story of a time that you spent quality time with your mother, your father, or both parents. Even now your heart has been warmed by a memory. We spend enough time keeping our kids from killing themselves and each other, screaming, barking orders, etc, that karaoke becomes a nice reprieve. It’s a family activity in which even feuding family members can lose their frustration, if only for a couple of hours. It’s impossible to sing and be upset at the same time. Even sad songs feel pretty good in a placed down deep. Songs bring us back to our humanity and they touch the core of our being…even for those of us with limited musical inclination.
A karaoke player costs about a hundred dollars, and you can usually find low cost ones at a local store. Discs run anywhere from $8 to $30. The benefit of including karaoke into the lives of your kids and your family is priceless and worth every penny you will spend, one hundred times over. If you have never considered adding karaoke to your life, now is the time. May the lives of all of your family members be enriched by the addition of more music in your lives.
by Harry Widdifield
For an affordable Karaoke machine: Singing Machine SMG-137 CD+G Karaoke System