Children’s songs: Where have all the traditional songs gone?

If you’re reading this article, you probably have a young child or two running around creating havoc. If, like me, you are wondering where all the traditional nursery rhymes have gone, I am here to remedy the situation!

Do you remember traditional nursery rhymes from your kindergarten years like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Old MacDonald Had A Farm, Incy Wincy / Itsy Witsy Spider, ABC, etc.? I guess you remember them sung in a certain way, with different emphasis and emphasis on certain keywords. You can’t forget the melodies either, impossible! In fact, many melodies are reused in multiple nursery rhymes, such as Twinkle Twinkle has the same melody as A, B, C Song, and Baa Baa Black Sheep.

So you can imagine my horror when recently, when I was trying to entertain my youngest daughter (15 months) with some videos on YouTube and almost None of these aforementioned children’s songs were as I remembered! Was my bad memory to blame here?

I wanted to show my baby all the nursery rhymes he grew up with, as did my own mother / father and theirs too. I was stunned (or should I say “shocked”?) At how disastrously bad the vast majority of online videos were. I mean they were really horrible! At best, some were genuinely laughing out loud, but for all the wrong reasons (!) And at worst, some were scary and perhaps not even suitable for young children. Maybe the good: bad ratio was around 1:40. I also noticed that most of the YouTube nursery rhyme videos had incredibly long intros – 20, 30, or even more seconds of pre-ambulation material, promotions, and other irrelevant material before starting the main theme. I probably don’t need to tell you, dear parent, that even just 20 seconds can seem like an incredibly long time when you have a squirming and a little bored baby on your lap.

Not only are the websites and animations primarily of incredibly poor quality, but the songs and lyrics themselves were often wrong, as the singer / troupe’s first language was often not actually English. Where did he have all the true the lullabies are gone, I was wondering? There were very few online resources that reflected my childhood memories. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” had now become “Dwingle Dwingle” and the Baa Baa Black Sheep boy now lived on the lane (whatever that means!)

It is important that we do not lose our traditional songs to the relentless technological changes that allow anyone to upload the material they want to the Internet. It is important that high standards are met and that we pass our playground songs accurately. I urge you to watch some of the nursery rhyme videos for yourself to see how horrible they have become. You will laugh at some and be ashamed of others, but after the initial laugh has died down, you too will feel the sadness of your childhood memories fade away.

Unfortunately, the number of views a video has received or where it appears in search results does not give any indication of quality. So how do you locate the good things and ignore the bad? My recommendations are as follows:

  1. Go to YouTube (not Google) to search
  2. Use the full name of the nursery rhyme, ie “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is better than “Twinkle Twinkle” and use speech marks around the title.
  3. Adding the word “British” or “English” can go a long way.
  4. Click the search options, and under “Features” (far right), click High Definition.

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