Why is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star so important to young children? You can see them go all mushy when they hear it beginning. They are tuning in to several different parts of the brain all at once, including the sites for auditory processing, memory, language and emotion. Then they automatically start twinkling their fingers and you know the motor cortex is stimulated as well.
Twinkle Twinkle has an irresistible tune
I think it’s because the tune is irresistible- it starts on the “home note” and goes to the “fifth”- the first strong harmony discovered by Pythagoras (or whichever previous sage he learned it from!) It has exact repeats of melodic phrases – its form is the classic ABA, that is it finishes with the same melodic phrase with which it starts (same lyrics too). The section in the middle “Up above the world so high” repeats with the same notes happening in the next line “Like a diamond in the sky” and we all know how much repetition aids in learning something by heart. Children naturally love repetition because it helps them make sense of the world.
Mozart found the melody fascinating
Mozart heard it as a French folk song (Ah, vous dirai-je Maman) and thought it was good enough to inspire twelve piano variations (K.265). Much-loved concert pianist Lang Lang talks about his favourite parts in the variations in a YouTube video, (search YouTube for Lang Lang Mozart 12 Piano Variations).
Like Mozart, kids aren’t silly. Born musical, they know a good tune when they hear one – and, what’s more, it’s about the stars in the night sky — inspiration once again! Sing it often and sing it with love. It’s up to those of us who know the importance of musical sensibilities to keep them alive in young children. It would be tragic if their inborn musical skills atrophied though lack of use, which is what happens if musical activity is not stimulated after the first year from birth.
Nursery rhymes are the best songs for toddlers and preschoolers. They are the shared musical icons of a culture. Share some today with the kids you love and care for.
See how you can use Twinkle Twinkle!
We’ve written a Lesson Plan that features Twinkle Twinkle and 10 other songs that toddlers love. It will give you a month of music activities to keep them happy.