This takes time and care with a new group of children. The small child at home is ‘ picking up’ songs at his own pace and absorbs rather than learns them because of constant repetition. If he is in a household which has a radio or television set on regularly at the same time of day the same songs and music may be repeated frequently. At some of those times he may be completely absorbed in something else, at others he may be half listening, on some occasions he listens intently and at others he may start to listen and then drift off or be distracted by other things. All of this is natural, inevitable and happens to adults too.
The nursery-group situation is different. We may think that because we have a special music session this gets rid of other possible distractions and because we make it a pleasant activity the children are going to enjoy and therefore concentrate on what we are ‘teaching’ them. In fact progress is usually faster if we sing a new song casually at various times for an individual child or a small group of children when they seem to be in a receptive mood in addition to singing it at music time. If we repeat new material every day for a week most of the older children will learn it and it can then be repeated two or three times a week until it is a familiar item in the group repertoire and can be used in different ways. It is perhaps obvious but there is a limit to the amount of new material which we can introduce at one time and probably two new songs, one at the introductory stage and one at the reinforcement stage is as much as the children can manage. We can sometimes be misled by one or two of the older children who have a very good memory into thinking that we can move on. It is best to go at the pace of the average children in the group. There are some songs, of course, which the children never learn. It may be that the words or music are too difficult or just do not appeal to that group. Not all the songs written for children are suitable for them or acceptable to them.