It’s that time of year. The young children I teach are
already bursting to tell me all about their costumes
for Halloween. There seem to be a lot of Elsas and
Annas this year, along with the usual princesses,
ghosts, ninjas, skeletons, and superheroes.
I have nothing against Halloween – but I don’t do any
Halloween songs or activities in my music classes.
Why not? I have a few reasons.
First, some families have a religious objection to
Halloween and I don’t want to add to those children’s
feelings of exclusion – they undoubtedly have a
school party as it is.
Secondly, the whole Halloween thing has become
an industry – it’s so commercial, with tons of TV,
movies and other media devoted to it, to say nothing
of all the fancy – and expensive – costumes. In the
“olden days” (my childhood) costumes were home-
made usually, sometimes thrown together at the
last minute. Not a contest for who’s the fanciest.
Today’s Halloween isn’t something I want to
Most of all, though, Halloween is scary, by defi-
nition. Ghosts and goblins, black cats, witches, and
skeletons are very frightening for many young children.
In my first years as a music teacher, I did some
“spooky” Halloween songs and invariably one or
two children would hide their heads or just cry. That’s
not fun! That’s not what we want for young children!
You might say those children are oversensitive, the
“scaredy cats” who are afraid of everything. Well,
some children, especially very imaginative ones,
ARE very sensitive to frightening words and images.
(I was.) I believe we should be especially careful
to show those children that school is a peaceful,
happy, welcoming place – not a place where they’ll
be faced with scary things they’re not able to handle yet.
So – I do pumpkin songs, songs about leaves and
wind and other nice things about fall. But no witches