I realize that not everyone likes singing with kids. In fact, despite my music major and background, I am one of those people who used to hate to sing in front of people. Last Monday when I had a playdate with my nieces and nephews, I heard my husband say, "Wow, I have never heard Lisa sing before. I can't believe that is what quieted Fallon's screaming." (Fallon is my 5 month old niece.) It made me start to think. Then later in story time that week, I noticed that I was actually singing (where people could hear me, not just moving my lips). How did I get to this point?
While these may not all work for you, here are some things that I have done over the past 12 years that may have gotten me to this point:
1. Do you know any babies that you can hold? Over the past 7 years, I have acquired 8 nieces and nephews and I see many of them multiple times a week. I am constantly holding them, singing to them, playing with them, etc. I have found that singing to a baby is kind of like our PAWS for Reading program (or a Reading to the Dogs program). Babies really don't care what you sing or how you sing-they just like that you do it. If you can't think of anything to try, I would start with Old MacDonald (because this song can really go on forever). The name game is also fun (they like hearing their name and it is just funny). Chances are if you can be a little silly in front of a baby, you can be a little silly in other areas of your life too (like story time).
2. If you're still not ready to grab a microphone and perform, what about finding cds that fit your songs and taste to add as your story time accompaniment.? The thing that is important for this to work is to find music that goes slow enough for you to sing along with. The kids will sing along if you sing, but if you are still shy, pass out lyrics sheets to the parents. While you may get a few rolled eyes the first time, most will participate because what we are doing looks fun! Plus, if you pick a song with actions, your audience will be looking at your hand motions and not your mouth.
Also, when in doubt, if you can mouth "watermelon" to any song and it looks like you are singing.
3. Is there a music group that has you humming along when people aren't watching? Chances are they fit your musical tastes and registers. Most of us have to drive to work and can pop in a cd. This is a good time to sing along where nobody else can hear you (you just may get some strange looks from other drivers if you pull off an air guitar). Just as an example, Maroon 5 is my cd of choice (the singing isn't too high, the songs are catchy, and I can actually follow along to the words). If they are on the radio, I find myself singing along. While I am not going to sing their songs in story time, the more you do something (like singing), the more comfortable you get.
My best advice is to do what is most comfortable for you while not taking you totally out of your comfort zone.