This guest post is by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. An award-winning children’s performer, DARIA (Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou) has seven cd’s that have won national honors.  She has the most awesome job of traveling the world to sing for kids and peace.  Her website; located at, was given a 2009 Parents Choice Award for its musical and cultural content. 

My Dad was a tall, serious fellow.  Despite that fact, he often walked to the breakfast table while singing this little ditty: “Good morning to you, Good morning to you, Good morning bright sunshine, oh how do you do?”.  He would say that he learned the song from his first grade teacher.  Despite the fact that it had been decades since he sat at a tiny desk and used chalk on a blackboard, the song still brought back happy memories.  And even though it has been years since he passed away, “Good morning bright sunshine” never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Such is the power of song.

Sharing Memories

How do you get a guaranteed smile from a grandparent or senior citizen?   Ask them about their favorite memories from the past.  How do you make a child giggle and pay attention?  Share a favorite song with them.  If you put these two powerful activities together, you have an unbeatable combination.  Sharing music between younger and older listeners is a way to actively engage hearts and minds and create new shared memories between the generations.

So what songs are best for making this kind of musical magic?  The answer is simple.  Ask the grandparents or seniors themselves.  I know from my musical work with elderly and Alzheimer’s patients that songs they treasure and recognize most generally come from childhood memories.  Sure hits are songs that they heard in school, in their neighborhood, places of worship or during special holidays.  How do you find out?  Ask simple questions and listen for the answers.  “Did you sing songs at school?” “Did anyone sing you a lullaby at night.”  “What was your favorite song when you were growing up”.  “Did you and your siblings sing songs on the playground or on your block?”  What was your favorite song for Christmas, Hanukkah, Fourth of July (etc.)?  You might be surprised and delighted at the answers as you discover what music carries the most meaning to people who are special to you.

Time With Your Playmate

When someone is a young child or an older person, it can seem like they have fewer choices of things to do and places to go than active adults. So time spent one-on-one with a special friend or playmate can be a really treasured experience.  Whether you are listening to favorite songs together, making a musical craft or making a chore or activity more enjoyable with a song, music can benefit both older and younger listeners.

And some of the older songs have great stories or questions built into them.  Do you remember the song “Playmate” (lyrics below)?  It talks about rain barrels, apple trees, favorite dolls and cellar doors.  “What is a rain barrel” “How can you slide down a cellar door?”.  These are great questions that help start conversations about what life was life when the older person was young.  When I sing “Grand Old Flag” I often hear the best stories about summer picnics, 4th of July celebrations and ways that communities celebrated or honored veterans. By sharing stories and songs, music can create a meaningful way for childhoods to merge and create combined family history.

Yes, You Can! 

Of all the things that a grandparent or relative can give a child, one of the most important is their full attention and encouragement.  If you ask a child what they might be singing in school or at home, they’ll usually share a song or two with great pride and put on an impromptu concert for you.  Grandparents can always share fingerplays or other simple action songs such as Kumbayah or John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.  If motor skills or dexterity is an issue, they can ask the child to “play teacher” and demonstrate such things as how the Itsy Bitsy Spider climbs up the waterspout.  Although many things may be new, difficult and unapproachable to a child, the act of making music for and with a grandparent is a place they can truly shine.  Encouraging a young child, listening to them and giving them undivided attention builds confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem – gifts that will remain in a child’s life forever.

Songs Of Faith

I often perform at religious organizations such as Jewish Community Centers and Catholic Nursing Homes.  In this type of setting, it’s wonderful to see how songs that celebrate faith can become very special to both older and younger listeners.  Aside for their own power as statements of deeply held belief, it is encouraging and exciting for older listeners to feel they are passing along religious, spiritual or cultural values to ones that may be the tradition bearers into the next generation.  Music that expresses faith is a wonderful way to encourage, comfort and renew older ears and to awaken and delight young ones.

Make Some Musical Crafts – Together! 

Want to take musical fun a step farther?  Make something musical together!  My website has some easy activities that any child can make for or with their grandparent or older friend with “around the house” supplies.  Make a recycled rattle, maracas from sets of old buttons, a box drum from an older cardboard box and much more. All of these create musical fun both during the making and the playing.

Grandchildren’s Delight 

If you’d like to find out about some of the songs I sing at intergenerational and family concerts, check out my cd entitled Grandchildren’s Delight.  I recorded it after years of playing family concerts and having people say” “Oh I love that song”, “I wish my grandchildren could hear these good old songs”.  In short, I let my audiences pick what went onto the album from their favorite songs such as  “Oh Susannah”, “Grand Old Flag”, You Are My Sunshine”, “This Little Light of Mine” and much more.  I’m pleased to say that Grandchildren’s Delight won a Parent’s Choice award and was nominated for a Grammy as well!  You can hear song snippets at the link below.

So how can music bring the generations together?  There are so many different ways.  Explore some of them and you will be weaving together the past with the present to create a beautiful, harmonious future for young and old alike!

Happy music-making!

-Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou


Daria’s Musical Website

Explore Instruments on DARIA’s website:

Grandchildren’s Delight – Hear song snippets

Fun Ways Of Sharing Kumbayah With Your Child

Oh, Playmate 

(Traditional lyrics and a new verse by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou)

Oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
and bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rain barrel
climb up my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends forever more

Oh playmate,
I cannot play with you
My dollies have the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
Ain’t got no rainbarrel
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends forever more

(new verse)
Oh playmate,
there is so much to do
Together me and you
We don’t need to be blue
We’ll spend the whole day
Finding new games to play
We’ll pass the hours away
Just you and me!

Oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
and bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Slide down my rain barrel
climb up my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends forever more

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