The Universal Nature of Mi Sol La
Imagine two kids (Kid A and Kid B) in a playground eating ice cream together. Also, imagine that Kid A is kind of a jerk.
Now, imagine that Kid B drops his ice cream on the floor and starts to cry. Kid A’s natural response is start singing a mocking little tune…
What does that mocking tune sound like? Can you imagine it?
Well, in almost every culture on Earth, that mocking tune goes something like
“Nah nah NAH Nahhhh Nahhhh”
and it’s almost always sung to the tune of
“Sol Mi La Sol Mi”
You might know it as…
“Nanny nanny boo boo (poo poo)”
“Lero lero candilero”
but in almost every instance, the melody, which is built mostly off the minor third between mi and sol, uses a combination of Mi Sol La.
If you’re having a hard time imagining the three notes, sing “Ring Around the Rosie” or “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” and you’ll stumble upon the similarities immediately. Or watch this kid shake her bum around while singing “Nanny nanny boo boo, you can’t catch me.”
Researchers are still debating whether or not this little melody is with us from birth, or if it’s simply a VERY widespread tune.
For many years, people believed it was universal in everyone regardless or exposure or culture (and personally I love this idea). I actually planned on writing this blog post with an emphasis on the universal nature music as shown by Mi-Sol-La but modern evidence actually makes a strong case against the universal nature of Mi-Sol-La. Instead, modern research suggests that it really is just a very widespread tune.
But whichever mi-sol-la origin story you believe in, when it comes to teaching young kids music, these songs still serve an undeniable purpose.
For starters, the melody of nanny-nanny-boo-boo is well-known enough by both children and adults that reverse engineering the melody into its individual notes is surprisingly easy. songs with these three notes are easy to learn.
Even if you don’t have an instrument, if you can mentally break nanny-nanny-boo-boo into the three notes Mi Sol and La, then you can use a memorized reference to sing any Mi Sol La song.
And because children seem to latch onto this melody for one reason or another, this makes them great for classroom chants, beginner melody writing, and ear training games.
So, to celebrate the power of Mi, Sol and La, we arranged a collection of songs and made them big, colorful and easy to read.
We also added the hand-signs and a numbered verse for counting rhythms after you’ve sung the melody!
You can check out two of the songs here for free, or if you’d like to get all 11 of the songs in big colorful notation, as well as instructions for how to use these songs, visit our store on TeachersPayTeachers.
Visit our store on TeachersPayTeachers for the rest of the songs!
Free Starter Program
Instant Access to the Playground Starter Program!
Discover the cognitive benefits of playing an instrument and the #1 Musical Instrument for Kids.
Plus, get access to 5 Lessons and worksheets and song sheets directly from our curriculum, the Preschool Prodigies Playground.