Posts Tagged 'musical competence'

Letting Children Learn at Their Own Pace

EE Blog PostAt our recent open house demos that we held in January, before our Winter Session began, I was struck by how many parents expressed their concern that their child does not show reactions or participate in class and therefore have never enrolled their child in a regular session. Many of these parents told me that they only attend demo classes with their children because of this concern.  I responded by emphasizing that the child may be an auditory or visual learner and that they are just soaking it all in rather than participating. Also, they may be a kinesthetic learner, a child that has to be moving to learn effectively, but that they are still processing what is going on around them.  If the child is in the room, they can’t help but absorb what is happening in the room.  According to Maria Montessori, the young child’s brain is twice as active as the adult brain and is designed to soak up their environment between the age of 0 – 5, so they can become a part of the culture they are born into.

Music Together is not a performance-based experience and each child will respond in their own way when he or she is ready.  Oftentimes the children who either were kinesthetic and circled the room the whole class or the ones who were completely still in class, not moving a muscle, go home and do all the motions where they feel most comfortable.  Parents will come to class the next week and rave about how their child knew more movements than the parent!

A child’s participation in a demo class is very rare indeed. Think of all the stimuli that she is experiencing…new faces (children and adults), new music, new surroundings. The list goes on and on. It usually takes a child 6 weeks to feel completely comfortable in the class.

We need to remember to let our children learn at their own pace and in their own way, and not put our own expectations on them. The most important thing we can do is have fun in class and model joyful and enthusiastic music making!  Children are geared to take in all the loves that their parents have.  If we are consistent in showing passion while making music, we will be giving our children the gift of music that will last for a lifetime.

Edie Elkjer
Music Together Teacher

A Tune For Every Moment

I was shopping for a mattress pad at Target, exciting right? As I was standing there in the aisle, debating cotton, alternative down, water proof; I heard a little child sitting in her mom’s cart with some toy playing music keeping her occupied. The mom was doing her shopping and as she perused the aisle she clapped along with the beat of the music. When the music would stop, she continued to clap the beat. The child was so engaged and watched her mom as she played and danced around the Target aisle having fun and singing to her daughter while getting her shopping done. I wanted to go up to her and say, “way to go, keep making that music!” What a great example for all of us. Music can be a great tool, it can help you through a tough transition, it can put a child at ease, it can create bonding moments and foster emotional intelligence, it can make time together fun and engaging, it can encourage imagination, it can help with language development. I could go on. Just like the mom in Target, engaging her daughter musically, as she sat in the cart, we too can use music as a tool.

At Heartsong, we are arming you with a musical arsenal.  We want to give you the tools and the knowledge to create a rich musical environment at home, in the car, at Grandma’s, and even at Target. The average American family knows 3-5 songs to sing to their child. The ABC’s, Twinkle Twinkle, and Baa Baa Black Sheep all have the same melody, so that doesn’t leave us with much. In every class I ask my families to share musical experiences from the previous week. So many times I have heard, “whenever she gets upset in the car, all I have to do is turn on the CD and she calms down.” I also hear, “when we were on vacation, we were having a melt down, and I sang to him in the middle of the airport and it was the only thing that worked!” These moments show us how helpful it can be to have a song in your back pocket.

Even in class we will use our songs to transition from one song to the next, we sing Bye bye, or Bum bum as we put our sticks back into the basket. The children have grown accustomed to this ritual in class and know it means its time to put our instruments away. Sometimes we even sing a song about putting the play-along instruments back in the basket, substituting “clean up lyrics” to a song we already know. These methods can easily be used at home, not only to help make transitions smoother, but also as a great way to insert music as a part of your daily routine.

Every class we sing a lullaby, we quiet things down for a minute or two and we let the children hear our voices. So much bonding happens during a lullaby. In class we get a small peek sometimes into the special connection between parent and child. We want your child to hear your voice, even if they are across the room, your voice is your child’s most favorite voice. So, at home, when you are reading bedtime stories, add a song to the end of that ritual. It is an incredible gift to give that shares love and affection through music. Your voice can calm them and soothe them to sleep.

Music is FUN! Children are born musical, it is our job as grown-ups to support them in their musical growth. We can show them that we love music, and we can actively engage and make music fun! It is not only musical competence that we pass to them as we do our job as musical models, it is also the disposition towards music that we pass on. If your child doesn’t want to dance with you, don’t stop dancing, dance for them! Have a good time with music, if you hear your favorite song on the radio, sing out! It is not about what they do, it is about what YOU do. Their musical development is a complex process that takes years to complete. Why not give them every opportunity to share in a love for music that could last a lifetime? Don’t be afraid; sing, dance, make music fun!

We can give countless opportunities for imagination using music. If you are headed to the grocery store, you can sing the “Hello Song” to all the fruits and veggies you see in the produce department. You can make substitutions of words to almost any song or chant to include what you are doing that day. Children love to have their ideas validated: accept and include the dinosaur in the vegetable song, it doesn’t have to rhyme or even make sense. There are no rules, get creative!

Spontaneous musical moments can be easy, they can help you on a daily basis, and they can create a bond between you and your child. Use music to your advantage! Music can make a trip to Target more than just an errand. Keep a song in your back pocket, for a rainy day, or a long line at the grocery store. You never know when you might need it.

Sabine Heath
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher

The Joy of Family Music

Heartsong Music teaches Music Together®, the internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through grade two and the adults who love them.

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