Posts Tagged 'musical role model'

Allowing Your Little Scientist to Play With Music

Musical PlayWhat’s the difference between an egg shaker and a maraquita? They both shake. Why do we bother using both in class? After all it’s the same thing pretty much. One just has a handle.

And that’s the point. That little handle provides a different experience for your child. Just by putting a little handle on the egg shaker we can explore and play with the instrument in a myriad of ways. And that’s what we want for our children at Heartsong. We want them to have the opportunity to play with music (with and without musical props and instruments) long before there’s ever any expectation of playing music.

I was reading an article interviewing Jimmy Fallon who recently became a father for the first time. He understandably wanted to talk about his new daughter as new parents are likely to do. He talked about how he’d had a thought that really blew his mind. He realized that his daughter was experiencing everything in her life for the first time! It astounded and thrilled him. And it allowed him to also experience everything with her for the first time. Again.

Sometimes our desire to teach our children how something works or what it is for can interfere, quite innocently, with their natural desire and ability to figure things out for themselves. We want them to “get it right”, “use it right”, “do it right”. But we miss out on so much (and so do the children) when we have expectations beyond what their stage of development might presently be. We may be comparing our 16 month old to the 11 month old across the circle who is shaking that egg furiously while our child is staring at it on the ground before licking it and balancing it on her head. We, thinking we are helping, instinctively grab hold of their arms or hands and move them like the teacher to make sure they understand where their arms “should” be going. We forget that they will get their arms up, down, around etc. on their own and in their own time just by being fully immersed in the musical experience. Your children are always aware of what you’re doing. So keep modeling by singing and moving on your own!

It’s ok to allow them the time to get messy with the jingle bells or try to sit inside the upside-down gathering drum. Our children can be likened to little scientists. They do their own little tests to see how the object will respond while simultaneously taking in what you are doing with said object.

So just keep shaking that egg, whooshing that scarf, and beating the drum. They’ll catch on when they are ready; while they teach you how to make bunny ears out of a pair of mallets.

And when you find yourself worrying about whether your child is catching on or catching up remember what one of my favorite teachers says:

“Your child won’t go to college in diapers.”

Fleur Phillips
Certification Level I, Music Together Teacher

The Sound of Silence

MomChildSilenceWe are rounding the bend and entering our final month of the wonderful Flute Collection. Families are bonding and the children are singing their hearts out. We had a blast dancing to the “Time Warp”, “Ghost Busters”, “Monster Mash”, and much more for Halloween. (I got to dance the “Time Warp” ten times in one week. I’m good until next year I think.)

During one of my classes (the week of Halloween) the energy was high and we were ready to party. We had a lot of extra family members in class and it was such a joy. But because the numbers were many and we were in holiday mode there was a lot of chatting during and between songs

If you’ve been taking Music Together with your child for a while (or even for a semester) you have probably heard that we like our classes to be as much of a “musical sanctuary” as possible. That means that from the moment you enter class until the moment you leave – whatever needs to be said should be sung!

Children in Music Together are learning music in the same way they are learning language: total immersion. We joyfully saturate them in the music for 45 minutes once a week (not counting the joyful noise making occurring at home.)

During this Halloween class after one of our upbeat songs I went into the Tonal Patterns for class. Tonal Patterns are the little bits of notes we sing after we finish our song. These Tonal Patterns provide “building blocks” to help the children organize the song in their brains – after the song is over. It’s like a Follow the Leader singing game. You also hear them on your CD.

But it didn’t work in this class. Why? 

Deanna DeCampos, Director of Eastside Westside Music Together in New York City puts it this way. “…language development takes such a prominent role in a child’s early years… a child ‘tunes in’ to her mother’s voice, [so] we can infer that, if a child’s mom is talking to her neighbor in class rather than singing, that child is going to  tune in to the talking and not the music.  Now, if the mom is SINGING, she’s both modeling music making behavior and providing her child with the most beautiful aural stimulus possible – her singing voice. Music making utilizes many areas of the brain, including the language center.  When mom talks in class, the child gets the double whammy of tuning in to mom’s voice AND trying to discern the language sounds that he’s hearing. Music?  Not a priority in the little guy’s brain.”

Essentially, last week when we went into the Tonal Patterns while the chattering continued, we were asking the children to use the area of the brain that focuses on language development. (This is why Songs without Words are so easy for the young child to learn – no concentration on language needed. Just music!)

So I asked everyone to be very silent. Then we tried again. We sang a little more of the song and then seamlessly (silently) moved into the Tonal Patterns. What happened then? We heard in the silences between each Tonal Pattern a smattering of tots attempting to replicate the notes: “buh, BA, Baaa;” something that didn’t happen while there had been a lot of talking after the song. I could see the smiles of recognition and even surprise on some grown-up faces. Such a gift.

We chat, gab, and yak all day. There’s time enough for that. Now let’s sing… and then listen…who knows what might happen next.

Fleur Phillips
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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