Me? Teach Music?
I remember sitting in my undergraduate music class that first day, listening to the concerns expressed from fellow students about the preconceived difficulty of the music course they were about to take. Many thought it was out of their realm of comprehension – ergo, they feared the worst – that they were about to embark on the most strenuous of all courses they had to take. As many in class experienced, music isn’t difficult. More important, one doesn’t have to be an accomplished musician to reap the immense benefits music has to offer.
This blog is for primary educators (musical and non-musical), parents, and children. It offers ways to develop musicality in the classroom and at home. Explore the songs, rhymes, poems, and finger plays that appear over time for ways to encourage learning while keeping children entertained in the process.
Rainbow by Nancy Ellington/Bill Ellington
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Maria Montessori“We cannot know the consequences of suppressing a child's spontaneity when he is just beginning to be active. We may even suffocate life itself. That humanity which is revealed in all its intellectual splendor during the sweet and tender age of childhood should be respected with a kind of religious veneration. It is like the sun which appears at dawn or a flower just beginning to bloom. Education cannot be effective unless it helps a child to open up himself to life.” Maria Montessori
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Category Archives: music and curriculum
Justin Paul and his team won the Academy Award for the best song, “City of Stars,” in the movie “La-La Land.” Justin gave a wonderful shout out to public education, where he said that “arts and culture were valued” and resourced, and he thanked his teachers. He and his group are also responsible for the […]
Throughout history, music has been used as an instrument of sociality for cultures the world over. Its power has been touted as the great elixir of both physiological as well as emotional ills. Researchers have studied its effect on emotional/social development, physical development, and intelligence.
The role of music in the education of the young child is at the forefront of all other early learning since the child’s musical intelligence overlaps and intersects with all other intelligence defined by Gardner (Thurman, Chase, and Langness, 1987). Music is a precursor to the development of the other intelligence: linguistic, musical, bodily kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, spatial, and personal (Boyd, 1989).
Visualize the following scenario. Ten kindergarten children are singing the song Five Little Bunnies. Their musical intelligence is used as they sway left to right in rhythm with the music. Their logical-mathematical intelligence is piqued in the counting of bunnies. Their linguistic skills are developed when they create their own personal interpretation of the song. Their spatial and personal development is stimulated as they move around like a bunny.
Children love to sing. Singing generates emotional dimension and is extremely important in social/cultural development since it and culminating activities are invaluable to establishing group identity. Ritualized singing at the beginning and end of play periods develops a meaningful bridge between the child’s home life and school life. (Boyd, 1989).
Meaningful, well-constructed songs are easily memorized and will come to mind at any given moment providing the child singing it a comforting reminder of earlier activities or learning experiences.
According to researcher Howard Gardner, there are nine ways of being smart. Children are “natural” learners and learn best in ways that are “natural” to their innate learning style(s).
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences…
- Body Smart
- Music Smart
- Picture Smart
- Number Smart
- Word Smart
- People Smart
- Self Smart
- Nature Smart
- Existential Smart
It’s interesting to note that music lends itself to all ways of being smart when it comes to acquiring pre-reading skills in early childhood. Here are just a few examples of integrating “music smart” with “partner smarts” to make learning basic pre-reading skills interesting and fun.
Body and Music Smart
- Move body to form letter shapes to music.
- Jump rope to the alphabet song.
- Sing vowel sounds.
- Use lyrics to simple songs to find and circle letters.
Picture and Music Smart
- Illustrate and label pictures to a song.
- Create an adaptation songbook.
Number and Music Smart
- Count the number of bunnies in a song.
- Order events in a songbook.
Word and Music Smart
- Sing the “Word Family Song”.
- Find and circle words in a song or lyrical poem.
People and Music Smart
- Share and teach favorite songs with someone.
- Sing with a buddy.
Self and Music Smart
- Sing aloud to a stuffed animal friend.
- Listen to a rhyming songbook on CD.
Nature and Music Smart
- Text to real world connections. Name the living things you see outside? What songs do they remind you of?
- Sing and dance to “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” while circling a tree or bush.
Existential and Music Smart
- Find letter blends in the song “Giving”.
- SIng a friendship song. Brainstorm the ways to be a good friend.
Multiple styles can and should overlap in any learning activity but it should be noted that including music turns a not so interesting lesson into one that piques a child’s curiosity and attention span!
Music Lessons Enhance Brain Function in Disadvantaged Kids – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
Click on the link below for an enlightening article on information we should inherently know. Parents, teachers, and community – join in and speak up for children. The arts – in particular music, play a critical role in high student achievement. The problem that presents itself in education is many non-musical people set the curriculum guidelines that all educators must follow. I once had a kindergarten teacher tell me she did not see the value of music to kindergarten students. My heart sank! How much time are your children or students allowed to take part in the arts at school? Head’s up! Thirty minutes a week is not enough.
Music is a positive supplement to any curriculum. Using music to enhance curriculum – especially in early childhood, stimulates the brain’s neural coding which aids learning in later years. Here are just a few of the ways music can enhance your classroom curriculum:
- Singing encourages language development. Music is generally processed on the right side of the brain and language on the left. Singing involves both words and music and results in stimulating hemispheric interactions.
- Music is not just for listening, but can be expounded upon the same way any good literature choice can. In a study of preschoolers’ responses to auditory and vibroacoustic stimuli, J.M. Standley found that comprehension of literature was greatest for those students listening to the music-only version of the story.
- Children can listen to music with eyes closed and create a picture in their minds. Writing about their picture enhances phonemic awareness and focus skills.
- Singing favorite songs develops pitch and intonation skills required for vocal cord development, thereby improving oral language skills.
- Discussing the meaning behind song lyrics is a positive way to develop higher order thinking skills.
How do you use music in your classroom or home?
Campbell, D. (1997). The Mozart effect: Tapping the power of music to heal the body, strengthen the mind, and unlock the creative spirit. New York, New York: Avon Books.
D’Agrosa, E. (2008). Making music, reaching readers: Making powerful connections possible for young students. General Music Today (Online), 21(2), 6-10.
Childhood memories often include those times that music was involved. Sing songs you learned in childhood to your students. It’s often these traditional songs your students will ask to sing again and again. Songs like “Playmate”, “Bicycle Built for Two”, and “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” evoke the importance of our musical heritage and generate a curiosity to learn more. Anne E. Boyd says, “Ritualized singing at the beginning and end of play periods develops a meaningful bridge between the child’s home life and school life.” Surveying classroom parents to ask about their favorite family songs is a way to ensure a sense of comfort and safety for your students. Surveying your students for their favorite songs will help you select songs most familiar to all. When students feel safe, optimal learning can take place.
Boyd, Anne E. “Music in Early Childhood.” International Conference of Early Education and Development, Hong Kong, July 1989.
Infusing curriculum with music is one sure way to heighten targeted academic development. Children acquire skills easily in relationship to what they know. The songs and rhythms of early childhood spark enthusiasm for learning and build self-esteem. There are six elements to incorporating music into your daily teaching routine. How do we effectively incorporate them?
- Ensure a strong bond between music in the classroom and music at home.
- Incorporate music use with all elements of curriculum.
- Use music to facilitate effective transition times.
- Steer appropriate classroom behavior with background music.
- Develop a “Music and Sound Spot”.
- Allow time each day for movement with music.
Each of these areas will be presented in following posts to allow time for discussion of each separately. Be sure to look for future posts.
Also, this is a new blog and I would love to hear from you on the types of information you would like to see presented. Thanks!