Music and Movement in the Early Years

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Oct 12
Excellence Matters Early Childhood Music Children Brain Development

Read how an experienced educator broadened the use of music with children

Kerry S, an educator in long day care shares how she changed her approach to using music in her room.....

“Variety is the spice of life!” This phrase is used in relation to many aspects of a person’s life. From our choice of evening meal to a holiday destination, new and varied experiences make life more interesting. Music is no different.

As educators, we are in the wonderful position to share a diverse range of music with children. Just as we provide opportunities for children to experience a variety of food at meal times (we don’t just serve Vegemite sandwiches) we can provide opportunities to interact with many genres of music.

A number of years ago, I realised that my own children were coming home each day singing the same songs over and over. A short conversation with their educators informed me that they were being “fed” a bland diet of Wiggles, Hi5 and Playschool everyday. At home, my children were used to interacting with an eclectic collection, ranging from Mozart to Metallica, Cliff Richard to Cold Chisel, Hi5 to Hip Hop and everything in between.

This got me thinking about the way I was using music at work myself. I realised that, I too, was “feeding” children a bland diet. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Wiggles, Playschool etc. however, there is so much more out there that we can tap into and explore. I found that children, families and educators were only too eager to share their musical interests when asked. I found I had children that loved show tunes, some loved cultural music and another who knew the words for every AFL team theme song! My co-educators and I made a conscious decision to bring music to the foreground of our program. No longer to just add to the background “noise” and more than just a few simple songs at group time.

Not all of the music/songs children enjoyed were suitable for listening to in an early childhood service. Some songs may have great musicality, use of instruments etc. however, the lyrics may be quite offensive. A bit of research and I was able to locate suitable substitutes. For example, Lou Bega’s “Mambo No.5” was covered by Bob the Builder, and Baha Men recorded “Who woke Snow White up” for Disney, in answer to their own “Who let the Dogs out”. With the introduction of these songs, as well as many more, I had children joining music experiences in a way they hadn’t before. A heavy metal/screamo version of Incy Wincy Spider had children grabbing their air guitars and rocking out. Educators, too, seemed to enjoy the new variety of music and movement experiences.

Movement experiences were a great opportunity to introduce cultural music, which lead to learning more about the world around us and our place in it. A Maori Hakka, an Irish Jig and an Italian Tarantella and we were all off on a world tour. Children were actively engaged with the music in the room, moving, singing, playing instruments and each interacting in their own way.

Music and movement is a superfood for the brain.  Active engagement in music and movement experiences has a holistic benefit to children’s development. Children practice and extend their speech, social skills and motor development. Imagination and creativity stretch and minds grow.

Plato was credited with saying “music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”. I challenge all educators to not hide music in the background of the room, but to bring it to the front and let it live.

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