Monday, February 29, 2016

Music : Not Just For Transitions Anymore

Went to a fabulous inservice today! I saw a program called Dandelion Seeds created by Amoriza Gunnink. She is the founder of Arts for the Very Young International and Dandelion Seeds is a music program for children from ages 2-7. If you click on her name, or HERE you will be linked to her website.

Click HERE for a quick introduction to the Dandelion Seeds program.

I have to agree that preschool and kindergarten programs would benefit greatly from the implementation of music programs for more than just transitions. Music is highly accessible for all children and can be specifically helpful to children with special needs and/or learning delays. Children may not be able to sing the lyrics in a song, but may be able to use a sound or a group of sounds. They can hit two sticks together, shake some jingle bells, or make rhythms and keep a beat on a drum. The Dandelion Seeds program develops children over time giving them confidence to express themselves within the group. Music allows for whole body learning. Amoriza says, "Instrumental play allows children to express and represent their feelings, ideas and thoughts."

The use of a simple sound, group of sounds, or a familiar children's song with progressive movement and beat within a circle setting is very engaging. The children are learning volume control, tempo, pitch, how to work together as a group, how to listen and focus, and all while having fun. We had a welcome song from Ghana, West Africa: Funga Alafia which has some hand gestures. It is very easy to learn. Welcome songs are a very important part of a music program. It helps children to know that something is beginning. If you click on the name of the song above, you will be directed to a video which explains and demonstrates the song. By the same token, implementing a goodbye song will help children to understand that the session is finishing.

We used not only our hands, but also our bodies, the floor and the space around our bodies with our instruments. We learned that using songs with animals could help children visualize how to play an instrument. Using the song Hop Old Squirrel, children can illustrate how an animal's tail might swish across a drum, or its feet might tap while jumping on the drum. You can change the animal adding to the song and visualization for the children. For example: leap old frog, fly old bird, swim old fish etc.

The following video I found on YouTube. It utilizes one of the traditional songs listed on Amoriza's list. This is not Amoriza, but I really feel this Music Specialist illustrates what I saw today in Amoriza's demonstration. Nicola is teaching some students how to use music in an elementary school setting. She goes a little beyond what we may do with preschoolers, but her process is so close to Amoriza's it is worth showing.

If you don't see the video embedded below, click HERE to go to the YouTube video.

You can see that with simple musical phrasing, a beat, and some movement, an entire class can be engaged in a cohesive, safe learning environment.

Another intriguing activity we did today was through the use of a stretchy band. This is what it looks like:

UPDATE: Discovered smaller version can be purchased HERE at Empire Music!

It can be purchased at Wintergreen. However, it is very expensive. One colleague of mine felt a parachute would work to a degree, since many preschools have those. Another colleague is thinking of making one: To get all the colours like the band, purchase several second-hand t-shirts. Then, cut off the arms, sew them together and add an elastic to the inside to give it the elasticity desired for the activity. Another idea mentioned was to use an infinity scarf, sew in an elastic all the way around, then sew up the edges of the infinity scarf to enclose the elastic. BRILLIANT! If you work 1:1 with children, a smaller version would be very useful.

Click HERE to view a group of children enjoying a musical activity with the stretchy band.

Now Amoriza had participants move the stretchy band along with a simple musical sound like, "Ba-ba-ba-ba, baba-ba" so any child could follow along verbally as well as rhythmically.

Instrumental music play in a preschool classroom introduces children to the world of music. Music is a valuable mode of expression. It develops the mind and the body. It helps the children to develop individually and as a group.

Please consider adding more music to your classroom. You will be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by where Play Has Meaning

Ms. Bev

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