HELPING CHILDREN TO SING IN TUNE FROM BIRTH THROUGH BODY AWARENESS PITCH GAMES

Babies are born musical and respond to and begin to anticipate and sing matching notes of the ascending five notes of the C major scale when their parents sing “Up, up, up, up, up” as they lift them up, and the descending five notes of the scale as they bring them back down and cuddle or lie them down, while singing “Down, down, down, down, down”.

From birth a beautiful pitch massage song can be sung using deep pressure touch as the parent sings the following on each of the ascending five notes of the major scale:

Feet, feet, feet, feet
Knees, knees, knees, knees
Tummy, tummy, tummy, tummy
Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders, shoulders
Head, head, head, head
Feet (Slide voice down to the first note and repeat the song if the baby is still watching, listening and engaging).

This song is regularly sung in our musical play classes and then developed as a scale and percussion song as children stamp their feet and pat their knees, tummy, shoulders and head in time to the words above.

The film clip below shows Frances, and her 3 year old daughter Rose, singing the song to baby Elsie as they massage her. We hear great pride in Rosa’s voice at the end of the clip, as she exclaims “I did it!”.

Once the children are familiar with the five-note song that is sung in the young child’s pitch range (usually around the notes Middle C to A) and singing in tune, we then start to sing up and down the octave/eight notes middle C to high C, which are the notes found in the box of chime bars.


We then progress to the song “Playing with Numbers” (Track 8 on Julie Wylie’s CD “Magical Musical Play”). This echo song helps children to listen and sing the echoes: 1 1 1, 1 2 1, 1 2 3, 3 2 1, Feet are number one, knees are number two etc.

These photos taken in a class on Tuesday, show how children are watching, listening, copying the actions and learning the notes in relation to their bodies.

       

On Tuesday we sang the song very slowly without the CD recording. When we then did the song with CD backing, one of the children Audrey, who is very musical, asked if we could sing it more slowly again so that she could “practise”, learn and follow the actions.

Many recordings of children’s songs are too fast, have too many words, and are often not within the young child’s pitch range. These are important considerations when playing music to young children. Often recordings of children’s songs are not pitched at the young child’s emotional level and are more suited to older children.

Audrey wants to be able to master the singing and the actions. I reassured her that we will sing the song slowly lots of times until everybody feels confident, and only then, will we do it again with the recording. We then played the same song using chime bars, singing and playing up and down the C major scale.

When children are able to sing and play in time, this develops their musicality, creativity and self-confidence. This is evident in the beautiful photo of Jake below and in his mother Jen’s comments.

“I thought I’d share this with you after reading the latest newsletter. I just love the look of delight on Jake’s face at the sound and feel of the guitar. He asked his Uncle Brent if he could have a go at playing.

I’m loving how Jake carries the musicality from Julie’s lessons into his life. And I particularly like the range of beautiful instruments the children are introduced to.”

This is a lovely example of how musical play empowers children, opening up an imaginative, magical world of possibilities.

© Julie Wylie, 2 May, 2018


Testimonials

Julie has been wonderful to work with! With her years of experience and expertise she came up with a tune for a song within minutes of hearing about our project and it’s key messages! Julie composed lyrics that fitted our purpose perfectly- she knew what to repeat and emphasise. The tune is wonderfully catchy so children pick it up so quickly. Julie is passionate and skilled and we are so grateful to have had her working with us on our project.

Anne-Maree DelaneyProject ManagerNew Zealand Red Cross
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