Children love to play their own compositions and simple songs. Here are the letter names of notes from the C major scale to help parents, teachers and children to listen, imitate and play familiar songs.
TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR
C C G G A A G
F F E E D D C
G G F F E E D
G G F F E E D
C C G G A A G
F F E E D D C
INCY WINCY SPIDER
C C C D E EE
D C D E C
E E F G GG F EF G E
A AA G GG F E F G E
G C C C D E EE D C D E C
ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT
C. C. C D E
E D E F G
high CCC GGG EEE lowC
G F E D C
I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT
C D E F G highC
A highC G
F FG E E
D DE C
C D E F G highC
A highC G G highC
lowC D F E D C
F F F C D D C
A A G G F C
F F F C D D C
A A G G F
CC F F F CC F F F
FFF FFF FFFF F F
F F F C D D C
A A G G F
C C G G
A B C A G
F F E E D D C
G GG F FF E EE D. D
G GG F G A F
E DD C
Recently on a beautiful sunny afternoon I enjoyed a wonderful time of musical play with Harper (aged 4) and Sadie (21 months). Taking a hoop outside in the sunshine we started off with sung instruction – up up up up up, down down down down down. The girls loved moving the hoop with the scale and it was such a beautiful time of connection between the two of them as the moved the hoop in time with each other and the rhythm of the scale.
Then we had some fun playing around with the hoop in new ways as I sung “What can you do with the hoop today” and then letting Harper take the lead singing out what actions and movements she was exploring with the hoop.
Harper gained more confidence at this point as leader and began to sing her intentions out herself… including her sister as both partner and exploring the space Sadie took up with putting the hoop back and forward over Sadie’s head. It is so excited in musical play when the child becomes the leader not only of themselves but of the others around them.
By this point the girls were off! Harper jumped inside the hoop and lead Sadie around our property singing her own song as they went.
Then she passed on the role of leader to Sadie “It’s your turn to lead now Sadie- in you get”.
Sometimes my children blow me away. An afternoon of playing around with a hoop was a beautiful example of how music is not only a fun way to spend time with our children, but an incredible tool to build listening skills, confidence, relationships, leadership, spacial awareness and creative thinking.
And all you need is a voice! Sing with your children today and you never know what precious moments may unfold.
DAF, DAF, DAFF-O-DIL
In our music classes we use a variety of found objects such as shells, stones, flowers to set out a simple rhythmic pattern. The children can help to arrange the patterns which we chant, clap, pat and dance.
For a springtime pattern arrange Daffodils to form the Pattern : Daf, Daf, Daf- O- Dill.
Then let your children take the lead and see what patterns they come up. Have fun!
We can sing with our children in the car, with all daily routines, at the beach, in the park, anywhere. When children participate in this kind of musical play, it naturally becomes a vital part of their own musical play.
Friday 1st July 2016
Oscar aged two is singing the “Hello Song” and “One Man Went to Mow”. It is very evident in the moments of silence that Oscar is hearing the song in his head. It is as if he has an internal metronome which helps him to sing in time adding key words in the right musical spaces. Notice his very tuneful, musical singing. He accents key words in the “Hello Song”. He uses his toy just as we use the little marionette clown to greet each child in our Musical Play class. He is beaming with pride and delight as he sings. Oscar is a classic example of a music child who plays musically and takes delight in each musical moment. His family are key players. Even though his English grandmother has returned to England, she has left him the precious gift of her well loved family song “One Man Went to Mow”. Songs and music games are passed on through families and build precious memories of relationship based musical play.
Sunday 19th June 2016
Four-year-old Isobel sings to her baby brother in exactly the same loving way that her parents have always sung to her.
When we sing to our babies and young children we instinctively share our feelings of love, playfulness, our joint experiences and emotions. Singing is mutually enjoyable for parent and child. We might think we are not musical, but parents everywhere have to realize that their singing voice is the most important in the world for their child. You sing a question, your baby answers with musical expression. These singing games at bath time, changing time, cuddle time are building strong emotional bonds of connection. All the elements of music are incorporated in singing, listening waiting, filling in the gaps. These interactive musical moments are building the foundation for musical behavior.
Notice how all the elements of music are incorporated in this beautiful film footage of big sister Isobel singing to her little brother Reuben. She is using loving touch in her massage song, rhythmic patterning, beat and repetition. She sings the increasingly higher notes of the body pitch song as she sings up the five-note scale. Her facial expressions are highly expressive and exaggerated. She uses loud and soft (dynamic variation) expression and musical form.
Notice too how Reuben is listening, watching intently and taking turns with his big sister, singing his little musical offerings. This very loving musical exchange has come about because their parents have regularly played music games with them. Isobel is able to play so lovingly and musically with her little brother precisely because she is imitating how her parents have always played with her. Sister and baby brother are forming strong emotional bonds of love because they impact hugely on the infant’s ‘visual, vocal, and kinetic signals. Such interactive musical play contributes to healthy and optimal growth through the early years. It lays the foundation for healthy brain growth and development, brain/body connections, musical play, positive relating, timing, warm sympathetic interactions with others, mental health and well-being.
Dissanayeke, E. (2008). If music is the food of love, what about survival and reproductive processes? Musicae Scientiae, Special issue, 169-195.
Wylie, J.C. (1996, 2000). ‘Body Pitch Song ‘ p.96. Music, Learning, and Your Child. Canterbury University Press. Christchurch. New Zealand.
Babies and young children respond to the use of the “Blues Scale” and the use of echo songs (call and response) that are a natural part of singing and playing jazz and the blues. If parents aren’t sure of how we use the blues, the first song “Bop it in the Rocket” on my CD “Bop it in the Rocket” is a great musical example of how we this minor blues scale with echo, nonsense words (scat).
The babies in our musical play classes for babies really get into the groove of singing, moving and communicating when we come to the blues section of our musical play. Often a baby will take over the singing using shrieks, squeals, singing clear musical notes and showing obvious pride when we all copy his/her sounds. We sing this song using the babbling sounds of young babies and they quickly start joining In with their own movements and sounds. We sing the blues echoing the babies. They demonstrate obvious enjoyment of the repetition, predictability and emotional quality of the blues.
The blues originated from African Americans and has played a huge part in American Music history and in many of our pop songs. The blues helped the singers to express a wide range of emotions, to move, sing about their experiences, to draw comfort and inspiration from these songs. Many of the pop songs we enjoy have been inspired by the blues. Jazz originated from the blues. Composers like Gershwin use a lot of jazz and blues elements in their music.
When a parent and their child get into the swing of communication this leads to wonderful singing, moving, turn taking that resembles the singing and taking of parts of Jazz musicians. This bluesy singing and playing has strong rhythmic and melodic elements.
The baby or young child might take the lead as conductor. The parent copies the sounds, gestures of the child. This reinforces what he baby is offering and gives vital feedback which helps the child to develop a strong sense of self and pride in their musical offerings. This turn taking is the beginning of communication. What is happening is a kind of musical sound game between two musical people: parent and child enjoying every moment of their blues games. There is a real sense of structure, waiting, watching, listening, appreciating, turn taking, feeling the emotional bonds of connection.
Trevarthen says that even a newborn can take the lead in the earliest “conversations” between mother and child. Although the infant’s sounds have no semantic meaning they are conversational in terms of the exchange of sounds and gestures. To quote the words of the well-known song by Irving Mill and Duke Ellington: “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing”.
With our older children 3 years and upwards we use the blues scale using a range of props, so that they can see, hear and feel the pitches (notes) and start to use elements of this scale in their own play. A grandmother showed me a video of her grandson listening to ” Teddy Bear Blues ” track 4 from my CD “Swing Me A Song” . He kept dancing and singing along. When the song stopped he would put it on again on his IPad. She said he had been practising his dance moves every day with the repeated song and she could hear him singing snatches of the blues in his everyday play. I quote a seven year old from my after school music class who was dancing and singing his own words: ” I really, really, really love to sing the Blues, and I like wearing my blue suede shoes”.
Bjorkvold, J.R. (1989) The Muse Within. Harper Collins. New York
Trevarthen, Colwyn 1988) “Infants Trying to Talk: How a Child Invites Communication from the Human World.” In Ragnhild Soderbergh, ed. Children’s Creative Communication. Lund and Kent.
Wednesday 11th May 2016
Although Reid is only fifteen months old, he is exploring and creating patterns on the drum. He is holding a drum stick in each hand and is able to keep a consistent steady beat with his right hand. He is totally absorbed in his play and is playing a variety of sounds, patterns, all the time maintaining a steady beat.
Through this play Reid is:
Creating his own music
Learning self initiative
Listening to and developing an ear for rhythmic pattern
Organising his body in relation to his drumming
Testing his own limits,
Developing eye hand coordination
Enjoying the creative possibilities of his highly musical play.
Learning how to improvise and engage his audience
Learning how to regulate his own play
Learning how to adjust his playing of loud and soft, fast and slow
Enjoying spontaneous play
Learning self control
Experiencing a sense of freedom
Taking pride in his own musical play
Any rhythmic play like this involves whole body, regulated physical movement. Reid’s drumming is experimental with so many learning outcomes. It is this kind of rhythmic play that helps children develop rhythm internalisation. Steady beat underpins all movement, language development, the ability to play in time with others, to listen and copy a sequence of sounds and to be able to self-regulate. The brain loves patterns. The brain attends to the repetitive nature of pulse/steady beat interacting with rhythmic pattern.
Steady beat is music’s pace maker. In Reid’s play with his right hand we can hear how his use of pulse/steady beat paces and drives his play and he is naturally incorporating his own patterns with his left hand. Rhythmic pattern is one of the most important elements in pacing the learning of spoken language. This kind of musical play activates the whole brain and as we can see, Reid is enjoying every moment of his creative play.
Musical Play with Teddy Bears
17th March 2014
Teddies are wonderful for children’s musical play. Teddies can line up, sit in a circle, dance with a partner and enjoy pretend picnic food. A Teddy Bears’ Picnic is a great way for everyone to join in. Through this kind of play children learn to create, listen, sing, imitate, to follow sung instructions and develop understanding of prepositions such as under, over, around, through, between, as the teddies are involved in games such as hide and seek. The CDs “Teddy Bears’ Tango” “Swing Me a Song”, and “Magical Musical Play” all have songs and games that can be included in the picnic.
One of the children’s favourite activities in our music groups is dancing with their teddy on their head and waiting for the sung instruction: “and my teddy’s getting ready to jump”. They have teddy jumping from their head, shoulders, hiding behind their backs and playing peek-a-boo! “I’ve got a Teddy Bear” track 7 “Magical Musical Play”.
Provide a collection of interesting objects and give the children the opportunity to imagine what each might be used for. Items such as a picnic rug, tea set, shells, cardboard tubes, a large carton, a laundry basket can be used to initiate an interesting range of dramatic play ideas. The tubes might be telescopes; the laundry basket a ship. The teddies might sail away to have their picnic on a treasure island. Together you and your children can make up the story, create music and bring the teddy bears picnic to life with movement and dramatic play.
Tracks one to eight on Teddy Bears’ Tango are all songs that can be played to provide a seamless structure for the picnic. Children dance with their bear to the tango, the Cha-Cha-Cha, shake their maracas at the picnic, go marching around in a circle to the music of “Teddy Bears’ Picnic”, go to the beach and find treasure and make up their own dances with streamers, scarves and teddies to “Toby’s song”. We change the words of track 7 “Elke’s Song” and sing “what do teddy bears like to eat? La, la, la, la, la, la, la. Children have come up with ideas such as: “Teddies like apples and chocolate cake”, “Teddy bears love honey for their lunch, gobble, gobble, gobble, munch, munch munch”.
My DVD Musical Journeys was filmed by producer Nick Hitchens who worked for the BBC Children’s Television. It illustrates many of the children’s own teddy bear and musical games as they are playing at the park, at the beach, singing the blues, echoing songs and engaging in playful music routines.
Set out the picnic rug, invite the teddies, sing, say, dance and play together and enter the wonderful world of imaginative play.
Yesterday a group of four-year-olds sat around a large piece of organza fabric with their teddy bears. We sang about what the teddy bears would eat and their ideas included “Teddies like eating honey from the jar”, “teddies like eating apples and leaves”, teddies like salmon fish straight from the river. The children then initiated a bouncing game with teddies on the organza as we sang: “Teddy bears are bouncing up and down, see the little teddy bears bouncing up and down, all the little teddies are bouncing up and down and now get ready to jump”. The children loved seeing all the teddies flying off as we shook the organza vigorously up then down at the end of the song. This game had to be repeated several times before they decided that teddies could hide underneath the organza.
All the bears were placed underneath the organza and we all gently shook the fabric as we sang: “where oh where are all the little teddy bears? where oh where are all the little teddy bears? Where oh where are all the teddy bears? peek-a-peek-a-peek-a-peek-a- Boo!
After this activity the children lined all the bears up to “march off to bed”, lining them up so that the large bears were at the back and the smallest at the front. They were totally engrossed throughout the picnic, singing so beautifully then whispering as they each placed their bear carefully in the basket.
A recipe for your child’s musical play birthday party!
15th February 2014
- The birthday child
- Invited guests
- Piece of organza, a colourful sheet or small parachute
- Bubbles (good quality)
- JULIE WYLIE’S “SING AND PLAY” CD
- Room to move and play!
Once children and parents are gathered and relaxed, begin with track one :Skinnymarinky: a beautiful affirming traditional song.
Actions: Hold elbow of one arm and wave hand for the words Skinnymarinky Dinky Dink, hold elbow of other hand and repeat action, point to self for “I” cross hands on chest for the word “Love” point to child for the word “you”. Repeat these actions with the repeated words of the song. Clasp hands together and rock them low across your body for the words: “I love you in the morning”, raise hands higher and rock them across your body for the words: “ and in the afternoon”. Keep hands clasped together and raise them above your head and outline the circle shape of the moon for the words: “I love you in the evening underneath the moon”. Hold the moon shape then repeat the first actions in accordance with the song.
Sing or chant: “everybody holding the parachute and we’ll all make a great big circle”
Track 4 from CD “Sing and Play”. Have everyone move parachute up and down or side to side in accordance with the simple words of the song
Have one container of bubbles, or several if you have people helping you blow the bubbles to the children
Track 21 from CD “Sing and Play”
Invite several parents to blow bubbles to the children as you listen to this favourite children’s song. The song supports the bubble blowing and the flute paints a musical picture of bubbles floating in the air.
Pass the Parcel
Have children sitting in a circle. Have a parcel with home-made or inexpensive gifts wrapped in individual sheets of recycled wrapping paper, as many gifts and sheets as there are children. Sing or chant: pass around the parcel, pass around the parcel, pass around the parcel and stop! the child who has the parcel on the word “STOP” gets to undo the first part of the parcel and to keep the first tiny gift. If you can’t think of a tune adapt the first part of the song “The Floor and the Tambourine” track 24 “Sing and Play” CD.
Sing : “now it’s time for the birthday food, now it’s time for the birthday food”. Set words to tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
Have fun, relax and enjoy your child’s very special day. Remember : keep it simple! and if you enjoy it, the children will too.