MUSICAL PLAY IS THE KEY FOR WELL-BEING, EMOTIONAL CONNECTION AND BRINGING CULTURES TOGETHER

Reflections from my recent invitation to present my musical play philosophy in North China. Julie Wylie. Copyright 2017.

I have worked with many children, families and teachers in different parts of the world, and once again my trip to China demonstrated clearly how music can brings families, communities, society and cultures together. It doesn’t matter if we can’t speak the same language, when we sing, dance and play together, we are all united through the infectious, universal, emotional, joyful language of music.

Children everywhere have the same wonderful response to music, especially when they can participate freely responding to the predictable structure of musical form and the expressive elements of music which unite us as a group. The children I worked with in two very large pre schools were so excited when we sat around the rainbow ring and bounced in time singing echo songs and improvising with sounds, gestures and movement. Some children went into the middle of the circle and were so full of joy when I copied their actions. Teachers were amazed that there clearly was no right or wrong way to play. The secret was  total enjoyment through predictable songs with a clear beginning, middle and end. Every child responded to our play and stop games with the extended pauses. Every child responded to our improvisations, that incorporate elements of surprise, anticipation and stop! Soon many of the children were singing their versions of “Bop it in the Rocket”.
I used playful music games with pitch and rhythmic patterning designed to help the children to read the words, to experience the melodic shape of the pitches through pitch games and to sing the tune from the simple notation. Although we are from different cultures,these children in China, like ours in New Zealand, were using creative and analytical thinking, coding and simple reading/literacy skills to read the pitch, notation and words. We focus so much on literacy and numeracy in our schools, but music helps memory and is the only language that helps children to decode three symbolic languages simultaneously!

At the end of one large music session, every single child came up and one by one they hugged me. I looked around at all the parents and grandparents and they we all nodding and smiling at me. I was invited to people’s homes and experienced wonderful hospitality. Two distinct cultural groups came together to sing, dance, say and play together. Many of the children were experiencing a range of rhythmic songs, dances and words from the English language. We were altogether in the moment and they were singing, clapping and dancing along, even though the words were strange.

Every time I presented music sessions in China, whether it was for families, children or teachers, something magical happened. We were all connected in a very powerful way. We experienced how music naturally brings a strong sense of harmony, of connection and well being. Music activates our brains and releases feel-good hormones like dopamine. Music is a natural part of our humanity and draws us together in incredible ways. When I was sharing my music in China I felt completely at home. Regardless of our culture, our backgrounds, music binds us together, breaking down barriers,  opening up rich experiences of creativity, imagination, communication and love.

 

 


Testimonials

It is true that you can’t get enough of a good thing. My daughter fell in love with Julie Wylie’s Musical Play classes and at home she would “practise” with great gusto what she learned week to week. Her enjoyment of the songs, the actions that accompany them and the playing of instruments filled much of her time and from her bedroom we could hear her “being Julie”, in full voice!!

So naturally Julie’s DVD’s and CD’s were  a must have for Clara-Jane!!

The Julie Wylie Musical Journeys DVD quickly became the most played DVD in our home. For Clara-Jane to be able to watch, participate and learn, whenever she wanted to, in the comfort of her own home,  just added to her love of Julie’s programme.

The DVD is beautifully put together. Presented by the very tutors that the children already have a warm connection to, and featuring songs that are already familiar makes it highly accessible. The learning is in context and it beautifully complements the learning in class. Even the much-loved Oscar the clown, who opens and closes each class, is present. Clara-Jane just loves watching the children as they, so naturally, and in everyday locations  doing everyday activities, find fun and pleasure in things musical.

I have to admit that I equally enjoy the DVD. It is engaging, encouraging, and undeniably catchy. Neither Clara-Jane nor I have tired of it and we have played it literally hundreds of times.

Perhaps the best testament to just how appealing the DVD is became clear when Clara-Jane was unwell following her immunizations and she took to her bed. The only thing she wanted was to do was watch “Julie on TV”, and even feeling under the weather  she still sang the tunes!!

Julie’s CD’s also enjoy huge “play time” in our home and in our cars. It simply would not be Christmas without the “Sing Merry Christmas” CD which is a wonderful combination of children’s favourites, old and new, and rich traditional carols. To hear our daughter singing songs she had never heard before, adding her own (hilarious) actions and then creating “Christmas concerts” for us to enjoy is priceless. “When Santa Came Down The Chimney” is a favourite and like many of the songs, it captured her imagination. A great feature of Julie’s CD’s is the fact that many songs are sung by children, making them relevant and accessible for young listeners.

The joy Julie’s DVD’s and CD’s have brought into our daughter’s life is matched only by the learning they have fostered. Quite simply they bring Julie’s programme to life for any child, whether they are fortunate enough to attend Julie’s classes or not. They have played a significant role in Clara-Jane’s life and learning and they have given us huge pleasure as we watch her growing appreciation and love of music.

Sarah Long, Parent
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