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

 Thank you very much to offer a wonderful music workshop for Chinese ECE educators in Auckland. We have learnt so much music teaching ideas for babies, toddlers, over 3 and special needs children. Most importantly, we learnt the ways that how you communicate and interact with children at different age groups in the music activities. I was hoping I could be a professional ECE music teacher like you and help many young children to build their musicality at the beginning of their life.

非常感谢Julie Wylie能为我们奥克兰华人幼教老师带来这场精彩的幼儿早教音乐培训课。在您的课堂上,我们学到了如何与不同年龄组的小朋友交流,并开展音乐活动。作为我个人来讲,我希望我也能成为向您一样的优秀的早教音乐教师。我希望在我的教育职业生涯中,通过我的努力,能帮助更多的小朋友在少儿时期对音乐产生兴趣,并在幼儿园里学习到基础的音乐知识与技能。

Yona Yang Li, Scribbles Early Education Centre (Auckland)
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