Summertime. Encouraging Musical Play in the Outdoor Environment

Wednesday 20th January 2016
– Julie Wylie

Summer holidays are the perfect time and opportunity for you and your children to spend time playing and exploring outside. Your role is to be an encourager taking time with your child, experiencing a sense of wonder as you listen and explore together. The natural environment is a source of inspiration for creativity and aesthetic experiences so vital for us and for our children’s physical and healthy development.
Children and their parents or teachers can be inspired as they have regular outdoor listening activities together. As they listen to the sounds of birds, insects, water, waves, children learn to discriminate where sounds are coming from, identify what is making the sounds, listen to rhythmic patterns of nature, watching, listening and enjoying quiet moments together. Children value and become connected to nature as they explore, see, hear, feel and appreciate all the elements of nature.
A playground provides opportunities to engage in vigorous and complex movements as children swing, climb, creep and explore a range of sensory experiences. Outdoor play gives opportunities for children to be free to explore at their own pace, to enjoy quiet moments and become attuned to nature. Natural materials such as shells, driftwood, leaves, stones can be used as instruments, or to create a visual score. Set stones out in a rhythmic pattern: stones, stone, little stones, listen to my tapping stones. Tap two big stones together and notice the low sound. Tap two medium stones together and listen to the medium sound, little stones tapped together make a higher sound.

Observation of creatures that move, watching movement patterns of nature such as the waves ebbing and flowing at the beach, wind blowing through the branches of a tree can inspire the child to copy the movement patterns observed. Language skills develop as the child learns to describe the contrasting movements: graceful as a deer, light as a butterfly, quick as a cricket, as slithery as a snake, as slow as a turtle.
The child’s world is transformed through use of the imagination. The child can  can become the butterfly, the snake, the turtle. Many ways of moving are experienced as s/he creeps, hops, flies, gallops, skips along.  Spatial movement  is experienced at different levels, music appreciation, timing, problem solving and cognitive skills are learned. Enjoy sharing time together, listening, watching, waiting, letting the mind roam free as you wonder and reflect upon the marvels of nature.

Testimonials

I have been running Musical Parenting Groups in Auckland for 4 years, based on the model pioneered by Julie Wylie.  The parents are quite clear that these groups are very different to any  other music groups they have attended.  The points they mention time and time again are these:  the intimacy and interactivity of the small group, the enhanced bond established with their children, the musically interesting songs they learn to love and sing,  and the wonderfully joyful and stimulating  nature of the sessions.   To use C.S. Lewis’s memorable  phrase,  both they and their children are “surprised by joy”.

Alison Broom, Teacher
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