Quinn started coming to my musical play classes when he was about three months old. The emphasis in the baby class was on developing a strong musical relationship between parent and child. Lap games were played, with parents gently bouncing or rocking their baby, or dancing with their baby in time to specific songs using ascending and descending pitches, play and stop songs, peek a boo songs and nursery rhymes. The music sessions include much use of repetition and predictable music structure in each music session, in order to to develop listening, anticipation, timing and joyful synchronous play between parent and child.All instructions are sung and there is much use of echo songs, so that there is a seamless musical flow in every class.
Quinn watched everything and listened very intently from the start. Like many of the other babies in the class he was soon bouncing in time using whole body movements in time to the songs. He would respond to the musical pauses and could stop for the music cues. At home he would dance in time to the sound of the washing machine and immediately tune in to all things musical, both inside and outside. When Quinn began crawling, he began to take the music lead, often crawling into the middle of the group around the rainbow ring and would delight in moving and playing and having me sing about what he was doing moment by moment such as Quinn is waving, bouncing, crawling, toddling, or dancing In the middle. Even at a very young age He was able to follow simple sung instructions such as “going back to mummy now”.
Quinn has always been extremely interested in the piano or keyboard and delights in sitting alongside me as I play for the group. He initially sat watching my hand positions and listening intently. Now aged two and three quarter years, he is able to find a note or notes within my pitch range and play very softly alongside me. He began watching how I played the foot pedal. This resulted in him sitting under the grand piano or sitting by the pedal if I was playing a keyboard. During the last session Quinn wanted to do all my piano pedalling, nearly all of it in time and with a great approximation of how I use the pedal to enhance musical expression and to sustain certain notes.
Quinn plays in time, uses rhythmic patterns, is very aware of pitch and melodic contours, he sings, moves and plays musically. He often conducts my movements using hand and arm gestures, or the ribbon stick. He is highly engaged and involved in musical play. When I sang for the children to go back to their places recently, instead of going to his mother as all the other children did, Quinn hurried to my side and climbed up onto the music stool and beamed at me with such a look of pride and purpose as we played the “Goodbye Song” together.
His mother reports that all his play is musical. His parents are his musical play partners. Everything he does at home involves some aspect of musical play. He is constantly exploring sounds and sound making, creating his own little songs, rhythmic patterns, asking and singing questions about songs and music that his parents are listening to.
The child is music leader. All these early sensory, musical play experiences help them to incorporate the elements of music into their own play, so that they learn to move fluidly, with a great sense of timing, spatial awareness, able to listen to and copy patterns and to create their own. There is a sense of wonder, delight, emotional connection, creativity and expressiveness in all their musical interactions.
It is precisely this kind of musical play that enables the child to progress to playing an instrument. Quinn is developing a musical passion that will be with him throughout his life. I wonder where Quinn will go to with his music? Will he be like so many of my music children who are now principal players in orchestras, choirs, jazz performers, singers, music teachers, or involved in music research? Quinn is a music child and it is my absolute delight in playing with him musically and helping him on his musical journey.