New Musical Play and Play Therapy Training Programme opens in Christchurch

Play Therapist Alex Gosteva and Musical Play Specialist Julie Wylie are currently developing an on-line based postgraduate training course in Musical Play and Play Therapy in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Alex Gosteva has been offering Play Therapy training to teachers and professionals working with children for a number of years at her Child and Family Play Therapy Centre in Christchurch. Her interest in Play Therapy began over 15 years ago when she was an early intervention teacher, and she has since devoted her career to pursuing this interest through completing her Masters and setting up a private practice in Play Therapy.

Julie Wylie has been pioneering Musical Play at the Champion Centre Early Intervention programme in Christchurch for the last twenty three years and at her own music school with parents and their children 0-8 years. Her philosophy of following the child through Musical Play has been recognised world wide and has led to invitations to present in many countries of the world. She has received music awards for her music leadership and her music resources have won international awards.

Alex and Julie believe that adding a Musical Play component to Play Therapy will make the training programme really unique. Musical play, which is a blend of music education and music therapy, is a uniquely effective tool for early intervention with young children. It activates different regions of the brain and neural imaging studies show that both listening to and making music engages all levels of the brain and body. Musical play can support developing functions such as balance and breathing, relationship and connection with others and higher cortical functions of language, thinking and decision making.

Musical play is a powerful way of helping parents and their children establish bonds of love in a secure relationship because Musical play supports the timing of interactions, thus helping parent and child to be physiologically regulated. Effective Musical Play for all very young children involves engaging them and their parents/caregivers in Musical Play activities that can regulate the children’s and the parent’s physiological systems, thus strengthening parent child relationships, building a sense of musical community within a music group and opening children’s minds to physical, social, emotional and intellectual learning and development.

The new course will help participants understand Musical Play and Play Therapy in relation to brain growth and development. Students will learn how to use the elements of music and Play Therapy effectively in their own practice.  Course film footage, research, readings and practical workshop experiences will demonstrate how to follow the child’s lead, how to draw the parents into the interaction as full partners, thus contributing to the child and parent’s sense of well-being, belonging, communication, and exploration.
If you are interested or would like more information, please contact Alex and Julie:

Monday Classes to go on as Usual

Classes for Monday 15th February 2015 will go on as usual after today’s earthquake. We hope that you are all keeping safe and well and we look forward to seeing you to share in wonderful times of musical play together this week!

The Art of Musical Play : A Summer Workshop

During this special Summer Workshop we explored the elements of music in relation to the elements of Art. It was a very special time sharing a five hour workshop with Art Therapist Isabel Mertel. Here are a few photos from the day!

Please click on the link below to view some brief notes from the workshop.


Celebrating Twenty Five Years of Julie Wylie Music

At on December 3rd 2015, the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral, New Zealand started to fill up with beautiful children and their families from all cultures and all walks of life. By 10.30 am the Cathedral was full to the back door. Children were singing, dancing, doing all the actions and all I could see was a sea of smiling faces.  My music team worked with me to share the actions of songs, helping children, parents and teachers participate around the six rainbow rings, seven parachutes and dancing round the special Christmas tree.

All the significant people who have been part of my Musical Journey were there. The Cathedral team, my family were taking photos and participating. Louise van Tongeren who has sung on all my CDs since she was 7 years old, was there with her two children. Louise was one of the first children I taught in my Julie Wylie Musical Play classes when I left my HOD teaching position as a high school music teacher.  She inspired me, challenged me to see things from a child’s perspective, delighting in the specific songs when I got them just right.

My music mentor and friend David Sell, adjunct professor of music at University of Canterbury, was standing beside me as we played with the children around one of the 7 parachutes.  Janette Riley and Rose Robinson who helped me believe in my music vision and philosophy and worked with me in the early years were sitting together, smiling, supporting me every step of the way. My music team were at all vantage points of the Cathedral spreading out the rainbow rings, playing with the children, helping the parents and teachers to interact musically with the children as we bounced the rainbow rings, batted balloons to incredible heights and danced around the parachutes in time to Christmas music from my CD “Sing Merry Christmas” CD.

The wonderful trumpeters who played at the end of the interactive play part of the Musical Play programme are both graduates from my musical play classes. Thomas Eves is now Principal trumpeter in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Toby Buckner has been accepted into the 2016 Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra.

Lisa, came with her four teenagers, all former pupils of mine.  She told me that my music classes helped parents and children to feel a part of a very special music community. Today her daughter Holly received her music examination results. She gained Honors with 96% in her Grade 7 singing examination.  She said that Holly still sings from morning until night.  She and her sisters used to go home from the music classes and sing and act out everything they had done in our music class each day. The children enticed their parents into this musical play each night and so musical play became a special part of their family life.  Nine years later Holly is a natural musician. I feel so delighted that musical play is enriching the lives of so many children and as I looked around at the sea of smiling faces of people young and old, I felt so touched and blessed to be doing what I love, building music communities and sharing the gift of music.

Julie Wylie

Musical Play Classes – Spaces Available for Term Four

We have a few spaces still available in our Musical Play Classes for Term Four :

Tuesday 11.10am (4 year olds)
Wednesday 10.00am (3 year olds)
Friday 11.00am (3 months – 11 months)

For more information or to make a booking please contact Helen at

Julie Wylie Interview on Plains FM

Listen to this fantastic interview as Julie speaks about her musical beginnings and development of Julie Wylie Music with Tamara Smith on her show “Falling Through the Cracks”

Singing and Saying, Moving and Playing

Everyone connects through steady beat and singing around the rainbow ring which is a superb means of building a sense of music community. Children love to go into the middle and take turns at dancing, or dancing together. Some of the best music interactions and singing happens around the rainbow ring.
Here are a group of parents and teachers at Julie Wylie’s “Musical Play” workshop on June 8th. Their singing and music making was great and it is wonderful to know that they will be sharing their music skills to empower and inspire the children they work with.

Musical Play Events Summary 2014

This year we have conducted training programmes for several early childhood centres in Christchurch including a 6 hour training programme for one centre. These programmes have helped teaching staff to feel confident in being able to understand and use the elements of music and to implement musical play in their daily routines and interactive play sessions. All the teachers have reported that they are singing with greater confidence and all centres say that they are hearing children singing more, creating their own songs and using music elements in their own play. One centre have noted that the babies are much more settled through the use of calming strategies and music from Julie Wylie’s CD “Rock_A-Bye Blues” that they are now using at sleep time.

Staff from the centre which had the six hour training programme created musical play learning stories about how their children are using musical play in a variety of settings. They have written a beautiful book with case studies, photos and examples of children’s own musical play ideas and songs. One teacher is now using chime bars each day with the children and has taught herself the introductions of several nursery rhymes nursery rhymes and familiar songs. As a result both she and the children are singing tunefully and confidently. Children are using the chime bars with her to create their own little songs and tunes.

Julie was invited to present at the Kodaly Music conference “Bridging the Gap” in Sydney 29th September-2nd October and she was also invited to present music workshops in Wellington and Blenheim.

Two fund raising musical play sessions were offered for Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa (MENZA) and the Champion Centre: these were “My Family and Me” and “Daddy and Me” sessions for children 0-5 years.

Julie conducted a five hour training day: “the Art of Musical Play” for teachers, parents and therapists in July and she also presented a two hour workshop for parents, teachers and librarians in February.

Feed-back from these workshops has led to invitations to present workshops and papers in various places in 2015.  

For more information, or enquiries please email

Why should I sing to my child?

Singing with your young child naturally helps build a strong loving relationship. Have a look at this gorgeous DVD of a mother singing Gershwin’s song “Summertime” with the beautifully illustrated book. Notice how the child is held in his mother’s arms as they move and sing together. They are singing together in synchrony. The pace of the song is slow which gives Bennett’s developing brain opportunity to process and anticipate each sequence of the song. The slow pace naturally brings him to a calm regulated state, with a calm regulated lower brain and slower heart rate. The song has predictable, repetitive, short, fixed musical phrases with well defined intervals e.g. think of the little musical motif used in the word “summertime” and rhythmic patterns.

Notice the way in which Sarah the mother is waiting leaving pauses at the ends of each musical phrase for Bennett to sing the word or words. Sarah is constantly adjusting her singing to promote timing, loving engagement and music interaction. She is singing in her child’s pitch range. At twenty one months, Bennett is able to adjust his voice to match the changes in the rhythm and tempo of his mother’s voice. Often his words are sung in tune! What we see and hear is music improvisation, the impact of which is creating a to-and-fro process of singing communication.

At this age children love predictability and repetition. Every night Sarah sings the same song to Bennett. It is a vital part of his bed time routine. The way she cuddles and sings to him is helping Bennett build an association of what it means to be in a loving relationship with another person. This is helping him to develop a strong sense of self in relation to his mother. He listens intently and is very aware of when he can join in the song. At this age, musical form with a clear predictable beginning, middle and end helps Bennett to be able to process and join with a word or words at the ends of musical phrases.

As with language abilities, perception and reception develop first, then the ability to sing and perform other musical tasks. Bennett has learned to listen, to vocalise expressively, and imitate rhythmic and melodic patterns. He can fill in the gaps at the ends of musical phrases. He is rapidly learning simple nursery rhymes, rhythms and chants.

Even though Bennett is not yet two years of age, he is singing with a strong sense of tunefulness. Sometimes he sings the notes in tune, at other time there is tune approximation. Sometimes he is able to sing the word very clearly, at other times there is word approximation. There is a strong link between song and word clarity because the song has slow steady beat, much use of repetition, musical expression, accent, rhythmic patterning, tune, musical phrase and predictability. The song supports and promotes the use of words and language.

Universally the mother’s voice is the most important voice in the world for the baby and young child. Yes the father’s voice is vitally important as well. Musical play involves lots of close face to face interaction, gazing, waiting, listening, imitation, gestures, humour, facial expressions, musical pauses, and ‘sing song’ turn taking. This approach works because your child learns to read your emotions, to anticipate and respond. Use a rise and fall of pitch in your speaking that is similar to the pitch changes in a tune.

Combine patting, rocking, stroking, when singing a lullaby. Sarah sings in a loving predictable manner. Every evening this lullaby helps both Bennett and his mother to relax, helping Bennett to become very calm and ready for sleep. Not only is this beautiful music routine helping to build precious memories for both parent and child, but it is also laying the foundation of music for life.

Thursday 5th June 2014
– Julie Wylie

MENZA and Julie Wylie Music – a fundraiser fun day! “My Family and Me”

Last Saturday, four classes were offered for children and their families from 6 months to five years of age at Chisnallwood Intermediate. There were many special highlights over the morning. The babies class was so beautiful, especially seeing a little girl aged eight months holding another baby’s hand as they sat together under the parachute. Hearing children singing tuneful echo responses around the rainbow ring and seeing their obvious joy in music interaction was wonderful. Parents enjoyed the opportunity to join in with dance, singing and musical play with their children.

– Julie Wylie

Thank you to all who came along to support this fundraising event. Until next time!