Interview with Julie by a University of Canterbury Student Studying to Become a Primary School Teacher

In your years of teaching musical play, what are some examples of the most noticeable impacts it has had on children?

Julie has seen children take their first steps to a supported song. There are often children who have been really shy and don’t like to interact, often sitting back and watching. Then at a certain point they start to come in and join the other children. A lot of children, including babies, sing their first words, before they speak. For example, with one of her recent classes with babies, they were babbling, then one baby started singing “Up, up, up, up, up” everybody waited, and then she sang “Down, down, down, down, down.” The whole musical sequence in the memory is there. It’s not the words, it’s the musicality that helps them.

How does musical play affect children’s confidence?

There is no pressure to join in. Children can just watch and they know that they can join in when they are ready. Because they have time to watch and take it all in, children’s responses can be incredibly musical and confident. They find their own ways of practising the songs, often in the car or at home to build their confidence. Through this, children are supporting their own play through song. Through the circle in the classes, they don’t have to just be watching one person and children are never put on the spot. There is a whole group dynamic and music community. Not only do children gain the confidence, parents do too. Julie has seen this especially in parents from another culture when they pick up the songs and gain confidence to join in as parents. There is a group confidence as everybody forms a bond and a sense of belonging. Parents have described feeling totally nurtured and valued as parents through the classes through this joint celebration of each other’s children.

How does musical play improve the whole family’s dynamics?

The musical play is relationship-based, which matters because relationship-based musical play gives everyone the confidence to join in musically. It can be used in the classroom too, by bringing every child together in the moment, for example everyone clapping in time. Julie recalls a class she taught in a high-school who weren’t succeeding academically, and she noticed that none of them could really keep a steady beat. So she began getting them to do clapping games to music like Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’. The day they all managed to stamp and clap in time they were so proud, and everybody loved the group dynamic and working together. This works the same way with families, bringing them closer.

How does singing instructions, e.g. “It’s time to put the drums away” improve children’s behaviour and listening skills?

The sequencing and repetition builds memory of what’s happening moment by moment. They can watch, listen and anticipate. You can see it when the children come up to help put instruments away. It empowers them. By singing most things in the class, it creates a seamless musical structure and every child in the class knows what’s coming next because it’s all done musically. This means they know when to get up and help put objects away, giving both the children and their parents a sense of pride because the children are responding. From a research perspective, music is the child’s first language. They respond to the musicality of language more than they do to spoken language. When children are in the womb, they are tracking the musicality of the mother’s vocalizations. They can track that musical contour, and music chunks the melodic contours of language in a meaningful, predictable way. Children often switch off when instructions are just spoken in a flat tone. Julie has found that in early childhood centres and primary schools, children find listening hard because there are so many sounds happening at once. Music provides that rhythm, pitch and musical form, with a clear beginning, middle and end.  Musical form is the key aspect in getting people to anticipate instructions or structure.

How does musical play improve co-ordination?

Steady beat underpins what’s happening in the moment. A lot of the children at the Champion Centre, particularly those with Down syndrome, struggle with co-ordination due to low muscle tone. Julie looks at the speed that the child is able to work with, and uses a song in which she adjusts the speed to match the child’s capabilities.

The child responds to the rhythmic pattern of the song to walk along, then stop. Julie worked with a child that was unable to walk because of his low muscle tone.  She worked with the physiotherapist and the child’s mother was holding his hand. She then sang “Up, up, up, up, up..” and the child got up moving in time to the instructional song. He slowly started walking when Julie sang a slow, supportive walking song. When it got to the “stop” he couldn’t go any further. The physiotherapist stated that she believed if the child didn’t have that music support, it might have taken him another month to get to the point of walking, as the song supported him, helping him to anticipate when to take each step, and when to stop at the end of the musical phrase. The physiotherapist then started using singing with all children she worked with. This works because steady beat, rhythmic patterning and singing activate children’s brains. Musical patterning helps the brain to do things that it has never been able to do before because there is a structure and the brain is interested in rhythmic patterns.  Rhythm stirs the body, and pitch stirs the brain, so pitch and rhythm coming together helps brain-body connection (Levitin, D. 2006).

Music helps children’s coordination because it activates the brain and causes brain-body connections. The music helps to bring about fluid, rhythmic movement, which is very important. With music, you can keep practising without it becoming boring because it is so diverse. You can whisper, sing up high, sing down low, or you can chant.

How does engaging in musical play improve language learning – for children who have English as a first language as well as a second language?

Words don’t have to be used in music. Mime, babbling, body percussion, clapping games, echoing, and music expression can all be used and understood across cultures. Music is a language and it can bridge across any culture. It doesn’t matter if you can’t speak the same language as another person, you can communicate musically, and it brings in humour, emotional connection and expression. It is universal and is part of our humanity. Julie has experienced this when travelling to various countries and working with children and young adults. The essence of Julie’s whole philosophy is that musical play is relationship based, a language of the emotions, is inter-generational, nurturing everybody in the group, whether they are students, teachers, parents, grandparents, children or babies.

How is musical play useful for children with stutters or conditions like autism?

Music helps with stutters and speech because of its structure, and the repetition. It helps enormously with autism because with autism, the brain is in a constant state of high alert, particularly from the lower brain perspective (the limbic system) so the brain can’t filter out sensory information. Music slows the system down and helps the child’s heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Once the lower brain becomes calmed and regulated, learning can take place. An example of this that Julie has experienced was with a child who found it difficult to concentrate and slow down. As she sung, she got him on a rocking horse with his Mother slowly rocking him to the music, using pauses to activate his brain, and he stayed sitting the whole time. He’s now starting to babble. It helps children with conditions like autism to feel the person’s throat who is singing, and use things like trampolines and rocking horses along with music because it provides that steady beat, and in the process, it’s regulating.

How does musical play affect babies and their learning abilities later on in life?

It’s not just about the baby, but the baby and parent relationship. Musical play brings the baby and parent into synchrony. It empowers the parent, and nurtures them and their baby, bringing them together in the moment. It’s relationship based learning, helping them to swing together with a common rhythm. Musical play helps form an emotional connection between parent and baby and gives parents confidence with their babies and how they handle them. An example of this is the reassurance that they can enjoy a bit of rough and tumble, which is used through dances in musical play.

What are some health benefits (physical and mental) for children engaging in musical play?

Music causes the brain to release endorphins which promote wellbeing. These are dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which bring about a real sense of wellbeing. Oxytocin is very important between parent and baby because it brings emotional connection. It occurs most often in music, because of its effect on the brain. When a parent is dancing with their baby, they are both feeling good, so they stimulate each other.

Do children find it difficult to transition from musical play into school, where there is less music as well as less spontaneity? Or does musical play aid them in the transition?

Music can be used as a tool by teachers to get students used to school and comfortable. One of the mothers whose son tended to have frequent meltdowns at home, loved music. When he started school, the teacher wasn’t using music in any way, and he couldn’t cope. Julie got the teacher to chant the class roll, and do clapping or jumping games when she could see the child was about to get upset. All children responded and this particular child started to take the lead, so the teacher would get him up the front to lead a jumping song, and then he’d be able to do another 20 minute chunk of learning well. It gave him the opportunity to teach the whole class. It helped the teacher too, because all the children were looking forward to the singing and dancing, and were listening and concentrating better.

How have you seen children demonstrate better understanding of mathematics through learning numbers and their correlation with pitch? E.g, 1,2,3,4,5…..5,4,3,2,1. Does number learning improve through using pitch?

Musical play and mathematics compliment each other because music is a mathematical language. You can work out whole mathematical patterns with pitch. Julie uses pitch so that children can anticipate through the notes. It’s going up a five note scale of C Major to G, and back down to C. Julie will often sing on the fifth note which arouses and keeps the brain very interested. It has been tested with babies and they can anticipate this change in pitch and bringing it back to the home note. It’s a whole musical language which starts long before birth. This helps with mathematics in general, because you can do a whole lot of things through scale like counting up and down and times tables. When learning through song, practising the song means it gets into your memory, and it’s much easier to remember. Counting forwards and backwards using pitch is building music memory. I have experienced this when learning my mihi as I struggled to remember it unaided, but I found that putting it into a song helped me to remember it and its structure.

What are your thoughts around the amount of music and musical play that schools include in their curriculum?

At University, music used to be compulsory in primary and early childhood education. Now there is no music in early childhood education at University, so teachers don’t know what to do when it comes to music. It’s not that music isn’t important, it’s just that as a cost-cutting exercise, music and the arts have been dropped to a huge extent. What many people don’t realise is that music is vital for energy levels and emotional connection, and it can support a whole class of children. Teachers really value music for their whole class dynamic.

How has musical play helped children through traumatic experiences like the earthquakes and Covid-19?

A baby was very anxious because his mother experienced very traumatic events during the earthquakes while she was pregnant with him.The mother has parented musically with him and her other children. She doesn’t know how she would have managed without the music, because music was the only thing that calmed him and helped him to sleep. When he got in a really upset state, she used deep pressure touch by holding him and rocking him, and singing to him. Music is hugely important for the lower brain. If the lower brain is calm and regulated, then a child can learn. If it is not calm, they can’t learn, and continue to escalate into a state of high arousal.

So starting classes in schools with a song before teaching is very effective in setting children up to learn and concentrate. It can be used as a tool when children’s energy levels are rising or falling. Music is an opportunity for teachers to learn from students and for students to learn from teachers.


Have you noticed the innate musicality of babies and young children? Watching and listening to the babies in our music class on Monday was pure joy. After singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and leaving a pause at the end, a baby aged 6 months sang the fifth note (the note that the second word “Twinkle” is pitched on). I waited and watched her. She started moving and waving her hands and sang the note again, a clear signal that she wanted the song sung again. When we sang it again she beamed and wiggled with delight. At the end of the song, another little boy aged 7 months repeated the last note, which was immediately imitated by another baby.

Mothers and fathers were smiling with pride when we watched, waited and listened, and another baby blew a raspberry, while another sang a little motif, setting the tone for more vocal exploration.

The secret to musical play for babies and young children is to give them time, to use pauses, to echo their sounds, and follow their lead. When a baby sings a note, I always copy. Parents quickly learn to echo what their babies are singing. One mother said on Monday that she has noticed how her little girl Georgie is singing when she wakes up and will practise her singing in her cot for some time, before she will give a cry as if to say, “Come and pick me up”.

Older children love it when parents sing and play with them. Several parents have told me that their children are giving concerts at home, taking pride in being the conductor and delighting in leading the family in musical play. For example, Sam aged 3, found a piece of driftwood at the beach, which is now his microphone. He and his Dad have created a little stage area in their lounge and every night before he goes to bed he sings to his parents and siblings and gets them to join in. His parents have filmed these sessions and say it is a daily highlight for them all and is the perfect way of getting the children ready for bed.

Take time to watch, wait, listen and wonder through musical play. You are helping to promote your children’s musicality and creativity, as well as musical bonds of loving interaction with your child.

© Julie Wylie, 22 August, 2019


Mirror Neurons in the Brain

Today we had one of our relationship based baby music classes. The babies, their mothers, and a grandmother, had only had one previous music session together. Last week we had improvised together, with the mothers and grandmother joining in echoing and singing the blues. We didn’t use words, but rather babbling sounds and sounds from the babies themselves. In this first session, several of the babies sat and watched, taking everything in, watching, waiting and listening intently. If we think of the mirror neurons firing in the babies’ brains as they watched and listened, this explains the purpose of these neurons. As we can imagine, all these babies’ brains were trying to figure out how the sounds were created, in preparation for being able to mirror or echo them back. The babies were responding emotionally and physically to our music making and everyone in this group was connected through the musical play (Levitin, 2006).

Babies don’t simply memorise every word and sentence they’ve ever heard. Rather, they learn rules about musical form and apply them in perceiving and generating new speech and use of musical language. Babies often sing their first words. Through watching, waiting, listening, and use of sound and silence, the children are not simply imitating what they learn through their senses, but rather, their brains are developing theories and rules about speech and the language of music that they can then apply in their own musical play. 

The Power of Imitation and Echo Songs

This week, in our second session, all of the mothers and babies were relaxed and happy, able to anticipate the musical sequence of events. We started with a “Hello Song” singing to each baby in turn. Half of the babies reached out to touch the marionette puppet as it danced for them one by one. There were lots of smiles, as well as anticipation and turn taking. There was a clear predictable structure to the whole music session, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

After the Hello Song, I sang a pitch song using a five note scale, with the pitch matching the physical massage of the babies’ feet, knees, tummy, shoulders and head by the mothers, who used firm pressure to massage their babies in time to the song, which started on the note C and went up to G, in the C major scale. This scale is within the child’s pitch range middle C – A. Regular use of such scale songs helps babies and young children to sing in tune. The earlier we sing to babies, the more likely they are to develop perfect pitch and to sing in tune.

When we introduced the drums and started improvising, matching the babies sounds and movement, several babies started bouncing and using their singing voices tunefully with our singing. Sometimes it was a single calling note, or a vocal pattern. Rose, aged one year, sang, bounced and briefly played on the drum, smiling and looking very proud of her music making. She looked at me intently when I matched her actions and sang her note. The babies started crawling into the middle of the circle and their play was intentional, musical, interactive and very engaging. They were leading me in our musical play.

After our improvisation, the grandmother joyfully shared a bouncing song from her childhood called “Walter Wagtail”, thereby passing on a vital part of her early childhood music tradition. This is how we develop a sense of music community within each musical play group. There is no right or wrong way to play, and families interact musically and learn how to play musically at home, throughout daily routines and playful times together.

In an earlier class, one of our former music babies Audrey, now aged “four and three quarters”, came over to play a beautiful sounding wooden tongue drum duet with me. When she was six months old, she used to end musical phrases with three beat rhythmic patterns which were always in perfect time, always musical, and which always completed each of my musical phrases. Today she was anticipating every aspect of my drum play. She matched my energy levels and took the lead, but could just as easily follow my musical sequences. She played confidently and musically with me, in front of the whole group and we finished on the same beat. Like a jazz musician, Audrey showed an amazing sense of timing, emotional engagement and ability to weave her rhythmic and tuneful patterns to fit in with my play. She made use of humour, dramatic pauses and rhythmic patterns. Her music had a natural sense of rhythmic flow and sensitivity to whatever I played. Her musicality flows into everything she does and she moves and plays with an innate sense of grace, creativity and pride.

When we sing, dance, interact and play musically with our babies and young children we are helping to prepare them for their mental and emotional life ahead. It is so beneficial for health, self-confidence, well-being, musicality and general learning – and it’s fun!


Levitin, D. J. (2006). This is Your Brain on Music. Dutton. Penguin Books. London, England.

© Julie Wylie, 6 March 2019


Recently I was presenting at the New Zealand Home Based Care National Conference in Auckland. Kimberley Crisp inspired me with her passionate presentation, in which she challenged us to think of our daily interactions with our children as “choreography of the soul, fuelled by love which grows the brain”.

She started with the question: “How am I with myself?”

To get to the heart of the art of loving, interactive musical play, we must first love ourselves and see ourselves as worthy play partners, worthy of imitation.  How do we develop relationship? “Emotional satisfaction and enjoyment is the key to creative free play”. We can learn to let go our inhibitions, think from our heart, trust our intuition and enjoy each moment as play partners, knowing there is no right or wrong way to play. Thus, we are building strong bonds of love in a secure relationship, which is the essence of helping the infant to make a positive start in life.

Musical play allows us to engage the heart and soul of the child as we journey together from birth as equal play partners. “Children are biologically programmed to play”. The child leads, and we follow. This innate turn taking validates the child’s offerings.  We are watching, waiting, hearing, seeing, and imitating, allowing the child to fly. When we empower the infant to be the leader, there is a strong sense of timing, rhythm, gesture, and movement. The level and depth of play is dependent on rich relationship,  humour, imitation, rituals, routines, repetition, and loving care. Many researchers describe playful communicative interactions between mothers and infants as being musical and “dance like” (Malloch and Trevarthen 2008 p.1).

 As followers of the child we need to:

  • View the child as the miracle they are.
  • Understand that we are physical, but we are incredibly divine.
  • Help them to develop a strong sense of self and compassion for others.
  • Give them many opportunities to explore the world through play.
  • Help them to see a world of opportunities and possibilities.
  • View the world with the sense of wonder of a child.
  • Be consistent in all that we think, feel, say and do.
  • Be in a constant state of learning.
  • Value the precious moments of childhood.
  • Take time to play, and delight in the lost in the moment joys of interactive play.
  • Realise that childhood is short and we are the decisive key to relationship and inspiration.
  • Take opportunities to swing together in joyful harmony and synchrony.


Crisp, K. and Brownlee, P. The Sacred Urge to Play

Malloch, S., and Trevarthen, C. (2008). Musicality: communicating the vitality and interest of life. In S. Malloch and C. Trevarthen (eds) Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis for Human companionship, pp1-11. (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

© Julie Wylie, 15 October 2018


Julie features twice in the May 2018 edition of the MENZA magazine “tUNE mE iN”!

Click the link below to read “An Interview with Julie Wylie” and “Nurturing the Composers and Musicians of the Future: Musical Play from Birth”.

Julie Wylie Articles



Following on from the previous blog, here are some beautiful video clips of Elsie and her mother Frances, enjoying musical play, as they sing and improvise together. Their songs are full of musical expression, including use of teasing, humour, joy and love. They play around with sounds, matching each other, using loud and soft, fast and slow, and high and low.

At 14 weeks (clip 4), Elsie’s singing is becoming increasingly structured, with a sense of timing, rhythm and use of pitch. She and her mother sing on the same notes and copy each other. Their music interactions are like watching tennis players. Elsie sings to her mum, and her mum sings back to her, with distinct turn taking occurring. Their songs have pronounced pitch contours, they are slow with lots of repetition, and include accented sounds that each player picks up on.

© Julie Wylie, 16 March 2018



When we play and really enjoy the lost in the moment playful activities, our brains release the chemical dopamine that gives us a sense of excitement, joy and allows us to move in a highly coordinated way. Play stimulates our senses, creativity, learning. It activates our brains, with over 80% of our nervous system involved in processing and organising  all the sensory input from our bodies and the surrounding environment.

Play with your child and give them many rich sensory experiences within a secure, nurturing environment. Appreciate nature. Look at the moon, a sunrise, a beautiful sky. Go to the beach, swim together, play in the park, go for walks to new and interesting places, climb a hill, trees, explore, make up songs, stories, dance, read, go to the library, cook together, collect treasure, make things with the treasure you find.  Move, dance, sing and play. Playing keeps you young and vibrant. When we are playful we are flexible,relaxed, loving, sociable, creative. We can take risks, we can come up with new ideas. Taking time out to play helps us to problem solve and come up with new solutions and new ways of doing things.

Children learn the art of play. They learn how to do things in a variety of ways and how to adapt to changes. They learn to play alone or with others. They learn how to lead and how to follow.  They learn the rules of play and can also create new rules of their own in a playful game. Through play we learn to let go of the things that are stressful. Play involves laughter, humour, sharing and caring.  Wonderful carefree play builds strong, positive memories that stay with us for life.

Babies are play partners from birth. Play is as important for them as food and sleep. Play gives babies and children a strong sense of belonging, connection and wellbeing.  When parents spend much time gazing at, talking,singing, dancing playing, touching, holding their baby, this helps healthy brain development, promoting high levels of oxytocin and endorphins in the brain. Play fosters a strong loving relationship which is essential for helping children to become confident, caring, creative, self assured and loving members of society.

Take time to play, to laugh, to make music, to enjoy the wonders of nature, be flexible and enjoy all the rich playful experiences together. It will build strong bonds of love, energise, inspire, enrich your life and your soul.


Nursery Music reflection (0-2 ½ Years)

The children are now responding to our weekly music sessions and seem more comfortable and relaxed enabling them to participate more freely. The older nursery children are now recognising the tunes and joining in with the songs they are now familiar with through the repetition and revisiting that Julie and Sarah are using in the sessions. The younger children are following the instructions in the songs and following the lead of their older peers and teachers supporting the concept of tuakana-teina and a reciprocal learning environment.  All the children are really enjoying the session and enthusiastically join in with extended concentration and it has become a wonderfully joyous time for all of us.

The nursery teachers have all observed and had conversations on how much more the children are singing in their play. Some of the children are replicating the pitch songs we have been doing, “ba, ba, baaaa” etc and have initiated it all on their own as they play. We have also noticed the children are much quicker to respond to music when we play it through the sound system. There has even been an increase in the amount of parents coming into the centre and asking about certain songs that they have heard their children singing at home and if they can learn them so as to join in. This has been a fantastic response and shows how the tamariki have taken their learning from preschool and using it to express themselves in other environments and contexts.

The nursery teachers have all made a conscious effort to incorporate music more into their practice, not just at set music times. The teachers have begun to use the concepts of pattern, rhythm and pitch into a lot of different aspects of their day to day teaching, from spontaneous teaching moments to routine times. The children respond really well to the singing especially when they recognise the pitch or a tune that they have learnt during music time.

The music sessions have been beneficial for both the children and teachers in many ways. It has given the children new ways to express themselves, especially with many nursery children being non-verbal and it has provided new means of communication between both the children and teachers. The teachers have learnt new strategies of incorporating music into their practice as well new ideas to freshen up our existing music programme. It has been a great reminder of how important music is for our very young children and made the nursery environment much more musical.



Kiwi, Pukeko Music Reflections (2 ½ – 3 ½ year olds)

The things we have noticed in the preschool with having the music sessions integrated on a weekly basis is that children are including music elements in their own directed play and singing among themselves and to each other. Children have been making up their own words to familiar tunes used during our music sessions in all areas of the curriculum.

The children have also been talking more about music and our Thursday sessions and ask throughout the week “is Sarah coming today?” The teachers are singing more throughout the day and incorporate this into our routines, especially transitions more frequently. The teachers are using a more varied range through teacher led music sessions. We are feeling more comfortable using our extended range of resources during music time since the beginning of our professional development and weekly music sessions.

The music play programme has been very beneficial for our whole centre and we are all on the same page and bounce ideas between each other more frequently. We have also felt more relaxed about extending our duration of session times. Other staff have said they have become more confident in teaching music and use it more for instructional teaching purposes. Children have been singing more and have been particularly responsive to body part songs.


Kea and Moa Music Reflections (3 ½ – 5 year olds)

We have noticed that the children are now more settled when participating in music sessions which is great to see as it allows our music sessions to start quicker. Children are very excited when they hear that music is about to start, a favourite song of theirs to sing is ‘Bop it in the rocket’ which they can now perform without any teacher help. This song is also hummed during the day by some children while outside playing, we have observed children sitting in small groups tapping out beats on their laps with their hands while humming ‘Bop it in the rocket’ and also ‘The wheels on the bus’. It is interesting to also note that the children are singing/humming these familiar tunes outside and inside, sitting at the kai table and even while using the wharepaku (toilet) so this has been a very positive area of interest for the children.

Children are very much talking about the music programme, they know that Thursday is their special music time with Sarah, they look forward to these and we have overheard conversations about ‘who is going to sit next to Sarah’ so there is a sense of excitement and expectation with the children.

We have been singing instructions to the children (sometimes we don’t realise we are doing it) but we have found this a very effective teaching tool especially when the children lose concentration during group time, we have found it a great way to bring the children back  around…the tune and actions to ‘head..head..shoulders..shoulders..tummy..tummy…knees…knees…feet…feet’.

Very responsive children!!

We have definitely grown in confidence in this area and this is reflected in my music sessions. The music play programme has been of huge benefit to the centre in my opinion as it is not only having a positive impact with our children but also with our teachers showing more confidence and range of musical activities such as bean bags, rainbow ring, rakau etc.





Music and movement helps children develop an understanding of the numerous possibilities of physical movement and how their body works and moves. Use of hoops in musical play, songs, and games supports timing, rhythmic flow, energy, effort and an understanding of space. Through a variety of movement activities children develop movement efficiency and expressiveness.

When children are sitting in the middle of their hoops in a circle watching, listening, moving their hoop in time and doing the actions of a song such as “Wheels of the Bus”, they are learning how to follow the sequence of sung instructions such as round and round, up and down, side to side, backward and forwards. They learn how to move their hoop quickly and slowly in time to the music, they develop social skills, listening, playing in synchrony with others in the circle. They are also observing and experiencing how everyone has their own space within their own hoop.

When each child places their hoop on the floor and follows sung instructions such as: one foot in the hoop today, the other foot in the hoop today, one hand in, the other hand in, both hands in and both hands out, noses in and noses out etc. they are learning how to organize their body in relation to weight, space, time, energy and rhythmic flow.

Circle dances with each child holding a hoop helps them to be able to keep in their own space within the circle, to walk around for eight steps, to change direction and walk around for a further eight steps, holding their hoop they go into the middle for four steps and walk backwards for four steps. The hoops promote spatial awareness and ensure that children can’t get too close to others. Songs and dances from my CD “DANCING IN A CIRCLE” such as “Shoo Fly” and “Floating Down the River” teach listening, timing, anticipation, directionality skills and ability to move and play together in synchrony.

Songs that use ascending and descending notes or pitches of the five note C major scale C, D, E, F, G…. G, F, E, D, C with the instructional words “Up, Up, Up, Up, Up,  Down, Down, Down, Down, Down” help children to listen and respond, taking their hoops up  or down,  following the direction of the notes in space and to begin  to know where those notes are in relation to their own space. This helps children to visualize where the notes are in space and to begin to sing in tune. If you are not sure about singing these notes, purchase a box of chime bars from a good music store. These chime bar sets have the 8 tuned notes of the C major scale and are a great way of ensuring that you are singing in the young child’s pitch range.

Hoops are a great way of helping children socialize and develop a sense of rhythmic flow as they move their hoops from side to side, up and down around and around, using jig zag patterns etc. They can hold a hoop with a partner doing a dance together, or spin or bowl the hoop backwards and forward with their partner. The children are feeling, seeing experiencing the continuity of movement. Their movement might be very controlled, careful, contained, or fluid, flowing, depending on the sung instructions or music accompaniment.

Sing songs about what the children can do with their hoops.  To the tune of “Skip to My Lou” sing “What can you do with your hoops today? X 3 Show us what to do”. Enjoy a wide range of music and movement experiences and creating hoop songs and games.  Explore space standing in one spot (non-locomotor) and moving through space (locomotor) walking, running, skipping, galloping, or jumping with hoops. Explore, create, imitate and appreciate. When children’s ideas are appreciated and validated through imitation they develop self-confidence, movement dexterity, timing, expressiveness and self -esteem.


A Brief Overview of the Framework of Laban Movement Analysis


Julie Wylie presents “The Key To Wellbeing is Musical Play” in Glasgow, Scotland later this month

Julie has been invited to present a peer reviewed workshop “The Key To Wellbeing is Musical Play” at the 2016 International Society of Music Education later this month in Glasgow, Scotland. This is a huge honour. Julie will be working with top musicians from all around the world. She leaves on the 14th July for Vienna, Salzburg and Berlin prior to the conference. The classes are in very capable hands with the music team while she is away. Julie will be back on the 2nd August.