“What’s in the Box?” Parent Workshop on Monday Night

On Monday evening we held a seminar: “What’s in the Box” for parents from our Julie Wylie Musical Play classes.
This was an opportunity for parents to  meet one another, to ask questions, to experience some simple musical play and understand how music works in relation to the brain and how to use music to calm and settle their children at bedtime, or when they upset and over-aroused.
We also explored the elements of music in relation to the body, use of instructional and narrative songs to sing children through sequences of daily routines, and singing about what their child is doing.
Musical play was emphasised as something every parent and child can enjoy at home, in the car, anywhere.
Questions from parents related to how children communicate musically, join in or watch during a music class, how they play musically at home, examples of their children’s musical play and when children are ready to go on and learn a musical instrument.
We enjoyed meeting parents and hearing their music stories about their children and having a group discussion about the benefits of musical play classes.
Thanks to our fabulous music team we all enjoyed a delicious array of food.

A Note to all Attending Wednesday Classes

Hi all,
Just a reminder that next week your classes will be at Abberley Park hall,
15 Abberley Crescent. This also applies to 24 June. Classes are at the same
times as usual.Please see the map below.
Thank you so much for your patience around this!
Liz Townshend


How Does Music Help to Calm us Down?

Monday 23rd March 2015
– Julie Wylie

Music is a language of the emotions. It is a natural sedative which is able to cause the release of relaxing chemicals into our system such as dopamine. When a song is sung slowly and softly and combined with slow rocking from foot to foot metre: one, two, three, one, two three (“Row,Row, Row Your Boat” Rock,Rock, Rock Your Boat”) it can reduce feelings of panic, or over-arousal and bring us to a state of relaxation and calm.

When teachers or parents see children becoming over-aroused, this is the time to match the child’s energy levels through song. Start with the same level of high arousal in the song.  Sing at the same volume and pace as the child’s energy level. Gradually help to slow the child down and to relax through the same song and slow rocking from foot to foot.  Bring your voice dynamics right down to soft, depending on the child’s emotional state. Use the tune from the song “Open Shut Them”. Start with bouncing or jumping with faster music, but gradually bring the song down to a slow rocking action.

“We are jumping,

We are jumping ,

We are jumping fast,

We are jumping,

We are jumping

Now we’re going to stop”.

Gradually slow down. “We are jumping slowly together, we are slowing down, we are jumping, jumping together, now get ready to stop”.  We are rocking, rocking together, rocking very slowly, we are rocking, rocking slowly, now we’re going to stop”. Keep singing until the child is really calm. The use of such an instructional song helps the child to feel supported with the matching of their high energy through the volume and rhythmic movement of the song, then to hear and feel the words of the song as it becomes gradually softer, calm, then slow. It helps them to anticipate each step of the sung instruction.

Take your cue from the child. Is the child still very aroused? Then keep the movement and song at the child’s pace, but with the aim that you can both slow down and become calm together. Repetition and the gradual slowing down through use of the same song, helps you and the child to learn self-calming strategies.  Make sure the music environment is calm.

Through constant repetition of a song and movement which goes from high arousal to a slow, steady, predictable tempo, the brain learns to adapt and to modify highly aroused responses and to come to a state of calm and regulation. Remember children can only learn when they are calm and well-regulated.

Why Doesn’t My Child Join in at Music Classes? Mirror Neurons

Monday 9th March
-Julie Wylie

Often in a music class, the young child will watch intently, maybe for several weeks, or months before participating. The child’s parent may say that they are not doing anything and some parents become concerned that they should be doing things and joining in. However it is usually these watching, listening children who then reach the stage of singing all the words and doing all the actions.  When I ask the parent what the child does when they leave the music class they often say that the child sings in the car on the way home and when they look in the rear vision mirror, they see them doing the actions to songs. One parent said that her daughter did nothing in music classes for six months, but at home she would be singing all the songs and re-enacting the whole music class routine, often involving her parents and little sister. There is such a lot going on within a music class and such a lot for a child to learn. It is rather like learning all the rules of a game. Children may need weeks or even months to master what is happening, to understand why and when things happen, how they can become involved, who is leading and when they are expected to do specific actions.

According to neuroscience, when a child is observing and listening, mirror neurons in their brain are firing.  Research has established that primates, some birds, and humans have mirror neurons, neurons that fire both when performing an action and when observing someone else performing that action. Levitin suggests that mirror neurons may explain an old mystery of how it is that infants learn to imitate the faces that parents make at them. It may also explain why musical rhythm moves us, both emotionally and physically. Some neuroscientists speculate that our mirror neurons may be firing when we see or hear musicians perform, as our brain tries to work out how those sounds are being created, in preparation for being able to mirror pr echo them back as part of a signalling system (Levitin, 2006,  pp 259-260 ).  Children need time to listen, to watch, wait, wonder and process an activity. Mirror neurons are firing in their brains helping to establish a picture of how the sounds, gestures, actions are being created. When the children are ready, they will join in the musical play.



Levitin, D.J.  (2006). This is Your Brain on Music: the Science of a Human Obsession. New York: Dutton







Five Reasons Why Every Child Needs Music, and What You Can do to Help. Foster a Love of Musical Play.

Monday 2nd March
– Julie Wylie

  • Musical play promotes healthy brain growth and development,
  • Music can calm or arouse children and is a powerful way of regulating children, especially if they are upset, or overtired.
  • Musical play fosters creativity when children sing, say, move and play together. Use a variety of props such as natural materials, (driftwood, stones, shells, leaves etc).  Use scarves, ribbon sticks, organza, rainbow ring, parachute,teddy bears.  Musical play helps children develop a sense of themselves in relation to others, a sense of the space around them.  They learn to sing tunefully, to play in time to a steady beat and to play rhythmic patterns. Sing nursery rhymes, and rhythmic rhyming stories such as “Hairy McLarey From Donaldson’s Dairy” and any rhyming stories by Lynley Dodds, “Brown Bear”, “Polar Bear” “Summery Saturday Morning” by Margaret Mahy to name a few.
  • Musical play helps children to listen, to identify different sounds, to play loud, soft, fast slow, high low, to listen and copy echo songs, and rhythmic patterns. To play musical turn taking games. Try drum play together making up rhythmic patterns and keeping the beat together as you chant and sing.
  • You can sing and play at home, at pre-school, school, in the car, at the park, at the beach, anywhere. You can sing daily routines helping children to wash their hands, get ready for their bath, for bed. Musical play is fun and when you are all involved it helps build a strong sense of playfulness and togetherness. Remember there is no right or wrong way to engage in musical play!

 Ivy & Sari-60-2 (1)

JulieWylie’s CDs: “Sing and Play”, “Magical Musical Play”, “Teddy Bears Tango”, “Bop it in the Rocket”,  “do the Bean Bag Bop”, “Swing Me a Song” have lots of songs and themes for musical play.

Every Educaid www.everyeducaid.co.nz  have some wonderful music props such as great range of drums, scarves, organza, musical instruments etc.

Have Fun!

Christmas Musical Play Gift Idea

Thursday 4th December 2014
– Julie Wylie

I really like this Christmas gift idea shared this week by of one of the mothers in our musical play classes. Her eldest daughter aged four loves to dance and to create her own musical play ideas at home with her little sister and brother. This mother has just bought three of my children’s music CDs: “MAGICAL MUSICAL PLAY”, “BOP IT IN THE ROCKET” and “SING MERRY CHRISTMAS”. She bought three colours of organza:  red, green and yellow. She also bought beautiful ribbon sticks, colourful rainbow ribbons on rings, and a set of maracas all on line from Every Educaid. She bought a beautiful box from the $2 dollar store and said that with the colours of the folded organza fabric merging in the bottom of the box, the ribbon sticks carefully layered, the two maracas and CDs on top, she knew this was the perfect Christmas present for her daughter. “I can’t wait to see her face when she opens the box and to hear our children singing and dancing along to the CDs. It will all add to the magic of Christmas day.

I want to foster my daughter’s creativity and love of musical play and dance at home. She is becoming much more confident and is making up songs, actions and dances. She is developing such a sense of rhythm, tunefulness and musicality and is involving not only her siblings, but other children as well in all her musical play. She puts on little shows and all the children love being involved. There is never time to be bored in our home. The children are totally captivated by the power of music and they will all love these CDs with their favourite songs. These beautiful music props will bring their music alive”.


Musical Play; Using Instruments Effectively with Babies and Young Children 0-2 years

Every Educaid has a wonderful range of musical instruments very suitable for babies and young children. Sensitive use of musical instruments promotes listening, playful interaction, sensory learning, language acquisition and musicality.


0-3 months:

Musical play is the language of early childhood. Hearing is fully developed at birth and babies 0-3 months are comforted by gently humming and rocking which optimises neural development and promotes regulation and regular breathing respiration. Tiny maracas are wonderful for using with babies and can be used with nursery rhymes such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Hickory Dickory Dock”. Songs such as this have short phrases and much use of repetition.  Hold up the maraca gently playing the beat as you sing softly and slowly facing the baby. Emphasise ends of phrases and use lots of facial expression and smiles.

Make up babbling songs using the vocal sounds the baby gives you. Emphasise the use of pauses and silence in order to promote vocal turn taking. When you finish singing a short phrase, wait for the baby to respond. Whenever your baby makes a sound, repeat it back within a simple song format which could be using the predictable tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Don’t be shy about singing to your baby. Your baby will love your musical interactions. If you are not sure about singing in tune, Every Educaid have some wonderful little tuned metal glockenspiels/chime bars/xylophones that are tuned to concert pitch. Play the low note C softly and start singing on this note. You will tune up your voice and ensure you are singing in the baby’s pitch range C-A.


0-6 months:

  • Play all of the above. Now introduce a variety of bells, tambourines, little drums. Hang little bells and maracas on a frame so that the baby has the experience of hitting the objects to reproduce the sound.
  • Sing echo songs follow the baby’s lead.
  • Incorporate the baby’s name in songs and chants.
  • Jig, bounce and dance with the baby in time to music. Try singing, dancing, playing instruments with the CD “Sing and Play” Julie Wylie. Dance and sing to folk dances CD “Starting on the Right Foot” Julie Wylie.
  • Play along together using tambourines, drums, maracas. Follow the baby’s actions and rhythmic patterns.
  • Play music games such as play and stop to help the baby anticipate the stop. Play this game regularly to help the baby learn to stop for the music cue. CD track “Walk and Stop” “Sing Baby Dance Baby” Julie Wylie. Soon the baby will be leading you in this game without the use of a CD. Change the words of the song to: “play and stop”, “play the drum”,” ring the bells”.
  • Play pitch games using maracas to emphasize feet, knees, tummy, shoulders, head as you sing up the five note scale C D E F G. You might like to use chime bars playing C D E F G. This song is track 23 “Feet, Feet, Feet” on “Sing Baby Dance Baby.


6-12 months:

  • All of the above.
  • Play pitch games. The baby is listening, anticipating and increasingly copying actions and understanding the purpose of instruments.
  • Give opportunities to experiment with a variety of instruments and sound objects such as pots and pans wooden spoon other sound making utensils from the kitchen cupboard.
  • Follow the child. Follow their movements, introduce actions to action songs.
  • Play echo games.
  • Imitate rhythmic patterns, loud/soft, fast/slow, on drums tambourines.


12-18 months:

The toddler is much more mobile- walking, climbing, exploring and has a vast array of babbling sounds. At this age children enjoy nursery rhymes, finger plays and songs that require motor response. They learn problem solving skills through musical play.

  • Sing nursery rhymes as you play the beat on maracas, drum, tambourine together. This play helps the child to develop a strong sense of steady beat.
  • Develop sung music routines: “play and stop, (incorporate actions and movement)”,”instruments away”, “time for lunch”, “time for your bath”, “time for bed.” An instrument can be used to signal the specific routine.
  • Use chants about eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. Reinforce sensory understanding about body parts by softly shaking a maraca by feet, knees, tummy, shoulders, head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth etc. Play this as a slow imitation game facing each other and give child time to copy action before moving to the next body part.
  • Do lots of dancing together to drum or tambourine accompaniment.


18 months- 2 years:

At this age and stage the child has increased language, realises that everything has a sound and a name and is able to remember and copy actions. The child often sings or hums while playing, enjoying vocal exploration.  Children often repeat a word or words over and over. They join in with some words of familiar songs especially at the ends of predictable phrases. They enjoy rhyme, word patterning and instrumental play. Children at this age tire easily and need the security of a routine. The musical form of a nursery rhyme or song provides a predictable beginning, middle and end.

  • Play lots of imitation games using drum, tambourine, chime bars, etc
  • Play follow the leader games marching and playing drum, tambourine, tapping little claves (sticks),
  • Explore loud, soft, fast, slow, high, low
  • Dance with maracas playing along to familiar songs
  • Establish clear music routines
  • Use chants, rhymes, accompany on instruments.
  • Ready stories using musical instruments to reinforce different characters in nursery rhyme or story
  • Have fun singing, dancing and playing together. Through your interactive musical play you are laying the foundation of music for life for your child.

– Julie Wylie 

A Musical Observation – Michal Bush

Monday’s Baby Class

Julie set our 3 large drums for the babies to gather around and share. Playing repeating rhythmic patterns, Julie began to sing a simple tune. As the children relaxed into the drumming we began singing about what each of them were doing on the drums- “tickling, patting, hitting”. As they became more comfortable and confident the children became their own leaders- singing and playing on the drums.  We suddenly had a chorus of singers on our hands as we continued to keep the beat. The youngest of the choir being only 14 weeks old but with a strong sense of his own voice. It particularly interested and amazed me to see the babies singing a call and response to each other- one would sing a phrase and the other would reply. It blows me away to see such young children composing songs together- truly a very special experience.



New Classes in Ferrymead

Julie Wylie Music is offering an eight week Musical Play term with two new music classes for babies upwards starting on Monday July 21st   at Orange Studios, Ferry Road (next to Party World).

The classes will be conducted by Julie Wylie and wonderful musician Michal Bush.


$80 for the 8 week term


9.30 – 10.00am (babies)

10.15 – 11.00am (ages undefined at this point. Dependant on age of enquiries – these classes make be appropriate for an older child and younger sibling.)

CONTACT :      

Liz at info@juliewyliemusic.com



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