Moments of Musical Connection in Julie Wylie’s Musical Play Classes

By music team member Fliss Herschell.

Reflections from Tuesday’s classes


The children all had their own ideas in these classes and these creative ideas are incorporated into the structure of the songs and activities.

Shy child who hasn’t got the idea-

Today there was a child who was shy, new to the class and who didn’t understand the sung music instruction which was to take out four notes from the box of chime bars: C E G B and play a little tune on these notes. How do you honour Jack’s idea without causing him and his parent to feel that he has got it wrong? Julie had sang specific instructions about these four notes. Jack didn’t follow the instructions, but took out four different notes: C D E G. Julie acknowledged his special music idea and praised him when he made up his own music on his chosen notes. When he had played for everyone he looked very proud and his mother relaxed. Julie then repeating the sung instructions C E G B she had sung at the start.  Because he felt his ideas were honored and acknowledged by Julie and the class he didn’t hesitate to do what was being asked. He smiled at mum, he smiled at Julie and everyone. His mother reflected his sense of achievement. This was a beautiful moment of collective pride. This was a great example of a moment of musical connection. There is no right or wrong way to play. When Jack felt more confident through his original play, he was then able to listen and follow the sung instruction of what notes to play. Both his musical offerings were listened to and appreciated by the music group, thus building his confidence and self-esteem.


Confident creative two year old Eli as music leader

Eli led this entire class, he knew what he wanted us all to do and what activities to do next.

Julie followed him, building narrative improvised songs on each of his chosen activities. The session involved following him moment by moment. All the children were captivated by the spontaneous ideas which were based on the normal musical structure and routine of the class. When Eli was at the piano with Julie, he asked if Julie could sing a song about a digger. He and Julie led the class with 7 different ideas about diggers and Julie followed his lead with improvised singing/playing. All the children were on board and following Eli’s lead as well. The parents and children moved and played in time thus building on the sense of music community and collective pride.


You wouldn’t follow the same child every week, as the following week another child might have creative music ideas. This is the essence of musical play with everyone listening, interacting, being able to lead, follow, or observe the musical form of the play.This class showed us exactly what a music community looks like.  The group of parents and children show collective concern, collective pride, joy, all celebrating success, team work and being together as a group. These two year olds are learning to watch out for each other, to be empathetic and thoughtful of those around. The parent’s faces reflect such a sense of joy and pride. Parents and children are totally engaged as a group in activities/play, and children are happy to go to other parents as well as their own. They take delight in playing alongside the other children. These two year olds have been together in the music group since they were babies so they are like a music family with constant moments of musical connection.


Group instructions- nurturing the child who didn’t get their idea picked straight away-

Two weeks ago the children had turns at conducting the class on the drums. There was one boy Sam who missed out due to us running out of time. Julie promised that he would be first to be the conductor next week.  It is vital that the child who missed having a turn isn’t forgotten and that they be given an opportunity at a later stage. In the process the child learns to wait and feel validated because we have remembered their special music idea. Sure enough the following week Julie remembered and asked Sam to come and conduct the class. This made him feel  that his musical ideas and input are important. Waiting helps to develop valuable neural connections. Waiting helps children to learn the lesson of “sometimes we don’t get our way” sometimes we have to wait.” In this case not only did Sam feel validated and honored but his mum beamed with pride when the following week he was invited to be the first music conductor for that session and Sam proudly got up and conducted the class.


There was a strong sense of love, humor and relationship that came out of every class today.