The Power of Musical Play

Music is our first language. It is a language of the emotions. Sound, movement, rhythm, the basic elements of music surround the unborn child long before birth. All babies and young children demonstrate a love of singing sounds, movement, dancing, and melodramatic narrative games that describe what is happening moment by moment. For example: James is digging, digging in the sandpit, building a sand castle very, very high, now the castle comes crashing down, now you build it up again. Music can arouse and calm. Songs and musical play can support all learning and provide a nurturing environment.

Musical play supports children’s learning about their own health, safety, self-care and helps them to gain a positive self-image. Songs and playful routines can be included in daily routines which help children understand each step of a process, to be a part of all the daily rituals and routines. Dressing, toileting, washing, eating and sleeping can be supported through the use of specially improvised songs, supporting each step of action. Music is a powerful means of helping all children to feel included and safe. Songs can be sung without words using babbling sounds. Listen to the sounds that a child makes and copy what they have said or sung. Make up echo games, listening games at the dough table, inside, outside, anywhere.


Julie Wylie’s CD “Teddy Bears’ Tango” has a song which is suitable for all occasions. Simply change the words to suit whatever you want the children to do. Elke’s Song track 7 is a traditional German folk dance. Elke and Julie developed this music as an instructional song that cues children moment by moment. The song may only have one or two instructions. Use of repetition helps children to listen and remember each step of the instruction. For example: Wash your hands wash your hands, la,la,la, la, la,la, la. Use some soap and rub your hands la, la, la, la, la, la, la, Rinse your hands under the tap, la, la,etc. Dry them now, use the towel, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.  The song is simple and the melody/tune is simple using notes in a child’s pitch range. Middle C up to C the eight note octave. The rhythm pattern helps the children to remember and learn.

Teddy Bears Tango

Make up your own words and get the children making up songs with you. Musical play and songs support healthy, playful interaction. Don’t be shy about singing. Children will love it when you play musically with them.