Singing and Saying, Moving and Playing.

Tuesday 25th November 2014
– Julie Wylie

Ten little toddlers aged between 12- 16 months were totally engaged in our musical play class. One child Elijah aged 15 months is a natural leader and he was initiating the bouncing action for the lap games.  At the point when we usually finish these songs and change activities, he toddled away and hauled out the rainbow ring and indicated that everyone was to hold on. He went into the middle of the circle watching everyone holding onto the ring and bouncing it in time to the song. He stood and bounced in time to the play and stop song. Each time we stopped he would sing the word and do the action for “stop” in time, and on the music beat.

When I sang “what will we do with the rainbow ring”? He took hold of the ring and he and another little boy held onto the ring together and hauled it back to where Elijah had found it. He then found another bag with organza and pulled out one piece after another and all the children became engrossed in “helping” and initiating “Peek-a- Boo games with their parents. A little girl Ella pointed to her grandmother and then helped her to hold the fabric and she took the other end and tried to make it go up and down. She then pointed to me to hold this other end and stood underneath the fabric as I sang a narrative song about “Ella standing under”. All the children then imitated her going under as parents and grandparents wafted all the organza pieces over the children. There were chuckles of delight from the children and we had to repeat the actions several times until Elijah decided we had to put the fabric back into the bag.

A little boy aged 12 months began to sing a recognizable melodic song fragment and held up his arms to me to sit on my knee at the keyboard. Each time for the chorus, he would predict when to sing “Oh Oh” using the matching pitches 5, 1. / So Do. The other children and parents joined in the singing and there were so many smiling faces as we followed our little singing boy. His grandmother looked so proud when she was watching and listening to him leading our singing. Two children were on the periphery of the circle and although they were away from the group, they were watching and listening intently.

Relating and engaging through music, movement and language is something we do naturally. These children can take the musical lead in our musical interactions in so many ways often not thought possible for such young children. They have been a part of jazz like improvisations using large drums, maracas, a rainbow ring, with call and response and space provided for the babies and young children to fill in the music gaps. I sing and the parents imitate what I have just sung. Before long, the babies and children join their parents, imitating certain pitches, words, sounds.  These interactions are supported through a predictable music framework and with familiar songs that have become a part of the children’s repertoire. The children know the songs that support the routine of setting props or instruments out and putting them away. These songs have been sung each week since they were babies in our baby music class. The children recognize and begin to follow predictable songs that introduce and support each routine.

This class clearly demonstrated that there is no right or wrong way to play musically. Musical exploration in each music session provides enriching emotional, social and cognitive experiences that empower the child and parent/grandparent and support the child’s developing sense of self.