MUSICAL PLAY IS THE KEY FOR WELL-BEING, EMOTIONAL CONNECTION AND BRINGING CULTURES TOGETHER

Reflections from my recent invitation to present my musical play philosophy in North China. Julie Wylie. Copyright 2017.

I have worked with many children, families and teachers in different parts of the world, and once again my trip to China demonstrated clearly how music can brings families, communities, society and cultures together. It doesn’t matter if we can’t speak the same language, when we sing, dance and play together, we are all united through the infectious, universal, emotional, joyful language of music.

Children everywhere have the same wonderful response to music, especially when they can participate freely responding to the predictable structure of musical form and the expressive elements of music which unite us as a group. The children I worked with in two very large pre schools were so excited when we sat around the rainbow ring and bounced in time singing echo songs and improvising with sounds, gestures and movement. Some children went into the middle of the circle and were so full of joy when I copied their actions. Teachers were amazed that there clearly was no right or wrong way to play. The secret was  total enjoyment through predictable songs with a clear beginning, middle and end. Every child responded to our play and stop games with the extended pauses. Every child responded to our improvisations, that incorporate elements of surprise, anticipation and stop! Soon many of the children were singing their versions of “Bop it in the Rocket”.
I used playful music games with pitch and rhythmic patterning designed to help the children to read the words, to experience the melodic shape of the pitches through pitch games and to sing the tune from the simple notation. Although we are from different cultures,these children in China, like ours in New Zealand, were using creative and analytical thinking, coding and simple reading/literacy skills to read the pitch, notation and words. We focus so much on literacy and numeracy in our schools, but music helps memory and is the only language that helps children to decode three symbolic languages simultaneously!

At the end of one large music session, every single child came up and one by one they hugged me. I looked around at all the parents and grandparents and they we all nodding and smiling at me. I was invited to people’s homes and experienced wonderful hospitality. Two distinct cultural groups came together to sing, dance, say and play together. Many of the children were experiencing a range of rhythmic songs, dances and words from the English language. We were altogether in the moment and they were singing, clapping and dancing along, even though the words were strange.

Every time I presented music sessions in China, whether it was for families, children or teachers, something magical happened. We were all connected in a very powerful way. We experienced how music naturally brings a strong sense of harmony, of connection and well being. Music activates our brains and releases feel-good hormones like dopamine. Music is a natural part of our humanity and draws us together in incredible ways. When I was sharing my music in China I felt completely at home. Regardless of our culture, our backgrounds, music binds us together, breaking down barriers,  opening up rich experiences of creativity, imagination, communication and love.

 

 


I WONDER WHERE YOU ARE HIDING

I WONDER WHERE YOU ARE HIDING. Julie Wylie copyright 2017

Organza is a beautiful prop to use in music to promote interactive, relationship based musical play between parent and child, to help pitch awareness as we sing up and down the major and minor scales, floating the organza, teaching children about prepositions through sensory experiences such going around,  over, under, between, inside, outside. Social skills are developed as children play follow the leader games going under the red, blue, green or the rainbow. Langue skills, concepts of colours, numbers, spatial awareness and creativity develop when children come up with their own ideas.

Babies love the beautiful peek-a-boo games with their parents. These are the babies’ first games which help to develop understanding of the world of pretend. I know you are there, but where are you? I see Mummy peek out from behind her hands. Such games promote watching, waiting, listening and anticipation and loving interaction and relationship and what a special moment when the baby sings the answering “Boo!”

Here is a beautiful family joining in our hiding game:

I wonder where you are hiding

I wonder where you are hiding

Where are you?

Where are you?

Peek a peek a peek a peek a Boo!

Julie Wylie 2017


THE MUSICAL LIFE OF A TWO YEAR OLD.

 

Quinn started coming to my musical play classes when he was about three months old. The emphasis in the baby class was on developing a strong musical relationship  between parent and child. Lap games were played,  with parents gently bouncing or rocking their baby, or dancing with their baby in time to specific songs using ascending and descending pitches, play and stop songs, peek a boo songs and nursery rhymes. The music sessions  include much use of repetition and predictable music structure in each music session, in order to to develop  listening, anticipation, timing and joyful synchronous play between parent and child.All instructions are sung and there is much use of echo songs, so that there is a seamless musical flow in every class.

Quinn watched everything and listened very intently from the start. Like many of the other babies in the class he was soon bouncing in time using whole body movements in time to the songs. He would respond to the musical pauses and could stop for the music cues.  At home he would dance in time to the sound of the washing machine and immediately tune in to all things musical, both inside and outside. When Quinn began crawling, he began to take the music lead, often crawling into the middle of the group around the rainbow ring and would delight in moving and playing and having me sing about what he was doing moment by moment such as Quinn is waving, bouncing, crawling, toddling, or dancing In the middle. Even at a very young age He was able to follow simple sung instructions such as “going back to mummy now”.

Quinn has always been extremely interested in the piano or keyboard and delights in sitting alongside me as I play for the  group. He initially sat watching my hand positions and listening intently. Now aged two and three quarter years,  he is able to find a note or notes within my pitch range and play very softly alongside me. He began watching how I played the foot pedal. This resulted in him sitting under the grand piano or sitting by the pedal if I was playing a keyboard. During the last session Quinn  wanted to do all my piano pedalling, nearly all of it in time and with a great approximation of how I use the pedal to enhance musical expression and to sustain certain notes.

Quinn plays in time, uses rhythmic patterns, is very aware of pitch and melodic contours, he sings, moves and plays musically. He often conducts my movements using hand and arm gestures, or the ribbon stick. He is highly engaged and involved in musical play. When I sang for the children to go back to their places recently, instead of going to his mother as all the other children did, Quinn hurried to my side and climbed up onto the music stool and beamed at me with such a look of pride and purpose as we played the “Goodbye Song” together.

His mother reports that all his play is musical. His parents are his musical play partners. Everything he does at home involves some aspect of musical play. He is constantly exploring sounds and sound making, creating his own little songs, rhythmic patterns, asking and singing  questions about songs and music that his parents are listening to.

The child is music leader. All these early sensory, musical play experiences help them to incorporate the elements of music into their own play, so that they learn to move fluidly, with a great sense of timing, spatial awareness, able to listen to and copy patterns and to create their own. There is a sense of wonder, delight, emotional connection, creativity and expressiveness in all their musical interactions.

It is precisely this kind of musical play that enables the child to progress to playing an instrument. Quinn is developing a musical passion that will be with him throughout his life. I wonder where Quinn will go to with his music? Will he be like so many of my music children who are now principal players in orchestras, choirs,  jazz performers, singers, music teachers, or involved in music research? Quinn is a music child and it is my  absolute delight in playing with him musically and helping him on his musical journey.


INDULGE IN PLAY, IT IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US AND OUR CHILDREN

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.


Chime Bar Play

Children love to play their own compositions and simple songs. Here are the letter names of notes from the C major scale to help parents, teachers and children to listen, imitate and play familiar songs.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

C C G G A A G

F F E E D D C

G G F F E E D

G G F F E E D

C C G G A A G

F F E E D D C

INCY WINCY SPIDER

C C C D E EE

D C D E C

E E F G GG F EF G E

A AA G GG F E F G E

G C C C D E EE D C D E C

ROW, ROW, ROW YOUR BOAT

C. C. C D E

E D E F G 

high CCC GGG EEE lowC

G F E D C

I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT

C D E F G highC

A highC G

F FG E E

D DE C

C D E F G highC

A highC G G highC

lowC D F E D C

OLD MACDONALD

F F F C D D C

A A G G F  C 

F F F C D D C

A A G G F

CC F F F CC F F F

FFF FFF FFFF F F

F F F C D D C

A A G G F

C C G G 

A B C A G

F F E E D D C

G GG F FF E EE D. D

G GG F G A F 

E DD C

chime-bar-play


REFLECTIONS ABOUT MUSICAL PLAY WITH THE CHILDREN FROM JAMES ST by Sarah Marra

p1040677

It was wonderful to see the children in both the nursery and preschool become really settled in their music routines today. They are familiar with our routines – coming to the same place, starting with the Hello song, twinkle twinkle and finishing with “music time has finished” and Ka Kite.

We have intentionally repeated some of our songs from last week to encourage learning in a familiar environment. This week I noticed a wonderful amount of singing coming from the children. They were happy to sing along with the melody and form of the songs that we had practiced previously and are now beginning to incorporate movement and dance too.

We have been working on body awareness with our body pitch songs in all of our sessions. As the developmental ages increase throughout the morning so do our pitch songs. The nursery is focusing on labelling body parts, the 2-3 year olds are now including counting up to 5 with accurate understanding of body in relation to pitch, and our 4 year olds are now including counting up to 8 and back down again.

The rakau sticks have been a wonderful exploration of hand eye coordination for all ages. The children have been encouraged to offer ideas and we have supported their offerings in song. As the routine has become more familiar we notice more children willing to share their ideas during their music time.

This morning we also encouraged the children in team work, supporting each other – this was shown in simply taking a partner for ‘row row row your boat’ in the nursery, or more complexly in the preschool with sharing their partner’s rakau to create shapes.

p1040528


CONNECTING WITH NATURE THROUGH MUSICAL PLAY

CONNECTING WITH NATURE THROUGH MUSICAL PLAY. JULIE WYLIE

Children feel at home in the balanced ecosystem of nature, because it is here that they and their playing belong. Nature is a constant source of beauty, inspiration and imagination.

The child’s environment consists of the sensory information fed back to his/her own body by environmental stimuli. Through opportunities to listen, watch, touch, move and play in a variety of outdoor environments, the child develops a strong sense of connection to the land. From these early experiences of nature, powerful memories are formed and lay the foundation for a sense of well-being, belonging, nurture and conservation.

Musical play offers opportunities for us to experience a spontaneous, joyful, lost in the moment sense of wonder at the infinite possibilities that outdoor play can offer. It is this sense of wonder that helps children to imagine, create, take risks, nurture and protect.

Music can be played using natural resources such as leaves, sticks, stones, shells, flowers that can be collected, displayed and continually added to.  As children become aware of sounds, patterns, shapes, textures, colours, this influences their play and so stories, songs, art, dance, art and craft evolve and develop.

Look for patterns outside: “Round and round and up and down and now get ready to stop” See what you can find that has circular patterns as well as lines. One young child lay on the grass and sang his song:

“The sky is up, the earth is down, and the world goes around and around.

Listen for the elements of music. These are:

RHYTHM

  • Rhythm is everywhere, from the sound of our heart-beat, the rhythms of the universe, to the rhythms of our daily lives. Rhythm is a physiologic organizer. It can bring everyone together in the moment as we keep the beat together.
  • We can listen to rhythmic patterns of nature, the sounds of the wind in the trees, the sounds of the waves at the beach, the rhythmic patterns of birdsong. Listen with your children. They can hear sounds with a higher frequency. When we listen regularly with children, they become tuned in to the sounds of nature.

MELODY

  • Melody is a series of tones or notes that go up or down. Melody is music’s linear contour. Nature is full of pitched sounds especially the melodic song of birds such as the blackbird, thrush, chaffinch, korimako (bellbird)
  • Play listening games with your children. What is that sound? Where is that sound coming from? What bird is that? Google bird song recordings. Help children to listen to and identify familiar bird songs.
  • Sing scale songs together using the 8 notes of the C major scale Up, up, up, up up to the sky. Down, down, down, down, down to the ground

FORM

  • This refers to the structure of a piece of music and helps children to listen to the beginning, middle and end of the music.

DYNAMICS or volume.

  • Is that a loud sound? or is it a soft sound.

TEXTURE

  • Is it one voice? Is it many voices e.g. one bird singing , or many? One dog barking, or a whole lot of dogs?

TIMBRE 

  • The sound colour or tonal quality that makes one sound easily identified from another. The sound of splashing in water, the sound of the wind in the trees, the sound of a black bird singing its spring song.

HARMONY occurs when two or more notes are sounded together and combined in a special way.

Listening ideas:

Go on a sound hunt together. Find treasure to play such as leaves, gum nuts, stones. Make rhythm patterns: stone, stone, little stone.

Go to different environments, the backyard, the local park, the beach.

Have a quiet listening time at the same time each day. Make up a picture book about the sounds you hear. Have a sounds table decorated with the sound objects you found. Set these out in rhythmic patterns. Make up songs about what you heard.

Magical-Musical-Play-Cover Bean Bag BopMusic Learning and Your Child


Springtime Rhythm

DAF, DAF, DAFF-O-DIL

daffodil

 

In our music classes we use a variety of found objects such as shells, stones, flowers to set out a simple rhythmic pattern. The children can help to arrange the patterns which we chant, clap, pat and dance.

For a springtime pattern arrange Daffodils to form the Pattern : Daf, Daf, Daf- O- Dill.

Then let your children take the lead and see what patterns they come up. Have fun!


Shell, Shell, Little Shell

Shell, Shell, Little Shell

ELSIE REMEMBERED THE SHELL PATTERN WE USED FOR RHYTHMIC NOTATION. THE CHILDREN HELPED TO ARRANGE SHELLS ON  THE FLOOR TO FORM RHYTHMIC PATTERNS.

shell

In our music classes we use a variety of found objects such as shells, stones, flowers to set out a simple rhythmic pattern. The children can help to arrange the patterns which we chant, clap, pat and dance.

Elsie used to come to my music class until the first term of this year when the family moved to Nelson. Two year old Elsie remembered us setting out shells on the floor for the rhythmic pattern shell, shell, little shell. When her dance teacher used this same rhythmic pattern, Elsie insisted that the class had to used the shell chant ” Because that is what we did in Julie Wylie Music.” We would reinforce this pattern through movement: Walk, walk, running walk.  

FOR A SPRINGTIME PATTERN ARRANGE DAFFODILS TO FORM THE PATTERN: DAF, DAF, DAFF-O-DIL

daffodil