The Benefits of Group Musical Play

Tuesday 20th October 2015
– Julie Wylie

Musical Play offers opportunities for parents and children to interact and play together. The predictable structure of nursery rhymes and play songs, and play and stop songs and games naturally provides a clear beginning, middle and end and helps to establish clear, safe boundaries. Parents learn how to create and improvise songs that can become an integral part of daily routines and life at home. “Put the Teddy bears back in the bag, la,la,la, la, la, la, la ” ” now it’s time to choose an instrument” ” put the chime bars back in the box, be very careful when you put them back.” Such sung instructions helps children to listen, anticipate and follow each step of an activity. The children become very careful and considerate In their handling of musical instruments. It can be quite moving seeing how they watch each other and place the chime bars so carefully in the large box.At home such instructional songs help with hand washing, tidying up, meal times, bath time and all routines. It is impossible to be cross when you sing the instructions! Singing takes the stress out of daily routines.

In group music parents learn when to sit back and observe, when to respond and affirm, how music naturally arouses or calms. The music group  become a music community with parents taking collective pride in all their children’s musical offerings. Humour emerges through musical interactions. Children learn to understand and appreciate the musical joke such as when the tempo changes suddenly from very slow to  very fast, or goes from very soft to loud.

The playful qualities of music making captures the children’s attention and imagination. Musical play engages them, helping them to listen, concentrate, to watch and learn from each other. Musical play can be highly motivating helping them to communicate and create. When they learn how to use the elements of music in their own play, they quickly start to create new actions, to sing their own words to familiar songs and to create their own musical play ideas in the car, in the playground, at home or anywhere.

  • Music songs and games are often improvised around the children’s responses.
  • The music group gives permission to play, to be child-like. Parents and children become increasingly playful.
  • Limits and boundaries are established through the musical form of a song.
  • Pre-verbal communication is supported and developed through interactive musical play.
  • Self-esteem is developed as as songs and music making affirm what each child is doing, and through the sharing and acceptance of ideas. Specially improvised songs including the child’s name, colour of their eyes, hair or clothing help children to feel validated and accepted.
  • Consistency is developed through the repetition of songs, musical sequences, and sung transitions from one activity to another.
  • Perseverance and concentration develops as a child strives to achieve the musical actions, words or goals of a song.
  • Patience begins as a child learns to wait for their turn to play.
  • Social skills emerge as as the infant or young child feels confident enough to move away from her parent into the circle with the other children.
  • Courage is evident when a child tries again and again to master a new music task.
  • Appropriate modulation of voice occurs through musical play. Parents may not sing initially, but after listening to others, they become empowered, discovering how to use their voices in new, musical and playful ways. Babies and children listen and sing when singing games are played.

Humour, acceptance, joy and playfulness are key ingredients of musical play.