The Power of Dance Through Musical Play

Thursday 21st May 2015
– Julie Wylie 

Zara is four years old. She is shy and has always sat back and watched others but has been happy to become involved when teddy bears or puppets are used that help take the focus from her. Her mother is sensitive to Zara’s needs and she plays a crucial role in helping Zara play through the puppets or teddy bear songs and games.  Zara has watched two ballet classes.

Zara’s teddy began to enter the music games. She would make the bear fly up high, low. Her bear could clap his paws or stamp his feet in time to the music. She would make him twirl around, stand on one leg, then the other.  She would help him to bow to everyone.  Week by week her bear was becoming more adventurous. Through their music play led by Zara and supported by her mother, Zara’s trust and relationship with others in the group was strengthened. She was becoming more confident. Through increasing engagement in action songs and musical play, a sense of closeness and togetherness with the group was very evident. The other parents were rejoicing with her mother when she began to enter into the children’s play. The other children included her when she felt confident enough to come into the circle.

The magic day came when everyone was sitting in a circle and I sang the song: “What can you do in the middle today?” After weeks of watching others, Zara shyly went into the middle. She looked around at everyone and then slowly stood on one leg balancing carefully. She extended her other leg, slowly lowering it then pointing her toe on the ground. She lifted her arms high like a ballet dancer, balanced on her other leg with an approximation of an arabesque. She whirled and twirled in the middle and then jumped gracefully with her arms held high. She was every inch the ballet dancer with a whole audience watching her every move as I sang a narrative song about what she was doing. Her timing was impeccable. Her sense of musicality inspired other children to come into the middle and dance with her.

Zara’s whole face shone with excitement and an obvious sense of achievement. My role was to offer partnership through sensitive singing that supported every moment of her play. The others in the group gave her time, space and opportunity to take the lead. The children joined her in her dance at the appropriate moment.

Musical play is highly flexible. It has a strong emotional impact. There is no right or wrong way to play.  It offers many opportunities for children to express themselves creatively. Musical play provided a basis for Zara and her mother to explore ways of connecting to others in the group and for Zara to become confident enough to perform her special solo dance for her whole appreciative audience.

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"The Power of Dance Through Musical Play" Click here to view Julie's latest blog.

“The Power of Dance Through Musical Play” Click here to view Julie’s latest blog.