Early Childhood Music Education
Early Childhood Music Education
SPRING EARLY CHILDHOOD MUSIC CLASSES: APRIL 20-JUNE 8 (8 Weeks Total)
Music learning begins from the moment children are born, if not sooner. Hearing is the first sense that is fully developed in humans, and studies show that children have three months of language and music exposure at birth. As children grow, they listen, observe, and explore different sounds. Similar to language, the more music children are exposed to and the more “musical vocabulary” they hear, the sooner they are able to develop and cultivate their own musical skills.
Early Childhood Music Education classes include class activities centered around musical conversation, exploration of musical ideas, and imaginative play by singing, moving to music, playing assorted instruments, and learning rhythm patterns. Even the youngest infants are able to absorb sounds while toddlers are able to experiment through singing and movement. The goal of the Early Childhood Music Education is to increase a child’s potential to learn music, and help pave the path for a lifetime full of musical enrichment.
This class is intended for both child and parent participation! Parents are asked to attend so that music activities and fun can continue at home.
INFANT CLASS (BIRTH-18 MONTHS)
Saturdays at 9-9:45am
TODDLER CLASS (18 MONTHS-3 YEARS)
Saturdays at 10-10:45am
PRE-SCHOOL CLASS (3-5 YEARS)
Saturdays at 11-11:45am
Early Elementary (5-7 YEARS)
Saturdays at 12-12:45pm
Music is learned in a similar way to how language is learned. Children need to hear and experiment with large amounts of language and vocabulary before they actually learn to speak, read, and write. Similarly, children need to hear a variety of music and experiment with it before they can sing, move to, read, and create music.
Early childhood classes at the Hudson Education Center for the Arts are designed to create a rich, comfortable, and welcoming music environment for children to learn and play in. Some children will actively participate, while others will feel more comfortable watching and absorbing the sounds and activities (both responses are totally okay and completely normal!) While classes vary depending on the age level and musical development of the children, all classes will include music activities in many different tonalities and meters. Many songs performed in class will not have words, because research has found that young children tend to focus on words instead of the musical content. We also incorporate activities with age-appropriate movement that guide children to move in a sustainable, continuous, and relaxed manner. These movement activities will help them feel, understand, and internalize music. Children will hear a large vocabulary of rhythm and tonal patterns, which they are able to perform in class or at home. There will also be exploration of simple percussion instruments. We do not expect “correct” musical responses from children. Instead, we give children the opportunity to explore music in the same way that they are able to explore language.
Parents should participate in class. Parents should sit with their child in the circle and serve as a good example: if the teacher moves to a song in a certain way, imitate their movement. Parents are encouraged to sing along with songs as they become familiar with them. It is important that parents do not force their children to participate or do what the teacher does. Some children will wander around during class, and that is okay! Parents can gently encourage their children to join the group, but please do not force them. This is all part of creating an exploratory learning environment for the children, and the teacher will not intervene unless a child is harming others or interfering with other students’ learning. Please limit talking during class so that children can listen and respond to the teacher’s songs and chants.
It is completely okay for children to wander around the classroom at times. Children are still paying attention and hearing the musical sounds even if they are not sitting in the circle. However, due to the safety of all children in the class, running is discouraged. If this becomes a concern, we will help parents problem solve solutions. Parents should stay near their children and gently guide them back to the activity. Parents can help their children imitate by imitating teacher’s vocalizations, actions, and words during class and at home.
Please do not bring food, drink, or toys to class. This tends to distract the other children. Keep anything of this nature in a bag for use outside of the room before or after class.
Your teacher will share all of the songs that will be used for the semester. These recordings can be played whenever possible (in the car, while your child is playing at home, etc.) Families are encouraged to play the recordings at home and recreate activities from class. This will help immerse the children in the musical environment created in class each week. The more children are exposed to musical play and exploration, the more they will learn!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why do you do so many songs and chants without words?
When songs or chants are presented with text, children tend to focus on the text rather than musical content. Children need words in order to survive in their environment and get what they want. The rewards for musical production are much less obvious to them. Therefore, words tend to be more tempting to latch on to, especially when children are in the midst of the most critical part of the language-learning process. Because of this, text can inhibit music learning.
2. The songs and chants that you perform seem really challenging. I have trouble learning them. Aren't they too difficult for a young child?
The songs that we teach are difficult for adults because they are in unusual tonalities and meters that we don’t usually hear. We, as adults, have spent much of our lives listening to songs in major tonalities and duple meters. Because of this, we have lots of major/duple baggage that makes it difficult for us to learn songs that are in different tonalities and meters. Children, on the other hand, are like learning-sponges and will find the songs and chants in unusual meters and tonalities as easy as those in major duple. Learning songs in a variety of tonalities and meters will eventually help them more thoroughly understand the more frequently-used tonalities and meters.
3. Why don't you use more instruments?
At this point in a child's music education, extensive use of instruments is not developmentally appropriate. Children have not developed the fine motor coordination skills to accurately play many instruments. Research also shows that children respond to parts of music more quickly when they are presented by the human voice. We include some instrumental play to give children the opportunity to explore different musical sounds, and because it’s fun!
4. I am really worried that my child is not participating in class. What should I do?
It is 100% okay!!! Children will participate when they are ready. Until then, know that some children learn best from watching and silently absorbing what we do in class. It is completely normal for children to observe rather than participate, and it is not an indicator of a child’s interest or musical ability. Children are not assessed based on how they perform for teachers in class. Many students that quietly sit or wander around the room (seemingly not paying attention) end up achieving at very high levels in music! Forcing a child to participate will do more harm than good, because they will grow to resent music rather than enjoying it. As a parent, imitating what the teacher does and actively participating in class is the best thing to do, as children will join in when they are ready.
5. Why don't the children sing with you?
They are not developmentally ready. Until children are musically ready, they will not be able to coordinate their singing voices. We sing for the children and then hope that they will experiment with what they hear. As the children mature musically, they will perform with us. Children usually start consistently performing in class around age five.
If you have any other questions, please talk with your teacher. Teachers want to know what would help your child in class, and we love to talk about the reasons for teaching what we teach!. The more communication that there is between parents/caregivers and teachers, the better! We look forward to a wonderful semester!
All classes are taught by:
B.M. Music Education
Michigan State University