Thursday, June 24, 2010

Music at home.

     My father was a musician. Although he decided he couldn't make enough money as a professional trumpet player to raise a family, he never stopped playing and listening to music. Needless to say, our house was filled with music. 

 (That's Dad in the middle holding the trumpet.)


Although Dad's primary instrument was a trumpet, he also arranged music for bands and orchestras.  That meant that we alway had a piano in the house.  We were allowed (actually, expected) to explore the instrument as long as we were respectful.  

(Yes, that's me at age 6 plunking around on our first piano.  I never took piano lessons because I chose violin but I still love picking out tunes if there is a keyboard around. Nice hat, eh?)

     Later, when I had my own children, we bought a second-hand, electric piano and my Dad built a stand for it at child height.  They both loved to explore and pick out tunes.  When we went over to "Grandma and Papa's" the boys were allowed the same musical privileges that I'd been given.

(My younger son, Lachlan,  - at age 4 - playing on Papa's piano.)

     The point I'm trying to make with this walk down memory lane is that music and rhythm are fundamentally important to the development of young children.  Children should have access to rhythm and musical instruments from the very beginning of their lives.

Here, S. bangs on a tambourine.  What a lovely sound!  Later, Mom can play music on the stereo, take up her own tambourine, and they can keep time to the music together.

Pianos are large and expensive so it isn't always feasible for a family to have one available to children.  As far as I'm concerned, any instrument will do as long as the child is taught how to handle it with respect.  Here is a picture of E. exploring a violin.

Experimenting with different kinds of instruments adds to a child's development and love of all things musical.  Scouring thrift stores or swapping/joining with another family are great ways to give your child different musical experiences.  In the next two pictures, C. is having a wonderful time playing a steel drum with some family friends.

When my boys were small and money was even more scarce than it is today, I would cover the coffee table with a blanket and put out all the lids from my pots and pans on top of the blanket.  Then, armed with wooden spoons, the boys and I would bash in time to whatever music they wanted to hear. At other times, we would make our own instruments.

(That is my older son, Calum - I think he is about 5 here -  with his own guitar.)

In the classroom, the bells are always available for those children who have been shown how to handle them.  Since I grew up hearing someone plunking around on the piano, I love the sound of the bells being played in the classroom.  Most of the time they are played according to how they were presented but every now and then a child will just explore. This is one of my favourite sounds in our classroom.

Music and rhythm are wonderful ways to bond with children.  Just look at this photo of M. and her Grandpa making beautiful music together!

If you play an instrument, let your children hear you play - often.  If you don't play an instrument, have one around to explore with.  Role modelling is just as important with music as it is in everything else. 

Please give your child real instruments.  Toys do not give a child the same experience that a real instrument will.  Toy instruments do not feel or sound the same as real ones nor do they get the same kind of respectful handling that real instruments are given.  (Think of tidying up.  Would a toy violin be returned to a stand in the music corner  or would it get put on a shelf with the other toys - toys give children different experiences and messages.)

Sing all the time.  Even if you don't think you have a good singing voice, sing anyway - your child will love it. 

Read lots of nursery rhymes to your children.  Let them hear the rhythm in the words.

Here are some links to articles about children and music if anyone is interested in reading more about it. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

M. helps prepare dinner

M.'s mother just sent us a video of M. helping to prepare dinner by washing the salad greens.  Take a look here .

Merci, V.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sharing a small space

This week's post comes from E. & K.'s mother.  Both girls attend our school - E. is in Level 1 and K. is in my Primary classroom.  Their mother teaches in the other Primary classroom and their father (a carpenter) spends many hours building things for the school.  I think you'll agree that these parents have found some very innovative ways to help their children with more independence at home.

"E. cleaning with her own spray bottle. What a proud day that was, when they got their own spray bottles (filled with vinegar water). When the feeling strikes, like tonight, she'll ask to clean the bathroom, and especially loves to scrub the toilet! Go figure! "

"The next picture is E's books, light and cd player (Peace and Quiet, Mr. Bach comes to visit, Peter and the Wolf, Dance on a Moonbeam are some favorites) to help facilitate bedtime independence. She will often read for an hour, then turn off the light when she's ready. K. has a similar set up - she chooses her music, and can look at books in bed if she wants."

"The vanity in their part of the bathroom was installed lower, so K. (4 1/2) can reach the tap without a stepstool."

"The final pictures shows how a small space can be divided to provide privacy for two children who share one room. We have a curtain set up so that during the day it is open while at night it is closed to provide a sense of separateness."

Thanks, girls!