It starts with ‘Hello’

‘Hello, hello hello. It’s music time today!
Hello, hello, hello, who is here today?’

When children first arrive in your room, do you sing hello? Singing a hello song is a great way to start any music session. Not only is it a great way to warm up your vocal chords but it also builds a sense of community and belonging amongst children. Creating a space children feel they ‘belong’ to is essential in an Early Education and Care setting, as the Early Years Learning Framework states

Experiencing belonging – knowing where and with whom you belong – is integral to human existence.

The Early Years Learning Framework

The play therapy technique of acknowledging children where they are at (emotionally or otherwise) allows them to feel seen and understood. Singing hello adds the layer of communal music-making, giving children the opportunity to be a part of a team, working together to achieve a common goal.

So, let’s start the day on the right foot and sing hello!

What hello song do you use?

Recorder Memes

Yes, we’ve all seen them on our Facebook pages, and even had a little giggle, but I am officially over it. Recorder memes poke fun at the hard work music teachers do!

I understand better than anyone that learning a new instrument is difficult. When I was in year ten I decided I wanted to try learning the oboe. As a flautist of four years, this was quite the challenge as an oboe has a double reed. I was determined to learn it specifically for an upcoming eisteddfod, however, when I started practicing at home, my family promptly told me that I sounded like an injured goose.

Learning a new instrument is no easy feat. Not to mention having the courage to actually perform that skill infront of peers and an audience! When we teach children how to play the recorder, we are actually teaching them:

  • fine motor skills of holding their fingers over the holes so as to make the best sound
  • breath control to play their recorder soft or loud
  • how to read music (which is a huge challenge in itself)
  • how to work in a group to achieve a collective goal when playing in ensembles
  • timing when playing a piece of music with others
  • multitasking while watching a conductor and also following along with the music their playing
  • listening skills as they tune-in to the sound of their recorder amongst a group of peers
  • determination and tenacity as they practice
  • and a lot more!

So next time you hear the high pitched screech of a wrong note, think of how much your child is learning. And thank their music teacher!

Songs with Sami

COVID 19 has not been easy. With parents adding the role of teacher to their already busy lives, we have a thought of a way to make things a little easier.

‘Songs with Sami’ is a closed Facebook group designed to help parents with musical activities to do with their children during the isolation period. Each video involves a short activity that is easily achievable for parents, even if you have no experience with music!

Musical play is a fantastic way for children to feel connected to their families, regulate their emotions and express their feelings throughout this tricky time.

As adults, we have the responsibility to provide PERMISSION, TIME and SPACE for our children to play freely every day, so they can make sense of the world in their own way, at their own pace. 

Barb Champion, Executive Director – Play Australia

If you would like to join ‘Songs with Sami!’ click here.

Music and Self-Regulation

“The cerebellum right at the bottom of the brain is the timekeeper of the brain, controlling movement such as foot-tapping, dancing and playing an instrument. It plays an important role in emotional reactions to music. Our lower brain develops early and is functional from birth. It is involved with the regulation of all our primary body functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, temperature and regulation. Music helps with calming and regulation because it is an intuitive language of the emotions. We don’t have to think in order to process music. It can provide a calming, regulating environment of sound. The lower brain systems function without any conscious thought, but they respond to stress by speeding up our heart rate and breathing, slowing digestion, making the body ready for action. When we are highly aroused, it is harder for us to access higher levels of the brain. Music can calm stressed systems through the use of soft singing, rocking, patting, use of slow tempo and specific use of the elements of music.” (Wylie, 2017)

“Rhythm stirs our bodies. Melody or tonality stirs our brains. The coming together of rhythm and melody bridges our cerebellum (the motor control, primitive little brain) and our cerebral cortex (the most evolved, most human part of our brain)”  (Levitin, 2006)

What does this mean?

It is no coincidence that when a child is distressed our first instinct is to rock, bounce or sing to them in soft soothing tones. This natural response calms the child’s ‘lower brain’, returning them to a peaceful and regulated space.

When the lower brain is highly aroused it can be observed that children are in a state of ‘fight, flight or freeze’. They have no control over many of their actions as they are unable to use the other parts of their brain. These instances are sometimes referred to as tantrums, meltdowns or shutdowns. Often during this time, distraction, rewards or reasoning will not settle the child as they need assistance with self-regulation. This is where music can be an excellent tool as it brings the focus back to slowing the heart rate and breathing by singing in a slow tempo, allowing the child to feel calm.

Music can also be used to increase arousal. When singing to children in a faster tempo with complex melodies children can become excited and energised. These are songs that instantly make you want to get up and move or dance such as ‘Everything is Awesome’ from the Lego Movie

“The elements of music are used in very specific ways within Musical Play to match children’s energy levels, to build joyful, musical, regulated, relationship-based music interactions between parent and child, and parents and their children, within each Musical Playgroup.” (Wylie, 2017)