MusicPlay for infants & toddlers
Your Infant or Toddler and Music
Musical sounds surround a child, even before the moment of birth. Whether a child is listening to music, singing a song, or moving creatively to the sounds around them, music is a vital part of a child's life. Young children often create music as a part of their play experiences, thus sustaining imagination and creativity. Furthermore, music enables children to express feelings and release energies and emotions in new and novel ways.
Early childhood is an opportune time to reinforce children's natural music abilities. Although music is not a language, music is learned in much the same way that a language is learned. Children need to hear and experiment with extensive amounts of language before they actually learn to speak, read and write. Imagine placing a child in a school setting where they were asked to read before they had been exposed to a wide vocabulary and developed a speaking vocabulary of their own. In the same way, children need to hear a wide variety of music and experiment with it before they can sing accurately, chant rhythms with precision, and eventually read and write music.
What to Expect in MusicPlay Classes
MusicPlay provides a rich music environment for children. Classes expose children to a wide repertoire of songs and chants. Many of the songs are performed without words, which helps children focus on the musical content. Teachers model simple, creative movements and encourage children to move in a sustained, continuous, and relaxed way. Props such as scarves, balls, egg shakers, and hoops are utilized to help children engage with the music and movement.
Class activities are orchestrated to create a playful environment where music becomes the toy. Children are encouraged to interact with the music in whatever way they feel most comfortable. Correct responses are not required from the children. Instead, each child's uniqueness is valued. Any vocal or physical response the child makes becomes part of the activity and a springboard for creating a music dialogue. Facilitating music interaction and building upon children's natural responses are key components of a MusicPlay class.
Depending on their own individual stage of development and temperament, some children will be active participants, while others will prefer to watch and absorb. Although a child may appear to be simply playing with or staring at the teachers-important music learning is taking place. Children are actively listening to a wide variety of music that provides the foundation for later music responses. Eventually, children begin to give random responses to the music, including their own "dances" and vocal babble. Gradually the movement responses become rhythmically accurate and the vocal explorations begin to sound more like music. As this occurs, children's music vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds and they attain the music readiness for audiation - the ability to comprehend music.
The Role of Parent or Caregiver
A parent or caregiver is required to attend and participate with each child. The primary purpose of the caregiver is to help maintain a safe environment. In addition, parents/caregivers will learn a new repertoire of songs and become familiar with how to nurture their child's music behaviors at home.
Parents/caregivers need not be musicians to enjoy what happens in class or to be of musical value to their child. MusicPlay can be a learning experience for the whole family; the most valuable gift you can give your child is to model singing and movement, as you feel comfortable. Children should never be forced to participate or do a specific movement, but should be gently guided to interact with the music in their own unique style.
Audio or video-taping of classes is encouraged and can help reinforce music learning outside of class.