Release Your Inner (Singing) Voice

During my time at Rhythm Rumble I have spoken to a lot of adults about their lack of musical talent. It usually is expressed after they have been watching me conduct a music class and with a tinge of insecurity announce “I can’t sing, I don’t have a musical bone in my body!” But I am here to challenge that statement.

The early learning sector is quite knowledgable and passionate about musical education and there is an expectation that Educators incorporate music in their rooms everyday and what I’ve heard from educators is that they aren’t comfortable singing to the children especially if there are other adults around.

It is definitely a cultural challenge, as some cultures have music and dance so embedded in their culture that it is second nature to sing. I recall a moment I was waiting for a meeting and there was a young African woman holding her baby and she was singing to the baby in soft melodic voice. The child was calm and nestled into the mothers neck. It struck me that she wasn’t concerned about me, the stranger that was sitting near by and could hear her. I find the Australian culture doesn’t encourage this openness with singing, it is revered for those with special talents and not for the “common” person.

I also recall when I was a child and singing the National Anthem in the school assembly, I use to belt it out and was loving life when a friend mentioned I was making to much of a “big deal” about enjoying it. It subconsciously squashed the notion that I could sing, and went through the rest of my life singing in the car alone and never in public!

When we refer to parents singing to their children it is insinuated to be in your home as a lullaby, or to help them brush their teeth, not as a general way of life. So I completely empathise when Educators and parents comment after class that they aren’t musical and they can’t sing.

But the truth is we all have a voice and our hearts all beat a rhythm, we just have to pay attention and listen to it. I obviously had to get over the hurdle of singing in public when I started Rhythm Rumble because you can’t teach music to preschooler’s if you don’t sing!

I started with simple songs with a small range, like so many nursery rhymes that you already know. I recorded myself so I could listen back and make sure it was in tune and over time my confidence grew and so did my repertoire. I have a few song ideas here

Fast forward 7 years and I was at the hospital with my 11 year old for a broken finger and my 20 month old who after 4 hours had had enough of hanging out in hospital. In order to settle him I started to sing Inanay (if you aren’t familiar with the song please listen to it here.) Anyway, it worked he relaxed and settled in his pram. The following day my daughter and I returned to the hospital for further treatment, this time I didn’t bring my baby! As my daughter was receiving her treatment the therapist recognised me and said ” oh you were here yesterday with a baby, we all heard you singing and we thought what a lucky baby!” I was certainly taken aback but I’m glad I wasn’t fearful anymore about singing in public because he is a lucky baby.

Can I tell you a secret? The truth is children don’t care if you’re not an amazing singer, they only ever respond if they feel the love. So sing them songs, especially songs from your culture or childhood that have a special place in your heart because that is what will make the most impact.

Happy Music Making

Lola


Rhythm Rumble’s Intergenerational music class

I have a 19 month old, who is a cutie patootie and is now at the age when you begin wanting to start activities with them. So in an effort to scratch my own itch , we have started Intergenerational music classes at BlueCross Aged Care, Melbourne conveniently located 3 min drive from my home!

But seriously I was so super excited about the baby music class it will be bringing generations together and connecting people thought music, which is the absolute equaliser.

Haven’t you noticed when you go to a wedding and you know about a 1/4 of the people (if you’re lucky!) and as soon as the band opens up the dance floor, everyone is up and dancing regardless of age, gender, strangers and family all connected by the music.

The requirements of this particular Rhythm Rumble baby and toddler music class was is was multi aged and needed to be super interactive for adults and children.

I rock up with little Z and there are already elderly ladies sitting in the chairs that had been arranged in a circle, some mums on the floor with their children. The age ranged from 8 month to 3 years old. Mr Z thought he was running the show and paraded around the circle smiling to the ladies. My heart was already pumped with joy.

My very talented teacher Virginia did an amazing job, catering to the needs of the children first by singing a nursery rhyme using a puppet and effortlessly moving into a shaking song with egg shakers. The children who could walk, loved the idea of handing out the instrument’s to a “friend” and helping pack away again.

But what I loved the most was the little moments in-between the songs and activities when one old lady, Joyce told me with tears in her eye she has twin great granddaughters up in Queensland. She hasn’t met them yet, only seen photos and this experience has made her feel nostalgic. Another resident had pure joy in her voice when she claimed ” I haven’t seen so many babies in one room in almost forever”

To say I had a wonderful time would be an understatement, the residents and parents made this music class so special, that I cant wait for Fridays.

Happy Music Making

Lola

To find out more about Rhythm Rumble’s classes please visit. https://www.rhythmrumble.com.au/


New Year, New Lesson Plan

Summer holidays are almost at an end, I’m actually writing this while its 44 degrees outside, so I am definitely looking forward to Summer ceasing. Bring back the cool wintery winds!

What this also means is Schools back and at Rhythm Rumble H.Q. I am revising our lessons for the year ahead. We don’t repeat the same lessons every year as it can get tiresome to teach and also tiresome to hear the same songs over and over again for our Educators. Also new trends happen (Anyone heard of Baby Shark??) and new inspirations occur and if we are trying to inspire children to live music everyday, maybe we should be living that mantra and be inspired ourselves. a music program for toddlers and babies needs to be innovative to maintain interest.

The first lesson for the year for our 2-5 year olds is based on the Food theme. There is so many awesome, funny songs based on food, just look at a The Wiggles album and you’ll see food themed songs in abundance. But what I am really looking at with our lesson plans is what musical focus are we teaching?

Taking into consideration that it is the first lesson of the year I take it back to basics and teach the easiest of musical comprehension. Loud and soft or as we like to say here at Rhythm Rumble Forte or Piano. Children already understand this concept – usually opting for the loud option, so during our music classes it can be fun to explore loud and soft and watch them over exaggerate each dynamic.

Here are some of the songs that we are teaching in our Food theme

POP

You put the oil in the pot and you let it get hot 

You put the popcorn in and you start to grin. 

Sizzle, sizzle Sizzle, sizzle Sizzle, sizzle Sizzle, sizzle Sizzle, sizzle Sizzle, sizzle POP! 

We start the poem in a crouched position and sing softly, knees bent, hands on the floor. When we start to “sizzle” we s-l-o-w-l-y rise and increase dynamics until the final POP! when we jump up in the air.

Five Gat Sausages

Instrument: Tambourine

While singing the song, we can shake a tambourine and on the word (BANG) bang the tambourine

Five fat sausages sizzling in a pan

All of a sudden one went BANG!( bang an instrument)

Four fat sausages sizzling in a pan

All of sudden one went BANG

3 fat sausages sizzling in a pan

All of a sudden one went BANG!

2 fat sausages sizzling in a pan 

All of a sudden one went BANG!

One fat sausage sizzling in a pan

All of a sudden one went BANG

Banana Song – Stomp

Peel bananas, peel peel bananas

Peel bananas, peel peel bananas

Chop bananas, chop chop bananas

Chop bananas, chop chop bananas

Mash bananas, mash mash bananas

Mash bananas, mash mash bananas

Stir bananas, stir stir bananas

Stir bananas, stir stir bananas

Shake bananas, shake shake bananas

Shake bananas, shake shake bananas

Eat bananas, eat eat bananas

Eat bananas, eat eat bananas and

GO BANANAS, GO GO BANANAS – Sing loudly

GO BANANAS, GO GO BANANAS

Looking forward to starting the year and meeting our little students in 2019

Happy music making

Lola



How to teach Kinder children Call & Response

I truly feel joy and pride today after teaching music to a kinder class to sing in a call and response technique.  Normally the children watch and imitate me, so when I sing they sing, and when I don’t sing, there is crickets.

The complexity of call and response for  a group of 4-5 year olds is a skill we have been working towards all year.  An easier option to expose children to would be an Echo song, where they repeat everything you sing.  This is particularly great for toddler music classes, but by the age of Kindergarteners I have seen incredible skills at understanding and actioning the “Call & response” technique.

We always start the year with learning how to play and rest.   Children in this age group of 3-5 years old love to make sounds and are not necessarily concerning themselves with making a coherent  sequence of sounds.  So at Rhythm Rumble we always start with games geared at encouraging children to “rest” or stop

Over the course of the year we start developing their understanding of the different elements that make music, such as tempo, dynamics, keeping a beat, singing in tune and understanding musical form.  We do this by actively engaging children in various musical games and activities geared towards their developmental capacity.

And it all comes down to this collaboration at the end of the year.

The song we chose this year is called Shoo Lie Loo and it is a very simple song

The teacher sings the call, for example: “Just from the kitchen” and the children respond with ” Shoo Lie Loo” . But to make it more interesting they also have to shake an egg shaker while singing Shoo Lie Loo and then rest while the teacher sings their part.

As usual with this age group repetition is important and we have been learning this song for 5 weeks now, and today it worked a treat.  The children sang their response on time, in tune and shook their egg shakers in unison.

Super proud of my group, and by all accounts all the Rhythm Rumble teachers are feeling like its been a great way to end the year.

Happy Music Making

Lola

 


Music Appreciation

shutterstock_128158010Currently during our RHYTHM RUMBLE music class we are using the theme of Jungle to create our musical learning focus.  The theme is a great one for imitating animals and an easy subject matter for young children to connect with.

We have been working all year on developing Childrens understanding of tempo, timbre,  dynamics, and pitch so as the end of the year is nearing, our lessons are a culmination of all these elements. Our main learning outcome is music appreciation and understanding the differences in tempo, dynamics, and intervals.

Music appreciation looks deeper into the logistics of music making and takes a step further,  such as emotional comprehension and how to interpret the sounds with your body and heart.

During this particular lesson we are using 3 pieces to create this understanding

Carnival of the Animals: V Elephants – Camille Saint-Saëns.listen here

Using a scarf it is always best to tell a story for the children to ignite their imagination.

Prior to handing out our scarves I play about 30 secs of the music and ask the children to listen very carefully.  Then I asked them if it a slow song or fast?  Loud or soft?  I always paint a picture with words of a jungle with a big elephant and his trunk.  Lets use the scarf as a trunk.  Can you show me how you would walk like an elephant? and then I replay the music.  This activity works only if there is an opposing piece of music to compare their body movement to which is Ma mère l’oye, for piano, 4 hands (or orchestra), M. 60 – Ravel   

listen here

In stark contrast to moving like an elephant, the next piece of music is more serene and flowing.  Again I create a story of a snake slithering through the long grass.  The children listen to the music and change the way they interpret the music and move their body in line with what they hear.  It is truly magical being a part of the creative process of Children.

Carnival of the Animals: IX Cuckoo in the heart of the woods – Camille Saint-Saëns listen here

has a very distinct motif flowing through the piece.  This activity is aimed at our Kinders.  They sit in a circle and every time they hear the motif they tap their knees and sing the cuckoo sound.  We are working on listening and tapping for a few weeks, and then working up to walking around the room as a cuckoo bird and pausing to sing the motif “cuckoo” sound.  So far it has been working brilliantly as the children sing the interval in perfect pitch and are so in the moment while listening for the cuckoo sound.  I guess this could also be used a a mindfulness activity for the strength it has in keeping the children in the present moment has been astounding to me while I witness it.

Teaching young children how to interpret different kinds of music leads to a greater understanding of creativity. Moving in different ways eg. stomping and slithering like a snake has wonderful affects on their motors skills and creates a greater appreciation and understanding of music.

EYLF Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators – Children engage in a range of texts and gain meaning from these texts.

EYLF Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity – Children feel safe secure and supported.

 

Happy music making

Lola


Kids calming down exercises

During Rhythm Rumble’s music classes they can get pretty hyped up.  Depending on the group you are teaching I have worked out different techniques and stratiegie’s to calm down the class before we leave.

Nothing worse than having a preschool music program come into your childcare that leaves the children hyped up and energised and difficult to transition into the next activity.

So in the interest of Educators and the children I have devised several calming down activities that are simple and effective.

I “inherited” a class that 2 previous teachers were having difficulty handling, so I knew I had my work cut out for me.  There were some very dominant personalities in the class and also very intelligent so boredom was definitely an issue.

During the class there was much chatter going on while I was introducing the next activity and I thought how am I going to get their attention.

So I sang “Eyes on Lola” in a fairly high pitch but not loud.  Some of the children stopped and looked at me.  I consider 75% of the class is paying attention so I continued and said When I sing “Eyes on Lola” you can respond back with “Eyes on Us” and you have to look at my eyes and I will look at all of your eyes.

So we did it again, I sang “Eyes on Lola”‘ and they responded with “Eyes on Us”

Now every time the chitter chatter becomes too much I sing this simple tune and they automatically respond their part.

Criss Cross Applesauce

I have adapted this from a yoga video I saw, and since I know nothing of yoga I thought I would sing a song along with the pose.  This works especially well after a very energetic activity and transitions the children into a different state of calm.

Cross your legs
Ask the children to find their heart
then ask them to rub their tummy
Stretching left arm over body and alternating the right hand over body move
your body move in a swaying motion while singing
“Criss Cross Applesauce” repeatedly (5-6 times)
then in a soft voice say
“Everyone find your heart and take a big breathe in
now breathe out and rub your tummy”
repeat if there is still a lot of movement from the children.
Tapping

This strategy takes patience and trust.  If the children are not paying attention, instead of speaking louder or removing children from the group try this.

Sitting very still start tapping your knees.  There will always be a few children watching you.  Once they start copying you, change the body part for example start tapping your head, and keep changing once you have everybody’s attention.  Then you can give your instruction in a calm voice.  It is most effective if you DO NOT speak while doing the tapping.

Hope these exercises help in managing your preschool class.

Happy music making

Lola


How to teach babies, toddlers and Kinder to sing in tune

Music class

A group of 3-4 year olds during a Rhythm Rumble music class

 

You know when you hear your favourite song on the radio and you pump up the volume and you sing along and you think to yourself  “Man, I killed it” and think your the next Beyonce.   But when you try to sing it again without the music as backup you realise how terrible you actually sound.  Well, this is exactly what happens when a teacher does all the singing in a music class.  The children “hide” behind the teachers voice and are not hearing their own voice in their head and can not alter it to sing in tune.  The result is they sing flat.  Which is such a shame because research that babies are born with perfect pitch.

During my training and experience working with toddlers, teaching children to sing is trickier than you can imagine.  The key is to have the children sing back to you without adult interference.  Ha! I hear you say, every time you stop singing, they stop.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your music class.

  1.  Repetition is the key

During Rhythm Rumble classes we don’t overkill the repetition, except for simple action songs and the hello song.  What I have noticed is when children have heard the same song over and over again they start to join in the music making.  Over the course of a few months the music teacher can start encouraging the children to sing while the teacher does the actions. Hence eliminating the teachers voice and letting the children hear themselves.

2.  Slide whistle or props 

I have started a new game at the beginning of our music classes and the kids absolutely love it.  I have a slide whistle and all the children have to hold their pretend slide whistle which they can control with their hand by going up and down.  I make a sound with the whistle and the children have to imitate the sound using their voices.  This is a great voice warm up and has the children use their vocal chords like they never had.

I have seen other music teachers hold “pretend microphone” and go around the room have children sing into the microphone as well.

3.  Solfege singing

Solfege singing is when your hand hold certain positions when singing different pitches.  If you aren’t schooled in the solfege hand movements thats OK.  At Rhythm Rumble we use the entire body for pitch recognition and have the children play a copy cat game.  The teacher sings a combination of notes while touching different parts of the body ie. feet (Do) Knees (Re) and the children copy and sing the notes.  The children always get really involved in these sorts of activities.

4.  Baby music classes

At our baby music class, teaching singing is done differently.  Instead of the child singing, the teacher or primary care does all the singing.  Singing to baby and making eye contact has shown to have so many neurological benefits that the maternal health nurse needs to have “singing” on her check list along with tummy time and reading to baby.  The big lesson here is sing, sing, sing.  I remember when my daughter was a baby the only song that would get her to sleep was “The way we were” by Barbara Striesand.  I’m not necessarily comparing myself to Barbara, but, um the proof is in the pudding wouldn’t you say! She did go to sleep from my singing.

Anyway, another way to have babies recognise different pitches is to imitate their sound making, such as aaahhs and goo and watch the babies delight in their communicating.

Music is suppose to be fun and joyful, so please don’t take yourself too seriously when you sing with children, they are never judging you!  They are just happy you’re singing with them.

 

Enjoy, Lola