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
Weather is always a topic of conversation where I’m from. Melbourne. If you haven’t heard or familiar with Melbourne it is renown for having Four seasons in One day. So in the spirit of changing seasons, here are my 3 top weather songs for babies and children.
The first song is fantastic in that it explores different timbres the tambourine makes. And just as important it is developing childrens fine motor skills
Song: Fun in the rain
(to the tune of “Three Blind Mice”)
Rain, rain, rain (tickle fingers on the tambourine to emulate rain sound)
Rain, rain, rain
Dribble, dribble, sploosh! (Tickle fingers and for (splosh) tap tambourine)
Dribble, dribble, sploosh!
Grab your boots, your coat, and hat, (tap the beat to the music with open hand)
Jump in a puddle and go kersplat!
Stomp about and become a drowned rat,
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain.
My second fav song is using a parachute, which can be used for babies all the way to kinder aged children. The song starts out calmly which you can lift the parachute up and down. Then when the “Thunder and rain” verse starts the children can shake the parachute a little more vigourously. Musically it demonstrates to children how to express themselves in non verbal ways and the different dynamics and expressions music contains.
Song: Come Under My Umbrella
(tune of The More We Get Together)
Come under my umbrella, umbrella, umbrella
Come under my umbrella, it’s starting to storm
There’s thunder and lightning and wind and rain
Come under my umbrella it’s starting to storm
Lastly a beautiful Autumn song, which encourages children to slow down, while they work together watching our felt leaves pulse up and down on the parachute.
Song: Autumn Leaves
Instrument: autumn leaves made of felt & parachute
(To the melody of ring a ring a rosie)
Autumn winds begin to blow
Coloured leaves fall fast and slow
Twirling whirling all around
Till at last they touch the ground
I hope they have inspired you to include these songs in your music classes for children. They are a hoot and has a mountain of musical learning.
Happy Music Making
The latest music lesson plan on the Rhythm Rumble list is called “Friends”. I have been toying with the idea for a while but couldn’t put together the idea of how to write a lesson plan without the usual well known friends songs
Such as, “Whats your name”song or Hello song. At Rhythm Rumble we already sing Hello and have just written a beautiful Good Bye song (which i will share here). They definitely have their place but didn’t want to do something every other music class is doing.
Then it came to me, making music is essentially working together to make attractive sounds. What if the lesson is all about working together. A big feat for 2-5 year olds
We are trialling it this week, and have had some amazing reviews from the teachers so far. Here is a glimpse of our favourite songs.
I love an echo song, and this one is so much fun.
Flee Fly Flo song lyrics (ECHO SONG)
Flea Fly Mosquito!
Oh no no no no Mosquito!
Get that big bad bug with the bug spray!
PSSSSSSSSSSH (spray can sound)
The more we get together
The more we get together together together
The more we get together the happier we’ll be
Because your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends
The happier we’ll be
Repeat with the suggestions below:
The more we tap together
The more we shake together
The more we scratch together
The more we tap and rest together
Beethoven-Symhony No.5 C minor op 67
The idea for this activity is for the children to hear the famous motif at the beginning of the piece and with their instruments tap or shake the rhythm of the motif.
In the remaining time of the piece the children should sit with their hands behind their backs or on their heads
This is aimed at 5 year olds, although I had a class with 3 & 4 year olds and worked just fine, you just need to fill the “inbetween: time with controlled movement. For example I used rhythm sticks and while we waited for the motif to return, I moved my sticks high and low depending on the dynamics of the music and the children followed.
These activites work in a musical sense of developing their auditory skills, singing together and in tune as well as following directions
I have included how this link to the EYLF
- EYLF Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing – Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.
- EYLF Outcome 4. Children are confident and involved learner
Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.
develop an ability to mirror, repeat and practice the actions of others, either immediately or later
- ELYF Outcome 5. Children are effective communicators
- Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purposes
- NQS: Areas 1.1 An approved learning framework informs the development of a curriculum that enhances each child’s learning and development.
- NQS: Area 3.2 The environment is inclusive, promotes competence, independent exploration and
So far I’ve been loving this lesson, hope you enjoy some of these songs too
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
Currently 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
Currently I have 3 music teachers working at Rhythm Rumble, interestingly we are naturally reserved, quiet people who have chosen to conduct music classes in a very public forum.
At Rhythm Rumble our classes mostly entail us to visit Childcare centres and conduct a class between 20-40 minutes with children aged between 6 months to 5 years. Each age group offers their fair share of challenges as well as benefits. And as the main face of Rhythm Rumble I hear all of the feedback about my teachers, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Recently we attended a training day and the theme was “Good Teacher versus Great Teacher.” The Rhythm Rumble teachers are passionate, talented women but sometimes we lack the ability to be Great.
Firstly what does a great teacher look like? My version of a great teacher may differ from someone else, but I think what we could all agree on is the ethos of a great teacher is someone who is able to inspire. Rhythm Rumble’s vision is “To inspire children to live music everyday” and we needed as a group to develop different parts of our character and technique to become inspirational to our students.
what we learnt on this training day was invaluable to becoming Great teachers and also reflective on how we conduct ourselves in and out of Rhythm Rumble.
This is what we came up with:
Good Teacher Qualities
- Aware fo Childrens Needs
Great Teacher Qualities
- Teach through play
- Be creative with sustaining engagement
- Problem solving and improvising
- Set boundaries and be respectful and earn respect
- Be encouraging and kind
- Know that difficult behaviour is not personal
- Give children achievable goals to encourage self esteem
- Provide positive reinforcement
- Have the ability to meet Childrens needs
- Change your style with different age group and different group.
We have a lot to work towards, and are extremely committed. But sometimes bringing these points to the surface of our consciousness is half the battle. As well as being self reflective and assessing ourselves and being open to feedback.
So far all 4 of us are openly assessing ourselves to improve. Onwards and Upwards