Intergenerational Music Class
Intergenerational Music classes have become the “buzz” at the moment. And it’s for good reason too. Research has shown how the elderly’s well-being declines and that for a lot of residents in Aged Care facility there is a good portion of people who rarely receive visitors.
Since conducting Intergenerational music class from February we adapted the classes to ensure that both the children and the elderly are receiving equal value from the music class experience. Because music education is paramount for children’s developing brains, motors skills and social skills. But equally important music plays a very important role in memory, well-being and encouraging being social for the elderly.
Here are the top factors to ensure the intergenerational music class is successful and beneficial for everyone involved.
The type of music is important.
When developing a music class for children songs that encourage finger play and hand movement are fantastic. At Rhythm Rumble we encourage the children to explore keeping a beat, tempo changes by tapping on tambourines and shaking instruments. As well as teaching children how to use their voices with various methods such as the “invisible whistle” or parachute play.
In regards to music for the elderly we use music from their teenager and 20’s to help them register feelings and memories from their past. Music such as Que Sera sera, Doris Day has been a massive hit. This type of therapy is referred to music from their reminiscent bump and there is strong research that shows how music from this era of our lives has stronger memory recollection.
How to encourage connection
Just because people have a shared reason for attending your intergenerational music class doesn’t mean there will be instant magic in the room. Some people are naturally more reserved and shy when confronted with a room of strangers and some children are also shy and reserved. Over the time Rhythm Rumble has developed games that encourage the children and parents to walk around the room and talk to the residents. Such as encouraging the children to pack away the instruments and playing a musical card game.
Floor Plan Magic
Make the space work for you. Residents are not always mobile, so before the class starts position chairs in a circle. This also acts as a grid for the children not to venture out of! I always ask the parents to sit on the floor to complete a full circle. By doing this the children will be more inclined to participate because Mummy or Daddy are going to play as well.
Music Teacher is paramount.
The Music Teacher is key to having a successful class, they act as the facilitator and moves around the room learning everyones name. A great music teacher can command the attention from their students by using their voice and understanding the limitations of their music class participants so to introduce games and activities that will encourage participation. They should also have a strong musical understanding as be able to turn every experience into a learning experience.
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Happy Music Making Lola
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
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.
- 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.