Music and the Preschooler
(reprinted from my studio blog)
Between the ages of 4 years and 6 years children undergo enormous growth, and they are ready to expand and extend their musical experiences.
This age is certainly a more comfortable age to teach (and parent!) than the volatile 3 year-old. But they are also more demanding. The 5 year-old is interested in everything and immensely curious. They are not only ready for, but actively seek new challenges. They are also more able to reason and have good control over their bodies. They can walk on a line, run, stop suddenly, turn, twist, jump, hop and dance. Their fine motor control is vastly better and they can hold a pencil and write. This opens up the possibilities of a music programme enormously, and it is a great time to start group music.
At this stage many parents will want their child to start learning an instrument. Although I have and do teach young children piano, by in large they will endure this discipline but much prefer group music where they can interact with friends and enjoy games. keyboard skills can be started very successfully but should be part of a range of activities.
At my home studio I have a 2-year programme which covers the preschool and Grade 1 years. The children acquire a firm music foundation which leads to primary music lessons or piano studies.
During this course, through singing and playing glockenspiel and recorder, children learn to write what they sing/play and sing/play what they write. The course builds on Kindy Kids and the children learn through games, singing, creative activities, movement and dances. Building on their knowledge of beat and rhythm they learn about metre. They play and sing in rhythmic and melodic ensembles, learn to listen to each other and to music of different genres and learn a little about music of different countries and cultures. We use lots of props, learning through hands-on. Again I use a mixture of Kodaly, Orff and Kindermusik ideas.
As well as being a wonderful part of life, music helps to develop higher reasoning skills. 5 year-olds are very active and enjoy plenty of movement, but are also ready for writing down and then reading rhythms and pitch. This follows naturally on from their Kodaly singing and hand-signing. I help children write their own music and we look briefly at some famous composers. We even look at different genres of music such as country music and jazz. Later I can introduce some of the wonderful computer programmes for children, including programmes for writing down their music.
Parents need to take a keen interest in any course attended and follow-up enthusiastically at home. Children will be very ready to share what they learned, especially games! The variety and stimulating activities of music classes are exciting and will be happily anticipated. Children need to be encouraged and music needs to be put high up in household importance if music is to become a life-long love.