Five things we do in our early years music classes
We're sometimes asked what makes our baby and toddler music classes different to others? Here are five things we do together in every session of our early years music groups.
At Greenwich Music School, our approach is practical and aspirational. We combine three important influences: the latest research into childhood development and creativity, our experience working with young children and parents and carers, and our experience teaching older children and young people which shows us how musical skill and understanding develops at later stages.
1. We move!
Children love to move to music! Movement and action songs are a fantastic way to develop skills in rhythm and pulse, and to help children develop the motor skills and body awareness they’ll use when they pick up an instrument for the first time!
When we’re having fun finding our ears and our toes for a song, tapping our knees, bouncing up and down, or marching to music, the children are hard at work developing these important musical skills.
2. We play instruments.
We use age-appropriate instruments that the children can control successfully to add to their music-making. We also include free time in each session for the children to explore the instruments freely and enjoy making sounds. Using these, they’ll be developing the motor skills and coordination to make music with traditional instruments when they are a little older.
3. We explore opposites.
Music is full of opposites, loud/soft, high/low, fast/slow. We’ll be exploring these in every session, repeating and varying songs to explore different speeds, volumes and pitch. Every song will be exploring some aspect of music – a mouse climbing up a clock to explore pitch, a tortoise and a hare racing to explore speed, and much more – and we also explore these opposites through different voice sounds, movement and dancing!
4. We sing together!
The singing voice is everyone’s natural instrument, and children love to sing! Children start to really explore their singing voice at around two years of age, but they are picking up and learning songs long before this. Making animal sounds, whoops, and silly voices are all part of this, as children learn to use their voices to express themselves and make music.
We sing lots of songs, from traditional nursery rhymes, to new songs you might not have heard before, and songs we make up ourselves! Some of the songs we use are drawn from the Kodaly method of teaching music. These are very easy to sing, and use a small range of notes that are best-suited to small children’s developing voices. They are also easily adapted, with new words or actions, so we can see the children express themselves through their own improvised songs!
Sometimes songs are accompanied by live instruments played by the tutor, by simple accompaniments everyone plays together percussion, or simply by actions, clapping or tapping our knees. We keep accompaniment simple though, and tend to avoid backing tracks, so children primarily hear music sung and played by real people, giving them the confidence to join in with their own voices as soon as they can!
5. We feel the beat.
Pulse (or the beat), is a vital part of all music, and feeling the pulse is an essential skill for all musicians. Children love to feel it – you can see this when they bounce up and down to music very early on! To help our littlest children join in and develop their sense of pulse you can tap them gently on their arms or legs, rock them to the beat, or tap gently on the soles of their feet in response to the music. Later on they’ll be clapping their hands and marching in time and playing the beat on percussion themselves!
Ages and stages
Greenwich Music School classes support meaningful development for each child - we plan each session as part of a curriculum informed by the latest academic studies and understanding of childhood and musical development.
The team of friendly tutors are passionate about helping young children and parents develop and grow their relationships with music.
We love to see how parents are amazed at how much their child can learn!