Music For Children


     Early is the best time to start children with an enriched musical background.

The earlier the child starts to hear and learn about music, the more enriched
and fulfilling the child's experience of music is going to be. This is even more
beneficial for talented children. A child cannot receive the full benefit of
music and will not learn as much or at all without the first three stages of
preparatory audiation. With this in mind, I will now show you how to guide
children through these stages. First of all, we need to look at resources. For
this particular situation, I will have two helpers, two rooms in which to work
(one is furnished with cribs, the other is mostly open space with a carpet).

Also, I will have a good sound system in both rooms (that includes a tape player
and compact disc player), and some money (available to buy recordings and
equipment). Next is the age range of the children. The first stage is

Absorption. One of the most difficult things to do when guiding children through
these stages is to know when the right time is to move them to the next stage.

This often requires much patience. The reason that you need so much patience is
because all children move through the different stages of preparatory audiation
at different times. The times when children move are as different as their
handwriting. In the Absorption stage, children are "absorbing" music.

But, not all music is appropriate. Most of the music that should be played is
live music. It should also be played in different keyalities, tonalities,
harmonies, meters, and tempos. When playing such diverse groups of music it is
also important to not play music with words. Why you ask? Because if you play
music with words, the children seem to focus their attention more on the words
than the music itself. Out of the two rooms that we have, I would use the one
room, which has the cribs in it for the children in the absorption stage. This
would be more appropriate for children in the absorption stage than for children
in any other stage because the children in the absorption stage are the
youngest. I am going to give names to my two helpers so that we can easily tell
the difference between the two. The one helper that is going to be helping me
with the children in the absorption stage is named Mary. The other helper, which
will help me with the two other stages (random response and purposeful
response), is named Peter. Mary would be playing live music for the children.

Live music and/or any kind of music that you play for children must be pleasing
to the ear. It is also important that children hear a wide variety of
instruments so they are introduced to a variety of pitches and timbres. Another
thing is that children's attention spans are very short. This means that it is
best to play only short sections of music or music with frequent shifts in
dynamics, timbre, and tempo. This encourages children to continually redirect
their attention to the music. Once you think a child is ready to go through the
absorption stage, than you can go onto the next stage, which is random response.

But, before a child can go through absorption you must make sure the child is
really ready to go to the next stage. One thing you do not want to do is to rush
a child through each stage. They must be emotionally ready. Even if it seems
like they are mentally or physically ready, you must wait if necessary. I would
practice the beginning order of step two to find out if they are ready. If they
are ready, they will start doing things in step two since step one and two
overlap one another. The way I would be able to tell if they changed is by
looking at the different things they do during this stage. In the second stage
children begin to make babble sounds and movements. These are not coordinated
with each other or with aspects in the environment and should not even be
interpreted as an attempt by children to imitate what they are listening to or
seeing, or as a conscious response to what they have listened to or seen. Adults
guiding children at this stage need to understand that at this age children
simply have the need to babble. Another activity that happens during stage two
is group interaction. It is important in this stage that children have this
because children learn much about music as a result of listening to and
observing other children of similar ages as they attempt to sing chant and move.

One of the purposes of stage two of preparatory audiation is to continue
children's exposure to music so that they will be better acculturated to the
sound of more complex music than in stage one. Even another thing that happens
during this stage is random movement that is mostly associated with subjective
tonality and subjective meter. Although they make these movements, they should
not be expected to imitate anything. Only the natural sounds and random
movements that children voluntarily engage in should be encouraged. Children are
still encouraged to listen to music as in stage one. Except what is more
valuable for them now is to make much body movement in accordance to different
songs. I would start (being the teacher) to sing and chant to them. At the same
time I would be making full use of my body. I would move my body to the beat of
the song or chant. That way the more children have this kind of movement modeled
for them, the more they will begin to experiment with movement themselves. As in
stage one, only short songs and chants in as many tonalities and meters as
possible should be sung and chanted to children, and again, these should be
performed without words or instrumental accompaniment of any kind. Since we have
some money to use for equipment, I might buy some small instruments like a
xylophone, wooden blocks, and an instrument that makes a shaking noise of some
sort. Then, after we bought the instruments, I would chant something to them and
then repeat the chant, but instead of going through the whole chant like I did
the first time, I would repeat parts of the chant and ask somebody if they
wanted to play an instrument. When I found three children that wanted to play
the three instruments, I would show these children how to do each different part
of the instrument. We would play the chant and the instruments separately, then
together using simple syllables like "bah" or "bum". The
thing that I feel very strongly about is not expecting much from the children.

We would try to sing the song and play the instruments, but at the same time I
would pay special attention to singing the song in the same keyality, tonality,
meter, and tempo. I wouldn't be really strict about playing the right notes or
playing the right tempo. Just having the children experience different things
like that would be enough. Although it might not look like the child would be
learning anything, they actually would. Every little bit of musical experience a
child gets helps to exercise and tone the audiational skills a child has. To
help me stay in the same meter and tempo, I would buy a metronome. At the second
stage of Acculturation, consideration should be given not only to children's
tonal aptitude, but also to their rhythm aptitude. In addition to being
concerned with tonal and rhythm aptitudes, parents and teachers performing for
children should pay greater attention to musical expression and phrasing. A
lasting impression can be made on a child's musical sensitivity through
performance of chants. As in stage one of preparatory audiation, unstructured
informal guidance is the rule in stage two of preparatory audiation. We don't
really know when children merge from stage to stage. One thing we do know is
that children typically enter stage three, which is purposeful response, between
the ages of eighteen months to three years old, as soon as they begin to make
purposeful responses in relation to their environment. In this stage children
should still continue to listen to songs and chants with out words, because
listening to songs and chants with out words is no less important and maybe even
more important in stage three than in stages one and two. It is also important
that children with high tonal and/or rhythm developmental aptitudes, be
encouraged to begin, but in their own initiative, to create their own songs and
chants. Also in this stage children start to sing and/or chant with the parent
and/or teacher, but the teacher does not expect accuracy. In order to guide a
child from stage two to stage three, you should sing a song or chant, and if
they respond to you with the same response, it's called purposeful response.

Another way you can tell when a child is in stage three is if they start to
participate in the singing of tonal patterns and the chanting of rhythm
patterns. It is best to keep tonal and rhythm patters separate during structured
informal guidance for children in this stage. Adults should not perform tonal
patterns immediately after rhythm patterns or other way around, but instead
should perform one or more songs and/or chants between the tonal and rhythm
patterns. When children begin to sing tonal patterns in stage three, they
typically sing at the same time that the parent or teacher is singing. But,
adults should not expect children to be capable or even interested in imitating
tonal patterns with any degree of accuracy. When, however, children in this
stage spontaneously sing the same thing as the adult is singing, that is a
signal that the child is ready to make the transition into stage four. In order
for children to give meaning to the tonal patterns they are hearing, they need
to establish syntax. They begin to do this as they gain familiarity with a
variety of tonalities. Only tonal patterns in major and harmonic minor
tonalities that move diatonically (by scale-wise steps) should be sung to
children in this stage. In the classroom, have the children audiate different
tonal and rhythm patterns. When doing different rhythm patterns use your arms
and legs and move with the music and try to get them to do it with you.