Sharing Music with Two-Year-Olds
By Kitti Pecka, Head Teacher
Music is an integral part of our curriculum in the Two’s. Just as parents select specific music when they are expecting a baby and then adapt their music choices to the child as she grows, Bing’s teachers respond to each year’s special group of children. A music curriculum that evolves with children individually and collectively, led by teachers who bring their own backgrounds, creates a music environment unique to each group.
Sharing our music curriculum with the whole family happens in a number of ways. A songbook that includes the lyrics to all songs sung in the autumn quarter goes home for the winter break. Parents often participate in our story times at the end of each school day, which are social and musical occasions.
Over the past academic year, parents shared their love of music with their respective afternoon Two’s classes. For example, parent Tina Smith often played piano to accompany story time. Music time, which comes right after snack, is another wonderful opportunity for parents to share a musical experience with their child, singing and dancing with all their friends and teachers. We enjoyed the contributions of the parents who joined us this year, including Dede and Greg Engel, Eric Free, Debra Piscione and Dawn Bercow. Sharing this special experience with their children deepens their musical connection.
Music time is not only for singing and dancing, but also for playing instruments. During the week before spring break, tambourines became a part of the curriculum in the afternoon Two’s. The cross lateral motions (across the midline of the body) used to play this instrument are a physical challenge for the children. Large motor activities such as this are essential for left and right brain integration. Parents Guillermina Castellanos and Zeenat Khan sang Here comes Uncle Jesse while playing tambourines, and when they sang The Bear Went Over the Mountain they used the sounds of the tambourine to represent the bear. The children, parents and teachers joined in and danced to an instrumental disco song using tambourines. The upper body movements and footwork added to the difficulty of the activity.
Music contributes to children’s development in many ways. The structure and organization of music, including its melody, rhythm and dynamics, form complex
auditory stimuli. This complexity creates neural networks in the brain that are especially effective for establishing memory, auditory skill and recognizing culturally relevant songs and melodies.
Whole body involvement is attractive to preschoolers and further reinforces auditory, kinesthetic and visual skills. Since we are working together as a group, social learning is also involved. Musical activities also create a shared culture in the classroom.
Using instruments in new physical patterns with unusual rhythms keep children coming back for more. All types of learners are attracted to the challenges of music because it offers opportunities for both auditory and kinesthetic learners. When visual stimuli, such as felt pieces or books, are added, visual learners are included as well.
Music is indeed a valuable part of the curriculum.