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I find myself continually writing in this blog about how Kindermusik develops the whole child (here, here and here, just to name a few). But as I sat in my daughter’s Kindmusik for the Young Child class this week, I realized that Kindermusik actually teaches music, too. Fancy that!
The first-year Young Child students have recently acquired their glockenspiels and have been diligently studying two-note patterns. They even have a variety of musical poems to recite as they work through the idea that the low notes are on the left of the glockenspiel (where the bars are long) and the high notes are on the right (where the bars are short).
Second year Young Child students build on this concept as they continue to add more notes and experiment with the lengthening and shortening of strings on a dulcimer.
Ah! But it doesn’t stop there!
I first became interested in Kindermusik as I listened to my sister-in-law describe this very concept. With my background as a secondary school educator, my lifelong interest in music, and having just had my second child, I knew that music instruction was important, but that I couldn’t possibly dream of having my particular preschooler sit at the piano and work with me to learn the notes. (I know some kids are capable of doing this, but none of mine have been—or, maybe better, I haven’t been able to do this with them.) Therefore, I was elated when she described the idea of using age appropriate activities to teach these concepts.
One of my favorite Kindermusik songs for babies is “Zoom-e-oh!” You may notice with your little one that when you sing “Up in the sky!” the notes are higher, while “Down to our toes” we sing at a lower pitch. You may dance to this song, lifting your baby up and down through the room, or you may use a scarf to play with, swishing it high and low. Though the concepts are simple, this is where our babies can begin to distinguish high and low notes—in an environment filled with love and nurturing.
As our children grow and become toddlers, they continue to learn through movement. You may notice that if a child who is just learning to talk says “up” or “down,” he or she also demonstrates the movement somehow—pointing, or even moving his or her whole body. In our Kindermusik toddler classes, you’ll see that we use simple poems and songs to tie the musical concept of high and low sounds with imaginative play, language development and movement. For instance, “Can you stretch like a cloud in the sky? Stretch big and tall, stretch up high!” Or, in another one of my favorite Kindermusik songs, you may “Walk along, Rover” or “Crawl along, Rover,” which has the added benefit of encouraging kids to explore opposite movements.
Once children become preschoolers, their locomotor skills have drastically improved. Therefore, they can become much more sophisticated in their imaginative play—hopping, skipping or galloping. This allows us to go for a hike in the mountains and fly like birds or hop around on the ground like bunnies. Additionally, children this age explore a greater variety of musical instruments, so that they learn about the different timbre of each one and see that there are some that make higher sounds (like bells) and some that make lower sounds (like drums).
At the Kindermusik by Song of the Heart studio, however, musical learning doesn’t stop with a child’s graduation from Kindermusik. With the Suzuki Singers class, children can learn to match pitches with their voice, and in Simply Music Piano or ukulele classes, kids develop skills to produce a variety of pitches on a couple of different instruments that may appeal to them.
And, yes, I suppose I could make a case for applying musical concepts of high and low sounds to something philosophical, like helping kids understand the highs and lows of life. But, sometimes just learning the music is great, too!