In my emails this week I have a request for help in planning a staff workshop in music as part of a training day for a series of nursery schools. It is from a woman who has qualified and taught as a high school music teacher but who is faced with a new position teaching music to very young children. She has all the expertise she needs in music-making but wonders how to apply that to children who behave vastly differently than teenagers.
The teacher buys music programs from us (Click here – Preschool Music Program 1.) and immediately finds that she is, in her words, “involving the children in exciting and constructive music lessons” because she has some proven resources to work with. She’s doing so well that her director gives her the task of engaging the other nursery staff in the joyous experience of running successful music sessions right through each of the centres from the baby rooms to the preschool rooms. She has an idea of what she wants to present in the training session and only 30 minutes with the group. This is my advice:
“I have done a lot of this work and I think you are right to teach them a selection of activities – probably three, two seated, one whole body moving in the room. That way they can feel the benefits themselves. I would intersperse the activities with small group discussions about what the children might learn. Feedback their ideas into a whiteboard display of what you think can be gained. Do this quite quickly as you will soon run out of time with only 30 minutes. This method is interactive and therefore very effective, bringing in the experience and insights of the staff rather than telling them stuff. I would have available a small handout reminding them of maybe three crucial points, e.g.
- All children are born musical – so make sure you nurture that gift, it can drop away after the first year
- We fall in love with the singer, not the song – so don’t be afraid, just sing with your children, they’ll love you for it
- Making music releases “feel-good” chemicals in the brain – so run a happy room, do music activities every day.
The thing that I have found working against me in staff training is that staff members become very attached to the idea that they only work with the babies, or the toddlers or the preschoolers. If you could manage to run two different sessions, one about music for babies and toddlers and the other about music for 3-5s you will have more success. In that way you could use the same format but have them involved in age appropriate activities. Let me know what you think, I’m happy to keep refining it. ”
The teacher was happy with my response adding this great insight:
“My experience in my short time here at the nurseries is that the age differences are really important – amazing how quickly the little ones progress between the stages!”
If you have similar experiences we’d love to hear from you. Drop a comment below and help others in the world of early childhood music. It feels great to connect with educators who are far away and yet think alike. To purchase music resources for your centre, visit our shop. I suggest you start with the first program for preschoolers aged 3-5. Click here – Preschool Music Program 1.