Looking at the world today, it is very interesting to see how different kinds of technological advancements are happening. It has been satisfying every individual’s unlimited needs and wants and has also changed one’s standard of living. Because of these happenings, life has become very much easier, and somewhat more difficult too. Because we live in a time where there is a “stew bowl” of people coming from different generations that are moving forward in life together, in some way it is difficult to meet the needs of one without compromising the other. This leads to the importance of having to create a new system everywhere in every aspect, even a new set of methods and approaches in the world of education, more so, music education.
Like how the systems have improved and changed with the advancements in technology, approaches in teaching has also become quite flexible and has changed over time as the needs of this generation are also changing and becoming more demanding. Debates are happening between the traditional and modern educators, discussions are being done around the globe as to whether which method works best for all, but only one thing is sure that is effective: a student-centered kind of learning. Nowadays, it is impossible to use one method for all students as multiple intelligences in children are more evident. It is a must that educators are capable of integrating different approaches and methods in teaching and acquire high emotional quotient above all to keep a student-centered environment and understand what each student needs.
According to studies and statistics, many schools around the globe are already excluding music classes in their curriculum for many see it as unimportant. Many people would ask what makes music education very significant in one’s life, specifically in small children. As an advocate of music education, I say this should not be. There are so many reasons to answer why learning music is of great importance, especially for young children. The easiest way to stimulate a small child’s brain is through music. It is said that music greatly helps in better brain development, and as an experienced music educator, I have seen how young learners are able to remember words, habits, and others easily through music. Aside from brain stimulation, music teaches children discipline and patience as they learn a song or play an instrument. They become patient not only towards other people but also with themselves. These are few of the values instilled in a child at a young age that will greatly help them as they grow.
On the other hand, music is also therapy. Music connects one child of special ability to another child of another ability. This is therapy because there is no other better healing power than to be able to connect with another person despite differences and gain a friend, which is very important for young children. There are no barriers in music for it embraces differences and turns them into strengths. It also relieves stress, especially in young learners. Moreover, music teaches respect – towards other people, towards things, towards self. Social skills will also be refined as they will be encouraged to move around, interact, and engage in different activities and curiosity in learning even outside a four-cornered room will continue to push through as they discover things they have already known by themselves.
What Music Exploration Has To Offer
Music exploration is a special kind of music class that incorporates movements, music, and values.
This is the best way to prepare young children from ages 3 to 4-year old for formal and/or one-to-one instrument mentoring. With the use of different teaching methods (Kodaly, Dalcroze, Orff) and discovery approach, this class had been proven effective to develop values and musicianship skills in very young learners. In this class, the child will be able to practice the elements of music using their natural instrument- which is their own bodies, play and hear how each musical instrument sound like (pitched and non-pitched), develop aural and rhythmic skills and overall musicianship by experiencing music for themselves in an unexpectedly fun way.
Having in mind that there are multiple intelligences and that every child is different, we as music educators strive our best to understand what kind of approach each student needs. It is also our goal to know how to manage the classroom that will not interrupt learning but reinforce a better environment in a way that will neither short-change music education nor do-away from flexible teaching above all. As the saying goes, “experience before concepts”, our goal is for the children to have a wonderful musical experience that they are unaware they are learning.
Music exploration is not a typical one-to-one formal lesson and it is also not the kind of music class that uses a straightforward traditional teaching approach that discourages movements. In this class, movement is very much used and encouraged because this is the easiest and simplest way to instill learning in very young children. On the other hand, while movement is greatly encouraged, children will also learn that there is a time to move and a time to behave and settle down. It is also our advocacy as music educators to make music-learning fun. The children will absolutely enjoy and have a memorable musical experience in class without them being fully aware that they have already developed musicianship skills. Their cognitive, psychomotor, and affective skills will also improve overtime as well unknowingly which will turn into values to be valued as they grow.
Music Exploration teachers are unique educators who received proper, formal training in teaching methods, approaches, and music education. Well-equipped and trained to forward advocacy to make music fun and transform lives, we are dedicated to deliver a student-centered learning style and make young children love and enjoy music. What you pay for in this class is what you get, and they are values and skills in one combined.
How It Goes
Music Exploration class have different parts that are sequential and fitting for 30-minute session.
Since this class handles children of very young age, presence of movement is of great importance.
- Opening Activity – This is an activity where the singing of opening song or hello song happens. This is to warm up the child for the class as well. The child will get to hear and sing songs that are both new and familiar to him.
- Dance and Movement – After the singing of opening song(s), dancing comes in next. These are action songs that includes clapping, tapping, stomping, walking, passing around an abject, and others that are enjoyable for the children. Here, the purpose of dancing and movement is not only to wake them up and make them energetic but also to establish beat and rhythm. Only the parts of the body are being used. This part of the lesson will also be used in determining pitch (highness or lowness of sound) as they progress after every session. Movement is very important for them to be able to see the difference of high and low, and what they hear should go together with what they see.
- Rhythm Instruments – Some of the rhythm (non-pitched) instruments used in this part of the class are drums, tambourine, castanets, shakers, and wooden sticks, to name a few. The child will be able touch and play with these instruments. Eventually as the child progresses, these rhythm instruments will also be used in determining dynamics (loudness of softness of sound) and other elements of music that can be experienced through percussion instruments. Rhythm syllables will also be introduced in this part. Instead of saying the actual name of the notes, we use rhythm syllables (ta, ti-ti, ta-a, ta-a-a, etc) for young children to be able to remember the value of each note. The actual name of the notes (crotchet, quaver, minim, semibreve, etc) will only be mentioned several sessions after.
- Pitched Instruments – The instruments that the child will be able to experience are handbells, desk bells, and xylophone to name a few. The student will be able to learn to play a song through usage of colors before anything else because this is the easiest way for them to learn how to play, remember, and enjoy at the same time. The piano also plays a part in the pitched instruments. There is piano time and instrument petting within the lesson proper as well.
- Story Time – In music exploration, story-telling is being sung -not read- and the child will be engaged in story-telling. This part of the lesson is executed usually only if the student is very young.
- Closing Activity – The singing of pack away song is during this part of the lesson. The child will help the teacher clean up and pack away all the instruments used. The singing of goodbye song is also in this part of the lesson.
Parents are being updated about their child’s progress every after the lesson and are given a copy of the practice songs used during that day. This is for the parents to be aware of the activities done in the room and for them to know how to help their child practice and keep up the progress. The lesson flow and sequence may vary from one child to the other, from one session to the other, and from one teacher to the other, but our goals as music educators are to develop in children musicianship skills, give them a wonderful musical experience and make them independent learners as they progress. Different elements of music are being presented through experience, not concepts.
Frequently Asked Questions
“How long does it take before my child can go into one-to-one lessons?”
- It takes an estimate of 6-8 months session before the child can be ready for one-to-one. However, one child is different from the other. If the child’s progress pacing is quite fast, teachers can integrate music exploration class and individual one-to-one mentoring in a 30-minute lesson.
“Where can we get a copy of the practice songs?”
- Teachers will provide a copy of the practice songs after class every session. If instruments are unavailable at home, it is good to practice using colors that are shown in the song copies. Colored stickers will help as well, and singing each song using colors in tune will also be effective.
“Where can we buy the instruments used in Music Exploration class?”
- Instruments are available in music stores and online. However, we encourage the parents to consult with the teacher before deciding to purchase, as there are colored bells and xylophones that do not match with the pitch names and sound.
“Can I sit in during the lesson?”
- Parents are allowed to sit in during lesson time, especially when the child is young and/or extremely shy. However, after a few sessions and the child is already comfortable in doing activities, we encourage the parents to slowly transition the child in going inside the studio by himself to instill independence.
“Are there group classes?”
- There are group classes for students who are siblings and friends with the same timings. Playgroups are also offered for children who are below 3 years of age.
“Can parents participate in classes?”
- Parents can participate in Music Exploration classes, most especially the playgroup classes for children below 3 years of age. Teachers usually let the parents engage in activities if their child is extremely shy to also give the child assurance that he is in a safe and trusting environment. However, as the sessions progress and the child is already capable of responding and participating, we already encourage a one-to-one session to establish independence.
“Are there any performances if I enroll my child in this class?”
- Like recitals for instruments, there are also performances for children enrolled under Music Exploration program. They will get to perform on different instruments (both pitched and non-pitched) sing, and dance. The preparation for this event is the same as an instrument recital preparation. There will be a program to be prepared, and the children will get to dress up too.