Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kindermusik Educator Wendy Jones shared a few thoughts with me and I wanted to pass them to you. I feel they are very important. Thank you for your commitment to making music with me! In a Kindermusik class, it involves body, mind and soul.

Too many people think of music as something that needs to be provided for them, and the whole point of Kindermusik is to help children AND families realize that music is something which everyone can make and that doesn't require all sorts of special instruments and professional, "already made" music. Beat-keeping and instrumental ensemble play to a recorded sound source is only one of the ways music happens. Music should be coming from the children to prepare them for the next step, when they are ready to sing whole songs on pitch, read rhythms and notes, and play both percussion and melodic instruments. A child who sings only with a recording is not relying on their own internal pitch sense, and the same child singing unaccompanied with their peers is developing a much better sense of listening to the group to match pitch, tempo, and style. Movements need to be labelled, discussed, and explored to develop competency and range before adding them into dances--otherwise, a child tends to stick with a much smaller range of expressive movements when moving to a recording. Most importantly, the child who is constantly given the message that 'real music' is the recorded type is receiving a very powerful message about the worth of his or her own musicality, which WILL affect their later willingness to create and develop as musicians. Rhymes ARE music training- how else can we later understand the rhythmic patterns we read? Singing IS music training- we need to produce pitch ourselves in order to hear and feel its motion. Movement IS musical- all musical concepts can be explored through body movement, and a child needs concrete experience and labels to understand abstract musical concepts.

Lastly, in this age of children's videos, CDs, and computer games, we need to send a strong message to the children we reach that YOU CAN DO THIS, and that what you are doing is the 'real thing', not just a makeshift version or 'make-do' in the absence of something. It has broken my heart a few times in classes over the years to see puzzled looks on the faces of a few 3-4's as we sang, played instruments with our singing, and then heard them say, "but when will the music start?" or "when will you turn on the tape so we can make music?" We ARE the music.

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