Musical “Notes” September 13, 2014 Sacramento Play Summit “Easy Recipes for Making Music Part of Your Day”
“The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music; they should be taught to love it instead.” (Igor Stravinsky, Russian composer, 1964)
Why is music important?
Music is one of the few activities that stimulates both sides of the brain. The right brain focuses on the melody while the left hemisphere is responsible for understanding musical structure and motor skills.
Both listening and performance provide benefits. While research has dismissed the benefits of the Mozart effect as increasing the IQ, listening to music does relieve stress, boost creativity and abstract thinking, and have positive influence on energy levels and heart rhythm.
Musical activities like dancing, playing an instrument, and singing demonstrate long-term benefits in memory, language and cognitive development, concentration, and physical agility.
Music is an important component of “neuro-plasticity”, the heart of creativity. The four activities that promote neuro-plasticity are play, music, exercise, and “numinous” activity, our sense of self linked beyond us. (View Karl Paulnack’s keynote address to the Texas Music Educators’ conference in 2013.)
Putting your musical interest first:
What is your passion for music? Do you love to listen? To dance? To play? To sing?
What are your musical assets? Do you play an instrument? (Kazoo? drum? harmonica? ukulele?) Read music? Dance? Sing? Yodel? Enjoy the ballet or symphony?
Educators are allowed great flexibility with the music used for teaching. Though much of copyright royalty issues remain in a gray area, educators have been singled out as safe from restrictions.
How can you translate your musical passion into an activity for children?
Tips for sharing music with children:
1) Provide opportunities for children to utilize their natural curiosity to explore music on their own with instruments, particularly with those they make themselves.
2) Don’t be shy about using “cheat sheets” with lyrics, or put them on a chalk or dry-erase board for children to read along.
3) Look for great kids’ songs on recordings of Raffi, Malvina Reynolds, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Tom Paxton, Peter/Paul/and Mary, Sharon/Lois/and Bram.
4) Encourage children to sing better, not louder. Shouting can damage voices. Have children match vocal tones from xylophones or other instruments.
5) Minimize clapping. Don’t let it drown out the melody line from voices or musical instruments. Use clapping for special effect. Use it to teach rhythm or to accent a song.
6) Try to sing in a key that is natural for young children—the octave beginning with middle C is generally a good choice.
7) Keep electronics to a minimum. Gimmicky computer programs are interesting but often do little to enhance understanding or contribute to an enthusiasm for music participation.
8) Mix it up! Use different: instruments, genres of songs, keys, volume, movement, venue, props…
9) Make up new words to familiar tunes (piggyback songs).
10) Keep it fun for you and it will be fun for them!
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