Music is very important in the life of young children. Parents sing lullabies to their young children and play children’s CDs. At home and in the car, parents play recorded music for themselves to enjoy. Music is all around young children and us. Early childhood is a prime time for learning about music in children and encouraging their natural inclination to sing, move and play with sound.
Why does music not receive deeper attention in early childhood education? Teachers may not recognize the full value and potential of providing for children’s musical development and may not understand the many ways musical involvement can enhance development and learning in other areas. They may believe that musical development is important only for a small number of highly talented children. They may be intimidated by the specialized expertise of music educators or inhibited by their own lack of knowledge about music education or a perceived lack of musicianship.
Though many early childhood educators may not consider themselves musicians or music educators, they generally do feel comfortable with the medium of play. When offered a variety of drums and strikers, children play with sound. By exploring and “messing around,” they discover they can make one sound by striking one drum and a different sound by striking another. Their drum play is supported because adults expect and allow for the “noise.” When young children hear music, they move to it. Supportive adults share their joy and delight in their fun, also listening and moving in response to the music. Once children learn to sing, they create their own melodies and invent their own words to familiar songs. Their song play is supported when adults demonstrate authentic interest, interact with children through song, and engage in their own playful song making. When early childhood teachers recognize the playful nature of children’s musical activity, music education may look more like familiar territory. Young children engage in music as an exploratory activity, one that is interactive, social, creative, and joyful.
For kids to engage in music through play, it makes sense to offer musical activities during free time. Most preschool programs offer insufficient opportunities for exploring and experimenting with musical sounds. Many of the musical play ideas described in preschool curriculum guides are highly teacher-directed and controlled, with narrowly defined expectations and possibilities. The musical experiences offered in early childhood programs can constrain musical creativity because there are too much teacher control and monitoring; children cannot make their own choices about what to do.
When kids have a wealthy musical environment along with appropriate adult guidance, they can learn, for example, to imitate and, with increasing precision, tell apart among rhythm and tone patterns. Musical and artistic activity is especially developing such qualities as creativity, emotionality, gross motor skills, and imagination. It is one of the most natural types of activity in children. It helps the toddler to learn about the world and himself, to expand and deepen the possibility of orientation and successful action in different environments.
Early childhood it’s characterized by rapid physical, mental and social development of diverse skills and behavior. At an early age, emotions predominate over all aspects of a child’s life, playing a leading role in all activities of a child. Emotional manifestations – expressive cries and movements (facial expressions, gestures, pantomime) – are signals that allow a child to feel what is happening around him and to show his feelings and experience. In early childhood, musical activities are one of the natural and accessible “tools” for children to express their thoughts, feelings, and desires. Musical development is as important as mastering basic life skills such as walking and speech, logical, mathematic, linguistic, kinesthetic development of toddlers. In early childhood, music plays contributes to the development of thinking, activation of visual perception, attention and short-term memory. The process of creating – singing, dancing, drawing, thinking up fairy tales – gives children a sense of freedom and joy, a sense of pleasure in their creative activity. It is particularly important that early musical development allows us to create a situation of emotional comfort, helps us to create a positive and harmonious attitude of the child.
Source: Music Play, Creating Centers for Musical Play and Exploration, Kristen M. Kemple, Jacqueline J. Batey, Lynn C. Hartle
Musical Development in Early Childhood by Evgenia Volchegorskaya, Olga Nogina