When I started receiving ideas for teaching early childhood music, I called them “my little children who do not talk back to me”. They came to me and I wrote them down and I shared them with my pre-school students. Over the years, they have continued to come, and I have developed the ideas in different forms and taught them to children and adults. These have led up to a music reading readiness method which transitions seamlessly into reading traditional Western music notation.
I love these little ideas.
They are precious to me.
About eight years ago, they let me know that they wanted to play with more little children. I had been putting them into little music reading readiness kits and books, so I began going to music and educational conventions and to craft fairs with a booth for everyone to try them out. The booth was always very busy and everyone loved learning about the ideas and materials and how to use them.
But is didn’t get out into the public in the way that I felt the ideas asked to. So when I began learning the computer, I learned how to recreate all the materials digitally and learned how to start a website and a blog. Now they are being prepared for release that way, in an unlimited way, a way in which everyone will have access to them and they can go play with other children.
They are sweet and precious and they introduce a vocabulary of innocence to even the very youngest children who are given them.
The songs, chants and fingerplays which very young children learn are with them forever. So it is important for them to grow up with the feeling that “I am a Beautiful Child”, that they are a “Precious Baby Girl and Boy”, to learn about “Thanksgiving Gratitude” all year long, and to know about the “Gifts in My Family” and to truly realize they are the gift and how to share their gifts. It is a very different orientation from the way we are all raised in Western society. But it is a true and universal fact, that we all are gifts to our world-wide family.
So these little songs help remind us about our true value and relationship to one another. Because they are sung and chanted, the melodies and rhythms reach many different facets of the very young child.
The additional part of the method, the music reading readiness kits with musical symbols and musical vocabulary are a way of preparing a very young child to read music. Large and small symbol cards allow a very young child to create original musical compositions, even before s/he can write. Reading and playing the patterns in the Musical Pattern Books expands the very young child’s visual and motor capacity. Following the patterns from left-to-right trains the eyes in a Western reading direction.
Correlating a symbol for a sound connects symbols and sounds. The child moves through a vocabulary of several different simple rhythm instruments, but learns actual music vocabulary. Since it can be used with any musical instrument, it is a valuable foundation. The child connects many smaller things, instruments, to a few universal things, beginning music vocabulary.
Once the child’s curiosity and love of exploration are engaged and related to learning music, s/he is prepared for the more detailed aspects of reading notation. The same type of exploration is designed into all the steps which lead up to reading fluently. Drawing on the curiosity and variety in the young child’s nature, many opportunities are given for composing, and everything is introduced in a musical structure which allows for variety and reassurance as new challenges are introduced.
Supported by the parents at home, this time of intimacy and comfort builds trust and harmony and creates a special bond, a time which allows the parent and child to progress in understanding and playing with the music books and cards.
As the child becomes more independent and receives continual feedback from the parents who are involved in each step of the music reading path, the child realizes that playing music is a way to communicate, a way to share feelings and ideas.
S/he gains a complex skill, with lots of variety to make the repetition bearable, and shares, shares, shares, rather than being isolated to perfect his/her skill.
Ultimately, while learning the layers of the musical arrangements, the child begins to make music with friends and family, since the parent is involved through all the steps. Parents, as adults, find that they, too, can enjoy music making with their children and with other families who are participating.
Thus, they create a bond through music making while many other factors are separating and isolating families.
Thank you for making music with me today and sharing your musical ideas with other people. You are a wonderful musician (and parent).
aka “Kacky Muse”
“I have a musical mind, musical indeed.”
© 2013 Kathryn Hardage