Music experiences in preschool can be used to:
- Develop children’s appreciation of music by exposing them to a wide variety of music
- Develop listening skills and auditory awareness
- Movement to music gives the children a chance to experiment, develop coordination, spatial and whole body awareness and control
- Develop understanding of musical concepts such as differentiating between loud and soft, pitch, melody and tonal quality
- Enrich language, vocabulary and the ability to communicate
- Participate in a group with other children
- Follow instructions and directions
- Develop imagination, motivation, memory and confidence
- Strengthen brain synapses
- Provide pleasure
- Improve social skills
- Improve mathematical ability
- Provide an opportunity for personal expression
- Provide a means of relaxation
Music has universal appeal
Music in the preschool environment can include playing musical instruments, movement and musical games. It’s a fun activity with universal appeal. Children can have varying language skills or English as a second language and are still be able to fully participate.
Music can be enjoyed at any time of the day – inside or outside. I like to use music as a settling activity for overexcited or overactive children as well as a non-threatening activity for quieter children. Music is good for mood – it’s an expression of how you’re feeling. Educators have the ability to use it to influence moods of the children (for example, active music to get them up and moving or slow music to calm them down).
Preschool music experiences
Language is developed through singing along to music and responding to questions: how does that music make you feel? E.g. Clown music vs. sad music.
Music can involve small or large group experiences. It can be led by the children or the educator can intentionally teach particular aspects.
Use music in the preschool environment to explore concepts such as tone, pitch and volume. These sessions can involve a music instrument, a recording or voice alone.
Alternatively, musical instruments can be used to accompany stories. They can be provided as a learning experience through children exploring sound and instrument control. We need to consider noise levels for children who are engaged in other activities.
You can teach concepts and moral lessons through the lyrics of songs and movement. You can also learn about other cultures, for example, traditional instruments, tempos and sounds.
Make your own instruments
I also like to improvise and work with the children to make our own instruments. This can support the concepts of sustainability and recycling. Making home-made instruments can allow children to explore sounds and make their own music such as hitting pots and pans, elastic bands around a tissue box, etc.
Music as a transition activity
Music is one of my favorite transition tools, keeping in mind the activity you are transitioning from and to. I also love to use music for packing away. It encourages the children to work diligently and it’s a fantastic motivation to complete it by the end of the song! I sometimes use a musical instrument as a signal for the children to be quieter/freeze (e.g. a bell).
As early childhood educators we don’t need musical ability to help children learn with and about music. There is no need to fear music time or worry about your own knowledge; the fact is that children learn through listening and playing. You can facilitate that, but the children will enjoy and benefit from the activity no matter your level of music proficiency.
Learn from children with natural musical ability or alternatively involve someone like a parent who can play an instrument. I invited a dad to share his guitar playing skills with the children. He and his daughter in the class practiced singing nursery rhymes together. This was followed by a sing-a-long, which then led to each child taking a turn to strum the guitar. It was a very positive learning experience for all.
If you would like to read about the elements that make a great preschool song, click here.