Music is an integral part of life for most people on the planet. In North America, wherever we go there's music. Television, radio, advertising piped in music in the mall, music when we're holding for someone to come to the phone - it's everywhere.
Music is a part of life for young children as well. Most little ones enjoy music and respond to it instinctively in a positive way. Even infants, when they hear music will bob up and down in their parents' arms. Children love to make sounds and music with almost anything. They turn a toilet paper roll into the horn and chopsticks become drum sticks.
Making Music Part of Childcare
There are a good many ways to make music part of the daily routines in a childcare center. Tasks associated with young children can be times when songs are used to reinforce ideas. Lullabies have long been used to help babies sleep and a gentle song can soothe a distressed child. There are special songs that serve as ritual songs - songs of greeting, songs for cleanup, and songs for saying goodbye.
Songs and music can be built into the daily routine in a daycare without any trouble at all, and they open the door for communication because they involve several children at once. Singing songs and saying rhymes are useful tools in building conversation in children as well. For very young children, singing about a task is important as it is for children from non-English speaking backgrounds because it provides a model of language that is appropriate for what they are doing at that moment.
Older children benefit from the experience of using music as a transition tool. When they move from one play center to another or from one experience to another, they have the chance to coordinate the music with movement. Learning is enhanced as children learn about the world they live in through play - exploring the actions and sounds through the instruments they use. Pots and pans, the table or floor are all instruments for learning.
Music For Education
The repetition of a song helps a child to build memory, listening and vocabulary skills.
Group singing enhances social skills while dance improves coordination and helps develop the large muscles.
Learning new and creative dance steps or letting the children perform their own dance encourages creative thinking and independence.
Creating different sounds by putting more or fewer beans in a can, or small or larger elastics around an open cardboard box and listening to the different sounds teach children to explore cause and effect (science and logical thinking).
More than anything else, music is portable. You can sing along the walk to the park, in the car, while washing up for meals, or standing in line at the zoo.
Music Centre Materials
The equipment needed for a music centre can be as simple as homemade items such as (let the children create their own):
cymbals made from pot lids or pie tins
drums made from coffee cans with plastic lids, ice cream buckets, plastic or metal containers
drum sticks such as wooden spoons, doweling of different sizes, paint stirs, broom handles, etc.
sand blocks created out from blocks of wood and sand paper
tambourines fashioned out of pie tins with bottle caps or paper plates with bells attached
maracas made from yogurt containers filled with gravel, beans, rice, or
sand or rhythm sticks using broom handles, different size doweling or wooden spoons.
Instruments such as guitars, flutes, recorders, etc. tape recorders, children's music tapes and song books can be purchased second hand to help cut down the costs, but should be part of the music centre.