With spring in the air, our preschoolers have experienced several different musical experiences in their music class. Naturally, it is always a bit of a challenge having a variety of children in a group, stemming from age differences, character, and the time they´ve been immersed within the English language. Therefore, musical selections must be carefully chosen. Generally speaking, we use songs that have repetitive phrases, and foster rhythmic development.
Since the younger children tend to have less English and coordination, listening and movement is often a better option for this group. Keeping the beat through marching, clapping or jumping children feel the basic pulse that should be felt in music. This awareness led to teach basic choreography to Here Comes Peter Cottontail, a classic American song written by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins in 1949. The warm up phase included listening and hopping to the song. It then progressed into more detail showing what the words mean through movement. We take quite a bit of time discussing what the song means through movement and pictures in my class.
Older students have the advantage that they are ready to create simple compositions using specific ideas that come from songs or chants. For example, after doing the song Spring Song to an already familiar melody of Heute kann es regnen, I prompted the students to decide which elements in the song we could create long or short sounds for. They chose rain, a plant growing, and splashing water. I listened to the student’s suggestions and eventually we compiled our ideas and graphically notated what each element would sound like. We sequenced our composition and chose instruments based on short and long sounds. While teaching preschoolers, I am continually reminded to be present and have enough flexibility to use their ideas within my planning. This provides them with a sense of ownership, which helps children develop an interest in music because their ideas and thoughts matter.
(Cynthia Zentner, Preschool Teacher at SIS Regensburg)