The buzz…

Music. Feel it all over.

By Kate Dodds - Mini Maestros Kew & Balwyn Franchisee

To quote Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke,

Music is a world within itself,
t’s a language we all understand,
With an equal opportunity for all to sing,
Dance and clap their hands.
You can feel it all over,
You can feel it all over people.

All over!

When we think of ‘music’ we probably think about songs, or tunes, and that music just involves our ears or HEARING.

But, ‘music’ involves the other senses as well.

For many, ‘music’ means the actual playing of an instrument or singing, a physical activity involving TOUCH or doing.

However, music can conjure up or help us SEE many images. In fact in class, I often play a piece of music and ask my students to be still and imagine they can see the raindrops or storm or even the rainbow. Or can they see the ducks quacking or bees buzzing? We might then explore what instruments we could use to recreate these elements ourselves, often with great hilarity as there will always be that one child who says, quite convincingly, that the big drum is the rainbow, simply because they want to play the drum.

For me, when I hear a certain jazz track I can TASTE my mother’s chocolate cake as she would often play jazz whilst baking. I experience the same with SMELL. Music can transport me back to a certain moment and that often includes the smells associated with it, such as the salty air of the beach. In fact, music and smell are said to be the first things we experience and the last things to leave us.

Our whole bodies, all over, are being involved when we’re surrounded by music. It can take us to another place and time. The memories….. The ‘feels’…..

Australian conductor, Richard Gill (AO), says, “Music education does not just make children more musical; it unleashes their creative powers.”

One of my favourite creative Mini Maestros activities is 'Five Little Ducks'. You know the one, where they go out one by one until none are left and the sad mother has to go out, and then triumphantly they all return.

This activity is explored through each year of our program. We start simply by using finger puppets – drawing the babies attention to each finger/duck as it hides away. The next year we cut out the ducks and play the game of them hiding them behind our backs. The next year all five little ducks are hidden under a scarf, finding number one duck from left to right, then number two duck and so on. After each duck has hidden away, we ask the children who should go and find them. Mother duck? Grandad duck? The next year we act out the story with the children being the little ducks, hiding behind their carer or indeed being the big duck to call the little ones back. Many of my students have delighted in the opportunity to use a different voice for the big duck. Just the other day we had sister duck whose voice was so quiet that the children decided, "That’s why the ducks didn’t return. We needed to use our loud forte voice". I’ve also had children so involved with the story that their raw emotions come out, but all is restored once the ducks are home with mum. They have ‘felt’ it all over.

I can remember taking my older daughter to Mini Maestros for the first time. She was around 8 months old, crawling everywhere and pulling herself up on furniture. As soon as we sat down in class, her head immediately turned to listen to the teacher’s voice, she was transfixed. Within just a few short weeks, she was responding to the peekaboo scarf, knowing when to pull it down. She soon stopped shaking her instrument when the music stopped and was engaged with finger puppets and props, and in time, learnt to pack her instruments or props away at the end of the activity. The whole child was being nurtured without me even being consciously aware of it. Listening, watching, creating and exploring. And I thought that we’d simply have a bit of fun with some other babies and their carers. Ha! How wrong was I? It was and is, so very much more.

Over the next few years, and with my younger daughter too, they found the beat in their feet; the rhythm in the words with their hands; they waved ribbons and scarves; they danced as a group and solo; they explored; they improvised; they discovered a new language with the musical terms piano, forte, lento and presto and use them appropriately; they could pick high and low sounds with bumble bee and then play it on their chime bars; they learnt how to count the number of sounds and find that number in their books; they told stories with their cut out props to music; they experienced music as it crosses all cultures, languages and ages; and they learned to love, feel and appreciate music and all that it has to offer; with all of their bodies, all over. I too had been nurtured along with them, to want to share with them, and others, what music has to offer.

Now here I am some 18 years later, and a teacher for over 12 years, teaching this wonderful program. I feel blessed to be able to share and nurture so many whilst the whole child is being developed. By encouraging their speech development and listening skills, their confidence and social skills, their imaginative and physical skills, whilst having fun, through play, using their whole bodies. Helping them to indeed Feel it all over!

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