Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Did you know that singing body related pitch games can help children sing in tune? Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate body awareness and pitch games into your next Musical Play session.
Babies are born musical. You may notice it in how babies respond to, begin to anticipate, and sing, matching notes of the ascending five notes of the C major scale when their parents sing, “Up, up, up, up, up” as they lift them up, and the descending five notes of the scale as they bring them back down, while singing “Down, down, down, down, down” – as I said, babies are born musical.
To develop a baby's musicality and their ability to sing in tune, it is beneficial to incorporate body awareness and pitch games into their Musical Play – here is how we change and utilise body awareness and pitch games in our Musical Play classes to meet the development of the children:
From birth, a beautiful pitch massage song can be sung using deep pressure touch as the parent sings the following on each of the ascending five notes of the major scale:
Feet, feet, feet, feet Knees, knees, knees, knees Tummy, tummy, tummy, tummy Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders, shoulders Head, head, head, head Feet (Slide voice down to the first note and repeat the song if the baby is still watching, listening and engaging).
This song is regularly sung in our Musical Play classes – as the children get older, we then develop it as a scale and percussion song as the children stamp their feet and pat their knees, tummy, shoulders and head in time to the words above.
Once the children are familiar with the five-note song that is sung in the young child’s pitch range (usually around the notes Middle C to A) and the children are singing in tune, we then start to sing up and down the octave/eight notes middle C to high C, which are the notes found in the box of chime bars.
We then progress to the song “Playing with Numbers” (Track 8 on Julie Wylie’s CD “Magical Musical Play”). This echo song helps children to listen and sing the echoes: 1 1 1, 1 2 1, 1 2 3, 3 2 1 – Feet are number one, knees are number two etc.
This photo taken in a class on Tuesday, shows how children are watching, listening, copying the actions and learning the notes in relation to their bodies.
On Tuesday we sang the song very slowly without the CD recording. However, when we did sing the song with CD backing, one of the children, Audrey (who is very musical), asked if we could sing it more slowly again, so that she could “practise”, learn and follow the actions.
Many recordings of children’s songs are too fast, have too many words, and are often not within the young child’s pitch range. These are important considerations when playing music to young children. Often recordings of children’s songs are not pitched at the young child’s emotional level and are more suited to older children.
Audrey wants to be able to master the singing and the actions. I reassured her that we will sing the song slowly and lots of times, until everybody feels confident – and only then, will we do it again with the recording. We then played the same song using chime bars, singing and playing up and down the C major scale.
When children are able to sing and play in time, this develops their musicality, creativity and self-confidence. This is evident in the beautiful photo of Jake below, as well as in his mother, Jen’s, comments.
“I thought I’d share this with you after reading the latest newsletter. I just love the look of delight on Jake’s face at the sound and feel of the guitar. He asked his Uncle Brent if he could have a go at playing.
“I’m loving how Jake carries the musicality from Julie’s lessons into his life. And I particularly like the range of beautiful instruments the children are introduced to.”
This is a lovely example of how Musical Play empowers children, by opening up an imaginative, magical world of endless musical possibilities.
- Originally published by Julie Wylie, 2 May 2018