How synchronised Musical Play can help your child to play in a band, orchestra, sing in a choir and be a performer.
We use call and response improvised songs a lot in our Musical Play classes. These songs are highly repetitive, thus promoting tuneful singing and steady beat. We sing using the minor blues scale and each musical phrase is four beats in duration followed by the four beat echo. Parents become very skilled at singing the echoes and the children start tunefully singing along too.
The call and response songs provide a natural Invitation to everyone to respond with the echo. When children start playing and patting in time, we leave out the singing so that the children feel and hear their percussive steady beat play. It is within these melodic pauses that children have opportunity and time to contribute their sung responses or echoes .
It is vital to watch, wait and listen to the children’s musical responses. When we copy them, they respond and take pride in their musical offerings.
The children’s responses provide valuable observations of their acquisition of tonal or rhythmic patterning skills.
With everyone sitting in a circle with each child and parent together, I stand in the middle of the circle and sing the bluesy song: “Roll that ball, roll that ball” (echo) as I roll it to each child and they roll it back to me. Very quickly the ball play develops a group sense of anticipation and timing. The parents gain confidence in singing together and there is a collective pride as the ball gets passed back and forth around the circle in perfect synchrony.
The ball play also shows the children who move and play with a natural rhythmic whole body response, tuneful singing and musicality. They are the children who are waiting on cue with outstretched arms ready to catch the ball and pass it back to me in perfect time.
Today after several repetitions of the song, Ashton stood up for his turn and started rhythmic bouncing and patting the ball. Two other children came and joined him, all patting in synchrony, while everyone kept singing and patting the beat on their knees. These children had changed the rules of the game by becoming music performers, leading everyone in their steady beat performance. Such Musical Play helps children to play in time with others, to watch, listen, anticipate and follow the musical form of the song.
Often these are the children who will go on to play in a band, orchestra, sing in a choir, learn to accompany musically and to be a proud performer.
Through this kind of call and response rhythmic play, they develop all the music skills they will require to learn a musical instrument of their choice. This is what Musical Play is all about! It is intuitive, joyful, the steady beat structuring the moment – it is not about teaching, it is about having fun moving, singing, playing together and developing skills in using the elements of music in everyday life.