How We Run Music Sessions for Children with High Anxiety | Musical Play

Updated: May 24

Here is the outline of a Musical Play session – specifically for Junior School children who experience high anxiety.

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How we Run Music Sessions for Children with High Anxiety | Musical Play

Calming listening games

Pitch play: Today we started with sitting in a circle passing around a set of chime bars – singing and playing 3 and 4 note chime bar echo songs. Children played me their pattern and I had to copy singing their played pattern. One boy used a harmony pattern playing two notes together and we sang the notes together in harmony.

Rhythmic patterning: This was followed by echo rhythmic patterns. The drum was passed around to each child and I had to copy each pattern. Their patterning is increasingly rhythmical with use of steady beat and interesting patterns. The children are reflecting on how I copied with comments such as “I played more softly than you did”. They beam with delight when I mirror exactly how they played.

High Arousal

Acting out a storm: We had a violent electrical storm right in the middle of the music session. The children were encouraged to look out of the windows to listen, see and later to collect a large hail stone each when the storm that had passed. The storm was re-enacted using drums in a circle and will be acted out next week using drums and whole body movement.

Turn taking through use of C major scale using large chime bars:

The octave was explored with each child holding their chime bar note, waiting for their turn to play up and down the scale. This involves listening, watching, waiting, and knowing how loud to play their note. They were really involved, watching and playing the notes in the scale sequence up and down the octave.

Pitch understanding through whole body exploration and creativity: Three hoops were placed on the floor for each child in the line to jump a simple tune. One girl started on first hoop and jumped to number three hoop. She jumped in her number three as we sang her tune 1 3 3 3 3 2 2 3 2 1. Another girl shyly walked up 1 2 3, then slowly turned around and walked back down to number one as we sang the accompanying 1 2 3 pause 3 2 1.


We used the parachute to lift it up, up, up, up, up, and down, down down, down, down to the first five notes of the C major scale.

Coming back to a calming, regulating activity

We finished with the same book I have been singing each week: “Two Little Pirates”. The meaning of unfamiliar words like “booty”were discussed and the example was given of collecting their hail stone treasure. When a girl asked the meaning of “fond” the whole group beamed with pride when we said we were very fond of the whole class.

We finished with lining up and going back to class song.

The musical learning outcomes

Children are anticipating, listening, turn taking, helping and working together as a music community. Their singing has become tuneful, expressive and beautiful. Their use of rhythmic patterning is becoming increasingly more complex. They are all showing such pride in their composing and creativity. We are hearing comments such as “I love singing” and “ I really like music”.