An Exclusive Sneak Peek: Professional Development Evening | Musical Play

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

As part of the Musical Play programme at James Street Pre School, Julie Wylie gave an interactive training Professional Development evening for teachers. Here is an exclusive sneak peek.

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Professional Development Evening | Musical Play

Why Does Music Work?


Music is an intuitive universal language of the emotions. Babies respond to music from birth, especially the singing voice of the mother. Interactive Musical Play helps to establish strong loving relationships. Music can be used effectively to calm and regulate the brain. When the lower brain is calm and regulated, this has a flow on effect allowing learning to take place in the upper brain.


How Does Music Work?


Rhythm stirs our body and we see this in the way young children bounce, or move in time to steady beat. Tonality or melody (tune) stirs our brains.


According to Levitin the coming together of rhythm and melody bridges the very primitive lower brain (the motor control part of our brain: the cerebellum) and the cerebral cortex (the upper most evolved part of our brain).


A single note can immediately arouse the upper brain. When we use songs within the child’s pitch range (middle C-A) and sing pitch songs in relation to the body (feet, knees, tummy, shoulders, head as we sing up the scale C D E F G) our brains are interested and aroused. When we sing back down the scale to middle C, we move from high arousal to calm. Teachers should sing with the children and sing with enthusiasm.


What Should We Include in Every Music Session?


Remember to start with calming activities, then arouse, and then back to calm.


Include the elements of music, such as rhythm, melody, dynamics, (loud and soft), harmony and form. Form is a clear beginning, middle and end through songs, nursery rhymes, stories, chants, and using repetition.


It is incredibly important to use repetition.

It is okay to sing 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star' or songs like 'The Wheels of the Bus' in every session until every child knows and does the actions of the song. This song can be done with a rainbow ring, parachute, following the actions, or singing the song with the accompanying illustrated picture book. It can be sung in the sandpit, at the dough table – absolutely anywhere.


Explore weight, time, space and energy through dance and action songs.


Use changing tempo and rhythms, and match the energy levels of the children through song and Musical Play. Don’t be afraid to use objects, such as poi, ribbon sticks, organza, or scarves.


Include lots of body percussion activities, clapping, patting and stamping.
rock-a-bye blues, Julie Wylie CD music for children babies toddlers

Use your singing voices as much as possible, and tune yourself in through use of tuned instrument, like chime bars or beautiful tuned instruments – Every Educaid have a great selection.



End the session with calming activities, for example 'Baby Massage' or 'Sula Lula' on Julie Wylie’s CD 'ROCK-A-BYE-BLUES.'


What Is the Purpose of Group Music?


  • Establish regulated, relationship-based Musical Play, musicality, well-being, communication, exploration and a sense of community

  • Develop self esteem

  • Match mood and emotions

  • Develop listening, fine/gross motor and cognitive skills

  • Bring about changes in mood, relationship and attention

  • Develop tuneful singing and rhythmic playing

  • Develop non-verbal and verbal communication

  • Develop understanding of order, predictability, routines and musical form (clear beginning middle and end)

  • Honour and follow the child’s offerings

  • Incorporate songs/dances/games from other cultures

  • Weave together all strands of learning


How Can We Use Music in Every Facet of Our Programme with Children of All Ages?


  • Sing questions and step by step instructions for daily routines

  • Sing about what children are doing

  • Practise daily routines through sung instructions such as washing hands, tidying up, lining up, and kai time


Musical Play Promotes:


  • Speech, language, tuneful singing, rhythmical play, following a sequence of actions, dance, musicality and communication

  • Thinking and memory

  • Social engagement

  • Practising of routines

  • Joyful play where it all comes together

Musical Play helps to weave together all strands of learning

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What CDs Do We Use?


· 'Sing and Play'

· 'Magical Musical Play'

· 'Bean Bag Bop'

· 'Teddy Bears Tango'

· 'Rock-A-Bye Blues'


All of which are created by Julie Wylie and are available on her Musical Play website.


What Props Do We Use?


· Beautiful illustrated rhyming books including 'Brown Bear' or 'Hairy MacLary'

· Drums including gathering drum

· Maracas

· At least one tuned instrument for each group to tune you and the children in

· Organza, Ribbon Sticks, Rakau, Poi or Parachute