Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to be a Rock Star Teacher!...or...What do you do with a 4 year old?

That is a question traditional, classically trained music teachers invariably ask.  How do you keep 4 year olds focussed and what could they possibly learn about music at this age?  

I have a giant trove of knowledge, experience and tools to work with all manner of 4 year olds!  They are a busy age group and have a huge capacity for fun, knowledge and happiness.

My Orff Play class met today.  Such excitement!
They are a small group, ages 4 years or almost 4 years old.  Kind of like my little dog, Moka.

Moka is almost 4 years old too!  

In fact, Moka thinks he's part of the class and as soon as we sing our hello song, he finds his chewy and heads for a cushion to join us.  His presence with this age group helps enhance the children's ability to empathize with another being.  The children also learn to respect his emotional and physical needs.  Moka has an enormous fan club!

Oops...I digress...:)

Today in Orff Play we were focussed on high and low in movement, voice, reading, creating music and listening to music.  We also did some other things...but hi & lo was my main focus in my planning.

Focussing on high and low always sounds so pedestrian, doesn't it?
The thing is, when a 4 year old does explore this concept using
the body,
the voice,
the eyes,
the ears,
the hands,
the mind
and the imagination...
guess what happens???  
  • Their hearts open.  They love music and learning about music in ways other children can not.  
  • Their self-confidence grows.  They experience they CAN move their arms and bodies in specific ways and creative ways. 
  • Their self-esteem grows.  They experience they CAN make music with their voices.
  • Their social skills grow.  They believe they can make music WITH other people.  
  • They learn to BE music-makers.  Not just consumers of music...although, as consumerism goes...consuming music seems pretty good to me!
I generally begin with body work, after we've sung our hello fact, the hello song morphs into a movement game, using mostly gross motor movement with the children's ideas and suggestions.

Today we were "reading" high and low using graphic notation charts.
They looked like this...not too fancy...just simple for the eye to follow.

We traced them with our fingers while making vocal sounds as we traced.
We traced them in the air using a giant feather!  This has the children using their whole body to make the graphic notation and using their voices too.

For homework, they took their feathers and a little accordian pleated booklet to "read" and "write" their own music at home. 

Many years ago, I read about Japanese teachers using feathers and whole arm movement to teach their youngest students to write Japanese characters.  This was fascinating to me at the time and I wish I could remember where exactly I read that.

I will write more about 4 year olds and my Orff Play program and the why, why, why... but on another day!

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