Raising Musical Children

Trust the Process!
By Deanna deCampos on February 09, 2019

We speak to our children from the moment they're born (and often before!) In those early months especially, we know they don't understand what we're saying. Yet we still do it, because we know they will eventually get it.  Basically, lots of information is absorbed before it gets expressed.

Over the course of our children's early years, we naturally support their language learning by breaking language down in many ways. For example, if your child points to an apple in a bowl, you might respond, "Oh, would you like an apple?" On another day, when you see an apple in a picture book you might say, "There's an apple." Go apple picking and you give your child yet another experience of "apple." You get the idea. We participate in our child's language learning by immersing them in their world through many, many language experiences.

Music learning works very much the same way. When we express ourselves musically and immerse our children in rich, vibrant music experiences where they can see and hear their most important grown-ups singing and dancing, then we are providing them with what they need to de-code music over time. They take in all that beautiful information over and over again (repetition is good!) and eventually they begin to express themselves. A single note "sung" on a "baaaaaa" will, over time, become a whole song. Just as a child's first uttering of the word "apple" starts with a simple "aaaaa."

Learning to sing in tune and march to the beat doesn't happen overnight — 3 to 7 years on average in western cultures — and through our shared experiences in the classroom and your continued music making at home, your child will eventually emerge as a confident music-maker. It's worth the wait.

All About Tonality
By Deanna deCampos on January 23, 2019

In your classes these past few weeks, I'm sure you've noticed your teacher leading you in some call-and-response pattern echoing at the ends of songs. Sounds like, "bum...bum...bum / bum...bum / etc."  Ever wonder what's going on with these random notes? (Hint: not random at all.) Let me explain.


There are two different activities we do in our classes after a song has ended that are related to the tonalities of the songs. First, Tonal Patterns. This is when your teacher sings a sequence of patterns and asks you to echo them back. Sound familiar? These Tonal Patterns highlight and focus in on the tonal elements of the song you just sang. For example, after "Biddy Biddy", your teacher will lead you in Major Tonal Patterns, outlining the C Major scale. After "This Train" your teacher will lead you in dorian Tonal Patterns outlining the d dorian scale, and so it goes for every song in the Music Together® curriculum. Breaking down the song to its core tonal elements helps our brains 'unscramble' music information; it allows your child's brain to begin to de-code the language of music. Think syntax.

The second tonal game we engage in is what we call Tonal Play. After many songs in class, and often while we're putting instruments  away, we sing "bum-bum" or "bye bye" on the 5th note (the "dominant") of the scale and then the Resting Tone (the "tonic.") Like Tonal Patterns, this tonal play is also helping your child unscramble the music information they’re taking in. In addition, those two notes are often the first notes that we hear babies and young children sing.  Just as parents listen for "dada" or "mama" in language, we music teachers listen for those two key notes. We hear babies as young as a few weeks 'sounding' on the dominant or resting tone in class. It's true and I'm completely fascinated and amazed by it. Every time. When you're making music in class and at home, listen to see if your child is sounding on either of these two notes!

There's a method to the madness in all that we do in our classrooms.  Our teachers give Parent Education in class but if you're curious about why we do something and haven't heard your teacher mention it, please ask!  

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