A layered approach
The layered approach to teaching in the Music at Heart Early Years classes, a unique feature of Suzuki Early Childhood Education, enables me to work effectively with children of different ages and skill levels consecutively. The activities are carefully devised to meet the needs of every stage of development, and as your child grows, s/he will respond in different ways to the opportunities I present.
What will my child learn, aged 0-1?
Your baby is a born music-maker: whether active or passive, quiet or noisy, feeding or sleeping, s/he will be learning continually simply by absorbing the music through immersion in the Music at Heart environment.
Your baby will gradually begin imitating and joining in, as and when s/he reaches the appropriate stage of development. I will guide you in all our music-making, and you will be shown how to help your baby get the most out of the sessions.
We learn songs which you can use with you baby in every part of the day:
- 'task' songs for play-time, feeding time, pram-time, bath-time and other activities
- soothing songs for crying babies, and lullabies
- singing, bouncing, tickling and peekaboo games
We listen and move to music in a wide range of styles and moods, and explore the use of everyday objects that can be used to make music at home.
read more: Why is music important for babies?
What will my child learn, aged 1-2?
By now, your child might well be literally up on his/her feet, toddling, walking or even running! At this age, children react to music in a very physical and vocal way, and the curriculum includes songs and games to accommodate this:
- marching, promenading and dancing games encourage a good sense of pulse
- action songs and finger games develop motor skills and co-ordination
- sound is explored using our voices and instruments
- the fundamental music concepts of quiet/loud, fast/slow, high/low are made conscious through multi-sensory activities
- counting songs and songs with rhymes, lists and facts (alphabet, days of the week, etc) help extend your child's growing vocabulary
You will be shown how to use music to help manage daily routines - getting washed and dressed, performing household chores, settling for sleep, etc - and be guided in techniques to enable your child to self-regulate, an essential life-skill fundamental to all learning.
What will my child learn, aged 2-3?
Your growing toddler is probably head-strong, challenging and invigorating - and exercising his/her free-will! In children who are rising three, the vocal cords are gaining in strength and control, and your child's singing voice, our first musical instrument, will be developed using the principles of the Kodaly approach.
- songs built around the pentatonic scale provide a good foundation for pitch recognition
- a wide variety of attractive and humorous chants provide the basis for the further development of beat and rhythm
- well-known favourites and nursery rhymes are used to enhance speech, phonics and articulation, and to improve memory
All of this material continues to develop your child's understanding of basic musical concepts, and everything is practised and reinforced through movement and by playing percussion instruments, over which your child will gain an increasing degree of control.
Good quality recordings of classical music provide your child with the opportunity to respond creatively to sound with its many colours and emotions, and to internalise its form and structure.
Through repetition, your child's inner ear, vital to all musicians, will be grown and strengthened and s/he will experience the immense satisfaction of thorough mastery, as each musical skill is learned and consolidated. Success breeds success, and the self-confidence that comes with the knowledge that something has been done well will motivate your child to want to go on learning and to try new things.