The musical nature of children

  • by Anonymous (not verified)

    Wednesday, 16 September, 2015 - 16:02

‘Music appears to be hard wired in for early life. From the moment of birth, the baby can make connections with those around them through abilities which are, in many ways, fundamentally musical. These are abilities to time well and match rhythmically with others, to shape communications with contours and variations of pitch which are expressive of emotions and to read these qualities in the communications of those who care closely for her." Susan Young (2003)

Click on the dots for more information

Waypointwaypoint/children-create-music-or-without-adult-interventionChildren create music with or without adult intervention213.0756.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/children-even-very-youngest-respond-musicChildren, even the very youngest, respond to music133.0156.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/children’s-music-different-adultsChildren’s music is different from that of adults.837.0234.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/children’s-music-play-often-connected-other-play-multi-modalChildren’s music play is often connected to other play (multi-modal).659.0760.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/childrens-music-individualChildren's music is individual13.0528.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/go-back-10go back1.02.0""#0000002

‘Music appears to be hard wired in for early life. From the moment of birth, the baby can make connections with those around them through abilities which are, in many ways, fundamentally musical. These are abilities to time well and match rhythmically with others, to shape communications with contours and variations of pitch which are expressive of emotions and to read these qualities in the communications of those who care closely for her." Susan Young (2003)

Click on the dots for more information


Click here for a text version of this visualisation

Children create music with or without adult intervention

Example: ‘I play again on the rosewood bars – one of the babies (about 9 months) has now discovered the beater. The soft grey end is straight in the mouth but not for long. James takes his time to get hold of the beater and work out which end he needs to hold and then spends quite a lot of time waving it in the air, narrowly missing his companions. His eyes are everywhere apart from the rosewood bars which he now appears to be trying to play, his arms begin to do the right movement but still misses the bars… intense concentration, frenetic movement, and eventually he hits the bars…I tell him how wonderful it is and copy his sounds which encourages him to do it again and again…this has taken about twenty minutes but the triumph is all his.’

Children, even the very youngest, respond to music

Example: ‘I am sitting opposite one of the mothers at the Stay and Play, who has her 3-month-old baby on her lap, playing my recorder – the baby is watching me very carefully – then I notice that the baby’s fingers are moving in a way which seems to mimic my own movements.’

Children’s music is different from that of adults.

Example 1.

Listen and observe as S creates a sequence and variations using the frog guiro and xylo-bars:

 

Example 2.

‘Ahmed (aged 4) is dangling a pair of Chinese bells from the end of a beater and gently tapping them on the rosewood bars. He then tries to balance the bell on the felted ball of the beater. When this is unsuccessful, he gathers a second pair of bells, puts them both on the beater, and dangles them again over the bars. The bells are abandoned and he makes a V-shape with the beaters with his head in the middle. He then puts them on his head and at the request of the audience creates his ‘alien music’. After playing the bars ‘normally’ for a while, he becomes fascinated in the beaters joining the two ends together. To this arrangement, he adds an egg shaker in the middle rather like an aeroplane. After flying his aeroplane he abandons the shaker and adds another beater to his arrangement making a strange shape with all three then uses it to play the xylo-bars.’

Children’s music play is often connected to other play (multi-modal).

   

Example 1: 'Hamad, age 4, comes over to the instrument table and begins to create a construction with them in a very focused way. The base is a group of rosewood bars on top of which rest two clickits and on top of them, a tom tom.  In an echo of an earlier idea two beaters are stuck inside the rosewood bars on each side of the drum, and a further two into the tambourine that is perched on top of the tom tom.  A ring of egg shakers is added as well as castanets at the four corners of the drum.  The sculpture is nearly completely symmetrical. As I watch I wonder whether the musical properties of the instruments are inconsequential to Hamad.  Using spare beaters to tap, Hamad starts to create patterns of sounds.  His musical patterns always begin at the top of his sculpture and travel downwards – two taps on the tambourine, two on the beaters sticking out of the tambourine, two on the tom tom (on a space he has carefully left amongst the eggs), then around the four beaters stuck out of the bars, to the clickits and so on.  It is a long and intricate pattern that I copy'.

Example 2: ‘I am with Mark, aged 4, with lots of rosewood bars between us. The session starts with a musical conversation. Then Mark says that his beater tapping is tiptoeing through a forest – the way he plays immediately changes and his whole body is now engaged. He tells me that there is a lion in the forest and begins to run (on the rosewood bars), I join him running, running. There is a house in the forest and it falls down – Mark knocks over the bars with his beater leaving a hole in the middle of the row. We explore jumping from one row to another with our beaters like leaping from one bank of the river to another. I suggest there is a river and find a glockenspiel to make ‘watery’ sounds. Mark immediately suggests that there are crocodiles in the river gesturing their gaping jaws with his hands and arms. Matching his movement, I snap in time to bites with a pair of cymbals…then we are back tiptoeing through the forest…we run again, then arrive at the river, the cymbals crash and Mark becomes a crocodile swimming around the studio.’

Children's music is individual

Example 1:

In the film below, listen to both children making their own music. Notice how F moves between the chime bars and the drums and then observe how M plays two instruments together at the same time, playing the chime bars with one hand and changing instruments with the other:

 

Example 2:

The children (aged 4) and I have chosen a group of instruments to put on our ‘performance table’ – a collection of different sized drums, a shaker, castanets and some rosewood bars. We happily explore the instruments together then each child takes a turn to create their ‘piece’ of music...

Muneeza’s style is methodical; she circles round the instruments playing one note on each. This she repeats a few times before varying her idea by doing two notes on each instrument. At one point, she breaks away from this order and goes backwards and forwards between the bars and the round toy drum. There is a final flourish and a big bop to finish...

Nelson starts with great energy as if he was playing a drum kit. His whole body is involved - at some points his feet are dancing as he plays. But then his music calms down and he plays very gently on the rosewood bars looking up to see if we have noticed. Then it’s back to his frenetic pace which is broken once by a quick blast on the egg shaker and castanets. He comes to a stop and then gives us one final full stop bop...

Sam starts with four beaters in one hand with which he briefly plays the drum and xylo-bars. He then picks up four more in the other hand and taps them rhythmically on his head before putting them down and doing a little dance. All but two of the beaters are put down and he starts to play the xylo-bars, then his head again and then as he jumps with the beaters landing in time to the jumps. The pace dramatically slows then gets very fast. Sam pauses, we clap, but then he starts again….’

149 reads