Responding to children's musical play with voices

  • by Anonymous (not verified)

    Wednesday, 16 September, 2015 - 16:02

As well as children (and their parents) in early years settings singing in large groups, children also sing and vocalise (singing that doesn’t involve words with great inventiveness) while involved in other play. Some children who may not sing in a group context might happily sing in less public situations. It is important that this singing and vocalising is noticed, valued and responded to. Practitioners and musicians can use singing and vocalising as another tool in their communication and improvising with children within music play situations. Everything that is written in the ‘Responding to Children’s Music Play with Instruments’ section applies here too.

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Waypointwaypoint/imitating-children’s-vocal-soundsImitating children’s vocal sounds823.0179.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/singing-simple-questionsSinging simple questions830.0507.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/making-songs-togetherMaking up songs together827.0891.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/supporting-vocalising-which-accompanies-other-playSupporting vocalising which accompanies other play349.0924.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/supporting-spontaneous-singingSupporting spontaneous singing57.0574.0""#0000002
Waypointwaypoint/go-back-11Go back2.02.0""#0000002

As well as children (and their parents) in early years settings singing in large groups, children also sing and vocalise (singing that doesn’t involve words with great inventiveness) while involved in other play. Some children who may not sing in a group context might happily sing in less public situations. It is important that this singing and vocalising is noticed, valued and responded to. Practitioners and musicians can use singing and vocalising as another tool in their communication and improvising with children within music play situations. Everything that is written in the ‘Responding to Children’s Music Play with Instruments’ section applies here too.

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Imitating children’s vocal sounds

Engaging in vocal play without words can open up channels of communication. (Sensitivity is needed here as the adults will need to gauge whether their involvement will encourage or hinder). Vocal play often accompanies children playing instruments.

‘Alfie (age 2½) is moving along a series of instruments laid out on the floor. As he taps the different instruments in the line he says ‘de da de da de da do’ in time to his taps and movements. The musician copies both Alfie’s instrument sounds and his vocal sounds’’

Singing simple questions

Singing simple questions to a child can be a way of opening or developing a conversation that might develop into improvising a song about the child or children you are working with.

Making up songs together

Sometimes children will say things to you in rhythmical or melodic way. This can be picked up and sung back emphasising and exaggerating the musical qualities.

‘Elise (age 3) comes over to the music area and says ‘I’ve got no shoes on’. She says this more than once, which starts to turn it into a rhythmic chant. The musician picks up on the rhythm of her words adding melody and chorusing ‘no shoes, no shoes’. Elise picks this up and sings it back. The singing conversation continues; sometimes Elise copies what the musician has sung, sometimes times she sings back an answer and sometimes she initiates new sung words.’

Supporting vocalising which accompanies other play

Children will often hum or vocalize to themselves while involved in other play. The adult can respond to this vocalizing by just listening, or by joining in.

Example 1: ‘As Humeira (age 4) draws she sings a song using nonsense words. The song starts and stops with the movement of the pen on the paper. Using a recorder, the musician ‘plays back her idea asking whether she has got it ‘right’.’’

Example 2: ‘A group of children (age 3-4) are drawing on a very large sheet of paper on the floor. As they draw lines, dots and swirls they invent vocal sounds to match the movement of their pens often picking up and joining with sounds created by other people in the group. The musician to joins in with the children’s vocal sounds adding in her own from time to time.’

Supporting spontaneous singing

Children will often sing whilst involved in other activities often linked to what they are doing. When supporting a child who starts to sing a song: shadow-sing quietly alongside the child and help to fill gaps when the child forgets the words linking bits of the song together. Sing songs with children not just at circle time but maybe in response to a request from a child or to fit with a situation you find yourself in. Sing songs that refer to familiar things, people and events or change the words to fit. Sing songs slowly to allow the children to pick up the words and melody. When singing with children and accompanying songs, try to pitch your voice in the range in which children can pitch.

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