Listening for the school bell

 

We always love to see our Little Notes Graduates. It’s great to hear that they have settled into school, with reports of excellent skills in listening, teamwork and creativity.

This is, of course, music to our ears. We love to see the growing confidence and creativity of children in our pre-school classes (turning 4 this academic year). Many of these children will have been exploring music with Little Notes since their first weeks of life (or, for siblings, since before they were even born). They are highly attuned to expressing themselves through music and working alongside live music and live musicians.

Taking part in a group music activity is a great way to learn about teamwork: a big crash or a sudden silence become the most fun only when everyone in the room is joining in. It is such a joy to be part of making something beautiful with a group of peers, such as singing in a round or playing a particular pattern with percussion.

It is often in these creative moments that children begin to listen intently. Our pre-schoolers love to play musical jigsaws¬Ě when, on hearing their lead-musician play a snippet of a favourite tune, they love to identify where the snippet is from. As children celebrate one another’s achievements in these fun moments, they’re learning vital lessons of teamwork and self-confidence, as well as to really listen.

When our Little Musicians are getting ready for school, we love to help them develop expressive singing voices (a useful stepping-stone to reading and vital for self-confidence). The children begin to enjoy call and response, singing for individual puppets (with a myriad of personalities!) and take a more independent role in group singing. We have a lot of fun and children’s bold steps are always celebrated. It is also in this space that they learn to listen to one another and to take turns, as well as build self-belief and establish the importance of eye-contact in communication. The expressive singing voices that are developed become very useful in emergent song-writing. We frequently glimpse empathy, as children explore possible voices for sad and hungry crocodiles or excited kangaroos!

A key aspect of Little Notes is expressing ourselves through musical instruments. Children enjoy building a relationship with their lead musician, who uses their instruments to convey so many different feelings. It’s no surprise that the time with hand-held percussion (more frequently pitched-percussion for our older participants) is a highlight for many. Once again, this is a useful slot for acquiring vital skills to help the children be ready for school. Much of this instrumental time is led with non-verbal cues, requiring excellent watching and listening skills. This is frequently a useful time to learn to take turns, as well as to discover how much fun it is to work together with a large group of children. For others, it’s a chance to follow instructions and to tidy away when they might not want to!

Of course, all of these skills are very quietly developed, almost unnoticed. They are acquired in a place of enormous fun and, most importantly, full of love. A place where the sound of the school bell is ringing only faintly in the distance.