Welcome to our Children’s Music Program! Here are some frequently asked questions.
What should we bring to the class?
Just bring yourselves. Dads, Grandparents and other significant adults are also welcome.
No need for any special equipment. Try to leave distracting toys at home if you can. If possible, make sure your child doesn't arrive hungry or thirsty.
What happens in a class?
Lots of musical play and great fun! Songs, games, rhymes, singing stories, drama, puppets and percussion instruments are all part of our sequential, developmental Kodály based program.
What do the grown-ups do?
Until the children reach the age of about four, parents are asked to participate in the class with their child.
These classes are a great way to meet like-minded parents and form new friendships. Please, though, try not to have long and loud conversations during the class or the teacher may strain their voice trying to sing over the top of you. If possible, please put mobile phones on “silent”.
What should we wear?
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow easy movement.
Do I have to sing?
No-one will make you sing, but it's good if you can manage it. It doesn't have to be loud.
What are the aims of the classes?
For little ones, there are three main aims:
- To help children to sing tunefully
Young children have not yet learned to be self-conscious, so there is a window of opportunity for getting them vocalising and singing. Being able to sing enriches your life, and singing in tune is a valuable skill.
If children later decide to learn an instrument or join a choir, they will be able to self-correct when they make a mistake, using their well-trained ear.
In early classes we begin by encouraging any kind of vocalisation, and progress from there to simple songs with melodic and rhythmic elements that children find easy to sing.
Our Kodály trained teachers sing at a pitch that is comfortable for the children to copy, and they are trained to provide an ideal model for in-tune singing. They use solfa and hand-signs to assist in the children's musical literacy.
- To help children learn to keep the beat
Children must learn to keep the beat competently before they progress to rhythm work. Sadly, children still arrive at Primary school without this basic skill. This affects their musical ability, but also their ability in other areas such as literacy, since reading has its own rhythm. Beat competency is also essential for dancing.
Our teachers work within the physical capabilities of each age group to develop beat competency and rhythmic skills. They then use rhythm names and stick notation with older children.
- To help children learn to enjoy, appreciate and express themselves through music
Fine musicians are not just technically competent – they are also expressive and artistic. They enjoy and appreciate the music. Music is not beautiful unless it's performed with feeling.
The early years are an ideal time to develop in children a love and appreciation of all kinds of music, from classical to pop. Children soak it all in without judgement, so it's our task to be discerning.
When should my child start to learn an instrument?
We believe that the best instruments for young children are their own voice and their own body.
The Kodály approach is to use musical games to slowly help the child become musically literate. If they stay with the program as they grow, they will learn to read music in the early years of school.
By the time they are seven or older, they are physically more able to cope with starting an instrument. Since they know how to read simple music already, they can focus on the mechanics of the instrument, making the transition much easier.
We did this song last week!
Repetition helps children learn well. Children really enjoy repetition, even though it drives us a bit crazy sometimes. Remember that book at home that your child wants to read over and over and over again? This is a bit the same. Routines in the class also help the children relax and feel secure because they know what to expect.
Our teachers make the repetition more palatable for the grown-ups using various devices. They may present the song differently over the weeks, or use games to keep it fresh.
Help! My child won't participate.
This is extremely common and nothing to worry about. Some children learn best by observing for a while first. Some hardly ever participate. Don't worry, it all goes in. They will probably sing it all in the car on the way home!
For little children, every activity is only a suggestion. They may choose to join in or not. Every response is correct.
This may leave you sitting in the circle by yourself feeling a little silly. Don't worry, we have all been there. Everyone else will be sympathetic.
The only times we need to act are when your child is really upset, or if they are making so much noise that the others can't enjoy the music. Otherwise, relax!
Can little/big brothers and sisters attend?
Of course. Little babies often benefit from watching their older siblings at music. Older children sometimes enjoy coming to their baby's class. They can learn some of the activities and do them at home with the baby.
Bear in mind: when we hand out instruments or puppets, we provide one to each paying student. Please be aware that there may not be enough to issue to the siblings as well. Also, in an older child's class, the instruments or items provided may not be appropriate for little ones, either for safety reasons or because they are breakable.
Try not to compare...
Children develop at different rates, and they are each good at different things. Sometimes they are in the mood for “performing” and sometimes they are not. We thank each child for their contribution to the class, but there should be no competitions or comparisons.
How are musical items chosen?
It may seem as if we are just waving our arms about or singing about jellyfish, but there is a lot more to the planning of a class than you may think!
Each item has at least one teaching purpose. It may be to emphasise the difference between speaking and singing, or perhaps to highlight differences in the tone quality of two instruments. A song may be chosen to teach accented beats, encourage the children in solo singing or to expose them to an unusual time signature.
Songs may be introduced as a game early on so that the tune can be used later for something else when the children are ready.
Not only do we plan our lessons very carefully, we also constantly tailor them to each group, and we are always keeping up with the latest research in early childhood music and refining our teaching practices.
How is payment organised?
We request that you pay for the term during the first week of classes. Please contact the office on Phone (02) 4324 74 77 with any queries,
If this is your first time in a class with us, you are welcome to attend the first class before committing yourself for the term.
Where can I get more information about Kodály, and children's music?
KMEIA – is the Kodály Music education Institute of Australia Inc. Its website is www.kodaly.org.au
Dr. John Feierabend is a leading authority on music and movement development in early childhood. His website is www.giamusic.com/bios/john-feierabend