What makes a great music class for babies and toddlers?
Each child is born a musician - the way they interact with you is already full of music even when you don't realise it!
Your child's natural musicality can be encouraged and nurtured further through our Greenwich Early Years Music classes. These help your child to develop musical confidence, technique and understanding right from the start.
Here's what we do during classes...
#1 - We move!
Children love to move to music!
Movement and action songs are a fantastic way to develop skills in rhythm and pulse, and to help children develop motor skills and body awareness –they’ll use these when they pick up an instrument for the first time!
Whilst we’re having fun finding our ears and our toes for a song, or tapping our knees, bouncing up and down, or marching to music, children are also hard at work developing these important musical skills.
#2 – We feel the beat.
Pulse (or the beat), is a vital part of all music, and feeling the pulse is an essential skill for all musicians.
Children love to feel it – you can see this when they bounce up and down to music very early on! To help our littlest children join in and develop their sense of pulse, you can tap them gently on their arms or legs, rock them to the beat, or gently tap the soles of their feet along with the music.
Later on they’ll be clapping their own hands, marching in time and playing the beat on percussion themselves!
#3 – We sing!
The singing voice is everyone’s natural instrument, and children love to sing!
Children start to really explore their singing voice at around two years of age, but they are picking up and learning songs long before this.
Making animal sounds, whoops, and silly voices are all part of this learning process, as children learn how to use their voices to express themselves and make music.
We sing lots of songs - from traditional nursery rhymes to modern songs, and songs we make up ourselves!
Some of the songs we use are drawn from the Kodaly method of teaching music. These songs are very easy to sing, and use a small range of notes that are best-suited to small children’s developing voices. They are also easily adapted with new words or actions, so children can express themselves in their own improvised songs!
Sometimes songs are accompanied – either by live instruments played by the tutor, by simple accompaniments everyone plays together on percussion, or simply by actions, clapping or tapping our knees.
We keep accompaniments simple and tend to avoid backing tracks, so that the music children hear is being made by the people in front of them – this shows children that they can make music too, and gives them the confidence to join in as soon as they can!
#4 – We play with opposites
Music is full of opposites, such as loud and soft, high and low, fast and slow.
Opposites make music interesting! We’ll be exploring opposites in every session, repeating and varying songs to explore different speeds, volumes and pitch.
Every song will be exploring some aspect of music – a mouse climbing up a clock to explore pitch, a tortoise and a hare racing to explore speed, and much more – and we also explore these opposites through different voice sounds, movement and dancing!
#5 – We listen!
Music is so expressive and can create many different moods.
We’ll sing about all sorts of characters and stories, we’ll listen to a wide range of music, from classical to folk to modern!
By listening to different kinds of music, children learn about how music can tell stories and affect how we feel. Moving along with the music is a great outlet for expression – whether by moving slowly or rocking quietly to gentle music, or by dancing energetically to fast music.
#6 – We repeat and learn
Children love to repeat things! It’s how they learn new skills, and understand the world around them.
We repeat some songs each week, because the repetition is helpful for children to settle in and feel at home – these songs often become firm favourites too!
We’ll repeat other songs several times in a session. This gives the children time to absorb and learn new songs, and then to enjoy taking part once they know them.
Changing a song each time it’s repeated also helps to develop our music skills - perhaps singing at a new speed or volume, with new actions, or with a new instrumental accompaniment.
#7 – We play instruments
We use age-appropriate instruments which the children can control.
Added to their voice, instruments give children another way to make music. We include time in each session for the children to explore the instruments freely, and to enjoy making sounds.
As they use these instruments, children are developing the motor skills and coordination to make music in the future with traditional instruments such as violin, piano or flute.
#8 – We build our skills!
Our classes for four-year-olds build on everything learned so far, with more focus on independent learning.
Children will explore the beginnings of music notation, and refine understanding of pulse, rhythm and pitch. They will develop singing ability, in both solo and group performances, and they’ll create short musical compositions together.
The children will be gaining complex skills as they explore, understand, memorise and internalise musical patterns and concepts. We’ll also be developing increasingly refined motor skills, so they can put all these skills into practice when they first pick up an instrument – be that violin, flute, piano or trumpet!
Putting it all together
- We move!
- We feel the beat.
- We sing!
- We play with opposites
- We listen!
- We repeat and learn
- We play instruments
- We build our skills!
Our tutors Bethan, Fiona and Olivia plan each class to balance all of these elements (plus a few extras!) - and each class builds on the week before, so babies and toddlers grow to enjoy music more and more.
Join us to discover how much fun it is to learn music!
Find your nearest class at greenwichmusicschool.org.uk/geym