Music and movement help learning, emotional skills

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJanuary 30, 2013 

John Bisceglia describes his Sound Artist Classes at Gabriels Art Kids:

We begin with unstructured free play using age-appropriate percussion instruments; young children really need this time to explore and discover how different sounds are made. Once these instruments are put away we experiment with different ways to use our voices to warm up before singing our songs. Interspersed throughout the class we listen to and echo back tonal and rhythm patterns; these short patterns are the building blocks of Western music and will be a pathway to music literacy.

Of course sitting still for long periods of time goes directly against a child's nature, so movement plays a big role in each class! From performing motions to accompany a song, or dancing to a variety of musical styles with or without props (such as scarves, ribbons, or a parachute), we find different ways to express the sounds we hear. The goal is to make a connection between sound, movement, and emotions.

Music without a strong steady beat is the opposite of "alive", so I'm a big fan of using small and large drums and various percussion instruments. I've yet to see a young child that doesn't get very excited to play the large gathering drums! Rhythmic chants, fingerplays, circle dances, and playing simple mallet instruments are some of the other things we do before singing our "Goodbye Song" and waving goodbye to our friends.

I believe all early-childhood teachers are engaged in very important work, and I also think what we do is a joy and a privilege. It is truly my life's work, and I hope these classes inspire families to continue making music in their daily lives for years to come.

John on the importance of music and movement:

Simply put, birth to age 5 is a crucial time for establishing a foundation for music development. There are also social benefits to nurturing musical bodies and minds. Here I'd like to quote some of the experts in the field of music learning theory and brain research:

"The fact is, music aptitude is something we're born with; it's an innate capacity, and unless it's nurtured at an early age, by age 9 nurturing will no longer help." – Edwin Gordon, influential researcher, teacher, author, editor, and lecturer in the field of music education.

"Studies show that 4-, 5-, and 6-year-olds in heavily 'academic' classes tend to become less creative and more anxious - without gaining significant advantages over their peers." - Jane M. Healy, noted author and neuroscience educator.

Other benefits:
Music stimulates neural pathways in the brain associated with such higher forms of intelligence as abstract thinking, empathy, and mathematics.
Music helps to develop memory, pattern recognition, listening skills, and eye-hand coordination when playing instruments.
Music allows children to release emotions in a positive way when they lack the words to express themselves.
Music is a social activity which brings people together, and let's not forget the pure delight from engaging fully in music-making!

So if you would like to find ways to bond with your child and incorporate more music into your lives, why not check out one of the music classes at Gabriel's Art Kids? We'd love to see you there!

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