This post was first published here. Check out hellocongo.com.au for some great kids instruments and helpful activities.
Music is for everyone
Have you ever experienced a moment where you’ve tried to make music but you felt you didn’t do it right? I have, and I have seen countless children feel both challenged and defeated by these same expectations. Ideas of performance and perfection are so often associated with music in our culture, they can easily get in the way of us playing, having fun and learning the possibilities of music simply by doing it.
'We can play’ is both a song and a philosophy wrapped in one. It's the result of many years working with clients, and I use it to challenge preconceptions around what music is and what it should sound like. It is based on the idea that anyone can play, regardless of how well you are able to do it. We can all play in different ways and no single way of playing is the right way to make music; after all, one definition of music is simply ‘organised sound’.
A word of encouragement
You might feel that 'we can play' is a risky approach when playing with children. You might worry about not doing it right or that the activity will turn to chaos. But remember, kids are naturals at play. And it's worth taking the risk because by engaging in the activity you yourself are modelling the very behaviours we're aiming to encourage: experimentation, encouragement and acceptance of new and different things.
Age: Perfect for children aged 3-5, but can be tailored to any age (or ability).
Song: 'Play the Tambourine' from our album 'We can play' is perfect. You could also use any song with a steady beat that is easy to follow and allows kids to keep the beat.
Instrument: I use tambourines in this activity to go along with my song, but you can do this with anything, such as clapping hands, maracas, etc.
Number: The more the merrier. Kids are more likely to play if they see others experimenting too and this makes it a really fun activity for a group.
We Can Play encourages children to be confident and creative in their play and to enjoy success in making musical art. We do this by guiding and participating in play in an open and encouraging way.
Begin by showing them that we love the way they are trying to play, by being a part of their musical play and experimenting along with them. Ask questions like: Can you play the tambourine on your head? Can you play on your feet? Can you use your nose, your hands, your tummy to play? And get creative!
We know that children generally learn well through modelling and this includes developing problem solving and risk taking skills. You can show them how to be great adventurers through taking a very small risk by simply picking up a tambourine and using your knee to play.
We can also model great social skills by showing complete acceptance of everyone in the group no matter how they play. A great way to do this is by naming their unique way as a stand out moment during the song and by encouraging the group to follow their lead and have a go at a different way of playing.
Not only does this activity encourage creative problem solving, but when we take away the idea of playing the correct way and instead just start to play, we enter the world of those who are playing with us. This allows communication and relationships to begin to form, regardless of skill level. It can be extremely encouraging for someone who has often felt that they can’t succeed with a task. Also, when running this activity, it can be really encouraging to see the responsiveness of those playing and the sense of fun and excitement that playing together can bring.
So give it a play! You never know what you may inspire through this simple activity. It has very few limits, and using just the humble tambourine, you and those you're working with might discover a totally new sound, beat or way of playing that suddenly makes a lot more sense.
We will be launching the full album soon with lots of resources on how how you can use music for learning and development. While you wait, why not check out our demos. They're pretty awesome! Our little one's favourite is 'Play the tambourine'.