A detailed synopsis of the guidance of young children from Absorption toPurposeful Response. Early is the best time to start children with an enrichedmusical background. The earlier the child starts to hear and learn about music,the more enriched and fulfilling the child’s experience of music is going tobe. This is even more beneficial for talented children. A child cannot receivethe full benefit of music and will not learn as much or at all without the firstthree stages of preparatory audiation. With this in mind, I will now show youhow to guide children through these stages.
First of all, we need to look atresources. For this particular situation, I will have two helpers, two rooms inwhich to work (one is furnished with cribs, the other is mostly open space witha carpet). Also, I will have a good sound system in both rooms (that includes atape player and compact disc player), and some money (available to buyrecordings and equipment). Next is the age range of the children.Order now
This is notrelated to the resources, but important. The age range is between shortly afterbirth and about 36 months (3 years). The first stage is Absorption. One of themost difficult things to do when guiding children through these stages is toknow when the right time is to move them to the next stage.
This often requiresmuch patience. The reason that you need so much patience is because all childrenmove through the different stages of preparatory audiation at different times. The times when children move are as different as their handwriting. In theAbsorption stage, children are “absorbing” music. But, not all music isappropriate.
Most of the music that should be played is live music. It shouldalso be played in different keyalities, tonalities, harmonies, meters, andtempos. When playing such diverse groups of music it is also important to notplay music with words. Why you ask? Because if you play music with words. Thechildren seem to focus their attention more on the words than the music itself. Out of the two rooms that we have, I would use the one room, which has the cribsin it for the children in the absorption stage.
This would be more appropriatefor children in the absorption stage than for children in any other stagebecause the children in the absorption stage are the youngest. I am going togive names to my two helpers so that we can easily tell the difference betweenthe two. The one helper that is going to be helping me with the children in theabsorption stage is named Mary. The other helper, which will help me with thetwo other stages (random response and purposeful response), is named Peter.
Marywould be playing live music for the children. Live music and/or any kind ofmusic that you play for children must be pleasing to the ear. It is alsoimportant that children hear a wide variety of instruments so they areintroduced to a variety of pitches and timbres. Another thing is thatchildren’s attention spans are very short. This means that it is best to playonly short sections of music or music with frequent shifts in dynamics, timbre,and tempo. This encourages children to continually redirect their attention tothe music.
Once you think a child is ready to go through the absorption stage,than you can go onto the next stage, which is random response. But, before achild can go through absorption you must make sure the child is really ready togo to the next stage. On thing you do not want to do is to rush a child througheach stage. They must be emotionally ready. Even if it seems like they arementally or physically ready, you must wait.
One thing I would do is start intostep two to find out if they are ready. If they are ready, they will start doingthings in step two. Step one and two overlap one another. The way I would beable to tell if they changed is by looking at the different things they doduring this stage.
In the second stage children begin to make babble sounds andmovements. These are not coordinated with each other or with aspects in theenvironment and should not even be interpreted as an attempt by children toimitate what they are listening to or seeing, or as a conscious response to whatthey have listened to or seen. Adults guiding children at this stage need tounderstand that at this age children simply have the need to babble. Anotheractivity that happens during stage two is group interaction. It is important inthis stage that children have this because children learn much about music as aresult of listening to and observing other children of similar ages as theyattempt to sing chant and move.
One of the purposes of stage two of preparatoryaudiation is to continue children’s exposure to music so that they will bebetter acculturated to the sound of more complex music than in stage one. Evenanother thing that happens during this stage is random movement that is mostlyassociated with subjective tonality and subjective meter. Although they makethese movements, they should not be expected to imitate anything. Only thenatural sounds and random movements that children voluntarily engage in shouldbe encouraged.
Children are still encouraged to listen to music as in stage one. Except what is more valuable for them now is to make much body movement inaccordance to different songs. I would start (being the teacher) to sing andchant to them. At the same time I would be making full use of my body. I wouldmove my body to the beat of the song or chant.
That way the more children havethis kind of movement modeled for them, the more they will begin to experimentwith movement themselves. As in stage one, only short songs and chants in asmany tonalities and meters as possible should be sung and chanted to children,and again, these should be performed without words or instrumental accompanimentof any kind. Since we have some money to use for equipment, I might buy somesmall instruments like a xylophone, wooden blocks, and an instrument that makesa shaking noise of some sort. Then, after we bought the instruments, I wouldchant something to them and then repeat the chant, but instead of going throughthe whole chant like I did the first time, I would repeat parts of the chant andask somebody if they wanted to play an instrument.
When I found three childrenthat wanted to play the three instruments, I would show these children how to doeach different part of the instrument. We would play the chant and theinstruments separately, then together using simple syllables like “bah” or”bum”. The thing that I feel very strongly about is not expecting much fromthe children. We would try to sing the song and play the instruments, but at thesame time I would pay special attention to singing the song in the same keyality,tonality, meter, and tempo. I wouldn’t be really strict about playing theright notes or playing the right tempo. Just having the children experiencedifferent things like that would be enough.
Although it might not look like thechild would be learning anything, they actually would. Every little bit ofmusical experience a child gets helps to exercise and tone the audiationalskills a child has. To help me stay in the same meter and tempo, I would buy ametronome. At the second stage of Acculturation, consideration should be givennot only to children’s tonal aptitude, but also to their rhythm aptitude. Inaddition to being concerned with tonal and rhythm aptitudes, parents andteachers performing for children should pay greater attention to musicalexpression and phrasing. A lasting impression can be made on a child’s musicalsensitivity through performance of chants.
As in stage one of preparatoryaudiation, unstructured informal guidance is the rule in stage two ofpreparatory audiation. We don’t really know when children merge from stage tostage. One thing we do know is that children typically enter stage three, whichis purposeful response, between the ages of eighteen months to three years old,as soon as they begin to make purposeful responses in relation to theirenvironment. In this stage children should still continue to listen to songs andchants with out words, because listening to songs and chants with out words isno less important and maybe even more important in stage three than in stagesone and two.
It is also important that children with high tonal and/or rhythmdevelopmental aptitudes, be encouraged to begin, but in their own initiative, tocreate their own songs and chants. Also in this stage children start to singand/or chant with the parent and/or teacher, but the teacher does not expectaccuracy. In order to guide a child from stage two to stage three, you shouldsing a song or chant, and if they respond to you with the same response, it’scalled purposeful response. Another way you can tell when a child is in stagethree is if they start to participate in the singing of tonal patterns and thechanting of rhythm patterns.
It is best to keep tonal and rhythm pattersseparate during structured informal guidance for children in this stage. Adultsshould not perform tonal patterns immediately after rhythm patterns or other wayaround, but instead should perform one or more songs and/or chants between thetonal and rhythm patterns. When children begin to sing tonal patterns in stagethree, they typically sing at the same time that the parent or teacher issinging. But, adults should not expect children to be capable or even interestedin imitating tonal patterns with any degree of accuracy. When, however, childrenin this stage spontaneously sing the same thing as the adult is singing, that isa signal that the child is ready to make the transition into stage four. Inorder for children to give meaning to the tonal patterns they are hearing, theyneed to establish syntax.
They begin to do this as they gain familiarity with avariety of tonalities. Only tonal patterns in major and harmonic minortonalities that move diatonically (by scale?wise steps) should be sung tochildren in this stage. In the classroom, have the children audiate differenttonal and rhythm patterns. When doing different rhythm patterns use your armsand legs and move with the music and try to get them to do it with you. Absorption, random response, and purposeful response are not all of the parts ofteaching children music, but they are the fundamentals.
Without this guidance,most children will not be able to go far in their musical ability.