Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Do Re Mi Difference

Lizzie’s blog – The Do Re Mi Difference

This week has been a wonderful chance to see how the nursery and the musical learning classes here at Do Re Mi support each other and interact to create the Do Re Mi difference. I’m lucky that my role involves working across both aspects of the business, so I’m in a unique position of getting to meet all our parents, grandparents and little ones who come to our weekly music classes, as well as leading singing in all the rooms within our musical nursery.

This week was the first week of term for the musical learning classes, so I’ve loved meeting all the families who come to our fantastic sessions. Some of the children I have already met in nursery who also come along to music classes on their days off nursery, but there were lots of brand new faces too. From beautiful little babies, to our school age musicianship class children, it has been a pleasure to meet so many confident musical little people!

This week, we had a bit of an animal theme going on during music classes, singing about mice and frogs to name but a few! The Do Re Mi difference came into its own when we chanted Hickory Dickory Dock, the mouse ran up the clock in its traditional spoken rhyme format. We say the rhyme slowly, and repeat it a few times, so that the children have chance to take in the words, process them, and have a go at reproducing them accurately. By the third time through, even the youngest of children were joining in, and were also performing the actions in time to the pulse. This is where the rigorous musical training that myself and Jane have is really beneficial, as we understand how to deliver well known songs and rhymes in a way that really has a positive impact on speech and language development.

As well as these well known songs and rhymes, we also have a huge repertoire of less commonly known songs at Do Re Mi. These are chosen specifically because they are suitable for young children to be able to sing. These songs have a narrow range (meaning that the difference between the highest and lowest note in the song is small) because young children’s voices are not physically developed enough to master a wide variety of pitches. Again, this is a great example of the extensive knowledge of our specialist staff, which is also passed on to the wonderful nursery staff who sing with our children all day every day.

All our nursery staff our passionate about the Do Re Mi difference and it has been so inspiring visiting all the different rooms in the nursery and seeing them in action. The songs they use are always appropriate and are differentiated to the particular stage of development of the children. Songs are chosen with a goal in mind of increasing confidence, speech and language as well as being fun and enjoyable for the children. All the staff use singing throughout the day to calm the children, or to make tidying up time more fun, or just to encourage bonding and friendship.

Perhaps my favourite moment this week was seeing three of the children from nursery take part in the Musical Learning class on Thursday morning. They knew many of the songs already, and joined in with all the words and actions which encouraged the new children who had come with their mums or dads to join in as well. But it was also really special to see a couple of the children who are sometimes quieter in the nursery setting to really come out of their shell in a different environment and interact with Jane and the new children. This is the perfect example of how both elements of the business here at Do Re Mi feed into each other and support the development of all our children – from nursery, Musical Learning, or both! It has been a privilege to see this in action this week, and I can’t wait to help make the Do Re Mi difference even more special in weeks and months to come.

As always, if you have any questions about anything here at Do Re Mi, please get in touch and we will be happy to help!

Lizzie x

Monday, 10 September 2018

Lizzie's first week

This week Lizzie joined us as our new music practitioner. Here is her blog about her first week with us...

The past week has been a big one for me. I’ve started working at Do Re Mi, as well as handing in my dissertation which marks the end of my Masters Degree. It seems fitting that these two events have overlapped slightly, as everything I’ve learnt and researched for the past two years is now being put into practice. The Do Re Mi Musical Learning classes, as well as the regular music times in nursery, are based on the very best educational principles and based on detailed research into how little minds develop and how music enhances this. I feel lucky to have landed a job here!

On Thursday morning, I sat in on a wonderful Explorers room music time in nursery led by one of our talented nursery practitioners Chloe (who, despite her own protestations, has one of the loveliest singing voices I’ve heard in a while!). After singing hello to each child in turn, we went on a wonderful musical shopping trip where we bought bananas, tomatoes and chocolates – no prizes for guessing which was my favourite! We travelled to the shops on our horses, enabling us to ‘clip clop’ to the beat, and then we arrived home to ‘chop chop’ all our ingredients up. Most of the children were super keen to join in the singing, but even those who were less confident were doing the actions exactly in time to the best, showing that even at the age of one and two they have already understood and internalised the musical beat. This is the result of exposure to lots of good quality music making from a young age!

There are so many benefits for little ones that come from experiencing music at a young age, particularly the development of speech and language. It was inspiring this morning to watch the children confidently stating the food that they wanted to buy to the rest of the group. Interestingly, those who were a little shy to speak in front of me (I’m not scary, I promise, but I am new!) were happily singing the songs, showing how music can really break down barriers to communication and develop confidence and those all important language skills.

I’ve also loved having a chat with some of the nursery practitioners today, and we’ve been bouncing ideas off each other to add some new songs and activities into the mix and expand our musical learning in nursery even further. I’m already looking forward to getting stuck in again next week!
As well as some more music time loveliness in nursery, this coming week also brings our new term of Do Re Mi Musical Learning classes for 0-5s and their parents and carers. We also start our brand new after school musicianship classes for ages 4-7. There’s certainly going to be lots to talk about in next week’s blog! For now, if you would like any more info on the classes starting this week, on the nursery, or on anything you’ve read just get in touch!

Lizzie x

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Day 4 Musical seeds

Fabulous morning at a school in Buda this morning. Saw three classes in succession; kindergarten, first and second graders - so our reception, year one and two.

A morning of inspirational music teaching and an insight into the Hungarian school culture, with which I will start. Pupils wore their own clothes rather than uniforms.  The school went up to 16 so there was exposure to a mix of ages. The relationship between teachers and pupils was incredibly loving; kisses, cuddles, holding hands, warm facial expressions.

The atmosphere in lessons was positive, lessons went at a great pace and children were engaged. There was no raised voices from teachers, no cross facial expressions, just gentle scaffolding and support. The kids weren't perfect (which I was pleased to see!). But any talking or silliness was jut ignored by the teacher and the children were soon re- engaged.

The music teaching was just inspirational, and seeing what the children could do was impressive. It made me long for my own sons to receive such an education. How I wish primary school teachers in our country had the confidence, and competence, to teach in a similar fashion. Why is there a shortage of such people? Probably because their own music education was lacking and we now have a chicken and egg situation.

So how did seeing the primary lessons help me? Apart from making me determined to do as much as I can with the 12 hours I have to prepare Durham University teacher training students to teach primary music?

Well, it's all about seeds, musical seeds. The teachers today could not have had the same outcomes if it wasn't for the foundations put in place by the kindergarten teachers. It made sense of everything I have seen over the last few days! The work of the kindergarten teachers is vital! With the right musical seeds being planted, and nurture, deep roots form, the tree grows, and bears much fruit.

Thank you parents for entrusting us to 'plant seeds' in your children. My one hope is that schools like I saw today would become a reality in England and I would have the surity of knowing the nurture and growth would continue.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Just be...

Day Three
Absolutely amazing morning! Visit to the Palace of Arts, a very modern amazing piece of architecture, a beautiful setting in which to inspire music making, think Sage plus!!
We had the privilege of watching a 0-3's class for parents and little ones, not a dissimilar experience to the idea of our Monday morning do re mi music classes. Aside from the awe-inspiring setting, the session leader has not only taught for 25 years but grown the idea, having 255 'branches' across Hungary.
The session was delightful, with parents sitting round in a circle with their little ones. The focus was 'singing' and no props were used, although the leader played her violin and recorder at points. The parents sung with volume and a lovely selection of beautiful folk songs was used. One in particular had a very haunting melody that was just beautiful.
Ilona, the leader, spoke to us after the session. Her priority was music for the parents, believing that if the parents 'catch' the songs, they will sing these regularly at home and the children will 'catch' them. She was quite clear that it was NOT entertainment for the children.
This has led me to a reflection on experiences and the point of them. Over three days I have seen very different sessions with very different 'musical points'. Yet what did they have in common? What was at the heart? Three words come to mind: holistic, simplicity and enjoyment.
What seems to be important is offering different experiences, allowing the children 'to be', and not having pre-determined expectations of the outcomes. Unfortunately, this seems to be the antithesis of our current education system. Oh how I wish this wasn't so. At least for the four years children are with me at Do re mi day nursery, I will endeavour to ensure this is the reality.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Bread and butter....

Day Two
It was hard to try and capture the essence of yesterday's visit. I am still reflecting on what I saw, heard and experienced. The main bits that stay with me, apart from the amazing sense of calm  in the kindergarten and the high levels of well-being, were the musical aspects.
The children were 'musically comfortable' as were the nonspecialist teachers. It certainly blew out of the water 'you have to be a music specialist to teach music' and likewise that some children are musical and others are not.
All children were engaged and participating although there were no expectations that they 'had to'. The teacher just started singing and the children 'gathered'. The volume with which the children sang often drowned out the teacher's voice.  Music takes place daily, mainly taught through singing and movement, with the children 'catching' new songs rather than being taught. It was all very natural, organic and embedded.
The way the session progressed allowed for individual children to be developed, although again subtle and natural. There was no pressure. So although the lesson was packed with musical learning the overriding priority was enjoyment. The children were having HUGE amounts of fun (reflected in the amount of laughter).
The Teacher made all this look simple, and the session flowed. It was a delight and privilege to watch and importantly 'normal' in these kindergartens. It is daily bread and butter in their musical diet. I hope that the 'bread and butter' we are giving our children at do re mi is just as sustaining for them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Budapest Kindergarten Study Tour

Day One
I may only have had 5 hours sleep last night, but the bags were forgotten upon our arrival at Sunflower kindergarten. What an inspirational place!

We had the privilege of watching two sessions, talking to the teacher, the director and the vice mayor. The kindergarten is for 3-7 year olds and kindergarten is compulsory 9-4 daily (although open 6.30-5.30).

There are 6 classes of mixed age children, they stay in the class with their teachers for 3 years, only moving up to school when they are actually ready. There are daily music sessions taught by their teacher, and I will return to these.  The focus of kindergarten is PLAY. There is no formal teaching of reading, writing, until they get to school.

The first session was class music. I won't go through everything they did, but in short the laughter, joy and engagement of those children was immense.

The whole atmosphere at Sunflower was relaxed and calm. Children were definitely scoring highly on the Leuven scales of well-being and engagement.

We were there for over 2.5 hours. Teachers & children were calm, focused, engaged. Behaviour was beautiful. Children were happy.

Why oh why does the UK have the highest number of unhappy children in Europe? Why does the Netherlands have the lowest? Is it because in and amongst league tables, expectations, politics, material wealth, school pressure, that we forget to let our children do what they do best?..... Be children?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Testing, testing, 123!

Well, setting up a blog has been on my 'to do' list for a while....  why blog?  To share with all our nursery parents, music class parents, and followers of my research what I am up to.

I am quite a busy bee, and wear several hats, however a lot of them link, cross-relate or inform each other.

Why now?  Why have I managed to finally get organised and sorted with a blog.  Well, I have the privilege to be going out to Hungary on Sunday for a week on a study tour with the British Kodaly Academy.  I will be visiting kindergartens in Budapest and receiving lectures and tuition at the Kodaly museum and Kodaly Institute.

Rather excited about the impact this will have on my work - all of it! - what I can bring back for the nursery, my music classes, my research and my lecturing.

Several parents and others have asked me to 'blog' from Hungary and keep them posted about what I learn each day.

So here's hoping there really is 'free wi-fi' at the hotel, that I can work out how to use my new tablet, and that I will find half an hour a day to blog about my journey!  Do follow me, and see where I end up!