Thursday, 20 September 2018

Trains and rocket ships!

Trains and rocket ships!

Here at Do Re Mi, we work with tiny babies right up to year 6 children who are age 11 and everyone in between. Our Musical Learning baby classes welcome babies who are only a few weeks old, our nursery caters for older babies up to age four, and our after-school musicianship classes continue the musical journey right through the primary school years. I love the challenge of working across such a huge age range, as it means every day is different!

We have a huge bank of songs and resources, and I will always choose material appropriate for the age group I’m working with. However, it is often possible to use the same song and adapt it in different ways, which is great as it retains that familiarity which is so important for young children. Using one song in a variety of different ways is something I find particularly interesting, and I thought I’d share a couple of examples as it gives a real insight into how we work musically with the children.

Up like a rocket
One of our favourite songs at Do Re Mi is “Up like a rocket” which we use in the baby room, lifting the babies gently up, down, forwards and backwards in time to the beat. This physical movement in time to the beat helps them to develop a sense of pulse. Once mobile, we use this rhyme in our Diddies and Explorers room, and our Musical Learning classes, where the children are encouraged to jump up and down independently, helping with both physical and musical development. By the preschool room, we play around with the rhyme, often challenging ourselves to perform the actions without saying the words and seeing if we can stay in time with the beat!

Engine engine number nine
Another example is the rhyme “Engine engine number nine” which is also our rhyme of the week this week. If you haven’t already seen the video of some of our preschool children performing this beautifully, check it out on our Facebook page. We introduce this rhyme with our little ones around about age two, as it has a strong beat and a lovely rhyming structure that they can tune in to. Our Diddies and Explorers love to pretend to be a train in a circle and listen to us chanting the rhyme clearly, joining in with more and more words as they develop.

By the time we reach the preschool room, the rhyme is so familiar that we can start playing around with it to encourage more musical development. We perform it quietly or loudly, fast or slow, and we can change our destination to keep us on our toes. We also introduce the train whistle at this age, to enable the children to explore different timbres and have a go at playing a simple instrument in time to the beat (and most importantly, trains whistles are great fun!).

In our school age musicianship classes, we use this rhyme to discuss the difference between the pulse of the music that never changes, and the rhythmic patterns that lay over the top which can change. We tap or stamp the beat, but we clap the final line “yes, no, maybe so” and identify the rhythmic pattern on a rhythm card. This forms the beginnings of reading musical notation.

Hopefully this blog has given a little insight into how we can take a simple song or rhyme, introduce it at a young age to bring familiarity and confidence, gradually developing different activities and techniques that mean our primary age children can begin to read and write music for themselves. That’s the Do Re Mi difference!

As always, if you’d like any more information about anything here at Do Re Mi, please do get in touch.

Lizzie x

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