Music is great for young brains and exposure from early on has proven benefits - plus it's fun and enjoyable. The Montessori musical program develops the children’s nonverbal affective communication, increases their understanding and enjoyment of music, and enhances their ability to express themselves through music. Learning music is not a separate lesson in the day but it is a natural and integral part of classroom life. The Montessori music curriculum easily meets the minimum outcomes of the Board of Studies Syllabus.
Benefits of Exposure to Music
Listening to, learning and playing music has beneficial effects for children of all ages. The study of music develops:
- Counting and other math skills
- Listening abilities
- Language usage
- Memory and recall skills
- Spatial-temporal reasoning
- Abstract reasoning
- Physical coordination (gross- and fine-motor skills)
Music at Home
Formal music training isn't necessary for young children to enjoy these benefits. These's days we're quick to sign up children as young as one to formal music activities, but really the same benefits, and more, can easily be achieved at home or in daily life. Whats most important is exposure to and informal involvement with music.
- Listening to a variety of music. Tunes with a strong rhythmic beat, such as classical, are known to be great brain-food. So turn up the Mozart!
- Sing songs together. Make them up or sing some old-time favourites.
- Make music - a few simple percussion instruments are all you need. These can also be easily made from household items,eg. rice grains in a container, drum from an empty container with a lid etc.
- Dancing - get moving to music. It's great for brain-body control.
- Go and see some live music - many orchestras and bands have concerts that are suitable for children, such as the Baby Proms or Sydney Youth Orchestra. Every city will have their own.
Montessori Grading Bells
The bells are present in all authentic Montessori primary and pre school classrooms. The bells were designed to specifically train the ear to perceive differences among musical sounds. The Montessori bells consist of a series of bells that represent the whole tones and
semi-tones of one octave. To work with the bells, the child is required to pair off the bells that produce the same sound. This enables the child to learn how to discriminate, eventually learn how to arrange the bells in gradation, and to play the musical scale. (Getz, 2002).
Cycle 1: 3-6 year old classroom
Children of two and a half to six years old are in the sensitive period of development and therefore are especially sensitive to sensory-motor activities. In the Cycle 1 classroom, singing and singing games are very important part of the music curriculum because they allow children to develop their inner musical ear. The voice is a child’s natural instrument and it is an instrument that every person possesses.
Here are some of the music activities of the Cycle 1 classroom;
- Sound Boxes (Sensorial)
- Silence Game (Circle Time), Singing, Clapping
- The Bells: strike, pair, grade, pitch, names (Do-Re-Mi...), labels, Stave board.
- Classical music (Listening)
- Instrument cards (Language/Sensorial/Matching)
- Composer cards (Language/Sensorial/Matching)
- Walking on the Line (Movement)
Cycle 2 & 3 : 6-9 & 9-12 year olds
In Cycle 2 we continue to use the bells with increasing sophistication. We learn about tones and semitones, tetrachords, naming notes, Rhythm/timing and notation. There is also study of music via the History Time Line (History), Cultural Study and the History of Music. Children will start making simple compositions
Somewhere between 6-9 years, many children express interest in learning an instrument and this natural interest can be fostered with formal lessons. For other children, they may be more interested in the history of music for example. No matter where their interest lies, the Montessori music curriculum provides a solid foundation for music appreciation.
In Cycle 3, the Montessori Tone Bars give the children opportunity to explore sharps, flats, scales and composition. Children can use computer programs such as Apple’s Garage to record their composition, or simple instruments such as the recorder is an excellent tool for exploration. Singing is still an important part of classroom life.
Montessori East Band
Playing in the school band is serious brain work! It needs the senses of hearing, sight and touch to be working together. The band is open to primary school children who are learning to play an instrument. They love the collaboration of making music together, and the sound pretty good too.
Complimenting our program are excursions to the likes of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra which runs an excellent music enrichment program for schools, particularly to introduce the sounds of the orchestra to young ears.
Music is common to us all and essential to our existence. Sharing it with children in the classroom and at home is a joy for all.