Why did I make the decision to incorporate music into our program? Why do I feel music is one of the best ways for children to express themselves?
Seeing children playing instruments in our program, using their iPods to look up songs to dance to, and hearing them sing and hum while they are playing, I thought introducing my guitar might further their interest in music and support creative expression and self-regulation.
For me, music has been one of the only ways I can truly express myself. I pour all my emotions into my music and, in turn, it helps me align my body, spirit and mind. If I am sad or upset I reach for my guitar and play, and soon it feels like a weight is being lifted from my chest. I feel better.
I feel that all children have the ability to do the same if they are given the opportunity, and when children take part in music together, the positive impact on their self-esteem, self-worth and self-regulation is immeasurable. I have witnessed the effect music has on children, from fostering self-regulation to helping them stay focused when they find it challenging to do so. One child brought his own guitar to class and I taught him one chord. For this child, playing the instrument was an almost instantaneous release of stress and anxiety. I guided him in redirecting any negativity through to the instrument, and I could see this happening through the change in his body language and behaviour.
It is very easy to dismiss a child’s action of banging on a drum or tambourine as “just noise” and not music. Although these sounds may be unrecognizable to some or regarded as just too loud, it is all music in its own right. The children simply need guidance to help them focus on the sounds they are creating. For example, while I played my guitar, the children played their instruments to the beat of my foot tapping.
Clearly, I have a very high regard for music. Music has helped me through some of life’s toughest moments and was my escape from situations I found hard to deal with. I want all children, correction, I want everyone, to have the opportunity to experience the joy that music can bring to their lives and realize how powerful music really can be.
Think back to a time when you were watching a movie and a scene suddenly made you feel sad, angry, happy or scared. Now ask yourself, “What sort of music was playing in the background?” Answer that question and you’ll realize how the music in the scene had a lot to do with the emotion you felt while watching it. The same thing can happen while listening to a song on the radio, from sad songs making you feel the pain the artist is expressing, to wanting to dance around when that song with thumping bass comes on. If music can make you feel this way, it may similarly affect the children in your lives.
Though I may be biased, being a musician myself, I feel music brings people together and has the power to strengthen relationships between children, parents and staff. Through singing and playing together, we learn to feed off of each other’s positivity. We learn to collaborate with others by synchronizing the music we create together. This could be why musicians call it a “jam session”.
By incorporating music into daily experiences, I hope to strengthen my relationship with the children and families in my care and through that, build a strong rapport with parents and staff. Music builds a community, and the importance of community is too often overlooked. My next goal, a work in progress, is to write a song with the children’s own thoughts and feelings worked into it. I hope this collaborative song will make the children feel that they are important, that their contributions truly make a difference, and that they will feel a sense of belonging to fulfill that deeply ingrained human need that we all have to connect with others.
Submitted by: Andy Allen RECE, Compass ELC School Age Program – Queen Elizabeth Public School, Peterborough
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