Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Quotes for 9/5/07--Children at Play

Of the readings for this week, the main theme that stuck out at me was the way that children use songs in play and to the different levels of complexity that they display. The first quote that jumped out from the reading was "The play activities during the noon hour were heavily laden with singsong taunts, calls and cries with definitive pitches, and a wide array of rhythms conveyed through clapping, patting, stepping, and tapping" (18). To me, this captures the essence of a child's play--music. I feel that this is important because a child's play is music and children love to play. Again, from last week, harnessing this would be extraordinarily powerful in teaching music to children.

I also found the analysis of the songs at the Horace Mann school yard fascinating. The fact that the melodies ranged from "intervals of the second, fifth, and octave" (18) to "[the production] of a rhythmic ostinato...as a background track"(19). I believe that this, again, can be a very powerful tool in the musical education of children as these musical abilities seem to be inherent in children. This makes the teacher's job simply to put these inherent musical abilities into a structured context.

The final thought, though, that I had was that this could cause problems in the education process as children have different levels of inherent musical abilities. Again, ranging from simple intervallic songs, to rhythmic songs, to full fledged songs, there are varying levels of inherent talent in school children. Thus, while the goal of an elementary teacher should be (assuming the proper support from administrators/parents/schedules/etc.) should just be to place these abilities into a context, the varying abilities could cause potential problem in planning activities. It seems, though, that careful planning and the incorporation of the idea of play into a music class will solve these problems as various activities, such as pairing, could be used to even out differences.

Campbell, Patricia. Songs in Their Heads: Music and Its Meaning in Children's Lives. New York, New York: Oxford UP, Inc., 1998.

1 comment:

Ryan Huch said...

Music does seem to flow from children in the most natural of ways. It’s amazing to hear the playful exuberance of children on a schoolyard. I too was surprised at the complexity of children's songs, as Ms. Campbell pointed out at Horace Mann. It seems we as adults routinely underestimate the power and flexibility of a child’s mind. We probably shouldn’t find it so hard to believe. Look at what children to with language…they learn so quickly, and language is extremely complex. The no doubt can learn music in a similar way and to a similar level of complexity.

About your final concern, I think we learned a variety of ways to deal with your final concern in class on Wednesday. Many of the games we learned can be adapted to varying levels of students without drawing attention to their weaknesses in front of their peers. I think, as music educators, the varying abilities problem will be one we deal with throughout our careers.