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To the Teacher

The Importance of Early Childhood Music

Reasons for Music in the Early Childhood Classroom

Characteristics of Four-, Five- and Six-Year-Olds

Special Considerations in Teaching Music to Young Children

The National Standards for Music Education

Music and the Early Childhood Teacher

Skills and Concepts Included in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts

Recommended Percussion Instruments

Classroom and Individual Opportunities for Music Learning

The Detailed Lesson Plans

Pacing the Classroom Lesson

To the Teacher

The materials in the three levels of the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts Curriculum Books are divided into three parts:

Preliminary Information: The preliminary information in each book provides background information to serve as an aid to planning for lessons. It includes general information on teaching music to four-, five-, and six-year olds and details about teaching the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts curriculum.

Lesson Plans: The 10 lesson plans, designed for a classroom lesson of 30-45 minutes, follow. Each lesson plan consists of four parts. First, there is a list of teaching materials needed for the lesson. The list is followed by a lesson overview (a brief summary of what is included in the lesson) which can be easily used once a teacher is familiar with the curriculum. A detailed lesson plan follows including step-by-step instructions for teaching the curriculum. Finally, suggestions are made to connect the lesson to activities that children can pursue either independently or with a teacher in a classroom Music Play Center.

Support Materials: This section includes information regarding student assessment, a track listing for the compact disc, a complete copy of the story, reproducible coloring pages, vocal/piano versions of all the songs included on the CD and indexes to aid with locating materials in the course.

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The Importance of Early Childhood Music

Educators and psychologists from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present have attested to the value of music study on the development of the child. According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), the noted Swiss psychologist, a child's early years are the optimum period for intellectual development. He believed that children and adults think in different ways. During the "pre-operational" learning stage (ages 2-7), children begin to think and react through symbols (language, drama, drawings and dreams). This stage is perfect for starting the process of learning music.

Jerome Bruner (b. 1915), an important American cognitive psychologist, believes that the foundations of any subject can be taught to anybody at any age. In his theories, he places great emphasis on teaching the structure of the subject. He developed a spiral curriculum where general principles are presented and applied to various learning situations in ever-increasing complexity. Learning should be structured to serve the future.

The study of music at a young age is supported by the humanist theories of Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) and leads to a fully realized, complete human, person (self-actualized). Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner (b. 1943) sets forth a theory that some children seem to "think musically" at a very young age. These children represent a small percentage of our society, but Gardner suggests that the numbers might increase if music were taught at a young age. Young children have the ability to understand music intuitively through performance and/or composition. In addition, they seem to have a genetic predisposition to hear, remember and produce musical patterns regardless of whether of not they are products of musical environments.

Several recent studies show improved spatial-temporal task scores and pattern-recognition scores for children in different age groups who had received piano instruction as compared to the same-age control groups without piano instruction. These studies report that piano instruction is far superior to computer instruction in enhancing a child's abstract reasoning skills necessary for learning science and math. In research reported by Frances Rauscher (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh) and associates in the February 1997 issue of Neurological Research, children who had received music instruction (including keyboard lessons) scored higher in spatial task ability than those who had not. The March 1999 issue of Neurological Research describes a study led by Gordon Shaw (University of California, Irvine) which showed improved math scores among elementary school children who took piano lessons.

While the validity of these studies has been rigorously questioned by scholars and researchers, they have received coverage by the press that has raised interest in early childhood music among the general public.

In its 1999 budget, the state of Georgia allotted $105,000 to buy every newborn a cassette tape or compact disc of classical music. Governor Zell Miller explained to the legislature that early doses of classical music can increase an infant's native intelligence.

Most importantly, the study of music at a young age increases the quality of the child's early life experiences. Music can soothe, stimulate or entertain children. It provides pleasure, joy and an outlet for creative expression; it helps develop listening and auditory discrimination skills; it contributes to motor skill development (both large muscle and small muscle); and it increases the range and flexibility of the voice. Music can soothe emotions, invite enthusiasm and bring immense pleasure to the listener.

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Reasons for Music in the Early Childhood Classroom

The influences of music go far beyond the intellectual and physical development of a child. Music experiences contribute to the growth of well-balanced children in sensitivity, expressiveness, and the spirit essential for functioning in a complicated world. Learning about music in a classroom setting provides growth for children in other areas as well:

  1. Sharing: Learning to share materials and to take turns in music activities, such as playing instruments, helps to reinforce patience and respect for others in the group.
  2. Confidence and Poise: Music making offers children a chance to perform with and for others, and to develop confidence in their ability to make presentations for groups.
  3. Perseverance and Commitment: As children become more skilled in singing, moving and playing instruments, they can see and hear the results of their efforts.
  4. Friendships: Music activities often require interaction with peers in the class, which helps develop positive relationships among children.
  5. Coordination: The many movement activities associated with music experiences develop both small muscles and large muscles. The awareness of internal steady pulse, coordinated with external movements, helps children regulate their behavior.
  6. Self-respect and Satisfaction: As musical skills develop, children feel a strong sense of satisfaction in their progress and develop a feeling of self-respect that transfers to other situations in life.
  7. Creativity and Self-expression: Music experiences often invite individual creative responses and encourage children's imagination in other creative endeavors.
  8. Pride in Achievement: Sharing music with peers and family reinforces the value of each child in the classroom, and children develop a sense of pride in their musical achievements.
  9. Concentration and Problem-solving: Learning about music requires concentration and focus. When children are asked to analyze, compare and contrast sounds, they are actively engaged in problem-solving experiences.
  10. Fun and Relaxation: Singing, moving, playing instruments and listening to music are all enjoyable experiences. Music making can provide hours of personal entertainment and relaxation throughout one's entire life.

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Characteristics of Four-, Five- and Six-Year-Olds

Some characteristics of four-, five-, and six-year olds that effect musical learning include:

  1. Students have an excitement and enthusiasm for learning.
  2. Physical coordination increases each year.
  3. Attention span is limited and curiosity is high.
  4. To a great extent, learning depends on imitation. Demonstration is very important in the lesson. "Hands-on" experiences are more important than verbal explanations.
  5. Physical activity (moving and responding to music) is an important part of learning.
  6. The need for praise is powerful.
  7. Memory is quick, but things are soon forgotten too. Consequently, repetition is important to the learning process.
  8. Reality is seen in relationship to self and the environment.
  9. Taking turns is an accepted part of daily life.
  10. Students have a great desire to please the teacher.
  11. They do not sit and listen to long verbal explanations.
  12. They are enthusiastic singers and enjoy moving to music and playing singing games.
  13. They are more attentive learners if the senses of touch, sight and sound are used in instruction.
  14. They function well in group situations.
  15. They enjoy expressing non-musical ideas through music.
  16. They enjoy live musical performances.

Four-, five, and six-year olds can be very different from each other. Five and six-year olds especially enjoy companions of their own age and frequently have "play dates." As students grow older, they can respond more competently to the pulse of music and follow movement directions more exactly for traditional dances. Vocabulary and small music control increase with age. By the time children are six years old, they can play games with rules; often pair up and have best friends; have a need to win and be the center of attention; and show a high level of activity.

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Special Considerations in Teaching Music to Young Children

  1. The materials used in lessons should involve many musical behaviors such as singing, movement and playing instruments. These experiences are not intended to focus on performance as the final goal, but rather to give young children a broad range of musical avenues for expression.
  2. The materials used in lessons should take into consideration the level of visual representation that is meaningful to young children. Movement and playing instruments precede graphic and symbolic visuals, which leads to simple concepts using traditional musical notation.
  3. Young children learn in a cyclic manner and need repeated encounters with materials to process experiences. Lessons should include many opportunities to review and repeat familiar musical activities.
  4. Young children do not view music as isolated from other classroom activities, and will often create their own musical expressions in their play. Musical experiences in the classroom should encourage this type of independent music making.

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The National Standards for Music Education

Music Educators National Conference (MENC) has published learning standards in the areas of music, dance, drama and visual art in The National Standards for Arts Education: What Every Young American Should Know and Be Able to Do, (MENC, 1994). The music standards for young children are described in two separate documents, one with a focus on pre-K children, and the other with a focus on K-4 learners.

The lessons in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts were designed to address music learning standards for children ages four, five and six. This age group encompasses standards from both of the documents. The following shows how Classroom Music for Little Mozarts activities approach these standards.

Classroom Music for Little Mozarts lessons incorporate a variety of music for singing. Styles include energetic gathering songs, folk songs, songs with motions and actions, and quiet lullabies.

Book 1 of Classroom Music for Little Mozarts also includes playing simple percussion instruments-sticks and shakers. Suggestions for the Music Play Center include instrument exploration and discovery, as well as playing rhythm patterns learned in the group lesson on the instruments.

Children are invited to improvise accompaniments through movement to many of the large group singing experiences in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts. In the Music Play Center, children are encouraged to create their own musical ideas and to play instruments as they sing.

Children use rhythm patterns they have learned to construct longer compositions. In the Music Play Center, they can develop their own ideas for sound making and constructing music.

The Big Music Book activities introduce children to the idea of "pictures of sound." The iconic representations in the early lessons transform into rhythmic notation in a simple fashion. In keeping with the idea of patterns of sound, the notation is simple. All notation-oriented lessons are preceded by opportunities for singing, movement and playing instruments. These active experiences prepare children to develop an awareness and understanding of the concept before learning the symbol.

Specific activities focus on children's listening skills. They use movement skills to demonstrate their understanding, as they move to the steady beat or play rhythm patterns on instruments. As they learn musical vocabulary, children can use appropriate verbal labels to describe the music they hear and perform. Children learn to identify same and different sounds, and then how to describe the ways sounds are varied (high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft). This is part of the analysis process in music learning for young children.

Within the group lessons and the Music Play Center activities, children develop skills in performing music through singing, movement and playing instruments. As teachers encourage children to participate in these experiences, they help children evaluate their own performance with ways it can be changed or improved. The final lesson, a sharing with friends and family, is a culminating experience where children prepare their best work to share with others.

Each lesson is set in the context of an early childhood classroom, where all subjects and curriculum topics are part of a child's everyday environment. There are many opportunities for teachers to link the musical ideas with other classroom learning, especially in the areas of social skills, language skills and number concepts.

History is incorporated through the characters in the story. Mozart Mouse, Beethoven Bear, and Clara Schumann-Cat are based on actual musicians-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Clara Schumann. Clara refers to her musical family and describes ways she learned music by being a part of this history. The costumes worn by Mozart Mouse (lace collar) and Beethoven Bear (tuxedo-type coat) reflect the time period in which the real composers lived. Many of the other characters who appear in later books are also based on important figures in music history. The listening lessons provide many opportunities to link with history and culture. Bringing "live" musicians to the classroom could also address this standard.

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Music and the Early Childhood Teacher

While the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program can be taught by music teachers, it was designed so that early childhood classroom teachers can also teach it. The teacher plays a very important role in the success of the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts lessons. The teacher's attitude towards musical experiences contributes to the children's perceptions of the experience. If the teacher projects a positive attitude towards music lesson time, the children will be engaged by the enthusiasm.

Young children do not view music as a separate "subject area," nor do they expect a different teacher to teach them about music. With guidance from the classroom teacher, they will be eager to participate in the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts group lessons and in the suggested follow-up music play activities.

Some early childhood teachers are concerned about their lack of experience as a singer, and as a result, they hesitate to sing with the children. Singing is a natural form of expression for children, and the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts lessons invite singing in many ways. For teachers who are uncertain about their own singing as a model for children, the recorded compact disc (CD) in the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program provides a good vocal example. Use the CD to lead the group activities with songs. As children repeatedly hear the recorded songs, they will learn the melody and eventually sing along with the recording.

In recording the CD, careful attention was paid to the tempo of the songs (how fast or slow to sing), and to the best key for singing (whether a song is high or low to sing) with young children. If a song seems high in pitch to you, it may be that you have been singing in a more adult register of your voice. Children's pitch level is naturally higher than adults, because their vocal cords are shorter and produce higher pitches than adult voices do.

If a song is pitched too low for children to sing, they can simply chant or speak the text, without pitch. The difference between singing a song and chanting a rhyme is that the song has text, rhythm and pitch while the rhyme has just text and rhythm.

Rhythmic speech, sometimes called chanting, is a very important part of children's musical learning though fingerplays, rhymes and similar activities. Rhythmic speech reinforces the rules of speech and timing of language, and helps children in a group learn to work together. Underlying rhythmic speech is a steady beat, the foundation for group music making. If teachers are uncertain about their own singing voices, examples can be incorporated using such rhythmic speech in the classroom, while using the CD model for the songs.

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Skills and Concepts Included in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts

Music experiences in the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program develop general musicianship skills in listening (music appreciation), singing, playing classroom instruments (rhythmic activities), and structured and expressive movement. Understanding of musical symbols is also addressed with simple visual representations that lead to traditional musical notation. Musical concepts and vocabulary are incorporated into each lesson.

Listening: Children listen to music naturally. Research shows that children respond early to differences in volume (loud/soft) and to differences in the type of instrument or voice. Responding to pitch and rhythm patterns follows, with response to harmony (multiple sounds) coming later. Children's preferences for musical styles are not yet fixed at ages four, five, and six; research shows that they are open to listening to a wide variety of recorded music.

Listening examples in the Classroom Music for Little Mozarts include classical music, traditional folk music, and music composed specifically for the lessons. While listening to recorded music, children are often invited to move in both creative and structured ways, and to engage in other activities such as coloring pages with illustrations of the lesson.

Singing: Singing plays an important role in early childhood music learning. Children can sing accurately at an early age. Some research supports the fact that a child's range of tones increases progressively from ages two through five. The most common range for group singing of young children involves the pitches D to A, just above middle C on the piano. This small range naturally limits the number of tunes that can be sung completely by the children. The songs in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts use both limited and expanded range to develop singing skills. Children should sing the songs or parts of songs that are comfortable for them, and listen to music that is beyond the natural singing range.

Singing is best taught by listening and repetition. The teacher and the compact disc provide models for the child to imitate. When learning to sing a song, young children often listen to it several times before joining in with the teacher or the CD. Teachers should be comfortable with the words of the song, and should encourage children's participation through movement and dramatization.

Three different types of songs are used in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts: familiar folk songs for interest and motivation; songs with words and motions to reinforce rhythm, melody and other music concepts; and songs to introduce expressive elements while stimulating creativity and musical imagination.

Playing Instruments: Playing percussion instruments is exciting for children. The colors of the various instruments (wooden clicking sounds, metal ringing sounds, thick drumming sounds) heighten the awareness of musical qualities and patterns. Since a percussion instrument is an extension of the body, children need to experience movement activities to prepare them to play the instruments.

The lessons in Book 1 of Classroom Music for Little Mozarts incorporate playing three simple classroom percussion instruments - wooden sticks, shakers and the triangle. To play these instruments accurately, preparatory experiences are included for the children to explore the sound potential and develop the physical control for producing and changing the sound. In presenting a lesson that involves playing sticks "on the beat" or in a pattern, children also need some "free play" time with the sound-making objects to experiment with sound qualities and control in playing. Both physical control (coordinated two-hand movement) and visual control are required with playing most instruments.

Instruments can be used for a variety of purposes in the music class. Beyond the exploratory sound play appropriate for young children, the typical four- to six-year-old child can play the instruments in the more structured or representational ways:

  1. To support or replace body percussion (claps, stamps, etc.): This type of instrument play requires the children to first be able to accurately place the beat in the appropriate place using sounds such as clapping or stamping. The instrument then replaces the body sound while incorporating a variety of interesting timbres into the music making.
  2. To add "color" and sound effects to stories, rhymes, recordings: Instruments are often used to add ethnic color or style to words or recordings. Children can help make choices about appropriate instruments to use in different examples.
  3. To illustrate patterns or formal changes in music: Instruments help divide the sections of a recorded composition or the phrases in a song. These formal ideas about music help children construct the whole of the musical performance.

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Recommended Percussion Instruments:

The following recommendations can be used as guidelines for instruments that produce the various types of musical sounds that can be used in classroom music teaching. Recommendations for numbers of instruments to purchase are suggested related to the number of children in the classroom:

  • 12-20 children: large group
  • 6-11 children: medium group
  • fewer than 6 children: small group

Non-pitched Instruments:

Hand drums: clear, deep sounds for focused pulse and patterns

  • Large or Medium Group: 4-6
  • Small Group: one for each child

Sticks and Wood Blocks: clear, pointed sound for quick rhythms and patterns; length should be no more than 12 inches; plain wooden dowel-types are preferable to slim, colored sticks.

  • One pair of sticks for every child
  • 1-2 wood blocks for the classroom

Shakers: colorful or thicker sounds without clear center

  • Large Group: 4-6
  • Medium or Small Group: one pair for each child

Jingle Bells: shiny, uncentered sounds for color

  • Large or Medium Group: 2-3
  • Small Group: one per child

Gong add Triangle: shimmery shounds that last a long time for cues and accents

  • 1-2 for the classroom

Pitched Instuments:

Each classroom should have two pitched instruments for "conversational" music play and for playing melodies and melodic patterns. Examples of such instruments include xylophones and glockenspiels.

Movement:

Two types of movement (free movement and structured movement) are connected to music learning in the early childhood years. Children are natural movers. They often use their bodies in free, fluid ways to express their own ideas and feelings or to dramatize characters from a story or song. These movements are not synchronized to musical ideas such as the steady beat.

Children also can learn to control their bodies in more coordinated ways, which can lead to synchronizing with musical ideas such as steady beat and rhythm patterns. Singing games with structured responses (placing an action on a specific beat) are other examples of this.

Movement experiences serve several important purposes in classes for young children:

  1. Movement develops large motor coordination by moving to the steady pulse (beat) of the music.
  2. Movement re-energizes children for increased concentration on highly focused activities in the music class.
  3. Movement develops concentration through memorizing structured dance steps to music.
  4. Movement stimulates the imagination and creative thinking through dramatic play while listening to music and singing.
  5. Movement can demonstrate a young child's understanding of musical concepts and vocabulary.
  6. Movement is a form of visual representation, which precedes verbal labels and explanations.
  7. Movement is a form of representation that reinforces musical concepts and vocabulary.

In Classroom Music for Little Mozarts, opportunities for movement are included in every lesson. Children creatively dramatize song texts and add prescribed movements to songs and chants. Movement can be a form of visual representation, making the "unseen" qualities of the musical experience become visual. The movement experiences in Classroom Music for Little Mozart fall loosely into three categories:

Songs with Words and Motions: Songs with words and motions invite children to follow the directions in the text. Instructions for moving are part of the words of the song.

  • Hello Song
  • If You're Happy and You Know it
  • Do Re Mi Tapping Song
  • Goodbye Song

Structured Movement: Classroom experiences with structured movement help children with coordination and a sense of accurate timing. The following songs offer specific "spaces" where the expected movement response should be included.

  • Do You Know?
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
  • High and Low Song
  • Johnny Works with One Hammer
  • Mozart Mouse
  • Mexican Hat Dance
  • Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Creative Movement: These songs and recorded examples encourage children to dramatize the text or story of the song. Children can use their imagination to play the roles of characters within the songs.

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Racing Car
  • Giant's Lullaby
  • The Old Gray Cat

Visual Representation (music reading): Developing skills in reading music begins with the recognition that things-including sounds--can be named and labeled. Most lessons in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts include a brief segment that focuses on age-appropriate visual representations, ranging from pictorial ideas to signs.

These begin with simple illustrations of characters with their names (Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear). The next lessons include iconic images for concepts, such as a racing car for fast and a turtle for slow. The introduction of pictures for patterns of sound follows, e.g., one hammer equals one beat in "Johnny Works with One Hammer." In the final lessons of Book 1, short segments of traditional musical notation are presented.

The idea of visual representations builds on children's playful encounters with literacy-based materials. The visual representations presented in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts build on the initial experiences during the lessons, as children are engaged in movement, singing, listening and instrument play. These experiences are then represented in the Big Music Book pages, where children move from pictorial representations (the characters in action moving up and down stairs or driving fast in the racing car) to iconic representations (hammers to show the steady beats). Symbols flow into the traditional musical notation signs.

Two music signs are introduced in Book 1, the quarter note and the quarter rest. These are presented in patterns - four quarter notes; three quarter notes and a quarter rest. The children then learn to combine these two patterns to create a longer pattern. In this manner, children gain physical and cognitive control over the brief patterns and learn to put them into longer rhythmic "compositions." This construction-type task is related to the work of actual musical composers.

Concepts and Vocabulary: At a young age, children can learn to label musical sounds, instruments, and ideas with appropriate musical terms. Research shows that young children often recognize changes in music but don't have the terminology to describe them.

In Classroom Music for Little Mozarts, most lessons focus on one new musical idea while reviewing others. Interactive experiences in the lesson reinforce the qualities of the focus idea through singing, movement, and playing instruments.

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Classroom and Individual Opportunities for Music Learning

Early childhood professionals advocate a variety of classroom learning experiences for young children. Children, ages four through six, are able to learn in group settings, but they also need time for individual exploration and discovery in the classroom. The Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program was designed to facilitate music teaching and learning in both group and individual environments.

Each of the ten lessons is carefully outlined to focus on group music learning. Specific vocabulary and concepts are introduced and reviewed in each lesson. All of the lessons begin with a song that invites children to come to make music together (Hello Song). The reading of the story in each lesson also draws the children to the music circle, as they hear about the musical adventures of Beethoven Bear and Mozart Mouse. Together the children sing, move, listen, and play musical instruments as part of the full group, and they learn as a group about visual representations of sound through the Big Music Book.

The Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program also includes ideas for setting up a Music Play Center in the early childhood classroom, to allow for the play that is so important to learning at this age. The musical play space ideas are developed from the group lesson material and follow each lesson. The suggested experiences will help children build on the lesson concept, the musical vocabulary, the adventure story ideas, or the Big Music Book representations. Some of the musical play space activities can be done by individual students; others can be done by small groups of children; while some will need teacher guidance.

The Classroom Lesson Format:

Classroom Music for Little Mozarts is organized as a series of ten lessons in which children encounter Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear, who live in their early childhood classroom. The adventures of these two delightful characters introduce or reinforce the musical experiences in each lesson.

Each lesson has a theme and a focus on a musical idea or concept. These proceed from simple introductions to the characters in Lesson 1 to specific musical content and skills in the following lessons. In the final lesson, Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear join in a shared musical performance for their friends, and they invite all the students to do the same.

Although the lessons are designed to be presented in ten sequential sessions, it is possible to divide the lessons in other ways to facilitate usage in the early childhood classroom. A teacher could read the story from the lesson separately, at another time during the day. A teacher could also use the coloring pages with quiet listening as a separate activity.

Each lesson plan has four parts:

  1. Teaching Materials: A list of teaching materials to aid the teacher in preparing and organizing the lesson
  2. Lesson Overview: A brief summary of what is included in the various parts of the lesson
  3. Detailed Lesson Plan: A step-by-step plan that enumerates what the teacher does in each section and responses that can be expected from the children
  4. Ideas for connections in the Music Play Center: Ideas for maintaining a music play center divided into general developmental areas with suggestions for related children's literature

The Music Play Center:

The Classroom Music for Little Mozarts program includes ten group music lessons that are led by the teacher. These are important in helping children work and play together as a musical group. Early childhood teachers know, however, that young children also need opportunities for self-directed learning, involving individual and small group experiences to explore, to create, to discover, and to process information. These experiences also reinforce the developmental behaviors by showing individual initiative, making choices, and problem solving.

The authors recommend that each classroom have a designated space for this type of musical play. The Music Play Center can be available to children at a general "free play" time as well as other times when children are able to choose activities in the classroom.

Each lesson recommends examples of items to place in the center to facilitate play related to the lesson content. These include:

  • Small characters of Mozart Mouse, Beethoven Bear, and Clara Schumann-Cat
  • Dress-up items
  • Recordings with listening equipment
  • Song cards (pictures to illustrate the songs in the lessons)
  • Concept cards (pictures to illustrate the concepts in the lessons)
  • Classroom instruments
  • Children's books on musical themes

The Music Play Center ideas are organized to address both developmental and musical goals.

Social/Language/Imagination: The first category of ideas focuses on developmental behaviors of social skills, language skills, and imagination. The focus is on sociodramatic play, where children can pretend to be the characters in the story. They can dress up as Mozart Mouse, or they can use small figures of the characters from the story. In this way, children learn that "one thing can stand for another," and thus build representational understanding.

Musical Ideas: The second category of play ideas offers suggestions for individual or small group musical experiences, including singing, listening and playing instruments . This gives children a chance to try out some of the skills and concepts from the group lesson in a more personal manner.

Musical/Representational: The third category of play ideas in each lesson relates to the musical symbols being used in the lesson. The incorporation of these pictorial ideas is another valuable step in developing literacy skills. As children learn to match auditory clues with visual symbols, they are incorporating pre-reading experiences.

Other-Manipulatives: The final category of play ideas presents a variety of other experiences, including recommended children's literature to place in the center. Books with musical themes, including books that illustrate children's songs, support the presence of music in the classroom and create links between the general classroom curriculum and music.

As the ten lessons unfold over time, the materials from each lesson can be left in the Music Play Center to create a continuing rich musical environment for play. Or the materials can be changed weekly to focus more specifically on the lesson concept or theme. Because of the possibility of "lots of sound" coming from the center, the teacher must decide on the maximum number of children that can be working in the Music Play Center at the same time. The authors recommend that teachers start with no more than 2 or 3 children at a time in the Music Play Center.

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The Detailed Lesson Plans

The detailed lesson plans are divided into sections: Introduction and Review, Story Connections, Visual Representations, Extension and Elaboration, and Closing. Within each section, activities are enumerated in a suggested order of presentation for the teacher. In some cases, a script (indicated by the word say) is given for the teacher to suggest an exact wording to introduce an activity. More experienced teachers should feel free to vary the script. The appropriate student response follows each item in the list of activities.

Introduction and Review: The Hello Song always begins each lesson. The activities that follow review concepts, materials and activities from previous lessons.

Story Connections: Every lesson contains a segment of a story about the characters. This listening activity allows children to enter the imaginary and playful world of Mozart Mouse and Beethoven Bear as they learn about music, too. Segments of the story build on the previous ones to form one long story. Because the story is recorded on the CD as well as printed in the lesson plans and in the book, a teacher can choose to read the story or use the recording. The Big Music Book contains a page for each story segment that should be open as children listen to the story.

Visual Representation: This section of the lesson reinforces the musical concepts from the lesson using a second page from the Big Music Book. It focuses on the musical ideas and vocabulary from the lesson. Singing, listening, movement and instrument activities support this area.

Extension and Elaboration: This section further reinforces ideas from the lesson through additional activities in a variety of categories.

Closing: Closing activities always include a coloring page to reinforce the theme of each lesson. The pictures are related but not identical to the pictures in the Big Music Book. Children can color these individual pages and collection them into a booklet at the end of the ten-week program. The recording also includes music for the quiet listening experiences that are linked to the coloring pages. The teacher can discuss this music with the children or simply let is serve as background music. The Goodbye Song closes each class.

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Pacing the Classroom Lesson

The lessons in Classroom Music for Little Mozarts were designed for 30-45 minute time segments. The actual time you need for the lesson may vary from that target number for a variety of reasons. Some lesson activities are marked "optional," and may be eliminated if time is a concern. The following suggestions aid with organizing the classroom lesson time.

  1. The Hello Song invites the children to come to the music class and can be used as a transitional song from other classroom activities. The recording can be begun while children are finishing or cleaning up from another activity. It can be played several times to draw the children to the circle.
  2. In reading or listening to the story, you may want to question the children about what they heard in the story, or invite their own ideas about what might happen next. The lesson outline does not always include this exchange of ideas. While children's comments about their personal connections to the story will lengthen the story time portion of the lesson, the interaction can be positive in many ways.
  3. When introducing new songs, play the CD as many times as necessary for the children to hear the model and any instructions in the song. Even if the plan or outline does not call for this repetition, it may appropriate for your group.
  4. The lessons are designed with a quiet listening experience at the end to provide a calm closing to the class as children color. Instead of always coming at the close of the group music time, this entire activity of listening and coloring can be scheduled at a different point in the day when a calm and quiet mood is desired. The listening experience could also be used on a completely different day in the week; this opportunity for review can be an effective learning experience for the children.

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