Hello and welcome to our latest Lucy Sparkles blog! I’m Sarah, and I look after Lucy Sparkles and Friends across Brockley, Forest Hill and Crystal Palace. At the same time, I’m also studying for a Masters in Early Years Education, and this month I want to look at one of the songs we’re singing in class through a bit more of a theoretical lens, to show you what skills we’re working on with the little ones, often without you and them realising!
When you bring your children to a Lucy Sparkles and Friends class, every activity has a purpose – whether it’s developing fine motor skills during a dance exercise or working on a sense of pulse. We want to give our children the best start to their musical education, but it’s got to be fun – that’s the whole point! As Mary Poppins says, “in every task that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and…SNAP! The job’s a game!”
Well, this month we’re learning this song…
I love this song – it’s so much fun and there’s so much learning going on too!
You can hear that this song just uses two notes. But it’s not just any two notes – they’re what we call a falling minor third and we sing them at just the pitch that children’s voices develop at. You’ll hear children singing songs like this spontaneously all around – the ‘nee naw’ of the toy fire engine, the ‘I’m the king of the castle’ at the top of the slide.
By singing a song like this without being accompanied by a guitar or backing track, the children can hear the notes really clearly, and can start to join in – matching the notes they sing to the ones we are singing. This is called pitch matching, and it’s really important – whether you want to learn an instrument later in life, or simply sing along to the radio!
You’ll also have noticed that we do actions with this song – and lots of them! As anyone who’s ever spent 10 minutes with a toddler knows, children are not born to sit still! They need to move, and actually children don’t start to differentiate between music and movement until much later in life – to them it’s all part of the same experience (much as their early vocal development doesn’t distinguish between singing and talking). And by being clever with our movements, we can use them to reinforce what they’re learning in the song. We lift the babies high when we’re singing high; we drop them down low when we’re singing low. Or we sit around the parachute together, raising it up as we raise the pitch of our voices, and moving it down as the pitch lowers. We’re teaching the children a really key musical principle, but we’re doing it by playing games and having fun.
Next time you come along to a class, see if you can spot any other subconscious learning going on. If you’d like to know more, ask your teacher and they’ll be really happy to talk you through some of the key ideas behind the activities we do in class.