Learning Music and Language through Movement
Music is highly structured. It is organized into beats and bars, into rhythm and melody. These bars are organized into melodic phrases and parts of songs like verses and choruses. As children learn songs they learn about music by internalizing its structure. Lyrics in songs also have their own structure and often a rhyming scheme.
As children learn how songs are structured they are also learning at the same time about how language and poetry are structured. With repetition, songs help to re-enforce the rudiments of language, the sounds and shapes of words and how they fit together in families of words, in easy-to-remember phrases. When this learning is combined with movement, the learning and the fun can be intensified.
An example of this concept in action would be a song most people know, “The Wheels on the Bus”:
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
Round and round, round and round
(children make circular motions with their hands)
The wheels on the bus go round and round
All through the town.
The driver on the bus says “Move on back.” [words repeat as above]
(children use their thumb to gesture back)
The wipers on the bus go “Swish, swish, swish.”
(children make wiping actions with their hands)
The people on the bus go up and down. Etc.
(children move up and down)
In this example, children learn to associate different verses with different actions. The different actions help teach the different words of each verse. The repetitive nature of the verse structure also amplifies the learning process, and when the song is repeated from week to week, the children greet it with delight.
About the Participation of Caregivers
The participation of parents and caregivers in Rainbow Songs programs is an extremely important part of the success of the classes. The more you take part in the music making, the more your child will get out of it. Children learn by imitation and when they see you singing and playing musical instruments they will try to do the same. The collective practice of making music together should not end in the classroom. Musical learning and enjoyment will increase as you sing and make music with your child in your own home. This is an opportunity for you and your child to grow together musically.
You will receive simple instruction in the correct techniques for playing instruments. Easy demonstrations are shown to children and adults together. You will learn to play bongos, tambourines, clave sticks, maracas, drums, and other instruments. Then you can pass this accomplishment on to your children by teaching them. You and your children can practice making music together for years to come. Songs are taught with hand gestures and movements to reinforce the learning process. The actions to songs help children to learn the words more quickly and to involve the whole body in the music. The effect of the participation of the caregivers doing “the motions” of the songs as well as the singing and playing them makes the experience more engaging for your children.