“I wanted to learn Piano as soon as it entered the house and heard my five year old sister playing. No teacher would take me as I was only three. But I was tenacious, as some kids can be…”. Marion played in music competitions from the age of five and at the age of eleven went to The Purcell School of Music. She studied at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Joan Havill as a performer.
Music Education and the Early Years (EYFS) Framework
This course aims to give children between the ages of two-and-a-half to seven years old, a solid foundation of basic musical knowledge, which can later be built upon in all areas of chosen music study, e.g. instrumental, or music appreciation within the school curriculum.
Whilst developing musical knowledge, the classes also focus on developing your child’s personal and academic skills. We concentrate on learning music and at the same time, on the 7 Areas of Development, as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework, found in the National Curriculum for England & Wales; Communication & Language; Personal, Social & Emotional Development; Physical Development; Literacy; Mathematics; Understanding the World; Expressive Arts and Design.
Without realising, the children are developing a strong love for learning, because enjoying listening to the music makes covering the 7 Areas of Development an easy task!
The children become an active part of a piece of classical music. Each week, we focus on a different musical element, such as an orchestral instrument, symbols, notation, composers etc. This becomes our lesson topic and the activities begin!
Listening and performing go hand-in-hand with sensory learning, and all activities are done to the music. We listen, watch, read, discuss and analyse, then put theory into practice through performance; playing instruments, movement, and singing.
The aim of the activities is to promote understanding of musical terms and develop EYFS skills, by dissecting the structure of a piece of classical music in a fun and engaging environment.
Skills gained through Classical Appreciation
• Intelligent listening, analytical skills and confidence – by introducing children to child-friendly pieces of classical music that are easy for beginners to understand, analyse and relate to, those as young as 2 years old develop crucial life-skills from the beginning.
• Expression, creativity and communication – 99.99% of children are just bursting with creativity and need a platform to express themselves. Interpreting ‘stories’ and ‘conversations’ created by elements of the music produces this platform. When children participate in activities and discussions to the music, they forget that they are learning and all become keen to voluntarily communicate, perform and indicate preference. This applies to both the shy and the confident. It is always so amazing to see the former grow into the latter.
• Develop a love for learning – by using skills from English, Maths, Physical Development in music-based activities, children are able to use ‘curriculum learning’ in an enjoyable and stimulating context. This leads to a love and appreciation for the learning process and learning in general.
• Other musical training – Classical Appreciation is especially helpful for children who may one day decide to play an instrument or compose, or for all who just listen to music for pleasure. They will have learned the ‘ABC’ of music. After all, how can you write a sentence or read a book without knowing your ‘ABC’s’? And with reading, writing or listening, the more letters and words you know beforehand, the more you will enjoy the tasks ahead. We love what we understand, and we should always love music.
• Delayed learning and SEN – everyone is ‘equals’ when it comes to Classical Appreciation. At school and at home there is often a ‘right way to behave’. There is no requirement to ‘conform’ to a behaviour, as listening to the music disciplines the child to listen and conform by themselves. I see it day-on-day, year-on-year – children with learning difficulties have proven to me time and time again that they are ‘equals’ in the classroom. They can keep up. They can understand. They can love learning too.
Set-up of the Classes
Social interaction is extremely important as the children learn to become confident amongst their peers. There have been children who have come alone, and made ‘the best of friends’ with others; children who come with friends from Nursery, and then when they all move to different ‘Big Schools’, continue to share their experiences together through music.
A typical class size is between 6-10 children and mixed aged groups are encouraged, especially if a parent would like two siblings to attend the same session. The benefit of mixed ages is that the older children step up to the mark to lead those that are younger, whilst the younger children build confidence and develop great communication skills; they are eager to learn quickly and show that they can do it too!