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Music for Early Years’ Learning and Development




The first East Midlands Early Years Network (EMEYN) Conference, ‘MUSIC IN THE FRAMEworks!’ brought together practitioners from all over the country to explore the Conference focus, ‘how to deliver music through all areas of learning and development”.

This one day event at the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust initiated opportunities to share ideas and practice from which we hope discussions will continue both at our upcoming East Midlands Early Years Networking Events and here, online.

In her opening keynote, Sue Nicholls highlighted the importance of expanding on and forging links with children’s musical experiences in the home, of supporting parents and carers to provide children with quality musical experiences. Sue has published several music resource books for non-specialists, written scripts for BBC Early Years programmes and contributed material to many other publications. She raised the question, ‘How can we encourage an enduring and life-long interest and involvement in music?’ – a discussion to be continued throughout the day.

In her workshop session, Sue led delegates to experience songs and musical games and share ideas on how these might be used in an Early Years setting. These included ‘I’m a train’ a gathering game from her latest publication ‘Voicelinks’ which allowed Children to develop movement and imagination as they create human trains and test their mathematics with opportunities for counting carriages and other numeracy questions. Sue also showed her junk instrument collection, a fantastic tool for creating inventive and exciting music opportunities inexpensively and another brilliant way to help encourage families to continue making music at home with little expense.

An innovative session from Hilary Miles explored uses for technology in the Early Years classroom. Hilary has over thirty years experience in all phases of music education, including the Early Years Foundation Stage. Her workshop captured our attention, with delegates excitedly sharing ideas for one of the demo’d apps ‘Singing Fingers’, in particular as a potential addition to literacy and storytelling hour to introduce new sounds and interaction to story time.

In her session, Linda Bance explained, “I hope that you will leave with the knowledge that music is a most powerful tool for learning and that you can broaden the amount of musical activity that you offer so that it becomes a natural part of each day.” Linda demonstrated how everyday objects could be used as creative props for music and learning including socks and teddy bears.

In the final workshop of the day, Pat Beckley explored how music makes children healthier, engage with the world around them and develop their social skills. She demonstrated this by using instruments from around the world, musical games, singing games, clapping games, chants and songs, and highlighted how these link to the Early Years curriculum. Pat has taught in primary schools before going into higher education at Bishop Grosseteste University, in which she is academic co-ordinator for the 3-7 cohorts on the PGCE Primary course.

At soundLINCS, we’ve been exploring new ways to build these rounded musical experiences to additionally support parents and carers. Our project ‘TryARTS’ for example aims to support parents and give them the tools to create their own sustainable group who can explore arts and music activities long after our music facilitators have left. We’ve also been producing resource packs ‘First Notes’ and ‘Early Ears’ which provide songs and games activities and demonstrate how they can link with the Early Years curriculum. MUSIC IN THE FRAMEworks! gave us a fantastic opportunity to share our expertise with practitioners from across the country, discussing ideas and practice, and we hope to continue this exchange at our upcoming Early Years Networking events – click here for dates.

We’d also love to hear from those who cannot attend the events so please feel free to comment on this blog, or visit us on Twitter to share your thoughts on how to deliver music through all areas of learning and development and why Early Years music matters!

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