We constantly receive a high spectrum of frequencies which we consciously process and some which our ears take in but we do not consciously notice, these frequencies may still effect us. Many harsh sounds in our environment cause us to ‘tune out’ frequencies and noises so we do not listen well. We need to be aware of problems children have with listening and that these problems can go over into the emotional fields and effect a child’s ability to take in sounds. We teach listening by being good listeners ourselves, using appropriate body language and eye contact which is not too strong but affirming. Listening helps children to make contact with each other and their environment.
We give listening games;
- What sounds can we make with our body, clapping, tapping, clicking
- What sounds can we make with objects on a tray, strike a variety of objects together or use a beater. Later see if they can close their eyes and match what they hear to the object or make a sequence of sounds and see if the children can repeat.
- Locating the direction a sound has been emitted from. Ask children to stand in different directions and point to where they think it comes from, also try this near a wall.
- Make a sound and ask the children to say when they can no longer hear it.
- Children sit in a circle, one child sits in the circle in the middle, the other children try to take an object under her chair and the child in the middle tries to identify where the other child comes from.
Tips for listening to music with children:
- Children should sit in an alert position which is comfortable, we want them to be in touch with the music and how it feels on their body.
- Link the listening to music with a purposeful activity they have worked with, listening to bird song and Zoology.
- Observe children carefully but unobtrusively.
- Give the name of the piece of music, composer, dates, country of origin and some background information, have a discussion about how it feels to listen to it. Allow the children to listen many times.
- Do not force all children to listen to the music but insist on Grace and Courtesy for everyone in the room.
- Make time for silence and silence activities.
- Read stories like ‘Peter and the Wolf’, which have music written about them. Listen to Opera, ‘The Children’s Carnival’ and ‘The Planets’
- Visit the opera, theatre, live music to hear music and see movement.
Work with listening can lead to further work driven by the children about the composer, instruments. Work with listening can lead to work with rhythm to identify beats.