* Multi-sensory, innovative and learning style orientated;

* Developmentally sequenced, cumulative learning;

* Inspiring creativity and confidence while respecting individuality...

   ... Interested? Read more below or *Contact Bernadette


Do-Re-Mi Music for Children classes present all the concepts of music through age appropriate activities involving all the senses. Singing is fundamental to Kodály teaching as the voice is our primary instrument, and music and language are so closely related. Young children tend to pick up music in the same way in which they acquire language. Parent or carer involvement is therefore very important also.

Classes consist of a range of activities involving singing, spoken rhymes, movement, dance, percussion instruments (initially un-tuned, and later tuned also), musical games and listening activities. High quality music is sourced from a wide variety of cultures, and colourful teaching resources such as puppets and books are also used.

The Kodály approach to teaching music is often described as a spiral learning curriculum, in that knowledge is built on previous knowledge. There is a constant overlap and accumulation of learning. Concepts are prepared, presented and practised through carefully sequenced activities and learning experiences with focused and planned teaching strategies which are extremely important. Kodály philosophy encourages 'ear before eye and eye before hand', but even more than that, music is considered as an important part of the development of the whole person. Music plays a fundamental role in all cultures and societies and has the power to create bonds between parent and child, teacher and child, families and all social groups. Music can evoke all kinds of imagery and elicit an unlimited range of individual responses; physical, intellectual and emotional.

Children are therefore gaining a lot more than simply learning about music through these classes. By exploring music through movement they gain more control of their balance and coordination. They express music physically and develop their own self confidence as well as self expression. Later, by learning simple folk dances they can physically feel musical phrases and also learn about musical form and structure.

The children start out by responding to climaxes and accents in verses and songs. They experience the beat of the music in many different ways. Later they learn about rhythm through words of songs and simple patterns. 'Body percussion' is transferred to percussion instruments. The children learn about pitch through singing, listening, movement responses and games. These activities transfer to simple part-singing and part-playing on instruments. Likewise, all other concepts such as tempo and dynamics are experienced through listening and moving, singing and creating along with activities which develop 'inner hearing'.

Solfege/Sol-fa is a useful tool for musical development and is an important component in the literacy levels of Kodály teaching, in conjunction with the Curwen hand signs. In the later pre-school stage we do preparation work for music literacy involving such activities as stepping on beat icons and pitch patterning through body movement, leading to following a beat icon on a page as we sing a song, and tracing or even drawing a pitch contour in response to what is heard. All of these early learning experiences transfer seamlessly into the literacy learning stages when rhythm is presented first in simple 'stick' (stem) form accompanied by rhythm syllables. The syllables are generally taught first, slightly before the symbol, (ear before eye). Pitch is taught using moveable sol-fa and Curwen hand signs. Note heads are used to show pitch movement and combined with sol-fa. This is later transferred to the music staff (or stave) in various positions (transposition), thus exploring intervallic relationships in a more visual sense, and commencing reading of lines and spaces.

Of course everything that was previously experienced in a vertical spatial plane is now transferring to something with both vertical and horizontal aspects. Pitch as note heads and stick rhythm (stems) are eventually combined, and precise letter names and staff positions are ultimately taught. Children learn to compose, read, write, sing and perform their own music using both sol-fa and traditional notation in the literacy levels (school-age).

The reading of music is a complex process, and children’s aural, visual and cognitive development are equally important, as is their overall musical awareness and understanding, as well as their ability to concentrate, listen and retain information in their memory, ready for later recall. Children gain so much from group learning experiences. They are developing physically in terms of balance and coordination, as well as cognitively, through aural, visual, kinaesthetic and spatial awareness. They develop social skills through turn-taking, cooperating, sharing and interacting with other children and adults. They also develop emotionally, both through their responses to music and also through the development of confidence and self-esteem that come from taking part in activities which provide both a challenge and a sense of joy and achievement.

Children can be helped to sing in tune by encouraging the use of their 'head voice' through various games, for example, making siren sounds. They can generally sing in the range of middle D to A and this range will gradually extend outwards as they get older. Through vocal exploration games children learn the difference between actually singing as opposed to speaking with changes to pitch and timbre. All of these skills are important for dramatic and self expression. The aim is to develop a good sense of relative pitch, and the ability to distinguish the various intervals, rather than simply having a good pitch memory.

Above all, it is most important to keep the fun and joy in learning music. This is another reason why learning in a class is so important in these early developmental stages. It is important to remember that children all develop at different rates and learn in different ways. These classes cater for all learning styles and personalities. The classes are not performances, but rather, educational experiences which are carefully structured and sequenced whilst allowing for flexibility and individual creativity. Some children are quiet learners who spend a lot of time listening and observing, with less time 'doing' in class, but they go home and sing the songs while they play, or in the car or in the bath. It all sinks in and they learn in their own time, soaking up learning experiences like little sponges. We are all individuals, each one marching to the rhythm of a different drum. This individuality should be cherished and respected.

Bernadette Mary Talese (2014)

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