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ECE Resources

Early musical learning

Our youngest learners are innately musical in their vocalisations and everyday exploration of the world around them, but musical play and sound exploration as areas of learning and development are sometimes shied away from in ECE settings. Musical experiences can often be limited to teacher-led mat-time waiata and songs that may not allow opportunities for children to explore their own ideas or the sound world more broadly. 

Watch Greta Bull-Crossan (Infant and Toddler Head Teacher, Bear Park Hobsonville) discuss ways musical play can be supported and empowered across infant, toddler and preschool age groups. The conversation will provide teachers with fun and approachable practice-based sound and music ideas for recognising and extending musical behaviours and exploration, and empower them to reframe their own self-beliefs around being capable to create meaningful musical and sound learning experiences for children.

To help you navigate the webinar easily, there is a list of the key topics covered in the session below, including the time each was discussed. The key ideas discussed in this webinar are also shared in a short insight article

Topics discussed in this webinar

Times shown in minutes and seconds from the start of the video

2.04 Why is musical play important in early childhood?
6.55 Teachers’ confidence with planning and providing for musical play experiences
10.41 Creating child-led musical play opportunities in the ECE environment 
16.14 Two examples of child-led musical play
34.13 Learning outcomes for musical learning
38.27 Excessive noise and background music
45.40 Singing
48.50 Sound-making outdoors
49.50 Making body sounds

Questions for exploring the key ideas from this webinar

How confident are you in providing musical experiences for children? How does this affect what you offer?

How can we as teachers notice, recognise and respond to children’s spontaneous musical play? 

What opportunities does your environment offer for child-led music and sound exploration?

In what ways do you interact with children while exploring sounds and music?

How do you ensure that the environment protects children from excess noise while still honouring children’s inquiries into sound-making?

Further reading

Bainger, L. (2009). Engaging the young child in self-directed musical play. He Kupu, 2 (2).  Available here.

Trinick, R., & Pohio, L. (2018). The ‘serious business’ of musical play in the New Zealand early childhood curriculum. Available here.

Bodkin-Allan, S., & Swain, N. (2014). Can’t sing? Won’t sing? Aotearoa/New Zealand ‘tone-deaf’ early childhood teachers’ musical beliefs. Available here.

You can also read a useful resource called An introduction to make music together at Enspirement

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