Early is the best time to start children with an enriched musical background. The earlier the child starts to hear and learn about music, the more enriched and fulfilling the child’s experience of music is going to be. This is even more beneficial for talented children. A child cannot receive the full benefit of music and will not learn as much or at all without the first three stages of the preparatory audition. With this in mind, I will now show you how to guide children through these stages.
First of all, we need to look at resources. For this particular situation, I will have two helpers, and two rooms in which to work (one is furnished with cribs, and the other is mostly open space with a carpet). Also, I will have a good sound system in both rooms (that includes a tape player and compact disc player), and some money (available to buy recordings and equipment). Next is the age range of the children. The first stage is Absorption. One of the most difficult things to do when guiding children through these stages is to know when the right time is to move them to the next stage.
This often requires much patience. The reason that you need so much patience is that all children move through the different stages of preparatory audiation at different times. The times when children move are as different as their handwriting. In the Absorption stage, children are absorbing music. But, not all music is appropriate. Most of the music that should be played is live music. It should also be played in different realities, tonalities, harmonies, meters, and tempos. When playing such diverse groups of music it is also important to not play music with words. Why do you ask? Because if you play music with words, the children seem to focus their attention more on the words than the music itself.
Out of the two rooms that we have, I would use the one room, which has cribs in it for the children in the absorption stage. This would be more appropriate for children in the absorption stage than for children in any other stage because the children in the absorption stage are the youngest. I am going to give names to my two helpers so that we can easily tell the difference between the two.
The one helper that is going to be helping me with the children in the absorption stage is named Mary. The other helper, which will help me with the two other stages (random response and purposeful response), is named Peter. Mary would be playing live music for the children. Live music and/or any kind of music that you play for children must be pleasing to the ear. It is also important that children hear a wide variety of instruments so they are introduced to a variety of pitches and timbres.
Another thing is that children’s attention spans are very short. This means that it is best to play only short sections of music or music with frequent shifts in dynamics, timbre, and tempo. This encourages children to continually redirect their attention to the music. Once you think a child is ready to go through the absorption stage then you can go onto the next stage, which is the random response.
But, before a child can go through absorption you must make sure the child is really ready to go to the next stage. One thing you do not want to do is to rush a child through each stage. They must be emotionally ready. Even if it seems like they are mentally or physically ready, you must wait if necessary. I would practice the beginning order of step two to find out if they are ready. If they are ready, they will start doing things in step two since steps one and two overlap one another.
The way I would be able to tell if they changed is by looking at the different things they do during this stage. In the second stage, children begin to make babble sounds and movements. These are not coordinated with each other or with aspects of the environment and should not even be interpreted as an attempt by children to imitate what they are listening to or seeing, or as a conscious response to what they have listened to or seen. Adults guiding children at this stage need to understand that at this age children simply have the need to babble.
Another activity that happens during stage two is group interaction. It is important in this stage that children have this because children learn much about music as a result of listening to and observing other children of similar ages as they attempt to sing chant and move. One of the purposes of stage two of preparatory audiation is to continue children’s exposure to music so that they will be better acculturated to the sound of more complex music than in stage one. Even another thing that happens during this stage is a random movement that is mostly associated with subjective tonality and subjective meter.
Although they make these movements, they should not be expected to imitate anything. Only the natural sounds and random movements that children voluntarily engage in should be encouraged. Children are still encouraged to listen to music as in stage one. What is more valuable for them now is to make much body movement in accordance with different songs. I would start (being the teacher) singing and chanting to them. At the same time, I would be making full use of my body. I would move my body to the beat of the song or chant. That way the more children have this kind of movement modeled for them, the more they will begin to experiment with movement themselves.
As in stage one, only short songs and chants in as many tonalities and meters as possible should be sung and chanted to children, and again, these should be performed without words or instrumental accompaniment of any kind. Since we have some money to use for equipment, I might buy some small instruments like a xylophone, wooden blocks, and an instrument that makes a shaking noise of some sort.
Then, after we bought the instruments, I would chant something to them and then repeat the chant, but instead of going through the whole chant like I did the first time, I would repeat parts of the chant and ask somebody if they wanted to play an instrument. When I found three children that wanted to play the three instruments, I would show these children how to do each different part of the instrument. We would play the chant and the instruments separately, then together using simple syllables like bah or bum. The thing that I feel very strongly about is not expecting much from the children.
We would try to sing the song and play the instruments, but at the same time, I would pay special attention to singing the song in the same reality, tonality, meter, and tempo. I wouldn’t be really strict about playing the right notes or playing the right tempo. Just having the children experience different things like that would be enough. Although it might not look like the child would be learning anything, they actually would. Every little bit of musical experience a child gets helps to exercise and tone the additional skills a child has.
To help me stay in the same meter and tempo, I would buy a metronome. In the second stage of Acculturation, consideration should be given not only to children’s tonal aptitude but also to their rhythm aptitude. In addition to being concerned with tonal and rhythm aptitudes, parents and teachers performing for children should pay greater attention to musical expression and phrasing. A lasting impression can be made on a child’s musical sensitivity through a performance of chants.
As in stage one of preparatory audiation, unstructured informal guidance is the rule in stage two of preparatory audiation. We don’t really know when children merge from stage to stage. One thing we do know is that children typically enter stage three, which is a purposeful response, between the ages of eighteen months to three years old, as soon as they begin to make purposeful responses in relation to their environment. In this stage, children should still continue to listen to songs and chants without words, because listening to songs and chants without words is no less important and maybe even more important in stage three than in stages one and two.
It is also important that children with high tonal and/or rhythm developmental aptitudes, be encouraged to begin, but on their own initiative, to create their own songs and chants. Also in this stage children start to sing and/or chant with the parent and/or teacher, but the teacher does not expect accuracy. In order to guide a child from stage two to stage three, you should sing a song or chant, and if they respond to you with the same response, it’s called a purposeful response. Another way you can tell when a child is in stage three is if they start to participate in the singing of tonal patterns and the chanting of rhythm patterns.
It is best to keep tonal and rhythm patterns separate during structured informal guidance for children in this stage. Adults should not perform tonal patterns immediately after rhythm patterns or another way around but instead should perform one or more songs and/or chants between the tonal and rhythm patterns. When children begin to sing tonal patterns in stage three, they typically sing at the same time that the parent or teacher is singing. But, adults should not expect children to be capable or even interested in imitating tonal patterns with any degree of accuracy.
When, however, children in this stage spontaneously sing the same thing as the adult is singing, that is a signal that the child is ready to make the transition into stage four. In order for children to give meaning to the tonal patterns they are hearing, they need to establish syntax. They begin to do this as they gain familiarity with a variety of tonalities. Only tonal patterns in major and harmonic minor tonalities that move diatonically (by scale-wise steps) should be sung to children in this stage.
In the classroom, have the children audiate different tonal and rhythm patterns. When doing different rhythm patterns use your arms and legs and move with the music and try to get them to do it with you. In doing this, the child should pick