Musical Instruments for Young Children
Making music by playing instruments can be one of the most exciting parts of the musical experience. Children are responsive to musical instruments, and they love to experiment with the different sounds and tone qualities of sticks, drums, cymbals, bells, and a variety of other instruments. Rhythm instruments, which are real musical instruments, provide rich and varied opportunities for young children to focus on creative exploration. Each instrument is different, they are simple to use, and they can be played in many interesting ways.
Appreciating Musical Instruments
While it is important for children to be free to manipulate and experiment with instruments, it is equally as important that we, their teachers, provide guidance and structure when introducing instruments. One of the first things that we must do is adopt the attitude that percussion and tuned instruments are real instruments. All major symphony orchestras use drums, triangles, bells, and other instruments in the traditional early childhood rhythm band sets.
Each instrument in your commercial rhythm band set can produce a distinctive and unique sound quality. Tuned instruments, such as resonator bells, have their own particular rich and resonating tone qualities. Young children stand ready to model our behavior and take our word on things, and our treatment of instruments and our attitude toward them can have a lasting effect on the way children handle and play all instruments.
Introduce one instrument at a time. If possible, have several identical instruments so that all of your children can explore and discover what sounds the instrument can make and how to produce these sounds. Young children are not good at waiting. They want to play the instrument now! Encourage your children to try different ways to produce sounds. Give them the time they need to get to know the instrument. If you have only one set of instruments, try placing an instrument in a music center and introducing it as a small-group activity.
By introducing instruments one at a time, you allow your children to develop a musical sensitivity to each instrument gradually. When children have experimented with several instruments, you can encourage them to make rhythmic patterns or melodies. Give your children this type of respectful introduction to musical instruments. You will be opening an avenue for them to respond to rhythm, tone, melody, and harmony—an avenue to music.
While the music and movement ideas presented above are good ways of getting you and your children started on the road to a music program, you should also consider some of the excellent recordings available. One advantage of using compact discs, or cassette tapes is that the songs are usually grouped and classified for specific purposes. It would be impossible to provide you with a complete list of what is suitable and available for use in the early childhood classroom.
Give children music made all around the world as a way of beginning a lifetime discovery of other cultures and countries, from the reggae of Jamaica to the jigs and reels of Ireland to the zydeco of Louisiana. A wide variety of music and movement from across the globe can be a springboard for children’s introduction to multicultural education in the classroom.
© ______ 2005, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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