Early Childhood Music

Early Childhood Music with my 17mo Daughter

In my last post, I mentioned I am delivering a presentation for NCKP 2021’s Virtual Conference tomorrow. My presentation shares about a personal research project conducting early childhood music (ECM) activities with my daughter throughout her first year of life. It’s been fun and rewarding to see Aria’s musical development up close, and I am learning so much from the process. I have hundreds of videos I’ve been collecting, logging, and analyzing!

I thought it might be fun to share a video of Aria here on my blog, for my readers as well as for any NCKP conference attendees interested in seeing a more recent video clip. The video below was taken a few days ago, with Aria at 17 months old.

The ECM activities I do with Aria are based on Edwin E. Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (MLT). I took a two-week summer certification training Early Childhood Music Level 1 offered through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning (see GIML.org) back in 2017, and have been putting my training to good use since Aria was born in February of 2020. I took the Piano Level 1 certification the summer prior to that, which I blogged about here.

Here is the video, as well as a short description of what you’ll observe in the video.

  • 0:00 I perform a rhythm chant called “Stretch and Bounce” from the Music Play curriculum. You’ll see Aria sign for “more” during the chant, anticipating the next part. 🙂 Babies and young children don’t need a ton of props, but using a few simple items sparingly can be extremely effective. My favorite prop is scarves (here’s some similar to the ones I have). Aria loves having scarves on her toy shelf. They seem to inspire her to move expressively and dance, both spontaneously as well as during our music sessions.
  • 0:50 After the chant, I wait a moment and Aria offers some rhythm babble. I echo her babble back to her to encourage more responses, and then offer my own rhythm pattern. As you can hear, her babbles make musical sense, but are sometimes in her “personal tempo” and sometimes in a tempo matching the chant. In Gordon’s MLT, he makes specific recommendations for certain patterns to use at certain stages of Preparatory Audiation. I don’t always do things perfectly correct while in-the-moment with Aria (I still need more practice!), but I hope you get the general idea. It’s tough to get a perfect teaching example on video, but it’s valuable to see real-life learning and teaching in action.
  • 2:15 I return to the “Stretch and Bounce” rhythm chant again. This time, I’m holding Aria and moving with her in my arms. Especially during early childhood, the emphasis is on flow, space, and weight movements (exploring Laban movement elements) rather than on “time” or beat-based movements. We can’t feel beats without being able to feel space between beats!
  • 3:00 We engage in more patterns and babble conversation. Aria discovers more scarves and brings them over. 🙂 We keep music time playful and fun, while being rooted in a solid educational basis.
  • 5:00 I return to the chant one more time. MLT practitioners frequently use this “whole-part-whole” structure to provide musical context (meter and tonality) as well as musical content (rhythm patterns or tonal patterns) experiences for students. In the video, you’ll see that I use a small bluetooth remote (such as this) to stop and start the video recording on my phone from across the room.

I hope you enjoyed this window peek into MLT-based early childhood music!

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4 thoughts on “Early Childhood Music with my 17mo Daughter”

  1. I watched the entire video and found it both adorable and interesting. Your daughter is one lucky little girl to have a mama like you! It’s amazing how much fun she was having with the scarves and she obviously loves you very much as evidenced by her running to you with big hugs. How fun to be able to share your love of music with your baby girl.

  2. Thank you for sharing! Very enlightening. Your sweet video reminded me of my daughter who 23 years ago now, used simple signs to “talk” before she could talk. She signed “more” often. The other favorite sign was “cookie” 🙂

    1. Yes, the sign language is so great! I love that it gives Aria a way she can communicate with us before she is able to speak the words. So helpful! I’m happy my video brought up some sweet memories of your daughter when she was little. 🙂

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