Music and Movement with Young Children

Bearing in mind the limitations of under-five-year-olds, such as not being able to move at exactly the same time as others, the difficulty of doing two things at once, their limited span of concentration and the fact that physical control at the direction of someone else is tiring, for even a short period, a formal session of music and movement seems inappropriate to this age group. Even for older children at school who enjoy a fairly freely-interpreted session this needs to be led by an adult who has thought out carefully exactly what she is asking her group of children to do and is able to prepare a programme which leads to a natural progression for them.

That said, however, a group of experienced nursery-group children may well enjoy moving on from singing, clapping and the more complicated action songs, to a point where one or two instruments are used to provide different rhythms and pitch or to suggest a change in pace or action. If this stage is gradually introduced by going back to the old favourites we can build on what the children are used to doing. After finishing’ Humpty Dumpty’ several of the group will often want to gallop round as the King’s horses, especially if we use a tambourine to give a rhythm. We can then proceed to letting the tambourine ‘tell’ them when the King’s men start marching. This is a far cry from the ‘Choose a space and be a tree waving its branches in the wind’ type of session which comes in for so much criticism. More ambitious variations can be introduced gradually but if we try to move on too fast and too far some of the children will opt out and music time becomes a strain for everyone instead of being fun.