Music and the Performing Arts are the cornerstone of our curriculum. We have a music library that spans from Gregorian chant, Glass and Adams in classical music, to Gamelan, Samba, Tango, Mbira, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and McCoy Tyner and a wide range of nursery rhymes. Our music teachers have an excellent knowledge of music, child development, keyboard skills (and may play more instruments). Howard Gardiner identified a separate musical intelligence in early years children that develops before many fundamental steps in language and literacy and numeracy.
There is also good evidence that music stimulates other areas of learning, especially in some logical and mathematical areas. Our music teachers also design appropriate background music for a range of activities. They chose music for your babies that may help them relax and sleep or be energetic.
We use a range of approaches to musical education including Dalcroze (a mix of Solfa/Kodaly and Eurhythmics), as well as exploring how music lends itself to other areas of learning such as in mathematics (rhythms, beats, speeds, durations), emotional awareness (major and minor keys, happy and sad music), and to creative expression.
Music is also central to storytelling. Operas, musicals, children’s songs all have a dramatic narrative and provide a wealth for children to explore. Disney is wonderful for children. But so is Mozart, Rossini, Stravinsky and Wagner. There are amazing stories to be discovered, and children are just as receptive to The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflote) or Cinderella (La Cenerentola, Cendrillon) as they are to Disney’s Snow White.
We use performance to build self-confidence. Children are given opportunities to perform individually, in groups, in front of each other and other children in the nursery. We also have regular performances for to give them a chance to perform for parents.
Every year we run a Magnum Opus programme which focuses on the creation of a larger piece of work across the nursery for public performance. In the past we have produced versions of the Magic Flute, Cenerentola and The Love of Three Oranges. Sometimes we get the children to compose their own work. We had 170 3 – 5 year olds write their own version of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. They wrote the words, chose or wrote the music, designed the sets and the costumes, rehearsed and then performed for an audience at the Unicorn Theatre.
What was remarkable was the amount of ownership the children took in their part of the work, and how much pride they derived from being able to perform something which they had created, rather than something that they were required to memorise.
We will always emphasise unlocking the potential in children