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Integrating Music into Your Literary Experience

  • Oct 28, 2010
  • Dianna Babcock & Cheryl Henningsgaard

Last week a selection of autumn-themed music for young children was listed to facilitate opportunities for enhancement of autumn literacy experiences. A great resource, YouTube, can be used to assist with learning and teaching the songs selected. It is a great tool for learning about music, or brushing up on your past experiences with music. Children can actually watch artists perform their own music via watching a performance on YouTube.

The music selections listed included classical, popular, folk, instrumental, vocal and jazz genres. Young children should listen to music from all genres as they are developing their own unique musical palette. It is wrong to assume that young children should participate and only listen to young children’s music. World music is also a great resource for building cultural awareness and also learning different languages.

We encourage you to utilize elements of music throughout a literary experience. This can include reading out loud using different vocal tones, tapping out the rhythm of specific poems or story sections, playing instruments as a “cue” for turning a page, or including a specific pitch for a character’s speaking voice.

The music selection from last week demonstrated the importance of providing a cross section of listening material for young children. It is very important that young children learn the importance of listening by first learning how to listen. Music assists us with this important task. Combining a specific listening selection with the story makes the story come alive. Reading a story such as “Grandfather Moon” to Claire De Lune by Debussy is magical. The elements of music assist the children with attention.

Music listening while creating specific visual art experiences encourages engagement of the artistic process. You are adding another layer of brain activation by adding music. The emotional appeal of music can increase participation and encourage specific motor movements, from calming to stimulating motor movements.

Creative movement, such as pretending to be falling autumn leaves while dancing with scarves to the music selection “Autumn Leaves” after reading a story about autumn leaves adds another dimension to the literacy experience. Creating leaf prints while listening to “Autumn Leaves” also enhances the artistic process. Children will listen to the music and incorporate the listening experience into an integrated arts experience.

Research has validated the importance of teaching young children through a variety of multisensory experiences, and including an integrated arts approach to your literacy experience truly engages learning. Music should be the thread that connects your integrated language arts experience together. Patricia Shehan Campbell suggests that children find meaning with music and derive meaning from the music they experience in their daily lives. Create and connect with music!

©MacPhail Center for Music, 2010


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