This past session of early childhood music classes had a deep impact on me as I feel myself coming more into my own as an early childhood music instructor. With the holiday break before winter session, I am left reflecting on the growth that happened in the classes. With each new class, I find that my understanding of attachment and childhood development deepens. Rather than being concepts I read about in a study, they are instead things that can be observed and enhanced through music.
The Early Childhood Music Experience
Over the course of 10 weeks, I saw many of the children grow not only musically, but socially and emotionally as well. They were able to make their physical rhythm match that of the music, and some of the older ones even started singing along to songs. Children who were shy in the beginning of the session had become more outgoing and confident by the end. Their faces would light up when they saw their friend, heard their favorite song, or saw their favorite prop come out to play.
This had an effect on parents as well because they were able to see their children as creative beings in a different setting. They saw that their children felt safe in exploring their environment. Parents also got to see their children engage with other children who were similar in age and not siblings. This led to cases of sharing, helping, and interacting. (And yes, sometimes there were fights over instruments, but that just provided us adults with the opportunity to teach age-appropriate conflict resolution skills!)
Not All Early Childhood Music Experiences are the Same
Still, a few children remained shy throughout the classes, and stayed close to their parents. These children appeared to have fun interacting and making music together with their parents, and their parents seemed to equally enjoy themselves. As a therapist, I respected the children’s boundaries, and encouraged parents to do the same, while still offering them opportunities for engagement. The sound of the collective music-making didn’t seem distressing to them, so I perceived these children as being introverted, or shy and needing more time to warm up to a strange group.