Music is the great ‘uniter’ of people – it offers a kind of pleasure and purpose, across cultures and communities, ages and abilities, a ‘meeting place’ that drives connection and feeling. This is an age-old understanding – Aristotle agreed that “When we hear music (and poetry) our very soul is altered.”
As music is so deeply rooted and celebrated in our school, our community and our society, we have recently embarked on a new offer for our youngest Moriah College students, who we hope will form a true love of music, one that they will take with them as they journey through school and beyond. We are excited that it is through music that we will be able to further enhance our Early Learning connection to the rest of the College, and offer our little children (and their parents) the important life-learning that comes hand in hand with the music program that so many of our students have the privilege to be a part of.
We know, too, that by incorporating music into our early years program, we provide children with an experience that will have a positive impact on their development and learning, overall. Music allows children to move, to think, to be creative, stimulating both hemispheres of their brain – all the while, helping children to enhance their emotional wellbeing, as well as forming healthy and steady foundations onto which they can scaffold their formal academic learning. It also activates the motivational sub-systems of a growing brain, and children discover the pleasure in belonging and playing within a group, of being a part of something bigger than themselves, and the positive energy and joy derived by being ‘in tune’ or ‘con brio’ as they harmonise and make music together.
The Suzuki method of teaching music, developed by the world renowned Japanese music master Shin’ichi Suzuki, is founded on the understanding that children are born with a life force that stirs in them a will to live, and will acquire abilities to live a life based on their interactions with both those who nurture them and the environment that surrounds them. One of those abilities is to become fluent in the language or languages into which each child is born. Young children acquire language through ongoing encouragement and affirmation from their family, peers and educators; and through continuous exposure they will develop an ability to discriminate and recognise sounds, respond to tone and pitch and tempo. Together with endless opportunities to repeat and practice what they hear and see, they will build competence, confidence, and fluency. Children come to know, understand and rely on the many sounds, the structures, the combinations and innuendos long before they learn the formalities of grammar and spelling. When music is thought of as a language, and young children are exposed to the sounds and structures as they would their spoken language, then they can acquire the language of music, naturally and easily.
Shin’chi Suzuki’s image of children resonates deeply with ours. He sees children as capable and naturally curious, and when nurtured with kindness and respect, they will grow to become wholesome, thoughtful people who bring joy and meaning to our world.
Pivotal to the success of the Suzuki method is the respectful and loving relationship that is grown between each child and their music teacher, and the involvement and commitment of the child’s parents. This three-way relationship (between child, parent and educator) promotes a circle of understanding and success, and where all involved derive pleasure and joy.
We anticipate that as each child learns to play his instrument – in tiny little amounts, visited and practiced over and over again, naturally building a capacity for assimilating and integrating knowledge and ability, the child will also develop an appreciation for discipline and focus.
In his book Nurtured by Love Shin’chi Suzuki writes:
“…when it comes to interacting with young children, I cannot help but do so with friendliness and respect. Additionally, I have come to live my days with the heartfelt prayer: ‘May every child born on this earth become an upstanding human being, a happy individual, and a person with desirable abilities’. This is because I came to realise that every child, without exception, is born with the potential to do so.”
Evidently, something much bigger is at play here – perhaps, through our commitment to giving children the chance to play music, we will somehow nurture our children as they become the true menschen (the ‘upstanding human beings’) we wish for each of them to be. We see their own joy and pleasure as they make music.
Together, then, we can agree that “if music be the food of love, [we must] play on.”
NOTE: Families are welcome to come to our end of year concert. Please see the flyer included in this week’s newsletter for details.
About the author
Cathy Milwidsky is the Director of Early Learning at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW