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Important skills teachers must teach their kids | The Tuneables

Teachers can easily offer a skill-based program regardless of various classroom challenges.

FOR TEACHER

Providing early music learning experience in the classroom can be a challenge due to limited funds, staff or curriculum resources. However, teachers can easily provide a skill-based music-learning program in the school with the Tuneables. Developing a child’s musical ear or “aural skills” is critical to setting a solid foundation of music understanding. In order to successfully learn these important skills, a child must have access to:

  • Accurate modeling
  • Sequence of instructions designed for physical and mental capabilities
  • Repetitive experiences to master each skill
  • Active and engaging programming

The Tuneables incorporates all of these features and provides teachers with cost-effective, easy-to-use materials and supplies.

The Tuneables program was specifically designed to provide a quality, age-appropriate music learning experience that is accessible and easy to use for any any teacher regardless of music experience. The Tuneables Teacher Edition provides the materials necessary for you to incorporate a skill-based program of instruction in the classroom. Here are some suggestions of how to incorporate these materials:

1. Allow your students to watch the video a couple of times straight through. There are many things that will capture every child’s interest so they might need to view a few times in order to “take it all in” before they are ready to join in the fun.

2. Watch the video with your students supporting the activities in the video. Show enthusiasm and participate!

3. Begin to create your own lesson plans utilizing the sample plans in the Teacher Edition.

4. The objective is to achieve performance success, so make sure your students master the basic skills before moving to more advance skills.

5. Incorporate video and audio examples in your lessons to reinforce good modeling.

6. Access the suggested enrichment ideas for each song listed in the Teacher Edition to expand the learning.

7. Repeat! Music learning is about practicing the skills over and over. The more the children watch and participate the more they are learning.

8. Have fun! Once you and your students become familiar with the curriculum, reinforce with games, make up your own songs, listen for tonal patterns in other music.

It’s never too late to instill an interest in music learning. That said, when beginning a child’s active development of musical skills: the sooner, the better. Preschool age is a great time to start because it’s a period of rapid growth in children’s brains. Such focused, active music learning can have very positive, long-term effects that are comparable to language learning. But for children to get these benefits, they need a program that goes beyond the informal and casual playtime music commonly targeted to preschoolers. Let’s talk about how to do this!

The Musical Ear

We often think music learning means reading sheet music or playing a musical instrument. However, there’s a fundamental step to take first. Children’s music skills develop best when they’re supported by a foundation of aural skills. We call this training “the musical ear”.

Choose music activities that develop the following skills:

• Accurate singing. Songs and exercises that improve the range and accuracy of children’s singing will also help them control their voices and breathing.

• Rhythm. Begin rhythmic learning with simple motions, like patting the lap with both hands or marching to the beat. Expand the learning with rhythm patterns and more complicated movements.

• Musical tones. Practice singing musical patterns (e.g., Do, Re, Mi). These patterns make up the vocabulary of music, much like words in a sentence.

• Musical playlist. Create musical playlists of musical compositions and songs that foster a solid understanding of the basic elements of music and introduce different cultural experiences. This also helps in learning such performance skills as singing and rhythmic movement.

The way children learn is as important as what children learn.

Young children’s learning styles and abilities must be considered when providing musical education. Here are some important strategies for parents to keep in mind.

1. Plan and sequence music learning experiences so that children will build understanding and confidence.

2. Encourage children to actively participate in the learning experience by moving, singing, and actively listening. Research shows that active participation in music learning is linked to brain development.

3. Provide capable models of musical performance to guide the learning. Children pick up musical skills through imitation. If the child’s model for singing is out of tune, the child will learn to sing out of tune.

4. Match musical models to the child’s physical abilities. Choose songs in the child’s ideal singing range, and keep rhythmic movements simple to assure success.

5. Give clear instructions that are easily understood by children (and adults).

6. Don’t rush it; repetition is an important part of the learning process. Try to make presentations interesting and fun so children will want to keep learning.

Most young learners already have an inherent love for and interest in music. Teaching them these building blocks of music early on sets the foundation for future music understanding and enjoyment. Music is a lifelong learning activity that engages so many senses, interconnects so many parts of the brain, and provides so much enjoyment. Nurture it; you’ll be glad you did!

  • Music skills are developed from active participation and repetition. Create focused music learning opportunities every day.
  • Children learn music skills through modeling. Make sure music models are correct. (ie Singing in Tune, Accurate Rhythms)
  • If you are not the best model for music skills make sure to utilize good recordings, instruments and live performances to provide alternate sources for your students to follow.
  • The first step in developing a foundation of music understanding is developing an ear for tonal and rhythm patterns. Since children first pick up on visual relationships, make sure not to let your students “cheat” with color-coded instruments such as keyboards, bells or computer apps.
  • Keep the singing key in a comfortable range for your students. Singing too high or too low makes it difficult for a child to accurately sing in tune. We recommend the key of D.
  • Choose movements easily made by your students when performing rhythm skills. Lap patting and marching are good places to start. Clapping is actually more difficult for children to keep a steady beat so should be considered an advanced movement.
  • Hone a child’s listening skills by playing music and identifying particular elements in the song. For example, listening for the change in sections or for a particular instrument sound.
  • Remember music is all ready a fun activity for any child. Providing focused activities that translates into successful performance opportunities will only enhance their interest and lead to further exploration.

What types of educational settings could benefit from The Tuneables™?

The Tuneables is designed to deliver a complete educational experience no matter what instructional resources are available. Therefore, this program can be adapted to a variety of settings, including:

Preschool
Kindergarten
Primary School (Public and Private)
Home School
Day Care

Is a music teacher required to utilize The Tuneables™ in classrooms?

In most cases, children are best served in their music education when taught by a music specialist.TheTuneables™ materials provide the music teacher with valuable resources to implement an appropriate music curriculum. The carefully sequenced curriculum and clear instructions for learning provided in the DVD/CD and teacher’s guide do much to eliminate the gaps in skill and content development that might occur in any early childhood music instruction.

Unfortunately, many educational environments cannot provide for a dedicated music specialist, and, if one is provided, these specialists must contend with large class sizes and limited engagement with each student. However, with The Tuneables™, learning can extend into regular classrooms with continued and repeated use of the audio and video materials.

Classroom teachers can easily provide a music instruction program for their students even when a music specialist is not available. By presenting the sequential program contained in the various audio and visual materials and by following the suggestions in the accompanying teacher’s guide, the classroom teacher has the means to provide music instruction that reflects the best practices of music teaching.*

What are the curriculum objectives in The Tuneables™ Series?

The Tuneables™ addresses the following curriculum objectives:

Content Knowledge (Rhythm and Tonality)
Musical Expression
Performance Skills
Musical Repertoire
These objectives align with the K-12 National Standards for quality music education programs.*

I. Content Knowledge (Rhythm and Tonality)

Musical content knowledge is advanced through the development of what might be called a musical vocabulary.

This vocabulary consists of easily performed and uniquely named patterns. These patterns emerge from two streams—one rhythmic and the other tonal. The goal is for students to recall these patterns and sing and play them, recognize them in familiar music, identify them in unfamiliar settings, read them in musical notation, and create new music by combining the patterns in novel ways or inventing new combinations of tones. The mastery of a large vocabulary of rhythm and tonal patterns is the foundation for successful music performance and music literacy.

Rhythm Learning: Rhythm learning’s foundation rests on the beat and incorporates groupings of beats and divisions of beats to form rhythm patterns.

In The Tuneables™ program, rhythm patterns are presented, repeated, performed, named and recognized in various songs and musical compositions. These patterns are introduced in a sequence that enables young children to maintain a sense of the inherent logic of timed musical events as their learning and maturation proceed. Rhythmic movements demonstrated by animated characters are chosen so that they are easily performed and enhance conceptual understanding.

Tonal Learning: Tonal learning’s foundation rests on the perception of tonality and the inherent logic that this tonality is derived from a collection of notes (scale) that have musical meaning because of their relationship to one tone, called the “tonal center” (“home tone” or “final resting tone”).

In The Tuneables™ program, tonal patterns consist of two to five tones that children sing in songs, hear in isolation, and sing the tonal syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) associated with those tones. The sequence for the introduction of each new pattern is chosen to gradually introduce and then strengthen the perception of tonality.

II. Musical Expression

The enjoyment of music expands as children understand and experience the expressive elements available in music performance.

The Tuneables™ addresses this musical dimension by providing experiences with tempo (faster or slower), dynamics (louder and softer), articulation (smooth or detached), tone color (instrument and vocal sounds—individual and combinations), style (march, lullaby, dance, etc.), texture (density or transparency of sound), and mood (the emotion that the combination of music events projects, e.g., excited, calm, happy, etc.). All songs are accompanied with appropriate and interesting accompaniments to exemplify one or more of these expressive elements, and the actions of the animated characters are designed to reflect typical human responses to expressive effects.

III. Performance Skills

The Tuneables™ develops performance skills by providing accurate models and appropriate activities leading to performance accuracy.

Singing accuracy is addressed by including activities that give the voice flexibility and extend its range and by providing songs in a singing range that is best suited to the young child’s voice. Children are asked to imitate singing models that are highly accurate in pitch and rhythm. Songs, at first, are limited to one key, and then gradually expanded to other keys as the child develops the vocal control necessary to achieve good pitch accuracy. Harmonic accompaniments are also devised that, through experience, have been shown to best support the singing pitch production of the child.

Rhythmic accuracy is developed through a variety of movement activities that are easily imitated and performed. The animated characters while performing the music provide rhythmically accurate models of these movements. Children also develop rhythmic accuracy when they join in singing with the animated characters.

IV. Musical Repertoire

The Tuneables™ introduces children to a standard repertoire of music literature from the classical, popular, folk, and jazz traditions.

Each DVD features a composer and introduces the children to the sounds of the composer’s work by incorporating well-know musical themes and compositions into songs and other activities. Traditional children’s songs are utilized when appropriate for learning musical concepts. These songs and songs composed for The Tuneables™ program feature exciting and imaginative accompaniments that give children experience with the great music traditions.

  • See: The School Music Program: A New Vision—The K-12 National Standards, PreK Standards, and What They Mean to Music Educators. (www.menc.org/resources/view/the-school-music-program-a-new-vision)

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The Tuneables curriculum, based on the life work of career music educators, is designed to develop important early music skills.

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