Making songs together? Yes, we can

Project author:

Project summary:

A study on a common effort  of both children and the teacher to work together in making songs unfolding their knowledge and creativity

Introduction

My research was aiming to discover the way children understand and use their previous experience and knowledge (conscious or unconscious, from school, family and the wider community) and creativity, in order to make a song, together with other children in a group. According to Froebelian principles : “Children learn best by doing things for themselves and from becoming more aware of their own learning. Froebelian educators respect children for who they are and value them for their efforts. Helping children to reflect is a key feature of a Froebelian education”. Also, “Children are whole beings whose thoughts, feelings and actions are interrelated” and “The relationships of every child with themselves, their parents, carers, family and wider community are valued”.

I also wanted to find out and think over, the way that I, as a knowledgeable and nurturing Educator, can function during this procedure by realizing the degree of my intervention while trying to “facilitate and guide, rather than instruct”, by practicing “freedom with guidance”.

Context

Based on my personal and professional experience and also my studies, I had the impression that in Greek kindergardens, not enough time is dedicated to music and dancing in general and specifically the kind of songs, like the mothers’ lapsongs, that Froebel used in his first “kindergarden”, which were also accompanied with movements of the whole body and were referring to daily routines of everyday life or community professions. In my opinion, those songs were a benefit in many ways for children as a whole, not only physically and notionally but also sentimentally and socially, by reinforcing the feeling of unity and connectedness between children, parents, educators and the community.

But a lot of years have passed since then, so I wanted to find out at first, the current musical experiences of the children, regarding the songs they know and then to create the conditions for the making of a song together with children, with the intention to let children unfold their own experiences and needs  as a group.

I divided my research into two stages:

Firstly I interviewed each child separately and I found out that children learn songs from their parents, their educators , shows with or for children on TV and internet, song makers making songs especially for educational reasons or commercial purpose and songs made to be sung by adults. They also knew old songs from Greek or European tradition and the majority of children interviewed (11/22), mentioned the song “Feggaraki mou lampro – My little shiny moon”, which has the same melody with “Τwinkle twinkle little star», a melody of Mozart and its content is related to a popular myth in Greece, that there were night schools during the ottoman period, where priests were teaching. I also noticed that the majority of children were not moving or dancing when they sang and only if I asked them to do so, if they wanted, except from one that made a butterfly with his hands but didn’t want to sing.

Then, I used the method of case-study, that is the participation of all the children of two classrooms on different days (boys and girls of the age of 3.5 – 6 years old), one of 18 children  and the other of 14 children, on the chosen day, for about 30 minutes for each group.

During the procedure I kept making questions, writing down the new information given by children on a paper on board and at the same time everything was recorded by my mobile phone.

We created two songs and the procedure was completed with children making some drawings of their song.

 

 

 

Ethics

First I had to secure the approval of my colleagues and the School Head Teacher  for the procedure and therefore we all signed a relevant document .

All parents were informed orally for the context of my research during our first Meeting about the general annual program of our school and written forms of consent from Froebelian Futures, were given to parents, translated into Greek .

My intention was to include all children of the kindergarden of both classes  (36 children), on different days, because I did not want parents to think that there were some special criteria for choosing children. After some time of waiting I reminded  the parents of my research and I finally got the approval for 28 children. Initially I thought I should do the research only with the children for which I had a parental approval but the rest would have to be occupied by another colleague in another room, which was not possible. Furthermore, I felt that it is not ethical to exclude children from an educational procedure, which is included in my everyday general program and the General program for kindergardens of the Ministry of education and in which the children wanted to participate, when I asked them, except from three, that wanted to do something else at the same time.

Additionally, some children for which I had a parental approval, would not come to school every day for different reasons (health etc), as it happens often in a kindergarden and I could not find a suitable day for my research. So, after considering that the procedure of the research and the results of this procedure would benefit all participants I decided to proceed with it, since all personal data are anonymous.

But I interviewed individually only the children for which I had a parental consent in the office of the school.  Some of them  felt uncomfortable with the specific procedure and I let them go back to their classroom.

During the personal interview I asked the child to tell me a song they had learned at home from a member of the family or any other song the child liked and if they wanted they could make some movements or dance that I recorded (sound and some videos) with my mobile phone.

“Singing, as Froebel emphasised, creates joyfulness, group cohesion and a sense of community”. (Helen Tovey,2017) “The true educator and teacher has to be at every moment and in every demand two-sided. He must give and take, unite and divide, order and follow; he must be active and passive, decisive and permissive, firm and flexible”. (Froebel, in Lilley 1967: 55)”, (Helen Tovey,2017)

Findings

Children do know a lot of things, especially about songs. They can commit themselves to cooperate for a common goal. They revealed their way of thinking, by connecting and combining their knowledge and experience in a collective effort for a common result. I found myself in the position to reconsider and think over my role as a teacher in order to intervene as little as possible in the learning procedure of children, have more trust in their creativity and encourage them in many ways.

I observed that children themselves gained satisfaction and joy not only from the result but also during their effort, although at the beginning one of them expressed its difficutly “I cannot sing”. But as the procedure went on, the words  “We can” appeared (e.g. if we can find more words for our song) and when I asked them to make a song they said “We will make it, together we will sing it”. They also remembered the song  the following days and wanted to do it again.

Their way of thinking was loudly expressed with phrases like : “Our brain, that’s me” sang a child and another said: “rhythm is made with words” and then he reconsidered and said “with words, ney (baaa)…..no it isn’t” and another,  when trying to answer what a sound is, said: “Aaa, that’s difficult, very difficult”.

Some children were processing the new information in their minds and then they proposed something that referred to a previous matter, some others kept reminding me something they said and some were making language connections (e.g. instruments of music and gymnastics).

Conclusively, the children said that a song is: rhythm, dance, notes, instruments, voice, words, melodies but they also referred to the prerequisites of a song creation that is, quiet and patience.  They gave certain examples of songs mainly the “Feggaraki mou lampro” (my little shiny moon) and some others.

They also tried to match the endings of the words (the rhyme):

γλυκειάθάλασσακούκλα, καλήπολύκουκλί  (η, υ, ι,  sound the same in Greek, like a bee), λαμπρόπαράδεισο.

The music chosen by the chidren of the different groups, for both their songs was the same as “Feggaraki mou Lambro”, which, during the personal interviews was sang by 11 from 22 children, showing how previous experience is used in a new frame.

My role was to make frequent questions, to write down words and ideas, tο sum up, to remind and ask them to clarify the meaning of their ideas by encouraging them to give examples (to make a rhythm, a melody, a movement etc).

I also added some new words like sound, music, words, which made, in my opinion, understanding easier and the procedure go forward. I intervened more when I insisted on the clarification of some words, when I overpassed some childrens’ ideas in order to go faster or when I sensed that children were getting tired.

The procedure was completed when I asked if the song was ready and they said “Yes it’s ready” or “No, no we don’t want to any more”.

The procedure concluded when I asked the children to draw their song: “Paschalitsa” (the ladybug). They drew the context of the song, that is the ladybug, and water in different forms , although the song was referring to the sea. In general, the ladybug was climbing high, or eating something and they also tried to write down the words of the song and some kind of symbols. The same happened with “Asteraki”, which went downwards and upwards according to the lyrics.

In detail : A song is

Rhythm, Dance, instruments (drums, guitars, violin, maraca, piano).”When drums play we dance”.

Notes are something you do not say when you write a song”, του του του του

Rhythm is: different sounds that children did without referring to the word sound: “τσς τσς τσς τσς,  instruments (which they kept asking for and which I gave them) and movements (which theυ showed) of the hands or the legs up and down or left and right or hitting the floor, a rhythmic beat on the bench, clapping with their hands.

Dance is: Movements they showed. “The difference between music and song is to dance”.  “Walking and dancing is not the same thing”.

But I noticed that, although children consider dance a basic element  of a song , they did some movements only after I asked them what is rhythm and dance .

Sounds are:  sounds with our mouth: «Ααααα …, τι κολι τινι τίνι καντζ, τάκι τάκι”, “music”, words : “I am a cat»,  voice, instrutmentsmelody:  «Τι να να να να να να».

The song has also words:It is a song because the child sings, it has a voice”.

Talking is not the same with singing and they made a melody. “We do not talk”, “we have fun and say words of songs”, “words are when we talk”, “we say combinations that match”, “we sing it for a long time”, “we put words into it”, “we say words slower”,” we don’t stop singing”, “we do it differently than we talk”.

The songs made by the two different groups of children were:

«Η πασχαλίτσα» “Paschalitsa (the ladybug) and «Το Αστεράκι» “Asteraki” (the little star).

Both songs started from a word said by a child: “πασχαλίτσα» , «Αστεράκι». Gradually, children kept proposing other words, from which not all were used while we repeated singing and trying to combine them. I intervened when I asked “where did the butterfly put the star?” and then a child said into “paradise” (in English), a word that I translated  into Greek. Both songs were sung accompanied by instruments.

Η πασχαλίτσα και το Αστεράκι – YouTube

H πασχαλίτσα

 

Πασχαλίτσα μου γλυκειά

Είσαι όμορφη και καλή

Σ’ αγαπώ πολύ

… σαν τη θάλασσα

Είσαι μία κούκλα (ή κουκλί)

 

 

 

Paschalitsa mou gleikia (mikree) (-η- like bee, pappies)

Eise omorfi  ke kalee

S’agapo polee,

eise kouklee (koukla)

 

 

My sweet little ladybug

You are beautiful and kind

I love you very much

Like the sea

You are a doll

Το αστεράκι

Αστεράκι μου λαμπρό

Πέφτει κάτω στη γη

(θα το δει) και το βλέπει μια πεταλούδα

Και τη σηκώνει ψηλά στον παράδεισο (paradise)

 

 

 

Asteraki mou Lambro

Peftee kato stee gee

To vlepee mia petalouda

Ke to sikonee pseela

Ston paradeeso

 

 

My little shiny star

Falling down to earth

A butterfly is seeing it

And brings it up to paradise

Conclusion

It has been an exciting experience for me  to watch thoughts and ideas springing form the minds of children and my struggle to keep up and find ways to support but not to restrain. I also felt a sense of community developing as the word “we” was appearing more often.

Focusing on the findings I should point out the great impact of music, which is a substantial and instinctive characteristic of humans, transmitted to people from birth, like the rhyme songs our mothers sing to us “a collection of motley stones and beautiful flowers from which we can make bouquets and a variety of jewels”, as Froebel said and reflect the experience of a certain community of people. Especially songs can develop not only language but also, according to children, cannot be distinguished from dance, and therefore we should create in our classrooms  more opportunities  for children to  sing, dance, play the instruments or exercise their musical interests in general and mainly symbolic movements for representation. And I hope that parents will also feel the same enthusiasm of their children’s abilities and find a way to use songs and music more often in their children lives.

 

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Magdalena Mazurek-Figiel
    Magdalena Mazurek-Figiel
    17 Mar 2024 at 8:24 pm

    That was fascinating to read how much children learnt about music through your project. Music classes don’t seem to be encouraged in Scottish schools due to their budget, but playing a real instrument or singing with a piano accompaniment and creating own songs is so much fun – and learning through a Froebelian first-hand experience. When I read your research a term ‘teacherese’ came to my mind as younger children also respond well to a melodic speech of teachers, just like babies respond to ‘motherese’ as means of communication with affection. Creating songs, singing and melody is something I could concider for my next project.


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