Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 19 Apr 2007

Doesn’t music help children to learn better? I want my daughter’s reception class to do more of it.

Hillary's Advice

Let us count the ways. Music helps children integrate their minds and bodies, and also the outer world of sounds with the inner ones of feelings. Music and movement free the imagination, while the process of listening to musical patterns and rhythms is an essential forerunner to recognising the patterns and sounds of words. Playing instruments helps children develop fine motor skills and improves their concentration and coordination, and group music and singing are great for team work and developing self-esteem.

Most reception classes actually do quite a lot of music, so it seems that the problem here is that your daughter has landed up with a particularly musically-timid or cloth-eared teacher. Since you are a professional musician, maybe you could help. Take it slowly by volunteering to come in and show the children the cello – or whatever it is you play – and if that goes well, offer to do a second session and make sure you include something – clapping, singing – that the children can do with you. Be sensitive to the teacher’s feelings.

Remember that people who feel inadequate in a particular area can be intimidated by those who excel at it. But try and build up a rapport so you can move on to suggesting that you volunteer more regularly. From there you can start to expand the class’s musical repertoire with songs, percussion and games. Don’t worry if you are not a teacher, there are oceans of ideas to help you. Go to www.teachingideas.co.uk to see the wealth of material available.