So, what do you do at Hullabaloo?
At Hullabaloo we have a carefully planned class structure. We like to use educational themes, often in line with those that are used in local nursery classes such as farm animals, shapes, numbers and counting, transport, food and drink, holidays, colours, people who help us, the five senses, mini beasts etc. This enables us to talk to the children about the topic, show them pictures and props, look at books and of course to sing songs and play music associated with the theme. Sometimes the themes last for two or three weeks if there is a lot of good material to cover!
With the older classes, we also teach musicianship each term, such as dynamics, tempo, pitch or rhythm. We call this the “theory section” and it is an opportunity to try to introduce the children to the basic elements of understanding and reading music. Mostly is it taught through the use of puppets and games but occasionally there is slightly more formal teaching involved. There is always a handout or booklet which summarises what we have covered during this section. Each child gets their own Hullabaloo theory folder to keep their collection of handouts in. This theory is designed to introduce the children to concepts that they will cover in more detail later on if they continue on into Nightingales Music School with us.
Classes follow a similar structure every week, as it is important for children to be able to recognise a routine in order to help them to settle into the classes and to understand concepts such as taking turns, giving instruments back or having to sit quietly at certain times. We like the classes to be informal and relaxed, so that we can respond to the questions, behaviour, and abilities of the children in each class, and so that the children can move around and express themselves freely (within reason!). Children learn best through repetition so we use plenty of old favourites, along with new songs that soon become favourites. Every week we play percussion instruments and play with at least one “prop” (parachute, scarves, streamers, pom poms, hoops, balls , beanbags etc.). We also like to expose the children to different music styles from around the world so often use pieces of music other than songs and nursery rhymes in our programmes.
Throughout the programme for younger children we use a balance of:
- Movement or action songs which develop gross motor skills, agility, balance and co-ordination.
- Playing instruments. We use a variety of percussion instruments. Each child has their own to play and we generally all play the same one at once. This enables us to focus and to learn to play the instrument properly. Playing instruments teaches careful listening skills and develops fine motor skills as children feel the rhythm and beat of the music and try to play in time, which in turn aids counting and mathematical development. Playing also introduces the idea of participating as part of a group at a basic level and children learn to share and swap their instruments and to take turns at using them.
- Live and recorded music. It is very good for children to hear music from a variety of sources and in a variety of styles. It is important to use the voice alone when we are trying to develop a child’s sense of pitch and it is important to carefully select songs that are within a pitch range that a young child can sing. We also like to use guitar so that the children can experience live music, and tend to use this when the children can join in by keeping the beat with their instruments, or by dancing with some of our many colourful props. Recorded music has its place too, and we may use it to get the children thinking about how it makes them feel or for simple things like responding to fast and slow or loud and quiet.
- Nursery rhymes involve lots of repetitive sounds and words (twinkle twinkle, row row row etc) and they are good for introducing the idea of rhyming words. They are great for language development and for learning basic phrasing, which is vital for both playing music and speech development.
- Lap songs, finger plays and counting songs. These are quieter songs which develop fine motor skills, are fun for babies (lots of bouncing and tickling) and introduce numbers and counting to the older children.
Have a look at our gallery to see how much fun we have doing all this!