Musical Composition Through Play – the “Sing Space”


Kindergarteners are asked how they can share highlights of their first year in school with a song.

THE PROJECT:  Original music composition through improvisation.

Kindergarten students at Crow Island School in Winnetka, IL had a rare opportunity – their music teacher was able to spend time in their Reggio-influenced, play-based homeroom environment to create music activities as part of their choice/activity time/centers every week. The year began with simple activities of musical perception (creating shakers with different materials and using them in accompaniments and improvs, xylophone games), progressed to instrumental improv on keyboards and concluded with a “Sing Space.” The Sing Space was a magical place created in the room where only singing voices were allowed. Stocked with puppets, action figures and sometimes nothing at all, teachers noted how the space was used over time. Conversations and stories emerged with kids singing mostly approximate pitches. Some kids were regulars of the space, some kids entered when it was the popular place to go, and some steered clear. Teachers would sing questions to kids periodically to elicit deeper thoughts and interactions. In the final month of school, groups of Kindergarteners sat down to share highlights of their year they wanted to include in a song. The result was small groups of kids rotating through a composition center.

Lyrics came from kids’ interests: What were the highlights of our year together? How will we organize these thoughts? Are there rhymes for some of these words?

Melodies came from vocal improvisations:  What would that sound like if you sang it? Kids used mostly approximate pitches and teachers transcribed into definite pitches with thumbs up or down from the kids.

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