The Tuneables is an award-winning children's music education DVD and CD series designed to teach the key building blocks of music at a critical time in a child's development. Sponsored by the Music Intelligence Project, this fun, interactive program engages children in songs and activities that provide a foundation of music understanding and growth in intellectual development. Ages 3-8.
Buy your copy today at: www.thetuneables.com/the-music-shop/
Young children sing in tune best when the first several songs they learn are in the key of D. This key places the child's voice in the optimal singing range, neither too high nor too low, for controlling the pitch. Learning to sing in tune is the fundamental performance skill needed for successful tonal learning.
The pitch "D" above middle "C" is frequently the lowest pitch that is sung consistently in tune by young children without forcing the tone. A successful introduction to song singing is through two-note songs on the tones D and F-Sharp (DO and MI) in the key of D major. This provides the opportunity to sing in a comfortable range, match pitch patterns that are easily learned, and begin developing understanding and an "ear" for the primary tones of the D major chord--the home chord of the key and the foundation of major tonality.
The song repertoire and singing range is expanded by gradually adding additional tones--such as, "A" (SOL), next "E" (RE) and "G" (FA), and then "B" (LA). These tones encompass the range of a sixth (the first six notes of the scale), the usual singing range (or "sweet spot") of most young children. Choosing songs that include pitches higher than this range should be delayed until the child has developed skills for singing the six-note songs in tune. Expanding the singing range downward should be avoided until the voice matures enough to accomplish good tone production on the lower pitches. If a child has difficulty expanding the range in either direction, continue with songs in the basic range to provide further readiness experiences.
Singing familiar or new songs only in the Key of D should not be abandoned until in-tune singing has stabilized and until children have learned to recognize and name tonal patterns (using tonal syllables) that form the song melodies. Utilizing one key helps to stabilize and reinforce the tonal learning and avoid confusion that tends to occur when transposition to other keys is introduced too early or haphazardly.
Choosing song resources for children is challenging because many recordings and printed song collections give little attention to the young child's optimal singing range. Look for programs, such as The Tuneables, that focus on provided singing experiences that are in the best key, are sequentially arranged to appropriately expand the range, and build the tonal understandings needed for musical success and enjoyment.
Sometimes it is easy to be dismissive or even defensive when pressed to consider a new music education program for one's child. Parents sometimes say, "Oh, my child already gets music at school," or "My child has a lot of music activity."
Very young children (ages 0-3) need a personal "playlist" of songs and classical musical compositions to serve as their cultural context for music learning. (See blog: Let's Start at the Very Beginning: Early Exposure to Music-the "Playlist".)
Very young children (ages 0-3) benefit most from music learning experiences when they have had a rich exposure to music in the home starting at birth. Such exposure gives young children a personal repertoire of songs and instrumental compositions that become part of the cultural fabric of their everyday lives. Let's call it their "playlist". This is their readiness for learning music in a music education program, such as The Tuneables.
The Music Intelligence Project recently contributed along with numerous companies and organizations that support school music education programs to create an eight-page editorial supplement for the Washington Post highlighting the many proven academic, social and wellness benefits for kids and teens who play music.
The foundation of a young child's music learning is built on aural (hearing) experiences. These learning experiences progress in three stages: 1. stimulus, 2. recall, and 3. discrimination. Parents and teachers should be aware of these important music learning stages. For any one of them to be missing or partially included reduces the child's learning opportunities and the potential for future musical growth.
Music learning, like language learning, must begin early in the child's life. The early years are the period of most rapid growth in brain development. This growth is "wiring" the brain to recognize, remember, and understand the sounds and patterns of music and speech. Individuals rarely develop musical capabilities later in life if their early years did not include learning that involves a rich mix of rhythmic, tonal, and performance skills.
When the question arises as to whether playing recorded background music for young children provides any benefit, the answer must be, "Yes." This is a convenient and pleasurable way to introduce children to the music of their culture and allow them to become familiar with a repertoire of songs and other compositions. In addition, when the music selected for listening is sufficiently complex, like Mozart's, some benefit to increased intelligence may occur. Most importantly, these listening experiences provide the readiness for structured music instruction.
Developing a sense of tonality helps to improve singing in tune, playing an instrument, learning new music, and developing an appreciation of great music. Readiness for developing this sense begins as soon as very young children begin hearing and performing music.
Voice flexibility is fundamental to developing a young child's singing voice. The young singer who is still learning to control the voice usually can benefit from exercises and song experiences that extend the singing range upward. Imitating small animal sounds, like birds or mice, or singing on a high note, like C or D an octave above middle C, can be helpful in getting the children to use the upper range of their singing voice.
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