28 Ağustos 2011 Pazar

Connecting Children to “Music-Movement”&“Nature”

         I. Introduction
         During an education process in the early childhood area, there are too many ways to learn a topic, an issue or a concept for infants, toddlers and young children. Generally, preschool children can learn & be educated by using of verbal directions, ways of touching and feeling, visual techniques, questioning methods or auditory skills etc. In a certain extent, these all techniques will be useful, however if we are to think about learning process by auditory skills, we may claim that using of the rhymes may be an easier way because when a child hears a music, probably he/she will start to move. During this enjoyable time which is occurred thanks to the rhymes between the music-movement, the level of his/her motivation will be higher and he/she will learn more easily and more effectively. “Experts have noted that listening to music activates parts of the brain that are involved with emotion and motivation in humans. (Levetin, 2006, p. 191)”

         I. a. The relationship between “the music-movement” & “nature”:
         It can be easily said that there are many topics, issues or concepts, which will be learnt, while using “the music-movement” technique. In this paper, I want to focus on directing children’s attention to nature by using the music-movement. I searched this topic because I think; “music-movement” comes from “the events of nature”, they are not so different. We can find a musical rhyme in a sound of the raining, a thunder, the moving of the leaves in a tree, the blowing of the wind, the sea etc. These all events are from nature; that’s to say, music is completely related to nature, and vice versa. Also, when a child is born, after he/she can start to hear, he/she will show a reaction to music, a sound or a voice. I mean, “music-movement” is an instinctual area and “nature” is also. So, “nature” & “music-movement” are seemed to me as a nice composition.
         Little has been written on the use of music to intensify environmental education and to increase people's concern for the environment. However, music’s unique properties make it effective for this purpose. “These include: the capacity to raise emotion, to increase motivation, to encourage community bonding, and to enhance memory. (Levetin, 2006, pp. 191, 231, 258; Sacks, 2007, p. 258)” Environmental educators have realized that giving people knowledge alone about environmental issues does not necessarily incline them to take any action to improve the situation (Sobel, 2007). People need to feel a connection with nature (Mayer and Frantz, 2004, p. 503). These feelings can then be explored and consolidated through the fine arts (Guerevitz, 2000).
         I. b. The music-movement while learning about nature and learning in nature:
         The first point that tells about the importance of the music-movement while learning about nature is that by understanding of the importance of natural events, children will give more attention to their environment and then to save the nature. And music will help them to understand and to learn about natural events such as the seasonal chancing, the raining circle, sun-rise & sun-set, saving of the nature & the sea & the animals etc. is so important for human beings and especially children to understand what is happening in the world. Now, on the agenda today, saving the nature is so important and it requires a well-prepared organization and a disciplined learning process because of the chancing of the world’s balance negatively in terms of scientific area.
         The second point that tells about the importance of the music-movement while learning in nature is that if children learn this important topic (mentioned above) with “music-movement” in a natural-green area, their physical & cognitive & emotional development will be affected positively because of some reasons which are explained in the future in the related sub-title in this paper.

         II. Outdoor Activities and “Music-Movement” & Nature
         In the kindergartens, normally, children are educated in a room in which they can see the natural environment only through a window. Sometimes, they play in the garden. So, in a preschool curriculum, there are two kinds of activities: In-door Activities and Out-door Activities. If it is though that learning about nature, teachers can teach this topic thanks to both of in-door activities and out-door activities. However, it will be more useful that learning about nature in nature. Therefore, “out-door activities” are more beneficial. If we are to think about the relationship between out-door activities and music-movement, some instances will help us to understand this correlation:

         Example 1: In one corner of the music-movement area of a well-equipped outdoor classroom, one of the students invents a tune on a natural wood marimba. She calls to her friend and says: “Come and hear my song!”
         Example 2: In another corner, two boys jump and twist on a low wooden stage, enjoying the sounds that their shoes make when they connect with the hard wood. “It sounds like thunder!” one of them says, then adds “Let’s call this our Thunder Dance!”
         Example 3: Under a nearby tree, two girls wave colorful scarves, mimicking the movements of the tree’s leaves as they wave in the wind.
         Experiences like these are what make outdoor classrooms a natural way for children to develop foundational movement and music skills in a natural environment. And, because sounds are absorbed in the outdoors in a way that’s impossible inside, children can create their own music without disturbing other children. Thanks to these positive points, they will feel relaxed and love to be in a natural environment. It will be more understandable that dividing the topics in to two subtitles:
         a. The importance of the music-movement while learning in nature
         b. The importance of the music-movement while learning about nature

         II.a. The importance of the music-movement while learning about nature:
         In view of climate change and other growing environmental problems, more engagement of the general public in caring for the environment is urgently needed (Larder, 2010). In conclusion to save the nature, children should love the nature and to love it, they should know what’s happening in the nature. It can be understood by analyzing a nature song for children:

by Mary Miché, A Recycling Song: Hey Hey, Don't Throw It Away

I saw a guy out on the street
Drinkin’ a bottle of pop.
He was just about to toss it in the bush
When I yelled, “stop”, and I said:
Hey hey don’t throw it away.
I can make money from your trash today.
Hey hey don’t dump that can.
I’ll take it to the recycle man.
I was eatin’ my lunch at school one day.
Just about finished and startin’ to play.
When I saw a kid with a can in her hand
Just about to throw it in the garbage can.
So I yelled:
Hey hey don’t throw it away.
I can make money from your trash today.
Hey hey don’t dump that can.
I’ll take it to the recycle man.
I went to our family picnic.
I ate and ate. I was almost sick.
Then I looked into the trash,
There were bottles, cans, aluminum pans.
And I said:
Hey hey don’t throw it away.
I can make money from your trash today.
Hey hey don’t dump that can.
I’ll take it to the recycle man.

         By singing the nature songs like the example above, children can raise the environmental awareness. They can gain it during an enjoyable process thanks to the music-movement, and rhymes.
         (To listen to this music’s melody, the link is in the reference list.)

         II.b. The importance of the music-movement while learning in nature:
         Firstly, it is important that an outdoor classroom can usually offer more space for large-motor movements than an indoor classroom, children are able to freely experiment with multiple locomotor and non-locomotor activities. So, their physical development will be effected positively.
         Secondly, the making music in the nature will improve the children’s cognitive development. As it is seem thanks to examples above; the flight of a bumblebee, the calls of birds, trees swaying gently in a breeze are all examples of input that may be interpreted through movement and music. “Providing a designated space for improvisation allows children to apply learned skills in a new way, thus giving rise to their creative spark. (Murphy, VanGilder & Wike, 2007; page 53).”
         Thirdly, music has the power to move children emotionally, and to connect their feelings with other things in our world (including nature). Songs and compositions, and the sounds of nature itself, such as bird song and rainfall, inspire them. “Through music, they can gain an aesthetic understanding of the natural world. (Turner and Freedman, 2004, p. 50)” Also,
According to Shrock (2009, Introductory section, para. 5), through music people can connect with each other emotionally, experience certain physical reactions with others, and increase social ties.

         III. What Should Do the Teachers While Connecting Music-Movement & Nature?
         Teachers can help students to identify patterns in nature; for instance, the number of trees in the classroom, petals on a flower and teachers can interpret these into musical patterns such as clapping the number of trees or a musical scale representing the flower petals. The patterns can become more complex; for example, a clap could represent a tree and a stomp could represent a shrub or teacher can take into account anomalies such as skipping a note in the scale for a missing flower petal.
         Murphy, VanGilder & Wike facilitated a performance with kindergarteners that sequenced a series of dances the children developed over a semester with their teachers. The children explored nature (animal movements and sounds, tree growth, forces of nature such as ice melting into water with fire, seasonal changes) and developed representational movements. The teaching artists and the children provided music and song. The study was successful, children liked this performance.

         IV. An Empirical Study
         According to Larder’s study (2010):
         Research Problem: “The purpose of the study is to investigate educators’ perceptions of whether a school music program can increase environmental concern among students and the adult audiences to whom they perform.” (Larder, 2010, p. 3)
         Research Question: “What influences do educators perceive music program to have on students’ environmental concern and desire for action?” (Larder, 2010, p. 4)
         Study Delimitations: “The subjects of this study were all teachers or administrators in British Columbia’s public elementary schools.” (Larder, 2010, p. 4)
         Study Limitations: “No parents or students were interviewed. Other studies may offer perceptions about the program from other perspectives. Larger studies with other educators in different locations may have different perceptions.” (Larder, 2010, p. 4)

         Educators perceive that the program provides students and their families with a memorable, nature-focused musical experience that also enhances their understanding of, and concern for, the environment. Based on the six participants’ interviews, the researcher argues that programs like this offer role models for children, enhance community, provide opportunities for cross curricular learning, and involve multiple intelligences. The study concludes that, despite obstacles, the program engages emotions, raises awareness that enhances children’s decision-making skills, and influences the adults in their lives. Participants also perceived the need for a formal environmental curriculum to be integrated into elementary schools (Larder, 2010).

         V. Some Activities which are related to “Music-Movement” and “Nature”
         To understand the relationship between the “music-movement” and “nature”, it will be useful to see some preschool activities.

         V. a. Activity 1
         Teacher begins a discussion which is about plants and gardens. Then, she asks children if they have ever planted seeds or watched someone else do it. She encourages them to talk about the materials used for planting and what they think happens to the different seeds.
         Firstly, teacher gathers children outdoors. She invites them to look together at the samples she brought in. Then, she asks children to try to identify them and share what they know about seeds, sprouts, roots, and plants. After, she writes down their thoughts on chart paper.
         Secondly, teacher helps children divide into pair. She explains that one child in each pair can pretend to be a gardener while the other child pretends to be a seed.
         Thirdly, teacher sets the mood for calm movement by playing her musical selection. She uses descriptive words to tell how gardeners plant their tiny seeds snug in the ground. Then, she encourages children to act out the story as you narrate.
         Fourthly, teacher continues describing the plant growth cycle and offer additional activities for the gardeners and seeds to act out, including watering, weeding, sprouting, budding, and unfolding. Then, she finishes by telling how the flower turns to face the sun and describing how the gardener feels about helping the plant along. After, she invites children to switch roles and repeat the activity.

V. b. Activity 2
         The topic of activity 2 is about global awareness: nature is everywhere. At the end of this activity the students will identify phenomena of nature while listening to music. For this activity, Beethoven’s sixth Symphony (Thunderstorm) will be used.
         Firstly, teacher asks: “How many of you have ever been in a rainstorm?” (Thunder)
                                           “What is the loud noise that you hear?”
                                           “We are going to listen to a piece of music by Beethoven.”
                                           “Does anyone know who Beethoven is?” (A famous composer.)
         Secondly, teacher plays the recording to the children. Then, she tells the children that they will hear instruments that sound like thunder.
         Thirdly, teacher makes the children raise one hand quietly as they hear the low stringed instruments; depicting the rumbling of thunder in the distance. Then, she makes the children raise two quiet hands as the music gets even louder. After, she makes the children stand up quietly when the instruments play the loudest (the timpani and brass). Lastly, she makes the children sit down quietly when the storm stops and the music becomes soft and calm.
For a closing, teacher asks to children:
         “What kind of music did we hear today?”
         “Was it loud? & Was it soft? How did it make you feel? Were you happy or scared?”
         “ Well, music can do many things to us. It can make us feel happy or it can make us feel sad. The next time you listen to music; listen for the different types of instruments being played and how the music makes you feel; happy or sad.”

         VI. Conclusion

          “Scientists now believe that to achieve the precision of the mature brain, stimulation in the form of movement and sensory experiences during the early developing years is necessary (Greenough & Black, 1992). Providing nature-based music-movement experiences on a regular basis can help a child grow stronger in body, mind, and spirit. This kind of natural learning isn’t simply “nice” for children to have, but indeed is foundational to their healthy development. And, an added benefit of dancing and making music in the great outdoors is that it’s just plain fun for adults and children alike.
         The music is in nature. Thanks to the music in nature, children can develop physically by moving, cognitively by creating new rhymes thanks to the instruments by made natural elements and social & emotionally by listening the music and by singing the song in the natural environment with their friends.. Also, they can raise an environmental conscious thanks to the nature songs. Today, the civilization needs a new generation who knows why human beings should save the nature and to save it what people should do.

Gurevitz, Rachel (2000). Affective approaches to environmental education: Going beyond the
               imagined worlds of childhood? Ethics, Place, and Environment, 3(3), 253-268.

Greenough, W. T., & Black, J. E. (1992). Induction of brain structure by experience:
               Substrates for cognitive development. In M. Gunnar & C. Nelson (Eds.). Minnesota
               Symposia on Child Psychology, 24, Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience
               (p. 155-200).

Larder, E. (2010), September. Song for the Planet: Educator Perceptions of an Environmental      
               School Music Program.

Levetin, Daniel (2006). This is Your Brain on Music: the science of a human obsession. New York:
               Plume (Penguin).

Mayer, S. and Frantz, C. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling
               in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 503-515.

Murphy S., VanGilder, P., & Wike A. (2007), November/December. Early Foundations: Music and  
               Movement in the Outdoor Classroom

Sacks, Oliver (2007). Musicophilia: Tales of music and the brain. Toronto, Random House, Ltd.

Schrock, Karen (2009). Why music moves us. Scientific American Mind, 20(4), 32-37.

Sobel, D. (2007, Nov.-Dec.). Climate change meets ecophobia. Connect, 14-21.

Turner, K. & Freedman, B. (2004, fall). Music and environmental studies. The Journal of
               Environmental Education, 36 (1), 45-52.

Activity 1 is retrieved from Church E.B. June, 2003. Outdoor Activities/Music&Movement: Plant Play

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