It’s finally time! I wait and wait for it to be time to do “We Are Fine Musicians” in Imagine That! classes. I love this activity so much that I’ve come up with new and different ways for you to do this activity at home, and want to share them with you in a place where you can actually “hear” what I’m saying.
This activity is about deliberate listening, which is very different from hearing. Hearing is innate. You are born with this ability. It is not a skill. Listening, on the other hand, is deliberate. It is an intentional act that requires concentration and cognitive processing. Sounds are absorbed, and then analyzed for content, or source, and then the listener must determine what needs to be done with the sound. Does it require a response? (That was my name, so I need to turn my head and say “What?”) Or does it require an action? (That was the doorbell. I need to go get Mom to answer the door.) Listening is a complicated neurological process that requires a great deal of cognitive organization. It is a learned skill. We can teach our children to listen.
The Basic Game
“We Are Fine Musicians” is a listening game that allows a child to practice this essential life skill in a fun and stress free way. So here are the original instructions for those of you who may miss class this week, or need a re-fresher course. (I know how noisy and full of distractions sharing time is!) The player has three instruments: a set of sticks, a shaker and a jingle bell. They are set on the floor in some sort of organized way. I like to “build a mountain” with my sticks, put my shaker under the mountain and my bell goes at the bottom of the mountain, sideways. You can also lay them in a row, but it is important to organize them. This process allows the child easy access to the instruments, and eliminates the stress of trying to get to the right instrument fast enough once the game begins. The introduction begins. This section is a rest for the child. No action required! They just get to enjoy the music (a harpsichord).
The music stops and the player hears eight beats played on the sticks. This sound is their cue to pick up the sticks, which they play through the next section of music (strings). At the end, they set down the sticks and listen. They will hear eight beats played with the shaker. They pick up the shaker and play through the next section of music (brass). At the end they set down the shaker and listen. Now they hear eight beats of bells. They pick up the bells and play them through the third section of music (woodwinds). The cycle continues with the fourth section returning to sticks and the the instrument family being percussion. The fifth section is shakers again and you will hear some folk instruments and so on. There are 7 sections in all.
Your child will very quickly master this part of the game, but this is only the beginning. Now we are going to extend the activity and add an element of decoding, which is a pre-reading skill. So you change the game.
Variation 1: Large Motions
Now when you hear the sticks, stomp your feet, the shaker means jump up and down, the bells mean spin around. Or choose any physical motions your child loves: run, skip, roll, hop, and gallop all come to mind.
Variation 2: Small Motions for the Car
If you are playing the game in the car, you can also do a series of small motions: clap, swish, pat your thighs, clonk your toes together, pat your head, and blink.
Variation 3: Colors
Another good extension is to use crayons: color with blue for sticks, red for shakers and green for bells or whatever colors inspire your child.
Variation 4: Food
Food is also a fun way to extend this game. Take three different foods. Small things or things that can be cut up small are best. Put them in three different small bowls. Turn on the music. When you hear sticks, eat goldfish, shakers eat strawberries and bells eat hot dog bites. And again, any three foods will do, so long as they are small bits!
I do recommend that you keep the motions or colors or food consistent, so that the decoding stays the same. With just few rather irritating exceptions, a letter makes the same sound most of the time. And in the preschool years, the letters that make numerous sounds, such as our vowels, are assigned ONE sound. The variations are taught much later.
So there you have it! Lots of ways to play “We Are Fine Musicians.”
-posted by Miss Allison who hopes you’ll try some of these ways to teach your fine musician to be a fine listener!