Sunday, 24 April 2011

Developing Lateral Thinkers

Can we support lateral thinking in music?  
In the light of our fast changing world, we can’t do things as we have always done them.  We need to think outside the box.   - and experiences in music and movement can help.  We need to help children to think for themselves and come up with of new ways to solve old problems.  

Thinking outside the box also includes using imagination, visualization as well as problem solving.  We can build these skills, and lateral thinking attitudes, through music.

Sir Ken Robinson, in his talk entitled Do Schools Kill Creativity reminds us that children starting school this year will retire in 2071.  What will the world look like by then? We can't imagine the world in 5 years time, so how can we imagine what the world will look like in 2071.  

Our children won't be living in a world as it is today, so it would be irresponsible for us to educate them to only think as we have done in the past.  When we look at the changes which have happened on our planet even just this year we have seen disasters, food shortages, major nuclear challenges, as well as the fast changing technology and communications we have witnessed over the last 20 years of the internet. 
How can we prepare children for such a fast changing world?  

The answer is not to give them the answers but to help them think for themselves, to think outside the norm and to come up with new and different solutions.   These attitudes can start when they are very young.  There are often many different "right" answers and many different ways to look at a problem.
For example: How can we clap in a new way? 
How can we stretch up tall in our own way?
 How can we play our instrument differently?
Music is an interesting medium for giving children opportunities to think creatively.  In our classes we look for opportunities to help children think of new movements, actions, sounds, or rhythms; to imagine themselves as spacemen, rabbits, or giants to develop imagination and visualization, helping children put themselves " in another's shoes" and thus understand a situation from a different point of view.

 -and we can have so much fun doing it!

For an interesting talk on creativity listen to Sir Ken Robinson's talk entitled Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Why do we cross our hands over at Kids Music Company?

Have you ever wondered why at Kids Music Company we often use our right hand to pat our left knee, or our left hand to pat our right knee during a song? 
Why do we pat our shoulders or our knees then cross our hands over; or clap with our hands back to front; or pat our head and toes at the same time. 
Why do we stamp our feet while we make circles with our hands?

Why do we make a point of doing activities which cause our hands to cross the centre mid-lines of the body, or have different actions going on in different parts of our body?

If you have ever wondered what this was all about, and why it is important please read on…

It is all about developing a sense of mid-line.  So why is mid-line development important?

There are many actions in day to day life which require a child to cross their centre mid-line: reaching for something on the opposite side, putting on a shoe and sock with both hands, washing opposite arms, as well as actions required for sports, music and dance.  A child who has a well-developed sense of mid-line is better coordinated and more comfortable in their own body, but a well-developed sense of mid-line is also important for building brain connections.     

The body has three mid-lines: the imaginary line which runs down the centre front of the body separating the left side from the right; the line across your waist area which separates top from bottom; and the line down your side which separates front from back.  When a child coordinates actions which cross all three mid-lines he/she is building connections across all areas of the brain.  The more connections a child has, the faster they can think. With practice, these connections become reinforced, making information processing in the brain more efficient.

As you are probably aware our thinking brain is made up of two hemispheres, left and right.  Each hemisphere has different functions:
The Left hemisphere looks after
The Right hemisphere looks after
Numbers, letters, spelling, vocabulary, logic, lists, analysis,
Understanding the meaning of words and numbers in context, rhythm, colour, imagination, ‘seeing the whole picture’

By helping children develop connections across the left and right sides of our body we are helping them access both sides of their brains, which is important for school work.  Think about what is required in order for a child to write a story.  He needs to have imagination and visualisation which are right brain functions, but he also needs the vocabulary and understanding of spelling to be able to write the story down.  His left and right brain must work together.  By building connections through physical movement we help integrate those brain areas to give your child greater success in school.

Mid-line even effects eye function.  A child with poor mid-line crossing also has difficulty visually tracking a moving object from one side to the other.  This makes reading difficult as the eyes tend to wobble on the centre line and lose their place. 

So when we look for ways in our classes to shake a hand at the back, while one is shaking at the front; or pat or left knee with our right hand we are doing a lot more than just having fun.  When we cross all those mid-lines just imagine the buzz going on in the brains of our children!!

Some Specific Kids Music Company mid-line songs include
Let’s Jump
(Mango Tango CD)
Draw A Circle
(Mango Tango CD)
Sounding Really Good
(Mango Tango CD)
Criss Cross
(Splish Splash Splosh CD)
Join The Fiesta
(Splish Splash Splosh CD)
Stretchy Cord
(Break Out)
Walk To New York
(Break Out)
Check It Out
(Break Out)
A Clown In The Circus
(Break Out)
Cross Over
(Stay and Play CD)
Pukeko Stomp
(Pukeko Stomp CD)

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Singapore Workshops

This week I returned from running workshops in Singapore.  What an amazing city that is.  Everything runs so efficiently (especially the air conditioning!).

The purpose of the trip was to run workshops on our original resources and to launch the idea of a Kids Music Company music programme.  We have partly written the programme, which we plan to make available progressively this year. The Rocket Kids Music Programme will be made up of our educational music. The programme was enthusiastically received, and the teachers in Singapore were fun to work with.  
Wherever you are kids the world over are the same:  They need to move and have fun in order to learn.  Add music to it, and the fun and the learning expands.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Getting Started

Kids Music Company have joined the party, the blogging party. 
As teachers and parents we give out so much (in the way of energy, motivation and support) in the course of a day.  Hopefully social media will serve to give back to teachers and parents with supportive, helpful ideas to rekindle and re-energize the grown-ups to make the lives of our kids more rewarding. At the end of the day we are in it for the benefit of the children so working together and sharing ideas should make a difference.

Children learn through doing, through imitating and through having fun.  Enjoy your time with your kids, it doesn't last long!  Bring on the fun!

We plan to share ideas with other like-minded educators, for example Moving Smart.  Visit for lots of wonderfully sensible ideas.