In January 2019 the North Cambridge Child and Family Centre delivered a Music group for six weeks which was led by two very talented musicians Penni and Clare from Cambridgeshire Music and is funded by MusicNet East through Youth Music, and by the Cambridgeshire Music Education Hub.
Listening to and creating music helps children learn numeracy, literacy and emotional skills.
Incorporating music into routines and play in the early years has a positive influence on a child’s early development. It can get them moving, thinking and inspire creativity.
The sessions were part of the Talking Together in Cambridgeshire project which aims to boost communication, language & literacy skills and has been launched by Cambridgeshire County Council, with the support of the National Literacy Trust.
Overall, 12 families took part in the sessions with their children aged from 7 months to 21months.
The first session was an introduction to music for the families and Penni and Clare brought drums and guitars which the children were able to handle as well as listen to.
The children were in awe when the two musicians sang and played guitar and they explored the different percussion instruments while they had gentle music played to them.
They started each session with a song ‘Rat a Tat Tat’ where a hat was passed around for the children to wear and their name was sung – a great way to learn the children’s names and introduce them to the group.
Throughout the six weeks the children and parents engaged in singing traditional songs and more modern ones. The group had people of different nationalities in it and they shared songs sung in their own language to the group – Incey Wincey Spider sung in French was a favourite.
The group also enjoyed learning about the different instruments that Pennie and Claire brought with them including a ukulele and an accordion.
Penni and Clare introduced action songs, folk songs, nursery rhymes and they also encouraged the parents to make up their own songs.
The group content was also led by the children at times – one child suddenly sang a line of a modern song and Clare immediately played the tune on her guitar and every-one joined in.
Other children accessed the activities in their own way – one child who had been a little wary of using the instruments picked up two plastic octopus’s and banged them together in time to the music.
The feedback from the parents was very positive – All the parents wrote in the evaluation sheet that they would use what they have learnt at home. One parent wrote that they loved the musical instruments playing, singing the songs and acting with the babies.
Sally McGivern, Child and Family Centre Worker at North Cambridge Child and Family Centre felt that the project was extremely worthwhile. “The children really loved having hands-on experience with the instruments and singing in a group. This boosted their confidence and the families are much more comfortable in making music together” she said.
Matthew Beams, Child and Family Centre Manager for Cambridge City District said, “Partnerships, such as this one with Cambridgeshire Music and Talking Together in Cambridgeshire often add up to a product that is greater than the sum of their parts. This partnership has done this, and the result has been that parents and carers are so much more confident in using music as a means of boosting children’s language and communication skills.”
By Sally McGivern