Our first project this year sees us working again with the under 5 age group. Community Music in Action collaborated with the Bromley Children Project to offer weekly music sessions for pre school aged children and their parents. This was led by professional musician Barbara Cavanagh at the Castlecombe Centre in Mottingham. The centre provides activities and courses for parents and children under 5 and of primary age. Although it offers a universal service, it particularly reaches out to families in the community who are not presently accessing the services it offers e.g. those who are on government benefits/low income, households with no-one in employment, those with low levels of education and ethnic minority groups.
Barbara has worked with us in the past on another of our projects at the Community Vision centre, again with pre-school age children.
During the sessions, which ran weekly between January and March, Barbara led the children in a mixture of music & movement. She started the sessions with a welcome song which was the same each week and by the end of the sessions the mums and the older children knew it off by heart.
There were action songs using parts of the body and numbers, songs using props and instruments, and songs which involved moving around the room. Popular songs for the latter included ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, ‘Here We Go Loopy Loo’ and a really catchy less well known song called ‘Tip Tap Tip Tap, We’re Walking Down the Street’. One of the Mum’s asked if it was possible to download this one to sing at home!
As well as percussion instruments such as shakers, tambours & bells, Barbara also used everyday household objects like old packaging, pans, spoons and milk bottle tops for the children to explore and make music with.
“It was fun observing the children listening to real instruments”
There were also parts of the session that were more quiet and peaceful. Fabric snowflakes and bubbles were a particular hit – with accompanying music and songs.
It was good to see the confidence of the Mums / carers grow over the weeks – when they first arrived they were reluctant to join in the singing but after a few sessions their confidence had grown and they were participating more fully, as were the children.
“Barbara was a nice teacher and made me and my baby feel
very welcome. There was a lovely warm
atmosphere during the sessions.”
Barbara encouraged interaction between the parents and children and shared ideas for how they could use music at home to support their children’s development. Whilst not all the mums were from our target group, having a mix actually had its benefits as there was more diversity. One of the mums put on her feedback form that it made her feel more positive towards the rest of the day and another said that the session made her baby calmer.
“The children particularly liked using the household objects to make music with. Hopefully it will give the parents ideas for things they could do at home.”
Ros Bolton CMIA Trustee and Project Volunteer
In the evaluation at the end of the sessions, the majority of attendees reported that they had developed new skills and confidence as a result of the sessions and that the experience had a positive impact on themselves and their child. One said “we sing more often” while another claimed that it “made me feel more positive towards the rest of the day”. A further parent reported that the sessions have “turned my baby into a musician!”
“The sessions provided a social and creative activity, in a safe and
enabling environment. It encouraged interaction
between carers and their children and also between
carers themselves. The atmosphere
was relaxed and friendly”
- To provide a creative and social activity for under 5’s and their parents/carers.
- To foster interaction and quality time between parent/carer and child, both during and outside of the sessions
- To provide an opportunity for social interaction and community cohesion between local parents/families
- To use music as a tool to develop skills and confidence of under 5’s
- To provide a safe, flexible and non-intimidating environment for families who may not have taken part in similar activities before
- To ensure sessions are accessible to all cultures and backgrounds
- To document the sessions through film/photographs
Barbara Cavanagh is an Early Years music practitioner, and a musician. She is currently in her second year at Birmingham City University, studying for an MA in Early Years Music Education.