TODAY'S children may sometimes lose out on conversation and face-to-face interaction, but one effective way of creating such interaction is through music - and you can’t start too early! This is the role of Swingbridge, the Music Pool’s Early Years project which delivers regular sessions for under-fives in more than ten different settings across South Herefordshire.
Training INSET for teachers and pre-school staff is also included, so provision continues beyond delivery by Music Pool artists, making it very cost-effective.
Swingbridge is the latest in a long history of pre-school provision from the Music Pool and in every case the benefits have been significant, not just in terms of the children’s language and speech development through the use of rhyme, repetition and rhythm but also in their increased self-confidence, social skills, listening abilities, concentration, memory, pattern recognition, physical co-ordination and control, and in encouraging them to work together as a group and nurture positive relationships with others.
One key area of benefit is with children who are socially withdrawn or who have behavioural difficulties. Bym Welthy has been delivering weekly sessions and, for him, one child stood out.
"Initially he came and sat with his classmates at the start of each session but that was the sum total of his engagement for the first half of the term. Gradually, though, he began to join in, wiggling his thumbs, clapping his hands, and jumping up and down with other children. Bym recalls how “On the very last session, he came to sit next to me … and at the end of the session he held my hand and made tunnels for the fairies until he got 'Tippy Tapp-ied' on the shoulder and was swept away with the chain of his classmates.”
As another teacher puts it: “It’s given all the children confidence – not only have they found their singing voices, they’ve also found their talking voices.”
Feedback and requests for more have been overwhelming, but funds are only provided till March. The Music Pool has applied for renewed funding, but is calling for donations to build on its success and extend the programme. “Although funding cuts have meant Early Years provision has diminished, it remains the case that everyone from central and local government to parents and teachers recognizes the crucial role that music-based activities play in the development of very young children” says Rob Strawson, artistic director of The Music Pool.
To help The Music Pool raise funds, click on the ‘Donate’ button at musicpool.org.uk and watch the 'Follow the Flow' documentary to learn more about the importance of Early Years music and its impact on children's development and behaviour. Copies are also available in DVD format from: The Music Pool, The Courtyard, Edgar Street, Hereford HR4 9JR (Tel 01432 278118, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org).