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Is 'Baby Music' creative?

It could be argued that sitting with a group of parents, babies and toddlers joyfully singing Old MacDonald had a Farm isn't remotely creative for the babies/toddlers or for the parents either ... it's not even particularly creative for the group leader (unless they are improvising a beautiful instrumental accompaniment or vocal descant of course!).

I'm not knocking Old MacDonald - it has its place and is a much loved song ....

I'm just saying it isn't overly 'creative'!

Case closed?
...errr no!

No because you need to look beyond the typical toddler group 'music time' and examine the bigger picture! And if you do, you will see that babies and toddlers are musically creative... and parents and carers are musically creative too!

Music making for young children and their grown-ups happens spontaneously throughout each day. It is 'in the moment' improvisation! The creativity comes from both the children and the adults as they go about their normal everyday activities. It includes sounds and movements which might be repeated, elaborated, exaggerated, varied, stretched or squashed by either the adult or the child ... and the decision to play with sound in this way might be very instinctive and quite subconscious ... but however they are conceived, there is no doubt about it, these decisions are very creative!

To some, these musically creative moments between young children and their grown-ups feel like 'nonsense' ... they are a bit silly or even embarassing... they feel a bit like 'mucking around'. But these wonderful moments, when enjoyed and valued, when recognised for what they actually are (and they are musical creativity!) allow adults to send a crucial messages to their children ...

"We are all Musical" "We are all Creative"

If, instead, these moments are ignored, stifled ('stop that noise!'), negated ('use your words!') then perhaps we send a rather different message ... 'your creativity is disruptive, innapropriate, annoying, rubbish, nonsense, worthless'.

I know which message I want to send!

So how can we help families we work with to notice, appreciate, recognise, nurture and respond to the music their young children create? How can we help them to show their children that 'we are all musical, we are all creative'? Can we educate, raise awareness, increase consciousness somehow? And (by the way) who is 'we'?

I am super excited to be working with Rosie Adediran and Nicola Burke - together the three of us have formed The Family Music Hub CIC which is on a mission to develop a new pedagogy for group Family Music ... a pedagogy, rooted in research and good practice, that recognises all aspects of Early Childhood Music - across every day as well as in groups and classes! The Family Music Hub will train and support the workforce (library assistants, Early Years family workers, volunteers, teachers etc) so that they can work with families and, in this way, we can all help families to notice the music in their young children's behaviours and to engage creatively and musically with them!

And why is this important? Well... engaging in creative musical play makes a difference to our young children's 'NOW' with rewarding interactions and wonderful opportunities for self-expression and mood regulation that bring great joy for adult and child! And it makes a difference to their 'FUTURE' too as they will grow up feeling free to be creative and knowing that:

"We are all Musical" "We are all Creative"

postscript ... and what about Old MacDonald had a Farm that they sang in class (in a not particularly 'creative way')? Listen out for snippets of the song enjoyed in the days following that class... and notice how your babies and toddlers play creatively with those sounds! Even the 'not very creative' songs and rhymes we all know and love can form the basis of young children's creativity!


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