Your HOW TO Guide for Choosing the Right Setting for Your Child

music class choose

Choosing music classes is a little like choosing the perfect school. Just because a music class is near you, doesn’t mean that it will be the perfect match for you and your child. There’s plenty of factors to take into account so we’ve compiled a list to help if you’ve ever found yourself wondering “What should I be looking for apart from whether the music class is near me or not?”

1.
Experienced and accomplished teachers

This may seem obvious but when seeking out a music class or tutoring, you’ll want to be sure that the teacher is willing and able to tune in to your child’s needs. Look for teachers who invest in their own professional development and craft. Teachers, that not only have the education, skills and experience you are looking for but the enthusiasm and genuine love for teaching that is impossible to fake. Here at Sounds Like This, we offer trial sessions so you can be sure that our playful, relaxed, brain growing sessions are a good match for you and your child.

2.
Class times that suit your child’s routine

Tired toddlers or rushed parents may not be in the best state of mind to enjoy all the music making fun that music classes can offer. Choose a time that fits in with your routine and gives you a bit of a buffer at either side so you can be fully present. Sounds Like This offers a range of class times and days to deliver flexible options for busy families.

3.
Flexible delivery

Through our many years of experience delivering music classes (in addition to our own parenting journey) we have come to learn that when it comes to kids, flexibility can save the day! When researching music classes nearby, take a look at their expectations of the child. Although some structure can keep the class running smoothly, rigid rules can steal the joy for children and parents alike.

4.
Wider philosophy

Are you looking for a music class that will entertain your child for an hour a week? Or are you looking for a class that will foster development using music, teach you music skills to use at home and is underpinned by a firm knowledge of how music can impact a child’s brain? If it’s the latter, then Sounds Like This is the place for you!

5.
Gut instinct

There’s a lot to be said for the way an environment or person can make us feel. If you feel confident and relaxed during a class then your child will reciprocate with their own relaxed attitude. At Sounds Like This, we emphasis play in all our classes. We play with sounds, with instruments and with each other! Listen to your instincts and you will most likely know if a class is suited to you and your child.

If you’re after specific information about all of the classes we have on offer, please contact us.

  


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Take Home Songs - Detta Detta

Take Home Songs Sing Parent

One of our favourite pentatonic songs from class.: Detta Detta.

Are you thinking '“What in the world does ‘pentatonic’ mean?” Well… it means we use the first, second, third, fifth and sixth notes of a major scale, or in Kodály (pronounced Co-Die) speak;
Do, Re, Mi, So and La. Leaving out the other notes. Pentatonic scales are used extensively in folk and classical music, but also form the basis for heaps of modern patterns that much of our pop, rock, funk, even metal songs are written in, and the pentatonic is just a side step away from the blues scale and a host of other rad tonal concepts that make up a rich tapestry of pitched musical patterns. In terms of musical development it is handy dandy to be able to hear.

Detta Detta is a charming Japanese folk song. If you sing it slower it may be used as a lullaby. As soon as you hear it, you’ll notice that the patten is very similar to other songs you may have heard from across Asia. It is not just western culture that’s pentatonic obsessed.

In Sounds Like This classes you’ll hear many pentatonic songs as well songs that when combined, make up the pentatonic patterns. Songs with just Do, Re, Mi and So, La, Mi. That means even if you’re not a comfortable or confident singer, we can step you through and support your listening, oral and aural development at the same time as the children.

I can not tell you the number of times that surprised and delighted parents have told us “Hey, I’m getting better at singing!”

Head here for the video.

Music Classes for Kids: 5 Ways Your Pre-schooler Will Benefit

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Did you know that music classes for kids can deliver a lot more than a session filled with fun and laughter? Maths, memory skills and scientific principles are all intertwined with music classes; for kids, this means that they are learning without even realising it! There are countless ways that your preschool-aged child will benefit from enjoying our music sessions but in case you still need convincing, here’s five thing we love about the impact music can have on learning:

1.
Improving academic skills

We love celebrating all skills that the children bring to our music classes and believe that everyone has their own special talents. When it comes to academic skills, music can help children gain confidence. For starters, reciting songs relies on short-term memory and eventually long-term memory. Plucking a guitar string teaches children about vibrations and recognising the patterns of beat introduces simple mathematical concepts. This hands-on learning allows children to directly experience and observe what is happening during our music classes for kids.

2.
Music can boost self-esteem

Self-esteem can impact several different elements of your child’s learning. Watching other children experiment with instruments, having the time and space to experiment themselves and enjoying the celebration and positivity we share during our session can all deliver a boost to your child’s self-esteem. Problem-solving is an organic by-product of music making and one that is very much enjoyed by the pre-schoolers in our sessions.

3.
Tailored objectives

Our small group sizes allow us to work closely with parents and children on individual objectives. If you have something on your wish-list for your child’s experience that focuses on their physical, cultural or social/emotional needs, let’s have a chat and come up with ways we can deliver this during our music classes.

4.
Linguistic development

Research shows that participating in music can spark changes in the brain; clapping along, singing or experimenting with instruments are all included! Sound processing, distinguishing similar-sounding syllables and impacts on the nervous system all contribute to linguistic development as well as early literacy skills. The most important part of this research is that these benefits are represented strongly in children participating in music classes. And how do we encourage participation in our music classes for children? By removing any and all pressure and allowing the child to make their own choice about how they join in. Foot on the drum? Fine! Sprawled across dad’s lap instead of sitting upright in a circle? Terrific! A cheeky smile in response to a question? Excellent! Allowing kids to relax opens up plenty of space for learning and developing a love for music making.

5.
Emotional regulation

Your pre-schooler may have emerged from toddlerdom with a little more impulse control and greater receptive language skills but emotional regulation is still something that needs time and opportunity to grow. Emotional regulation can assist kids in facing change in their lives (such as a new sibling or starting school.) In addition to this, research also shows that dancing can help children learn how to share and cooperate as well as develop skills in working together. Using intentional music experiences to calm pre-schoolers down, such as a calming lullaby at the end of the session, can help children deal with stressful situations. Parents and carers can also develop their skills in delivering these experiences and use them at home as needed!


Music classes can bring a profound benefit to so many children as it is an important form of communication and self-expression. Aside from our points listed above, the love of music that children can develop during our classes would have to be our favourite outcome of all.

Click here to take a look at our music classes for kids.

5 ways to benefit preschooler



5 Books You Can Sing to Your Kids

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Let’s face it, there are some books that your kids love that you feel like hiding at the back of the shelf. Sometimes though, mixing it up by singing the story instead of reading it can be enough to get you through another rendition! Here’s our top 5 books that you can sing to your kids when you have read it so many times it’s at risk of getting “lost”.

Where is the Green Sheep? By Mem Fox

Do you already know this one off by heart? What you might not know is that each “Where is the green sheep” just cries out to be sung instead of read. Experiment with your genre and see what your child likes best. May we suggest an operatic solo for those times when a few deep breathes are needed to wake you up to start the day (or calm you down at the end of it!)

Room on the Broom. By Julia Donaldson

This one is a bit longer than your average picture book so if it is on high rotation, it may be time to keep things interesting by turning it into a song. The rhyming language means you can not go wrong-the words will keep the beat and you just choose your notes. Your child is almost guaranteed to love any way that you sing this! Because there are a few different characters in this one, you can even experiment with different characterisations to take your storytelling to the next level.

Any type of alphabet book

You know this one already. It’s as easy as A-B-C! Experimenting with the tempo can take these books all the way to bedtime; when sung in a soothing, calming way the humble alphabet can be very relaxing. This one gets extra points as when you take turns singing the letters with your little one, you’re giving them a head start in recognising the order of the alphabet.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. By Helen Oxenbury

This one is fun (seriously!) Once you learn how to sing this story you will find yourself using it in the backyard, at the park and even venturing up your hallway with your kids. It encourages exaggerated movements as you walk through tall “grass”, pick your way through “mud” and finally run back home to bed! Again, it uses repetitive language so maybe a simpler story for your kids to learn too, allowing them to join in with you.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring

There are many versions of this as lots of clever people decided to take a classic nursery rhyme and turn it into a storybook. The advantage of this is that you probably already know the tune so you can fudge your way through any additional lyrics that the author may have added in there. Needless to say, this is the perfect choice for those rainy days when you are stuck indoors all day.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to popular books you may already own. Take another look at that bookshelf and see what other songs are hiding in there!


Gross Motor Development in Toddlers; 5 Ways Music Can Help

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Motor skill development in toddlers can be a tricky area to navigate as their impulse control catches up to their physical coordination. Therefore, bumps and bruises seem to be an anticipated norm when it comes to gross motor development in toddlers. Research shows that limiting screen time may assist your toddler in developing across each area of development so if they are not sitting still, they’ll naturally be on the move. As with many areas of development, time and practice makes perfect!

There are many ways in which music can aid gross motor development in toddlers. Music making or dancing along to their favourite songs encourage the use of all those big muscle groups and help to develop their emerging coordination skills. Here are five ways you can further assist your toddler in developing gross motor skills using music:

1.
Exposure to a range of instruments

Using their hands to bang a drum uses their Biceps and Triceps as well as all that fabulous hand-eye coordination. This make a great first step. Graduating to shaking bells while marching to a beat gets those little legs moving and encourages core strength as they hold their bodies upright and move around. The more fun your child has using these big muscle groups, the more often they will want to engage in these strengthening activities. As the joy in play is reinforced, these types of experiences will become second nature.

2.
Dancing to music

Introduce your toddler to dancing with scarves or ribbons and watch the way their movements change. Ask them to move like a butterfly, hop like a kangaroo or swim like a fish and see just how broad their range of movement can be. There’s also nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned disco dance-off either! Jumping to the beat offers the opportunity to stretch those legs out and anticipate landing safely.

3.
Sing songs with actions

Moving on from finger-play songs can be an exciting time in toddler development-for both child and adult. They may be ready for big, body movements as they enjoy songs like Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes or Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Sit with your child facing you as your sing these songs together to allow him or her to mimic your movements.

4.
Take them on a horsey ride

Singing songs together about galloping through the fields or trotting down the lane while you bounce your toddler on your knee provides the chance for your child to identify what muscles they need to engage to keep their balance. Plus, these types of songs are really fun and your toddler is highly likely to absolutely love them. Added bonus: As your toddler grows, you’ll be strengthening your legs at the same time! So much more fun than squats, ha ha!

5.
Bubbles

Singing about bubbles while your toddler attempts to catch them can offer such joy to a parent and child. All that jumping, waving and clapping is strengthening their hand-eye coordination and gross motor development. They will just think they are having fun though! For a song about bubbles you can sing with your kids, click here (insert link to bubble song)

Music and movement can go hand in hand very naturally and is a great way to get your toddler moving without any pressure to perform a certain task in a certain way. The pleasure in music and movement is all in the process for your toddler and can be really enjoyable for both child and adult alike. How many other ways can you think of to get your child moving using music?  


How to Grow Your Baby’s Brain with Music

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Fostering you child’s development and focusing on growing your baby’s brain can be a bit overwhelming for new parents! Before you read on, rest assured that when we speak about “growing baby’s brain” we are simply identifying providing the opportunity for what maturation naturally provides, given the optimal environment. Studies show that singing to a baby (even out of key, pitchy, made-up-words songs) can make babies calmer and happier. Imagine that! You can grow your baby’s brain while singing your favourite song. Win-win! Here are a few of our favourite ways that your baby’s brain may grow by using music:

Language development

While expressive speech may be a few months off, learning how to understand the rules of language is occurring from day dot. Turn-taking is an important element of communication and by using music, you can offer your baby the chance to begin to develop this skill. Sing songs that require copying or call and response to give your little one the idea that when you finish, he or she starts. Side note: Mastering the pause that is usually required to elicit a response can feel unnatural for an adult. Once you have sung your part, look at your baby expectantly and count to ten slowly in your head before you are tempted to fill in the silence for them. The idea is to let them know it is their turn without them wondering why you have finished the song and moved on!

Sensitivity to pitch structure in music

Studies show that when babies are given the opportunity to experiment with music making (not just passive listening) they will show a preference to in-key pieces of music earlier than babies who have not. In addition to this, babies who have had this experience also show larger and earlier brain responses to musical tones.

Understanding their world

One of the many, many things that a baby’s developing brain is organising is understanding how their world is structured. Their little brains are hardwired to sort sounds into categories. Was that someone speaking or just footsteps? Was that the neighbour’s dog or a washing machine? All these noises and sounds allow them to create a memory bank of their knowledge about the world. Being exposed to music exercises this ability to sort sound and provide another opportunity for pleasure.

Listening, making and enjoying music together doesn’t have to be just another task on your to-do list. It can be a wonderful way to bond with your baby and spend some quality time in each other’s company. When your day is filled with feeding, washing, cooking, settling, why not take some time out to enjoy the simple pleasure of music together?

Song suggestions for the first 6 months

  • Round and Round the Garden using your fingertip on baby’s palm

  • Rock-a-bye-baby as you rock baby gently in your arms

  • Hush Little Baby. The repetition in this one is great for bedtime. It’s also perfect for tired mums and dads as if you forget the words, just sub in anything that rhymes!

  • 1-2-3-4-5 Once I Caught A Fish Alive is wonderful for when your baby is learning to track with their eyes. As you count off your fingers, watch your little one be captivated by your movements.

Once you get started, you’ll discover opportunities for music everywhere. There are songs about just about anything and everything and if there is not, then just make one up to suit your purposes! There was one a little baby, who had to fall asleep. Close those little eyes, and don’t make a peep…


Toddler Music Makers; 5 ways to enjoy music together

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Toddlers are such an interesting bunch aren’t they? One moment they are exploring outside then the next they are sitting quietly looking at a story book. They are busy little humans, developing new skills faster than they can squeeze all your favourite moisturiser down the bathroom sink (which is pretty fast!) For toddlers, music can soothe, excite, entertain and delight. When your child becomes a toddler music maker though, they will experience cognitive benefits that support their early development. Here’s 5 easy ways to enjoy toddler music activities at home:

1.
Pot and a wooden spoon

Before you start to cover your ears and never speak to us again, keep in mind that simply hitting a pot with a spoon can encourage your little toddler music maker to sporadically keep time. Grab your own pot and spoon and imitate what your toddler is doing-copy their rhythm and see how delighted they are to be running the show!

2.
Finger plays and hand motions

Most toddlers love to join in on a song but sometimes the language is not quite there for them to sing along. This is where joining in by doing the actions encourages enjoyment and participation while their verbal skills develop. Sing songs such as Twinkle-Twinkle, Insy-Winsy or Open, Shut Them and role model the movements to your toddler as you sing. They’ll soon understand the link between the two and you may even find a few song requests coming your way by little fingers twinkling in your face!

3.
Outdoor music

If the idea of the spoon and pot is a bit too much for you to handle at the moment (or if you have a sleeping newborn in the next room) then outdoor music may be just what you are looking for. Many parks have a musical element built in that is perfect for your little toddler music lover! Here’s a couple of our favourites:

  • The Park on Schnapper Point Drive, Mornington. This park has some chimes set up. Do a treasure hunt beforehand to find the perfect stick to use or B.Y.O beater!

  • Ballam Park, Frankston. Aside from being an amazing playground, this park features Talk Tubes. One person speaks into a mouth piece while another, some distance away, can hear the sound through at their end! Lots of fun to be had experimenting with sounds, songs and noises.

Take a closer look at your local park and see what opportunities there are for toddler music activities.

4.
Using bells while dancing

If you toddler is a natural dancer, enhance the experience by adding some bells in to the mix. There are many kids of bells that a toddler can enjoy however for dancing, wearing the bells on their ankles and wrists frees up their hands for all the movement they will want to be enjoying. While their body responded to the beat, the bells respond to their movement and a lovely feedback-synergy takes place.

5.
Introduce a range of music into your home

Perhaps the most important element is introducing your toddler to a range of music. Watch the way they respond to classic music versus a pop song. See if they seem to prefer a particular musical over all others. Share with them songs from when you were a kid and let them witness your own joy in singing along. In the car, at the dinner table, while doing chores; all opportunities to expose your child to another musical experience.

As you can see, there are hundreds of ways in which you can begin to enjoy music with your toddler. How many more toddler music experiences can you think of?


Music Lessons for Kids – What to Expect

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Nervous about starting music lessons for your kids? Fear that they may require your mini maestro to know his or her Do, Re, Mi from their Fa, Sol, La, Ti? Our group music lessons for kids are designed specifically to bring out the joy of music. We take play-based learning to the next level! In addition to focusing on joy, there are also many opportunities in our music lessons for kids to gain musical knowledge. We believe that when kids are playing, kids are learning.

What to expect

In our mixed age group sessions, we provide a relaxed and informal setting to ensure that parents and kids all feel as comfortable as possible. Our venue for the group music lessons for kids is the Karingal Place Neighbourhood Centre-with a park next door and café across the road it is perfectly placed to enjoy a morning with your little one. The room is set up before arrival with cushions on the floor; when you arrive, simply take a seat and wait for the magic to begin!

As we move through a series of songs and activities, your child (and their carer) will have the opportunity to:

 Join in on the songs (or not!
 Move around the room
 Contribute to call and response songs (again, or not!)
 Play alongside each other
 Experience a range of musical instruments

We remove all expectation of how the children will use this time to explore all the elements of
music, singing and play that we introduce. Our only guideline is maintaining the safety or each
individual in the room. This means that if your child wishes to hold 7 shaker eggs instead of 2, their choice will be embraced and celebrated.

Why do we choose to deliver relaxed music lessons for kids?

We believe that play based learning offers challenges that will extend a child’s problems solving skills in a supportive environment that respects the whole child. We invite the child to play, however the greatest learning takes place when participation is freely chosen. Focusing on the process allows our music lessons to unfold in a way that responds to the needs of each individual child in the class. If your child wishes to beat a drum enthusiastically than our teacher will skilfully respond to that movement with a song about thunder before gently softening her voice to encourage a change in tempo. The learning takes place so naturally that sometimes it is only upon reflection that the adults in the room realise what has occurred!

Will music lessons suit my kids of different ages?

Our mixed aged group lessons are a wonderful way for siblings to enjoy an activity together. It can be a challenge to find something suitable for a toddler and a pre-schooler however because our classes use play, varying skill levels and attention spans are all catered to. A note on siblings: A reluctant participant can often be encouraged to join in when they have a sibling in the room- especially one who is younger and perhaps still in the pre-verbal stage. The older child may be tight lipped when prompted to sing their name as part of a song however they will announce their sibling’s name on their behalf loudly and proudly seconds later! Using this role of big brother or big sister can be a wonderful way to foster all that emerging confidence.

We offer a free trial lesson so please feel free to come and try out our music classes at a time that suits you. We hope to see you and your little one soon!

Get in touch.

Take Home Songs - Tiny Bubbles

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Did you know that tracking moving bubbles is fantastic for children to strengthen their eye muscles, making depth perception more accurate. Children are born sighted, but with poor vision as these muscles, like all of our muscles, need to work to gain strength.

The benefits continue when children are old enough and strong enough to stand, as catching bubbles is great for weight transference from one foot to the other as they reach to pop them. Something as simple as playing with bubbles can have big benefits.

Take this song home from class and share it with your little ones. Tiny Bubbles is perfect for bath time or playing the the backyard. With summer on it’s way why not play outside with some water, a couple of buckets and cups and some bubble mix. Hours of entertainment and learning and SO MUCH FUN! X Julie

Social Connectedness: Without the Pressure!

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Mother’s groups, play groups, Kindergarten events; it seems that historically there’s been a well- worn path for the social lives of parents. From the first contraction to the first day of primary school we squeeze in play dates and coffee between nap times and work. Most children appear to enjoy the social aspects of such groups and the benefits to child develop can be immense. For example, social interaction for most toddlers fosters:

 Language development through playing alongside or cooperatively with their peers

 Emotional development as the child begins to develop skills such as sharing and turn-taking

 Social development when the child discovers the consequences of resisting said sharing and turn taking!

For many parents, the idea of enjoying a cup of tea and venting about sleepless nights while their children work out how best to steal another’s toy can be the highlight of the week. But for others?

Read more…

social music connect connection parent

Take Home Songs - Baloo Baleerie

take home songs baloo baleerie scottish lullaby
lullaby baby toddler sing

https://www.instagram.com/p/BfKJ5hChsPK/?taken-by=soundslikethiskids

Baloo Baleerie is one of my favourite Scottish lullabies. In our children’s classes we use songs from all over the world, but try to select most of our repertoire from the ethnic backgrounds of the children present, so that they have strong cultural links to their past. Like so many Australians I have convict heritage, specifically from Scotland. I imagine my great great great grandparents may have been sung this beautiful lullaby as children.

Here it is (sped up a little to fit the whole thing into the video) so feel free to learn it, then take it nice and easy at home.

xx Julie

Who’s in Charge? Using Music Classes to Teach Body Autonomy in Children.

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Here at Sounds Like This for Kids, we’ve developed a philosophy which guides every interaction we have with the children engaging in our music classes. There are many facets which shape the way our classes unfold however a fundamental element is our belief that the way the participants move and use their bodies throughout the session is their own choice. The only caveat to this policy is safety to themselves and to others.

So, what does this look like during a class? Come along and take a look into any of our group music sessions in Frankston and you may see:

 The facilitator following the child’s beat as they walk around the room

 Children sitting on a parent’s lap (or beside or behind them)

 Parent’s assisting children in experimenting with instruments

 Children observing the class

 Children physically engaging in the class

By the same token, there is just as many practices that you, by design, will not find in our classes.

These include:

 Rigid expectations for the participants to sit in formation

 Facilitators who are unable to mix up the session plan in response to the suggestions, body

language and choices from the children

 A focus on specific outcomes rather than a holistic approach

Delivering our classes with this philosophy in mind means that each child is benefiting from years of research into child development, brain development and child psychology. To break down the outcomes and to ensure that we are walking the walk and not just talking the talk, we like to focus on a few different areas.

1. The impact of problem solving

Providing children with the opportunity to solve (seemingly) simple problems not only enhances their self esteem and confidence when it come to facing challenges, research shows that it also encourages creative thinking. What’s not to love?

The role of the teacher and parent is to offer the time and opportunity for children to explore, experiment and use trial and error in their experiences as their maturation and interest calls for it. The way that this translates in our sessions could be as simple as discovering how best to strike a drum for maximum impact! The process is an organic element in the participant’s overall learning.

2. An introduction into consent, coercion and choice

Mixed messages around body autonomy is a real issue that parents face during day to day interactions. While we teach children about body safety, we also encourage them to hug a relative or sit on Santa’s knees. The parent’s urge to be polite is often in conflict with the child’s need for personal space.

At Sounds Like This for Kids we remove the expectation for children to sit on laps or interact physically with anyone else in the room. Taking the pressure off allows them to relax and get the most out of their class in an environment where parents can also feel confident in a non- judgemental space.

3. Joy and magic

Discovering something new, mastering an emerging skill or the thrill of surprise when a teacher responds to a beat set by the child is perhaps the most important component in our philosophy. It is our ‘why’ when it comes to creating a relaxed, creative and supportive space for children and adults alike. We believe that happy and relaxed participants make the most receptive students! Our objective is to not only teach music making skills, we hope to instil a love if the process itself.

Now, this all may sound pretty heavy for family music classes but when you consider the simple ways in which this philosophy translates into practice you’ll probably find similar situations popping up for your family in day to day life.

As always, we are happy to answer any questions or queries related to this or any other component of our service so feel free to get in touch and start your musical journey with Sounds Like This.

consent childhood music parenting

You CAN Make Music!

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Did you know it takes just one generation of not being sung to for people to think that they can’t sing? One generation. Take a moment and think of how many lullabies you know. Ten? Five? One?  

Considering that humans have always made music, it is astounding how many parents arrive in their first music session and declare that they cannot sing. Archaeological digs have uncovered bone flutes, music centred corroborees are detailed in cave drawings and ancient drums have been found the world over. And yet we have become passive music consumers instead of active music makers. What went wrong? We believe that it can be put down to a few things:

  • A steady increase in music related technology since the 1920’s. As the presence of gramophones, record players, cassette players, CDs, MP3 and YouTube increases, organic music making decreases

  • A lack of respect for creativity in formal education shaping our current culture

  • A breakdown in community connectedness. As our lives get busier, there is less opportunity to gather for music making both as a community and within our own families.

How you can help your child to be musically intelligent

When it comes to learning to make music, the goal is to embrace your tuneful, beat-ful and artful self! In order to encourage the development of these three components, we can provide our children with support in the following ways.

Tuneful
Are we singing in a pitch that children can reproduce for themselves accurately? Are we singing songs that are vocally appropriate for the age and physical development of their voices?

Are they immersed in the whole tonal language of music? In my sessions I sing in a rainbow of tonal colours. From ancient modes, to modern major and minors, pentatonic, whole tone, chromatic scales, to name a few.

Introduce your child to film scores and classical music next time you are in the car. They’ll be transported by them. They’re magical! Does your child hear polyphony? Rich harmonies on various instruments and with voices? Are you sharing songs from your parent’s and grandparent’s past that can help to build intergenerational bonds? Are these songs that your children will one day sing to their own babes?

Beat-ful

This is one you probably already do without thinking. Bouncing them on your knee, tapping on the ground so that they can feel the vibrations and dancing around your kitchen to music with strong beat from your culture and others. All this is helping your kids to be beat-ful!

Have you danced with your baby to the blues, to funk, to Latin, to jazz, to an Irish jig? All of these styles feel different and encourage varied movement as we immerse ourselves in the beat.

Artful

We’ve saved the best for last. This is arguably the most important element.
Are we encouraging the art? Is the text stale and monotone or lacking emphasis? We don’t want to sound like zombie drones. We want to be fresh and inspired!

Rhymes and songs should be scrumptious, delicious and like your life would be incomplete without them. That’s the “art” part, and that is what is so often missing when enjoying musical experiences in modern life. Is the text in the rhyme or song funny, sad, tender, playful, charming or gross? Are the children getting that from the delivery? Imagine; you could you be a story-teller not just through books, but through music!

The gift of music is something your child will share with you for a lifetime. Why not start sharing in the joy right now? Just remember: tune, beat and art. Give it a go!


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Change The Station

What is the best music for a child's growing brain? That may seem like an easy question, but the answer is actually quite complicated. In short, lots of DIFFERENT music is the best music for your child.

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I would argue that active musical listening is as important to the brain during a child's early years as language is. It works just like language during the brain's development. We know that exposing your child's ear to as many words as possible in your native tongue/s, during their first years changes the way their brains process language. Without these linguistic interactions early on the brain does not grow the synaptic connections that it will use for the rest of it's life. The more these connections are used the stronger they become. If they're not used they atrophy and you can not establish them later on. The brain must take different pathways (pathways created for another purpose) to complete the desired task. Developing the synapses for music is exactly the same as language. You want lots of strong pathways established early on, so they will have them for their lifetime. 

Exposing a child to music is good. Exposing a child to an enormous variety of music from their culture, from around the world, in a host of time signatures, musical keys and tonalities, with varying feel, instrumentation, dynamics, layers and voices is better. MUCH better. It is with this in mind that we select the music for our sessions, but more on that later, this post is about you and your child beyond our class!

What type of music do you hear most often? What do you hear when you put on the radio in your car? What is your child listening to? What instruments? How many of the sounds that you're hearing actually are instruments and how many of them are electronically generated sounds? Are the voices natural sounding or have they been tampered with too?

Let's make a conscious effort to expose children to new sounds! Not sure where to start? We live in a world where accessibility to recorded music is easier than ever before. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes and Google Music are available at our fingertips, not to mention any physical collection you may own. I'm still hanging on to my CDs and actively growing my vinyl collection (thank you op shops). Does anyone still have a tape deck? Am I showing my age? Seek out other genres that you would not normally listen to. Classical (baroque, romantic, classical, impressionist, twentieth century), blues, funk, metal, folk, rock, jazz, country, soul, reggae, pop, electronica, dance, and I'm sure a million sub-genres within all of these. Once your child is no longer a baby they can play an important role in directing their own musical listening and appreciation. Ask them what they like. Ask them what they can hear within the music. Help them identify new instruments! 

Turn off the 'kids' music. Most commercially available music that is targeted at children is rubbish (I have strong feelings about this) and could actually be very harmful to their developing vocal chords, if they sing along, often and loudly. This music is usually pitched in a range that is comfortable for an adult voice, often an adult male voice, which its physically much larger than a child's. If your little one sings along loudly and often they could be at risk of doing serious long term damage to their vocal chords. I'll come back to more on this in the weeks to come with another top tip. We want kids to sing, but we don't want them to hurt themselves! 

Play real music to your kids. Start here... Hendrix, The Beetles, Mozart (who incidentally sold the most CDs of any artist in 2016, WOO, go Wolfgang!), Stevie Wonder, Bela Felck, Matt Corby, Van Halen, Debussy, Ravel, The Eagles, Bill Evans (jazz pianist), Nat King Cole, ELO, David Bowie, Queen, Daft Punk, Bob Marley, Vulfpeck, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, I could go on forever, oh how I LOVE music! 

Happy listening, dancing, moving and grovin', music lovers!

By Julie Murray
Owner and Teacher at Sounds Like This

Explore Sounds Together

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I've always been interested in exploring the sounds something can make, I thought I was all over it, I played instruments, went to concerts, heck I was studying 'proper' *clears throat* classical music at a private conservatorium. Then I moved in with a drummer. Well, he could make sounds and new sounds in ways I had never heard before! He thought differently about sound production. It was not a means to an ends for him, it was something magical to be treasured. 

Doing the dishes was a complex exercise in exactly which bowls filled with how much water could create the pitch and resonance he was after. It took forever to get a clean cup, but it sounded amazing. This drummer played like a child. There were things to bang, crash and bop! He was delighted in his exploring and in absolutely no hurry to speed up his exploration in the name of getting the job done. As he saw it, making music with the pots and pans was far more important than having clean dishes. You know what? He was right! Living with him taught me to slow down. Watching him take household items and transforming them into musical instruments was and still is amazing. 

Years on, we share our home with our two young children.  Our boys are often loud. They love to bang, crash and bop, just like their dad. Unless someone is sleeping, we usually let them. Why? Surely living in a quieter household would be better for my nerves?! We don't stop them because they are learning. 

They're learning about physics, vibration, resonate properties of different materials. They're learning about cause and effect. They're learning that when they hit something hard is sounds louder, they're learning that when they are gentle it sounds softer. They are building their muscles and developing more control and intent in their dynamic (volume) contrasts. They're learning that when they put their hand on that pot that they just wacked with a wooden spoon, that they stop it from vibrating and therefore stop the sound. They're learning about how sound is created and moves and stops, and that THEY are in charge of that. 

They're learning about using their voices. Our first son spent the best part of a year calling "hello" in undercover car-parks. He was listening for the echo. He waited to hear how many he could get back. He changed volume and the length of the "hello" to change the response. He figured it out for himself and every time he did his face lit up with an "AH HA!" moment. 

You want these moments. You want your child interested. Interested children are involved and excited about their own learning and these children learn A LOT! You want to let her explore sound and to do it on her own terms. When we talk about play based learning, this is what we mean. It means don't interrupt. It means, as the grown up you are not in charge, however well intended you may be, a child will learn FAR more by figuring things out for themselves in a child-lead way. There's no right way to hit a pot with a spoon, there are many ways and they will result in different sounds, but one way is not right and another wrong, just different. 

So, I urge you to not be too hasty in cleaning up the mess of plastic containers, pots, pans, spoons and lids, that your little one has spread all over the kitchen floor, yet again. To let them make child-led choices about how they interact with the world around them. Musical things are usually inanimate objects, rather than something flashy a marketing department of a corporation is targeting at your children (a rant for another time). The real musical 'thing', is the person who thinks in sounds and creates music with things, anything. Let your little one be little and have the freedom, time and space to be that musical 'thing'!

By Julie Murray
Owner and Teacher at Sounds Like This

Seek Out Live Music

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If we want children to grow to be musical beings they need to hear live music. No amount of pre-recorded music, aimed at children is going to cut it. Most music played for children shouldn't be children's music at all, but that's a rant for another time! What we need for children to become musical is music created right there and then in front of them. It needs to be organic and enticing. Music with real instruments. Music with real musicians. Hopefully REALLY good musicians! It doesn't really matter what style of music it is, just as long as it is delivered with passion from people who care about it. My kid's favourite type of music is symphonic film scores or wailing electric guitar, Hendrix goes down a treat around here!

I'm talking about experiencing the blues live, or folk, or classical, or some sort of weird and wonderful prog-fusion. I'm talking about taking your family for an adventure down the peninsula during the summer to one of the many markets (perhaps Emu Plains at Balnarring) or wineries who have live musos (Hickinbotham in Dromana springs to mind), and letting your children get up close to the instruments. Let the kids dance and move however they want to. Let them figure out where the sound comes from. Let them charm the friendly musicians into giving them have a tiny strum and a hit on a cymbal. Experiences like these can be life changing for young children. 

I remember so clearly, being eight years old and having a string quartet come to my primary school. Following their amazing concert (it was seriously amazing, I thought they were magical!) they let the kids get up close to see how the strings vibrate. They showed us how they sound different when bowed and plucked. They showed us how to make it loud and soft. From that moment on I felt differently about "classical" music. It was instantly less stuffy. It was accessible, but you had to worked for it. I remember appreciating how clever these musicians were, but that they were also just people. I remember thinking that was just a person and wanted to do clever things with instruments too! 

So, head into the city and claim your spot of the grass at the Music Bowl and be completely enchanted by an entire symphony orchestra one balmy evening. Find some buskers in a hidden skyscraper shadowed lane-way. Venture to the Melbourne Zoo for their chilled 'Zoo Twilights". Find a rural Christmas Carols event to sing along at. Melbourne has the "Music Play Children's Festival" on from the 14th through to the 17th of January and there are hands on events at the Recital Centre including "Sensory Sounds". 

I know taking children to formal concerts could potentially be an absolute nightmare experience, but in the summer time there are countless outdoor and family friendly events on offer on the Peninsula and in Melbourne, so it's a fabulous time to get your music on! Get out there, make some memories and have a ball! 

Julie Murray
Owner and Teacher Sounds Like This

My Son, The Singing Pumpkin

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Life at three is big. All day, every day is a full bodied experience. Constantly in motion, my son, Alex, has been known to rack up thousands of steps/wiggles as he's watched a movie. I know this to be true because about six moths ago I strapped a pedometer to him, just to satisfy my own curiosity.

My boy is a super sensitive creature, he always has been. At three his feelings are even further exaggerated. His emotions are all encompassing. If he's glad, he is elated. If he's sad, he is drowning in misery. There is no middle ground. It's exhausting for him and for both of his parents. 

Our conversations together are frequently weird and wonderful. I'm often equal parts amused and delighted by his ponderous mind. He is one of those people who loves to pull things apart to see how they work and to know why they do that thing that they do. He is obsessed with finding out how things are made. This boy asks A LOT of questions. Alex and I spend countless hours looking things up "on Gooooooogle". He is pumped when there's a Youtube video of "How do they make glass?" or "Why is lava?", "There's bones in me?" which led to "What does my skeleton do?" 

Our TV features a voice activated search, so at the touch of a button he's able to jump online and look up anything his heart desires. It has helped enormously with his pronunciation. You can't search for firetruck without an F. How great it is to be Lord Commander of a voice activated remote control. This kid has no idea, he's living in the future.

Anyway, one of his interests over the past few months has been magic. His laterally thinking brain knows it's not real, even at three, but he adores the playfulness, the wonder, the excitement. He searched for "something magical" online and a video for Disney's Cinderella popped up at the Fairy Godmother's scene. Alex pressed play. 

Watching his face as for the first time he witnessed four mice become horses, a horse become a coachman, Cinderella's dress transform and of course, the pumpkin. Well we all know about the pumpkin. On his face was unmistakable pure delight. A memory that I hope stays with me for a very long time. Following that scene Alex turned to me and said "That pumpkin's a horse-car. That's silly." 

A little while later was the Queen's birthday and his daycare was having a royal celebration. Come dressed up as a queen, a king, a princess or prince! In the lead up I asked him, MANY times if he'd like to dress up.
"Would you like to be a queen, a king, a princess or prince?" Time and time again.
"No thanks." was his answer. Until the morning of the big day. "I want to be a pumpkin!" He sobbed with teary eyes, as I dropped him off at 9:10am. I had to get to, and start work at 9:30am. It was not going to happen. There was nothing I could do. A pumpkin. He wanted to be a pumpkin. I had asked the wrong question. Cinderella wasn't the amazing magical thing, the pumpkin was. The pumpkin twinkled in the moon light as is sped through the night on it's way to the castle. The pumpkin was where it was at. 

Well I thought I'd hear about it for a day, a week, surely not more than a month! Was this child an elephant who never forgets in a previous life? Oh, let up kid! Talk about carrying a grudge. "I wasn't a pumpkin!" he'd loudly state with sad eyes, every couple of days. And then, thank the sweet gods of consumerism, Halloween was approaching! His daycare once again had a dress up day and guess who went as the happiest little pumpkin you ever did see? Alex!

I'm reminded of this tonight. As I washed his grubby face and his adventurously filthy body in the bath he requested the "Magic-a-boo song", from Cinderella. I sang it to him as I washed him. I sang it to him as I dried him. I sang it to him as I dressed him. We sang it together as I tucked him into bed. 

I am damn sure this parenting thing is the hardest thing I've ever done, but there's magic, REAL magic that shines in his eyes each and every day and it's moments like these that melt my heart. Sleep well little pumpkin. 

By Julie Murray
Sounds Like This owner and teacher. 

My three year old pumpkin and his trusty sidekick, one year old Batman.

Top Tip #3 Vocal Exploration

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If you've ever come to one of our classes you'll know we spend a lot of time making funny sounds with our voices. Why in the world do we do this? There are LOTS of reasons, but here are the three main ones.  

Firstly as vocal warm ups. We do these sounds first thing in class. We make sure our mouths are moving, voices are flexible and moving freely. We want to make sure that children and parents are breathing correctly and have their vocal chords nice and warmed up for the rest of the class, and that they take these warm ups home so they don't experience vocal health problems later on down the track. You do not want vocal nodules! 


Second: Pitch association. You'll notice that we move up and down as the sound does. It's a great way for children to become aware of changing pitch and pitch placement in a play-based way. Understanding pitch placement is important if you ever want to be able to sing in tune (OF COURSE YOU DO!) and this is a kinesthetic link between the sound we are hearing and how we move our bodies.


Lastly: It a fantastic ice breaker. Nothing says 'this is a safe place to be totally comfortable being yourself' then the silly person teaching being completely relaxed to explore all the funny ways her voice and face can move and gently encourage you to do the same. It's pretty rare that these warm ups are not met with smiles all round. Who doesn't love something that makes you feel good?!
Happy music making!

By Julie Murray
Sounds Like This owner and teacher.

The Power of Music

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In June this year I was lucky enough to see a performance of one of my favourite stories, Romeo and Juliet, performed by the Houston Ballet Company, one of North America’s prominent ballet companies, and choreographed by renowned Australian choreographer, Stanton Welch.

It was absolutely stunning.

I have previously seen Romeo and Juliet performed by the Australian Ballet Company, watched the traditional Franco Zeffirelli film, and read the play numerous times.  The contemporary retelling from Baz Lurhmann is one of my favourite films.

But I have never before felt the emotional response to the story I felt watching the ballet that night.

Afterwards, I was reminded of the power of music.  It can induce strong emotions within us.  As soon as we hear music it stimulates our nervous system – making us want to move and groove.  It affects the emotional brain network, causing us to find the music pleasurable or not.  This emotional response then releases particular chemicals from our brain into our body, enabling us to feel anxious or calm, for example.  The acoustic features of the music (loudness) and the structure of the composition (fast and slow, tension and relaxation, pauses in the music) can also trigger emotional reactions.  Certain songs can evoke a memory and bring the emotions connected to that memory stored in our subconscious, bubbling up to the surface.

The elegant costumes, elaborate sets and fluidity of the dancers’ movements were all only enhanced and supported by Sergei Prokofiev’s beautiful music.  The choreography was perfect – no words were necessary, the dancing truly told the drama of the story.

I laughed.  I cried.  It took my breath away.  I was mesmerised.

What a delight to behold such creativity and talent in so many areas all coming together to produce such a feast for the senses.

By Lauren Nilsson
Sounds Like This for Kids Presenter and Early Childhood Specialist

Take Me Home

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Every little thing that we do in class has an intention behind it. We work very hard to ensure all of our musical selections are specifically chosen and delivered in a way that's best for growing brains, and gentle on small voices. Sounds Like This for Kids' movements frequently encourage kinesthetic association with pitch, beat, rhythm and tempo.

Our delivery is scaffolded to developmentally challenge your child just enough to keep them in that optimum learning space, while providing plenty of confidence building 'can do' moments. With all of this work and your teacher's brain to tap into, it seems silly to stop the learning when you leave our studio, right?! Then don't! Make sure you take home everything that you’re learning and use it to play away from our sessions. Sing at home, move at home and strive to deliver the songs and games, just as you experienced them in class. Most of all have fun together!

Julie Murray
Sounds Like This owner and teacher.