Children will respond to music when they are ready to respond to music.
As children begin to develop their music vocabularies, the most obvious and immediate music responses you may notice after their initial looking responses will be movement responses. Naturally, and especially for very young children, those movement responses may not seem to be coordinated with the music they are hearing or making. That is okay! We need to demonstrate free flowing continuous movements for all children, in order to help them avoid music and movement rigidity.
For older children, movement responses may sometimes be coordinated with the music they are hearing or making. Until children consistently coordinate their movements with the music they are hearing, they are considered to be in "rhythm babble." Just as children need to babble with the sounds of language, children need to babble with the sounds of music. In music development, however, children also need to babble with the movements that will allow them to perform rhythms without rigidity.
Each child who begins to babble in rhythm will soon demonstrate his personal tempo. Each child has a personal tempo, the speed at which he naturally moves. You may observe your child's personal tempo by watching him crawl, walk or pat the floor or wall. In class we reinforce each child's personal tempo by imitating your child's rhythm babble and engaging him in "rhythm babble conversations" in that personal tempo. We also improvise short chants that incorporate your child's rhythm babbling. This reinforces your child's vocal participation in music, and it is a necessary step to draw him into our music syntax.
As you and your child continue to attend Music Play classes, you will notice your child starting to babble on a particular pitch. That is your child's personal pitch. Each child has a personal pitch that is comfortable for him to sing, and it seems to become his favorite pitch. We reinforce each child's personal pitch in class by imitating your child's tonal babble and engaging him in "tonal babble conversations" on that personal pitch and other nearby pitches. We also improvise short songs around your child's tonal babbling. This reinforces your child's vocal participation in music, and it is a necessary step to draw them into our music syntax.
Children will not be forced to pass through the stages of rhythm development and tonal development. Children are exposed to songs and chants, with and without words and in a variety of tonalities and meters, by competent adults who also accompany those songs and chants with free and relaxed continuous or pulsating movements. Forcing children to respond to music places unnecessary performance pressures on them. Children will respond to music when they are ready to respond to music, and that time may not be in music class. Children who are exposed to adult participation in informal music making have the opportunity of experiencing the idea that the right to participate in music activities does not belong to a chosen few.