Here are some resources to help plan and deliver music sessions for Early Years (0-5 years old) and young children. The main source for these has been the Youth Music Network – a great site for music educators to interact and share practice. For those interested in early years work, Youth Music’s ‘Early Years Music Making’ discussion group has lots of blogs worth reading. It may be worth joining so you can get notifications of new blogs, participate and ask questions.
Top Early Years tips from Youth Music Network members - includes tried-and-tested practical tips, songs members enjoyed singing with under 5s, methodologies which have worked well, and academic research reports on the impacts of music making. The resources are divided into 3 sections:
- Read the practical tips on early years music making
- Explore the resources for early years music making
- Study the research about early years music making
Music in the Early Years: Who, What & Why? The London Early Years Music Network has gathered the many questions they are most often asked and shared the answers here to provide an introduction to music-making in the early years.
Do, Review, Improve… A quality framework for music education Youth Music’s principles of good practice when working with children and young people in group music making sessions.
LSO Discovery: Sharing early years music education practice - videos and notes on key aspects of the London Symphony Orchestra’s early years programme. They include:
- LSO Discovery: A listening environment
- LSO Discovery: Children’s musical development
- LSO Discovery: Repetition
- LSO Discovery: Variety
- LSO Discovery: Working with parents
- LSO Discovery: Working with musicians
- Tuning in to children: an approach for child-led / adult-responsive music making
- All about early years: people, places and practicalities
- Planning your project
- Young children & music
- Children’s musical behaviour
- Listening and observing children’s vocal play
- Observing, documenting and reflecting on children’s musical play
- Performing music in early years settings
- Planning spaces and resources for children’s music play
- Responding to children’s group musical play with instruments
- Responding to children’s music and other play using your own music instrument
- Responding to children’s musical play with instruments
- Responding to children’s musical play with voices
- The musical nature of children
- Things to listen for and observe in children’s music play with instruments
- Tuning in to children: Further resources – Books about: early years, music and early years, song books, activities, creativity and percussion instruments. Links to instrument suppliers, puppets and movement that promotes health, learning and well being.
Moving on: professional development for advanced Early Years music making provides information and signposting to literature, recent research and video links to CPD activities.
Earlyarts professional development days - Earlyarts is a national network that provides creative training and resources for creative artists and early years professionals wanting to develop their own creative confidence and ability. Click on the pink spots on the visual chart to find out about their training days.
Tuning in to children’s musicality – nurturing children’s ideas - A collection of practice write-ups, research papers and films reflects on the work of Sightlines Initiative in their Youth Music funded programme ‘The Drama of Sound’.
- Spotlighting Sightlines’ work on children’s musicality
- The Drama of Sound: Additional Learning Materials
- The Drama of Sound: tuning into children’s musicality
- Born for Art, and the Joyful Companionship of Fiction
- What Young Children Give to Their Learning, Making Education Work to Sustain a Community and its Culture
Sound Foundations: A supported musical curriculum for Early Years settings shows the value and outcomes of having a professional Early Years specialist train and work with non-music specialist staff in the classroom, to deliver musical activities for the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum.
- A film created by the London Early Years Music Network to support those working in music with 3-5-year-olds.
Keeping Children Safe in Music Created in 2010 by the Musicians Union, the NSPCC, ABRSM and Youth Music, but still very relevant today, this short video series offers guidance to music practitioners on a range of child protection issues.
Sound Connections Resources - a library of engaging films, briefing papers, reports and case studies about music-making with young people. Many are for Early Years.
BBC’s Beginners tips for playing loads of different instruments and singing.
BBC and Music Mark music education videos These films aim to provide informative and engaging music education tools to support children and young people’s music education in both Primary and Secondary schools – and in reality they provide practical and highly useful insights for all (inside and outside the classroom).
A very good document, aimed at children and young people, with advice about what instrument might suit you, what to think about when buying instruments, where to get them, help with learning, looking after your voice and instruments etc. Also lots of links to online music magazines for different genres – roots, D’n’B, rock, jazz, world, classical etc.
Engaging ‘hard to reach’ parents in Early Years music-making - an academic study that explores ways to engage hard-to-reach parents in early years music-making. Has some practical tips in the ‘case studies’ section on page 6 of the executive summary. They also have a full practical toolkit to help you engage with hard to reach parents.
Music to Young Ears: Engaging Deaf Children with Music - an academic study that provides a thorough review of the issues relating to the provision of music opportunities to deaf children up to the age of five. The practical advice is in PART 5: Good Practice, Issues and Recommendations, pages 26-31 of the Young Ears Report.
Wider Opportunities: Creating Chances for Making Music - explores different ways of providing primary school children with opportunities to learn a range of musical instruments. It has a useful section on page 32 about understanding the connections between classroom management, behaviour management and best practice in teaching and learning.
What’s the best way for my child to learn music? An informative document by Youth Music that discusses various ways to learn music. Everyone is different and benefits from learning in different ways. The document covers one-to-one instrumental tuition and mentoring, group ensembles, workshops and ‘do it yourself’ techniques. The document also gives an insight into the benefits music gives in other areas such as language, academic and social development.
Early Years Evidence Review explores the effects and outcomes of music-making on children in their Early Years (0-5).
Tips on Sharing Good Practice - a Youth Music blog with a download of 20 questions to ask yourself about what you are doing, and tips on how to present what you say so that you can share your successes and challenges with others and tell your story well.
“Musical Partnerships in Play” – Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children Conference Saturday 14th June 2014 aims to explore the nature of partnerships in music with young children and offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in innovative practice and to chat with progressive thinkers in the field of early years music. Come to play. Come to think. Come to meet people who are passionate about music in the early years.
Training programmes for Early Years practitioners by the Voices Foundation. “By using our methodology, practitioners can help children to achieve the 6-point target in 2 dimensions of the Foundation Stage Profile.”
MA in Early Years Music Teaching A one year MA – 7 days of face to face teaching + distance learning for independent workshop leaders, early years educators, music therapists, advisors, community musicians and instrumental teachers.
Early Childhood Music Education Commission (ECME) promotes current ideas in early childhood music education which relate to research and to teaching. They have numerous documents and publications, and blogs.
Music Educators and Researchers of Young Children (MERYC) are an enthusiastic, supportive network with the desire to improve the provision of music in early childhood in the UK.
The Bubbles Music resource files each contain an introductory section, designed to demystify music with easy-to-understand vocabulary and clear layout. There is also a Warm-Up games section, as well as additional cross-curricular theme links to help teachers develop a repertoire of general skills and ideas for music which can be applied in other contexts. From early years to Upper Key Stage 2. Twitter: @BubblesEd
Early Arts is an award-winning national network for people working creatively with children and families in the arts, cultural and early years sectors. They host The Early Years Strategic Roundtable – a national alliance of organisations supporting creative experiences in the expressive arts for children in their early years. Early Arts website has a huge collection of research reports, case studies and practice-sharing resources for arts in the Early Years.
The Children’s Music Web A non-profit resource for “kids, families and children’s performers worldwide.” USA based. Sections for:
Music Instruments and Equipment:
Make Your own: Early years music specialist Sue Nicholls takes us through a step-by-step guide to making instruments for the under 5s from every day recycled objects.
Knock on Wood (Leeds) A partnership of musicians and music enthusiasts. Large range of percussion and World Musical Instruments, recordings and tuition materials from hundreds of sources around the world. Tel. 0113 242 9146
Adaptatrap (Brighton) Percussion instruments from around the world. “We also offer an ever-changing eclectic range of other unusual and ethically sourced instruments.” Tel 01273 672 722
Marbel (Cornwall). Toy distributor for numerous brands, specialising in ‘bringing wooden, quality, classic, traditional, innovative and educational toys to the UK market.’ Top Early Years Tips was inspired by a Marbel offer to Youth Music Network readers. Tel 01208 873 123.
Music Education Supplies Ltd (Surrey). Specialist supplier of percussion instruments to the primary school market. They have some free resources such as a Care of Instruments Download. Tel 020 8770 3866
Music for Starters Sells musical instruments, puppets, books, CDs and props for music making in early years and primary settings. Also one day courses aimed at teachers, musicians and early years practitioners suitable for anyone working from birth to first years at school.
Laboratory Media Education offer Specialist Music Education combined with cutting edge Technology in the form of Workshops, Modules for ks1/2 and 3 and CPD for teachers and music educators e.g. developing i-pad orchestras.