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Borbála Szirányi

Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary

 

Our methodological development is based on the realisation that although young children (aged 6-10) benefit most from and are aspired most by constant movement, active involvement, experience based, creative activities in the classroom that allow self-expression, current Hungarian music pedagogy is mostly theory-centred, and draws mainly on passive and static methodologies in approaches to music education. The main feature of our model is the dominant presence of movement 1) in the acquisition of musical elements and concepts, 2) in the practice of developing different music skills, and 3) besides reproducing music, in the creation and development of musical reception skills.

In our model we propose to enrich the traditionally three-stage Hungarian music teaching process – which is mainly based on auditive experiences gained by singing – by integrating movement. In our view while traditional singing-based music education approaches music learning predominantly from the side of musical hearing, by the conscious integration of motions into the process of the musical elements’ acquisition, the aural musical experiences gained by singing will be completed with kinaesthetic and, in many cases, visual experiences as well. With the unity of listening-seeing-body we can address children with different learning strategies at the same time. Our aim is to integrate movement into primary school education at all levels and on the whole spectrum of the curriculum – not only in the first two years –, and to always suit it to the musical skills, co-ordination and concentration skills of the target age group.

In our exercises the movements are always fitted to (a) particular aspect(s) of music, that is, we create a choreography that correlates with sounding music. The music material applied can be a melody sung by the participants, or a recorded piece. Initially we use movement to develop and improve a sense of steady beat. When children are able to perform the steady beat well, we move forward trying to have them express the metre - that is stress-relationships - by their gestures, just as the motivic structure of the sung songs. Given that movement is a natural component of developing one’s sense of rhythm it is emphasized in our model. We find it important that for the students to get bodily and lived experience of rhythm, so we try to perform the different rhythmic phrases by using various movements tailored to the body. In line with Kodály principles, polyphony and the training of polyphonic skills has a key role of our methodology. In this process our first goal is to improve concentration and to train children to be able to divide attention. We apply numerous exercises from the earliest stages of music education in which students are required to focus on one thing first, then to divide their attention between two or more activities. In our music pedagogical innovation, we find it of great importance to make the so-called active listening to music a regular and integral part of general music education. In our practice we associate different kinds of movements or movement choreographies to the music listening activities.

We consider it important to offer different types of movement opportunities and motion choreographies for each skill-building area and for the gaining of music knowledge, and preferably use a variety of motion and spatial formations.

Types and benefits of applied movement choreographies based on the number of participants involved

  • Activities the students can do individually (individual game), relying on their own creativity and existing knowledge
  • Activities performed in pairs (partner games). It has two advantages, on the one hand, it is more motivating to work together with someone, and on the other hand, by pairing up a less skilful student with a more able one individual development can take place.
  • Collective activities in which the whole group can participate. These so-called creative singing-games are mostly performed with a partner – often swapping partners during a song – in a circle, so the students experience the musical activity as a collective, playful experience. A game in which each member of the group is equally important because the game can only be successful if everyone pays attention and do their best. During these creative-singing games the students experience responsibility because one’s fault undermines the whole group’s efforts, also, the joy of support and help, because in the pair activities a more skilful student may help their pair, the importance of acceptance, because during swapping pair one may need to do an exercise with somebody they may not necessarily like.

Types of applied movement choreographies based on their associated spatial forms and directions

  • children’s folk games:
    • arch games
    • bridge games
    • chasing games
    • (voice, tone) guessing game
    • line games
    • dialogues
  • created games
    • clapping games: individual, in pairs, with swapping pairs (mostly combined with line or circle games)
    • clapping individually
    • clapping with a partner
    • clapping with a partner within a circle
    • clapping with a partner within a circle and turning 180 degrees at the end to a new partner
    • circle/clapping games in two concentric circles
    • circle/clapping games in one circle travelling past partner
    • individual clapping games with complex body percussion accompaniments
  • line-games
    • single line games
      • standing between the rows in columns or in one line next to each other, and marching forward to the beat, then taking a 180 degrees turn and marching backwards to the opposite direction; change direction according to the musical entities.
      • standing between the rows in columns or in one line next to each other, and marching forward and backwards to the beat; change direction according to the musical entities
    • simple double line games
      • students stand in two lines that face each other and form pairs. They march forward and backwards – to and away from each other – to the beat. Change direction according to the musical entities
      • students stand in two lines that face each other and form pairs. They swap positions stepping to the beat and according to the musical entities.
      • students stand in two lines that face each other and form pairs. At the end of a musical entity the first pair travels back to the end of the line. They can walk between or outside of the two lines of children.
  • circle games (these are mostly combined with clapping games)
    • one circle games
      • standing in one circle facing the centre the students step inwards-outwards to the beat; change direction according to the musical units.
      • stepping in one circle – on the circle-line - clockwise and anti-clockwise (taking a 180 degree turn to the opposite direction); change direction according to the musical units.
      • stepping in one circle - on the circle-line - forwards and backwards (do not turn); change direction according to the musical units.
      • students stand in pairs along the circle-line. The partners first interact with each other than at a given musical unit they take a 180 degrees turn their other neighbour.
      • students stand in pairs along the circle-line, the pairs first interact with each other than at a particular musical unit they walk past partner (advancing by right shoulder) as they travel to another person (travelling game)
      • students walk in a circle on particular musical units, whereas during other units they leave the circle and move around the room freely, then at a given musical unit they must form a circle again
    • two concentric circles games
      • students stand in two concentric circles with each child on the outside facing someone on the inside. At specific parts of the music the partners interact, at other parts students in the inner circle are marching on the spot while the ones in the outer circle are travelling to a new partner sideways, anti-clockwise.
      • students stand in two concentric circles with each child on the outside facing someone on the inside. At specific parts of the music the partners interact, at other parts students in the inner circle are travelling to a new partner sideways, clockwise while the ones in the outer circle are marching on the spot. students stand in two concentric circles with each child on the outside facing someone on the inside. At specific parts of the music the partners interact, at other parts students in the inner circle travel clockwise to a new partner sideways, while the ones in the outer circle travel anti-clockwise to a new partner sideways (right leg moves first).
      • students stand in two concentric circles with each child on the outside facing someone on the inside. The partners pass by each other with dos-si-dos dance steps, without changing direction.
  • moving freely in the room 
    • students move around freely in the room then stop at particular musical units
    • students move around the room freely then, at each new musical unit, change their course
  • games with objects
    • parachute games
    • ball throwing or bouncing games
    • ball rolling games
    • stick games
      • performing simple, then more complex ostinato individually
      • performing simple, then more complex ostinato in pairs
      • performing simple, then more complex ostinato in a circle or square shape with swapping partners
  • passing games
    • passing a large object, e.g. a ball
      • passing large object (ball) in pairs – to a partner who passes back according to beat
      • passing large object according to beat around a larger circle first in one direction and then the opposite direction
      • passing large object on the beginning of each motif around a large circle
      • postman-game (students stand in a large circle. One of the students holds a ball and during the first musical phrase walks to another student then at the end of the phrase pass the ball to him. In the second musical phrase this new student walks to a third child and at the end of the phrase passes the ball to him etc. )
    • passing a small object, e.g. beanbag, cup, drum sticks)
      • passing object individually (e.g. beanbag) from hand to hand
      • passing games showing metre: drop / pick up
      • passing games which combine passing the object with body percussion e.g. Pass, clap to side, pick up for three beat pattern
      • passing games showing ostinato patterns
  • other games
    • creative singing games combining different movements and spatial arrangements
    • games operating with multiple lines in which participants change direction by taking a 90 degree turn:
    • mathematical games with more complex rhythm patterns
    • games in fours singing in canon

Types of recommended movement choreographies according to the age of participants:

Approximate age:

Social and coordination skills of the target age group

Suitability for age

5 to 8

▪ they enjoy peer to peer interaction

▪ mostly they do not mind physical contact (e.g. touching a peer’s hand)

▪ their scope of attention is limited to one or two types of movement, therefore changing them rapidly or unpredictably should be avoided

▪ the types of movement during practice should be limited to two

▪ passing smaller objects around requires great effort from them

▪ they navigate easily among clearly defined, simple spatial forms

✓ Guessing games identifying timbre of voice/instruments

✓ Parachute games working as a group to feel pulse/to show melodic shape

✓ Chasing games e.g. one child drops something behind another

✓ Arch games with children weaving in and out – remember their arms need a rest so perhaps create games where they are arches then they are clapping or they are raising and dropping arches in the rests

✓ Clapping independently to show pulse/metre

✓ Clapping with a partner to show pulse/metre/rhythm

✓ Clapping with a partner within a circle

✓ Clapping with a partner within a circle and turning 180 degrees at the end to a new partner

✓ Single line games

✓ Simple double line games

✓ Walking the beat e.g. walk into the circle and walking out of the circle

✓ Walking in a circle (to be spatially aware of own space in circle)

✓ Clapping games travelling past partner to a new partner

✓ Passing object individually (e.g. beanbag) from hand to hand

✓ Passing large object (ball) in pairs – to a partner who passes back

✓ Passing large object around a small group in the centre of a circle whilst others watch and tap pulse

✓ Passing large object around a larger circle first in one direction and then the other

Age 8 to 10

▪ they enjoy peer to peer interaction

▪ they are mostly comfortable with peer to peer physical contact (e.g. touching a peer’s hand)

▪ they are able to concentrate on more types of movement at a time so activities may be more varied

▪ their sense of space is more refined therefore  they are able to   perform activities with more complex spatial forms

▪ they are able to perform simple passing games

✓ Guessing games: more complex guessing individual voice singing more complex melody/guessing two singers singing together / two or more different instruments played together or four instruments accompanying four lines of a song and recalling the instruments and order or playing

✓ Chasing games – chasing around a circle, within a grid,

✓ Circle/clapping games in one circle travelling past partner

✓ Circle/clapping games in two concentric circles

✓ Double line games with one line facing the other with top pair changing places

✓ Double line games in small groups e.g. eight with top pair changing places

✓ Creative games with partners

✓ Games in fours singing in canon

✓ Ball bouncing games

✓ Stick games with partners, in a circle or concentric circles

✓ Passing games showing metre: drop / pick up

✓ Passing games which combine passing the object with body percussion e.g. Pass, clap to side, pick up for three beat pattern

✓ Passing games showing ostinato patterns

Ages 10 to 12

▪ they are less comfortable with peer to peer physical contact

▪ they prefer more complex activities that require mathematical thinking

▪ they prefer pair activities in smaller groups or double pairs performed in square spatial arrangement to circle games

▪ they perform well in complex passing games

✓ Mathematical games with more complex rhythm patterns e.g. in formations of fours clapping right / left but in canon (left for one pair is right for other)

✓ Passing games with complex ostinato patterns

✓ Stick games/passing games to showing more complex musical concepts such as irregular time

✓ Individual clapping games with complex body percussion accompaniments – sometimes in this age they are not so keen to work with partners.

✓ Rhythm games

 Types of movements applied

  • clapping (striking one’s own palms together)
  • clicking (with right, left or both hands)
  • clapping palms with one’s pair, that is ‘giving one’s fin’ (with right hand crosswise, left hand crosswise or both hands straight or crosswise)
  • striking together the back of the palms with a partner
  • clapping with a partner holding the left hand with palms down and striking downwards, while holding the right hand with palms up, striking upwards, then reverse, namely, holding the left hand with palms up, striking upwards, while holding the right hand with palms down, striking down: ‘giving one’s fin’ crisscross
  • touching the head (with left, right or both hands)
  • touching the shoulder (with left, right or both hands)
  • touching the shoulders crosswise (that is touching the left shoulder with right hand, while touching the right shoulder with left hand)
  • touching the hips (with left, right or both hands)
  • striking/tapping one’s thighs (with left, right or both hands)
  • touching the knees (with left, right or both hands)
  • stroking along one’s arm from the palm towards the shoulder with one hand
  • stroking along one’s arm from the shoulder towards the palm with one hand, or two hands or crosswise
  • stamping (with left or right leg)
  • marching (on the spot, sideways, forward or backwards)
  • steps (on full feet or tiptoes)
  • jumping (on spot or in 90, 180 degree turns in one place or moving sideways to another person)

 

Ways to integrate the types of movements listed above into specific musical skills development and learning areas:

1. Developing a sense of beat, metre and form

Preparation

Acquisition

Practice

activities developing the sense of beat

activities developing the sense of beat

activities developing the sense of beat

activities on the spot imitating teacher’s large size movements in which the stress relationships are expressed as well

conductor game

activities applied during the preparation phase with increasing emphasis on students’ individual improvisation

 

see methodological description in the Preparation section

during singing the teacher performs the same (large size) movement repeatedly according to the pulse while students imitate the movement

 

 

 

see methodological description in the Preparation section

 

passing games

conductor game

 

during singing the students pass around a soft, bigger ball or later a smaller beanbag to the pulse 

during singing a selected student performs movements to the steady beat while the class imitates the movements   

 

 

 

 

transforming steady beat into walking

 

 

walking in different formations during singing according to the steady beat

 

Preparation

Acquisition

Practice

activities developing a sense of metre

activities developing a sense of metre

activities developing a sense of metre

activities on the spot imitating teacher’s large size movements in which  the stress relationships is expressed as well

conductor game showing stress relationships

activities applied during the preparation phase with increasing emphasis on students’ individual improvisation

 

 

during singing the teacher performs the steady beat in such a way that each downbeat is expressed by a more forceful motion downwards while the following, unstressed beat(s) are performed by lighter, upwards motions. The pupils imitate the teacher's motions in mirror.

 

see methodological description in the Preparation section

 

walking-based activities expressing the stress relationships

 

full step to stress, tiptoe to unstressed beats

 

 

 

 

                 

conductor game showing stress relationships

 

passing game

during singing a selected student performs movements according to the

 

passing around an object – ball, bean bag, stick etc. – to express the stress relationships by the actions (eg. pass the object on the downbeat then hold it during the weak beats)

steady beat but expressing the stress relationships as well while the class imitates the movements

 

 

 

 

partner games

 

the partners clap each other's palms to the stressed beats and performing a silent, pre-agreed movement to the unstressed beats

 

Preparation

Acquisition

Practice

activities developing the sense of form

activities developing the sense of form

activities developing the sense of form

activities on the spot imitating the teacher’s large size movements and expressing the musical entities by changing the gestures

conductor game expressing motifs or postman game or creative singing games expressing formal units

activities applied during the preparation phase with increasing emphasis on students’ individual ideas and creativity 

during singing the teacher performs the steady beat by different gestures changing these gestures by musical entities, while the students imitate them in mirror; initially the change in the movement expresses only the extent of each melodic entity, later also the relation of these units to each other

see methodological description in the Preparation section

see methodological description in the Preparation section

conductor game expressing motifs  

mirror game in pairs

during singing a selected student performs motif-based movements different in each unit while the class imitates the movements;
movement expresses the extension of a melodic entity, later also the relation of these units to each other
 

during singing students stand face to face with their partner, one of them improvise movements to the form of the song (strophic structure) while the other mirrors these

ball passing game    
during singing the students stand in a circle passing around a ball, but passing it always only at the first beat of each motif to their neighbour    
postman game    
students stand in a large circle; one of the students holds a ball and during the first musical phrase walks to another student then at the end of the phrase pass the ball to him; in the second musical phrase this new student walks to a third child and at the end of the phrase passes the ball to him etc.    
rainbow arch drawing arm movement    
during singing or listening to a new song the students draw rainbow arch into the air from right to left then from left to right with their arms following the exact extension of a given melodic entity    
creative singing game expressing formal units    
during singing we express different formal units with direction changes – stepping in circle inwards or outwards, walking the circle clockwise or inversely, walking in the circle-line forwards or backwards;
we may express different melodic entities by changing partners as well
   

2. Teaching a new rhythm value 

Preparation

Acquisition

Practice

creative singing games that exactly follow the song rhythm

activities expressing and indicating a song’s rhythm and the steady beat together

creative singing games that either follow exactly the song’s rhythm or combine it with the steady beat

individual game stepping the steady beat on the spot and emphasizing it by leaning heavily side to side according to the beat while simultaneously clapping the song rhythm also side to side partner games
performing a movement sequence initially imitating the teacher’s patterns then individually in which the so-called body-rhythm movements are wed to the texted singing see methodological description in the Preparation section
applying increasingly complex movement combinations
see methodological description in the Preparation section circle game type of activity mostly with partner swaps in which the whole class takes part
partner games expressing the song rhythm by having students stand (represent) for each beat, while the number of their raised arms indicate the number of rhythm values that fall on the beat they stand for see methodological description in the Preparation section
applying increasingly complex movement combinations
creative singing game in which rhythm of the song is expressed in interaction with the partner but the choreography does not necessarily follow the so-called ‘body-rhythm’ movements  
circle game type of activity mostly with partner swaps in which the whole class takes part the pupils draw as many lines into shapes – e.g. hearts – drawn on the board and representing beat as many rhythm value falls into each beat creative singing games using the new rhythm value in rhythm ostinato
a creative singing game in which rhythm of the song is expressed in interaction with the partner and which may also express formal units by changing partner or direction;
the choreography does not necessarily follow the so-called ‘body-rhythm’ movements
the activity visualizes the relation of the new rhythm value and the rhythm clearly; it is an excellent way to introduce the new rhythm value’s name and its notation applying body-rhythm movements the students perform rhythm ostinato along their singing initially imitating the teacher’s movements then individually
    ostinato-based pair activities
creative singing games combining the song rhythm and beat   performing ostinato along with a peer – eg. by clapping each other’s palms on particular rhythm values of the ostinato – helps less skilful students to perform the exercise successfully because they can rely on their more capable partner
partner games   circle game type of, ostinato-based game that involves partner swaps
a creative singing game in which one of the partners’ gestures follow exactly the song rhythm while the other student performs the steady beat with a different movement while interacting each other   games played with partner swaps in one circle or in two concentric circles – the outer circle faces inwards, the inner one outwards to form pairs – in which besides ostinato performing, formal characteristics of the song can be emphasized
circle game type of activity mostly with partner swaps in which the whole class takes part    

a creative singing game in which the song rhythm and the steady beat are expressed alternately or even together by the movements;
the choreography does not necessarily follow the so-called ‘body-rhythm’ movements;the choreography may express the form of the song as well 

   

activities combining song rhythm and beat

   

stepping the steady beat on the spot and emphasizing it by leaning heavily side to side according to the beat while simultaneously clapping the song rhythm also side to side

   

the clear changes of sides help the pupils to gain body experience about the relation of the beat and the given rhythm value, that is, gains first hand kinaesthetic experience about their relation

   

expressing the song rhythm by having students stand (represent) for each beat, while the number of their raised arms indicate the number of rhythm values that fall on the beat they stand for

   

visualizing the beat and the song rhythm together expresses the relation between beat and rhythm value well

   

 

Preparation

Acquisition

Practice

creative singing games following the melody line

selected games applied during the Preparation phase

creative singing games following the melody line

individual game

see methodological description in the Preparation section

individual or pair activities

three main types may be applied:

• we draw the melodic line with both hands before our bodies, showing the melodic line vertically while singing the lyrics

• while singing we show the melodic line horizontally with either hand before our body and, by changing hands the formal units also can be expressed

• we associate a gesture of each tone of the given song's tone-set, preferably expressing the intervallic relations, and accompany the singing with these movements

  
  see methodological description in the Preparation section 
  creative singing games combining the melody line and the beat
  a game that emphasizes the song’s form by swapping partner or changing direction, some parts showing the melody others the beat
partner game    
a game that follows the song’s rhythm and in which the movements – clapping, touching the body, snapping, etc. – express the melodic line and, consequently, the relevant interval relations between the pitches      
activity expressing both the melodic line and rhythm visually    
expressing the song rhythm by standing in a position indicated by the melodic line    
students form the rhythm of a well-known song’s motif in such a way that each student represents a beat, while the number of their raised arms indicate the number of rhythm values that fall on the beat they represent; then they choose their posture - standing, crouching, stretching - according to the melodic line of the given motif    

In our model we intend to work out a new rhythm-performing system as well. This system, named as the ‘body-rhythm’, is essentially the kinaesthetic representation of the rhythm-syllable system used in the traditional Hungarian music education, we apply these two methods together in our model. The key idea is that we match each rhythm value with a particular movement. We expect that – after due practice – the movements become closely associated with the different rhythm values thus, on the one hand, the rhythm phrases performed by the body-rhythm can provide visual support in the process of decoding the heard values, and on the other hand, during the process of reproducing familiar or unfamiliar rhythm phrases the children are able consciously to define the heard values without using the rhythm-syllables.

In our methodology we use the body-rhythm in rhythm identification, reading, an especially in echo exercises.

 

Applied rhythm values and their body-rhythm movements

 

rhythm value

notation

body-rhythm movement

quarter

 

clap

two eighth note

 

tapping on the thighs with both hands in turns (right hand taps on the right thigh, then the left hand taps on the left thigh)

quarter rest

 

touching the shoulders with both hands

half-note

 

we clap with the right hand into the palm of the left hand, then during the minim we stroke along our left arm from palm to shoulder with our right hand

single eighth note

 

clicking with right hand

eighth rest

 

touching the left shoulder with left hand

syncope

 

right hand click – right hand taps the chest –

left hand clicks

dotted rhythm followed by a quaver

 

arms crossed with hands on the shoulders, then during the dotted note we stroke along both arms with our hands, then click the eighth with both hands

dotted rhythm preceded by a quaver

 

we click with both hands then cross our arms and touch the shoulders and under the dotted note we stroke along both arms

sixteenth note
tiri-tiri

 

tapping the chest with both hands taking turns

In our music pedagogical development, we find it of great importance to make the so-called active music listening a regular and integral part of general music education. In our experience, primarily school-age students (first four grades) react to music instinctively with movements and the silent, focused listening attitude required from them feels strange and abstract to them. Based on these insights as well as in line with the pedagogical objective to educate our students on an attentive, understanding and appreciative attitude to listening to music, the listening activities applied in our methodology allow students to express specific, pre-defined components of the music through movement. Due to the repeated listening, children become able to follow and express by motions more and more consciously and precisely the given musical component. Although in these exercises, students get to choose the movements freely – so the activities provide space for creativity and self-expression – their movements are always controlled by the given music.

Types of movements and exercises applied during listening to music

 

  • conductor game – in which a selected person’s (initially the teacher, later a student) movements are imitated by the group – different types to express the selected musical phenomenon through movements
    • recognizing tempo and following steady beat with movements
    • expressing metre with differentiated movements
    • indicating and expressing melodic entities extent with movements and their change
    • expressing the identity, difference, or similarity among melodic lines with the right change and shape of movements
    • expressing dynamics with the size and difference of chosen movements
    • expressing tempo change with movement
    • identifying distinct timbres with different movements
  • mirror games – in which students stand in pairs, one of them being the conductor whose movements are mirrored by the other student - different types to express the selected musical phenomenon through movements
    • expressing the metre with differentiated movements
    • expressing and indicating melodic entities extent with movements and their change
    • expressing the identity, difference, or similarity of melodic lines with movements or their change
  • pair activities – in which the students stand in pairs and follow a different component of the music with their movement
    • expressing loud and soft with different movements (one of the partners is allowed to move only to the loud sections, the other to the soft ones)
    • expressing the instrumental colour (each student has to follow a different instrument with their movement)
    • expressing solo – tutti (one of the partners is allowed to move only to the solo, the other only to the tutti parts)
  • free walking in the room
    • expressing the metre with type and volume of the steps (eg. full step to stressed, tiptoe to unstressed beats)
    • expressing melodic entities, phrases with a change of direction
    • expressing identity-difference with the contrast of walking-standing still
    • expressing musical rest with the contrast of walking-standing still
    • expressing solo-tutti with the contrast of walking-standing still
    • expressing solo-tutti with altering number of students taking part in the movement
    • expressing loud-soft with the measure and style of the walking (eg. loud = marching; soft = walking on tiptoe)
    • expressing tempo changes with walking strictly to the steady beat
  • expressing melodic line and/or musical character drawn with one hand into the air
    • following the melodic line of the entire piece with the movement
    • expressing a selected melodic theme or pattern with movement, otherwise motionless listening to music
  • representing the musical character with free movement choreography
    • individual improvisations
    • improvisation in pair or collectively in smaller groups, even with following the differentiated instrumental colour of each instrument
  • performing movement choreographies similar to the creative singing games during listening to music, learnt separately before the music listening
    • emphasizing specific forms, metric, rhythmic or melodic features in the choreography

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