‘Music and Me’, a resource for Nursery staff, is the product of a process that began almost eighteen months ago in Preston Lodge High School. There, as part of a wider conference about ‘Learning, Emotions and Well Being’, Dave Trouton, a talented musician and composer, led a workshop presentation about using music to help develop emotional literacy in a teenage group. At about this time, too, the scoping of an ‘outcome pathway’ for readiness to learn in young children was being developed as part of the planning for ‘Support from the Start’. This process recognised that there was scope for further development of the role of music and rhythm to support language development in the early years. Sheila Laing, HT of Campie Primary School, and Education Department service champion for ‘Support from the Start’, then developed a proposal to pilot work in this area in a nursery setting and, if possible, develop a resource that could be used by all nursery staff, irrespective of their own perceived musical ability.
Many months later, a successful pilot of ‘Music and Me’ has been completed in the nursery classes of Wallyford and Whitecraig Primary Schools, and a second stage pilot in Campie and St. Martin’s nursery classes will start soon. Two key outcomes for ‘Support from the Start’ – improving readiness to learn (aspects such as active listening, concentration, turn taking), and improving emotional well being (for example developing self expression and emotional literacy) are addressed in the resource, as well as skills such as carrying out instructions, turn-taking and co-operation and collaboration. CPD in how to use the resource will be offered to nursery staff in all East Lothian primary schools early next session, alongside a roll-out to all primary schools. The resource has tried to address, among other things, real concerns on the part of the nursery children. Anxietyabout using the dinner hall, queuing, making choices, etc., when they moved up to P1 has been addressed through pupil involvement in a ‘Sound Story’ within the resource, and ‘Grandad Turnip’s Story’ helps children to discuss not only why it’s ok to feel sad sometimes, but also the importance of telling someone about it.
Discussion and active listening play a big part in the lessons. Feedback from the initial pilot has been very positive, not just from staff. ‘Is the music man coming back in?’ asked one pre-school pupil, just a few weeks ago.
Final word must go to Pat Holden, Principal Teacher of Primary Music Specialists, who, while delighted to have been involved in the production of this very practical resource that can be accessed by all nursery staff without requiring any specific musical skills, adds that he sincerely hopes ‘that this is aresource that will be well used and not just sit on a table in the music corner!’
Written by Mary Howie
The following link has a short vdeo of a Music & Me seesion with a voiceover commentary by at Pat Holden