Teacher’s Space

The chances are that if you are reading this page, then we know each other well and I have already visited your setting with the Music and Me programme of songs, games, stories and music-making. The aim of this website is to make these activities and ideas available to Parents, Carers and their Children at home so they can join in and continue creative learning through play during the current lockdown. I hope that you will join in, comment on the material and feel free to contribute in any way you think appropriate!

The Children’s Space video for week 3 starts with a couple of favourite songs and then develops the theme of listening with “The Sound Detectives” – a story about Gemma and her Grandad who go on a listening walk.

The story is told without any pictures or visual aids with the aim of engaging the children by their participation in making the onomatopoeic sounds required throughout. It was devised as part of the “Music in Transition” project in West Lothian 2013 to offer a fun yet discreet way of rehearsing some of the more difficult key sounds taught at the early reading stage. For example, the water sprinkler in the park makes a very quiet, extended “Th” sound, which the children join in and copy as I tell the story.

Holding the attention of a class of 4 year olds while telling a story without pictures is no mean task! Children are used to picture books which offer interesting images to supplement the words, and here we are replacing the visual stimulus with another auditory one. The experience is multi-sensory, but not in a way they are used to experiencing. Eye contact and commitment to the imaginary world of the story are the key to success of the storyteller here…and I’m discovering that is much easier face-to-face on a playroom floor than on video!

This leads neatly to a very interesting question…during this Covid-19 lockdown how are we doing with our efforts to communicate, play and educate remotely?

What are the lessons we are learning?

Sorry to bring up such an enormous subject here – perhaps it will be better to engage with this later – but I have been thinking, because of the feedback I have received from the website so far, and discussions I have had in endless Zoom meetings, that we need to look again at what we mean by Parental Engagement.

Are we giving parents the right kind of support?

Discussion anyone?

Remember to leave a comment, join the debate or ask a question on the Blog page by writing your message in the “leave a reply” box.

If you prefer you can send a private message on the Contact us page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


The Music and Me video in the Children’s Space for week 2 is all about listening, and includes an “echo” song about listening and one of he much loved “pretend train journeys” that are such a popular activity when I visit your settings!

There is now a wealth of research to support the idea that music is a valuable contributor to the development of phonological awareness. It’s no surprise, really, that being able to compare and contrast sounds, identify and manipulate syllables etc can be encouraged and improved with exposure to music…playing and listening to music are like a work-out for those parts of the brain (and body) involved in processing and interpreting sound!

There are links to some of the more accessible academic papers on this subject on my engagewithmusic.com website.

A fascinating book on the positive effects of embedding music in the Primary School curriculum is ” The Well-Tempered Mind” by Peter Perret and Janet Fox. The book chronicles the experiences of a classical wind Quintet from the Winston-Salem symphony orchestra, North Carolina when they were invited to set up a year long residency in a local Primary School. The musicians began supporting classes in each learning stage every week, using music to develop, expand and offer alternative inroads into the curriculum. The results on the children’s engagement, learning, enthusiasm….and of course end-of-year test scores, were astonishing.

The book is unique in it’s combination of clear descriptions of the classes delivered by the musicians (what they actually did!), and accessible discussions of the philosophy and neuroscientific evidence behind it. It is also immensely readable!

Here is a passage that beautifully articulates the symbiotic relationship between music and language:

In our processing of them, speech and music share many characteristics. Both are transmitted by sound waves, captured by the ear, and then converted into neural impulses. In the case of song, both are produced by the vocal chords and mouth. While images of brain function seem to indicate that most of the processing of both speech and music takes place in the same general regions of the brain, some parts of the brain are dedicated primarily to processing language, and others primarily to processing music.

Language and music share other important characteristics in the brain. The separate elements of music – such as pitch, rhythm, and emotion – are processed in different parts of the brain and reassembled to make what we experience as music. Similarly, language is broken up into the perception and processing of phonemes and meaning and comprehension. Music and language both rely on the perception and processing of assembled units with temporal and tonal features that are associated with unique symbols – notes in the case of music, letters in the case of language. Both music and language are multi sensory.

We will be discussing the connections between music and language a lot more in future weeks once we begin exploring the role of music and emotion in telling stories…stay tuned!

Hello and welcome to the Teacher’s Space!

Week one’s Music and Me video session in the Children’s Space is about Following Instructions, Comparing Loud and Quiet  sounds and moving to different styles of drumming!

Normally at this important time of year for pre-schoolers, I might have been visiting your school to run Music and Me sessions, enhancing all the vital work you will have started on soft skills, language development and phonological awareness in preparation for the transition to Primary school.

The Youth Music Initiative, who fund a large amount of my work in Early Years, have been very supportive in encouraging me to make this resource available online at this time, so that Parents and Carers can share the games, rhymes, songs and stories of Music and Me with their children at home to create an opportunity for music-based developmental shared play.

Each week this term I will be posting a new video in the “Children’s Space” section which will be a 10 or 12 minute Music and Me session to camera. 

Similarly each week in the “Parents and Carer’s” page, I’ll be posting some supportive information; ideas for creative play at home; links to video clips or articles relevant to music and learning; and suggestions for further reading.

Although the site is primarily aimed at Parents, Carers and their Children, just like the sessions I routinely run in your schools, it cannot develop and succeed without the engagement, advice and collaboration of yourselves as teachers.

Please do look at each section of the site each week and let me know your thoughts on the material and how it can be improved, expanded, developed or nuanced to best serve your classes and parents that you know so well.

Please feel free to post any of your ideas, comments, links or recommendations…I’m truly hoping that the site can become a well-used platform for debate and discussion as well as a useful resource for new ideas.

Leave a comment, join the debate or ask a question on the Blog page by writing your message in the “leave a reply” box.

If you prefer you can send a private message on the Contact us page.

I’m looking forward to our conversations in the weeks ahead!


Remember to check in next week for further posts!

“Music is a connection with the heart of humanity”

R D Laing

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