Learning dhik chik dha

Music is not just for party and outings. Music is rhythm of life. Music is around us in various forms. Read on to know how music can be integral part of our environment and what impact it has.

If there is one thing that engages body, mind, heart, and soul all at the same time it is music. As one child puts it, “Uncle, music is like chaat masala – ummmmm-ta!”
Isn’t it surprising then that most classrooms do not have music as part of their environment, process, and curricula? Unfortunately, music is labelled as extra-curricular activity, therefore in most schools it languishes in music classes that many do not enjoy. Yes, pre-primary classrooms do have a generous dosage of “rhymes”, but in most cases the words and actions become the focus leaving the music in the background.

Let’s explore some ways in which we can integrate music into our classrooms. To start off you will need three things in your classroom:

  • A music player or better still a computer with internet access (primarily to use the YouTube). The computer will also double up into a good recording system (if you install Audacity—an audio editor and recorder software, which is available for free on the internet). Or you could even have an MP3 player with a variety of songs
  • A motley collection of simple rhythm instruments. Do not hesitate to innovate – you can use empty boxes, cans, steel glasses, bowls with spoons, tambourine made from metal junk, shakers made by filling plastic containers with sand, and even two metal pieces that produce good sound when clapped together. Also keep a collection of actual drums, (especially the traditional ones like Dholak, Dhapli, Djembe, Dhap, etc).
  • A teacher who enjoys music and is ready to explore even if (s)he does not know much about music.

We can explore music in three ways:

1. Play music

Play music in the background when the children are working and learning. At such times it is better to use instrumental music as lyrics can interfere with the thinking. The trick is to use the music in moderation – over use will cause the music to fade into background noise, thereby nullifying the very reason we use it. Music Sweetens.

Play songs to stimulate. This will be a great way to begin your class. Play music either relevant to the topic you are going to teach for the day (if you can find one), or just play something motivating and energizing – something like “Eye of the tiger” or “Chariots of fire” or our own “Kadam kadam bhdaye ja”. You can even print out the lyrics and sing along.Music Ignites.

Play music when feeling down. While music is an obvious mood changer, not many of us use music in this way. Have some really peppy music handy like, “Bum bum bole” a variety of Disney classics, or instrumentals like “The Corrs – Haste to the Wedding” and play them when tempers are fraying, or children are finding the work difficult, or simply when one or two kids are emotionally or socially down. Music Heals

Play music which can bring children together – to encourage camaraderie. obvious choice of songs will be the ones that most children like (say “pappu can’t dance”). When some children seem distracted, especially towards the end of your class use music that they will bring the class together. Music Binds.

Play music related to the topic / theme for the day, especially in the pre-primary years when most schools use theme based lesson plans, and most themes have songs related to them (you will find many on YouTube). Using these songs in the background, you will be able to build the right environment for the theme. Music Enriches

Play music to inspire and build confidence. Whenever children think they have done good work and they want a reward they ask for “their favorite” song to be played. In this way music inspires and builds confidence. Music Lifts.

2. Add Music

Add Music to your energizer. In fact the music itself can be the energizer. It is more fun if the children or the teacher can invent small songs based on the topic taught to match the music. You could even dance to this music.

Add music to the story. One simple way to make your stories interactive is to get children to add music to them. Children can share instruments and every time a character says or does something, a section of the children can play their instrument in a particular or to a particular rhythm. You could also get children to sing, make noises and sounds, and yes clap in rhythm.

Add music to the subject text. Wherever there is text to be read out, read it rap style or children could chant the text in a particular tune. You can create as many songs related to the text. A simple way is to create parodies. That way you start with a ready tune and a given format and all you need to do is to replace some of the words of the song.

Add music to your instructions. In fact, see if all your standard instructions, like wash your hands, clean up, keep your shoes in place, etc. can be set to different tunes. The advantage of this is that even without you reminding them, the children will start singing the tunes and at the same time taking care of these routine things themselves.

3. Create / make music

Create songs on the topic you are teaching. Children can think of some lines or just pick up some key words and create a repetitive chant or a song on the topic. This is usually a great way to review and reflect on the key leanings of a session. This is a great way to end a session – not just singing old rhymes, but creating your own rhyme / song. For instance, after a lesson on subtraction of single digit numbers, you could all sing something like this:
When out of four
Three went away
Only one was left
Lonely one was left
Poor one was left
Dear one was left
wha wha wha wha.

Children could give a rhythm/ background music to their own work—it could be music to their drawing, for a puppet show, music to the few lines that they wrote, a score for the blocks that they played with. The idea is not necessarily or consciously to create meaningful tune or lyrics, but simply to be musical about their work and about themselves. Give children instruments, remind them of sounds that they can make using their mouth, etc. Like how one child kept repeating “My clay bat, my clay baaaat, tik tok, tik tok, tik tok”, while working.

Make songs for life skills. Songs can be an excellent way of building social / self skills. You can, with the children, create songs related to sharing, caring, honesty, responsibility, sensitivity, etc. Here is an example: Old Mcdonald had a heart (dhik dhak dhik dhak dho) and in his heart he had some care ((dhik dhak dhik dhak dho). Care for others, care for body, care for self …..

Create a songs to help memorize (wherever required). For example, you can sing the multiplication table, or what you need to remember to bring tomorrow.

Finally, a great fun time is to make music together. This activity is popularly called “drum circle” (See a video here [1]). Everybody sits in a circle with some percussion instrument. One child / teacher plays (as a leader) a beat (you can also play any rhythmic piece on the player). All others join in by drumming the they want. They can drum using hands, on their mouths, etc. Initially, this can seem cacophonous but soon the group will settle down into a rhythm.

We end with a simple piece of advice – don’t be a smiling teacher, don’t be a humorous teacher, don’t be a kind teacher – but be a musical teacher!

Sing, sing a song / Sing out loud
Sing out strong / Sing of good things
not bad / Sing of happy not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last your whole life long
Don’t worry that it’s not good enough
for anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

Karen Carpenter