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Learning Through Play and Music with Shelle Soelberg

Show Notes:

Shelle Soelberg, creator and founder of Let’s Play Music

Let’s Play Music was created 20 years ago

Shelle loved music as a child, participated in music through early childhood, joined choir in high school. In college, she studied music education. Learned that her early exposure to mother goose music led to her aptitude for music. Proper exposure to music at the right time helps develop the aptitude for music.

Shelle found that the best way for kids to learn music is through proper music exposure, folk songs, through play. In her college years, play wasn’t widely used to teach music. She decided then that she wanted to create a curriculum that uses play and developed Let’s play music to help children use music in play. They use tone bells to introduce melody, and a staff that kids can play with. Later, they transfer this element to the piano. They play with movement and fun while producing musicians.

Folk songs are the fundamental of how children should use music. Kodai is the one who taught this. Folk music is the mother tongue. The folk song is not something that is written down; it’s something that comes from the culture and from play, from repetition and heritage. It’s passed from generation to generation. They are very natural sounding. There are natural melodies that we hear repeated over and over and are the essence of true music.


Ring around the rosy

Hot Cross Buns

London Bridge

These are simple, repetitive, and playful.

Music education has really developed in the last 30 to 40 years. Language and literacy develop much more quickly with children who have had early music education. Language is symbol to sound and music is symbol to sound. Increased IQ and test scores are seen in children who have studied music. A person that is producing music is touching on all parts of the brain. It is a whole brain activity that refines brain process. Social skills and cooperation are developed through music. Fine motor skills increase throughout the music learning process. Emotional health is another one that happens when music is given to a child as a means to identify and process their own emotions. Music in their lives helps them to express or cope with tragedy; they can also express happy emotions. Music provides a venue for trial and success, and a performance opportunity which further promotes confidence. The brain is developing at early ages, and children gain the benefits from starting music education early.

What is play? Play is laughing, enjoying oneself, being silly, using make believe, using more than one sense, and often play is associated with peers. Play allows for experimentation and freedom. There aren’t a lot of pre-defined guidelines. It allows for repetition, and for mistake making. A lot of play is mistake making, which is so important in the learning process, because it eliminates any punishment, shame or judgment. There are lots of discoveries allowed in play. Let’s Play Music incorporates all of these.

Folk song games are a great way to incorporate all of these elements. Serious music can be disguised in play.

There is so much play that can happen at home. We have to let go of our adultness and remember what its like to be a child. Make merry! Be silly! These opportunities arise so often. We can use these in our daily life while doing dishes, talking about sorting, etc. Even work can become play when you make a mistake with them. You can sing with your kids, and make up silly songs as you go. Make every task a game. Make a fun experience out of it where it’s okay to make mistakes.

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