To help celebrate the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) Week of the Young Child, we are highlighting our music teacher Allison Brake for Music Monday! As SEEC’s music teacher, Allison visits each SEEC class, infants through kindergarten, once a week for music class.
Allison has been teaching with SEEC since SEEC’s beginning back in 1988, but she has not always been the music teacher. In fact, Allison became SEEC’s music teacher relatively recently in the mid-2000s. In the time between she was a classroom teacher, assistant director, and a resource teacher. Even when Allison was not SEEC’s music teacher, she explained that she “always brought music into the classroom.”
This experience made her the ideal music teacher for SEEC. She happily took on the challenge of expanding the music classes to the youngest classes so the whole school had the opportunity to have a time focused on music. Allison explained that she loves using music as a tool for helping children develop starting in infancy and following them through kindergarten.
While Allison believes that music is a vital program for children of all ages, she focused on the importance of music with the youngest of children. In particular, Allison highlighted how hearing familiar sounds or songs helps infants learn to self-regulate and self soothe. She also discussed how music helps to build babies’ language development. She noted how she likes to start her classes by singing a song that includes each child’s name. With the babies, she explains that they very quickly respond to hearing their own name by clapping, bouncing, or smiling.
Beyond name recognition, Allison explained that singing hello to the individual is important for the start of each of her music classes. It gives her the opportunity to “build off who the child is” from the start of each class. She explained that it set the class up for social emotional growth opportunities since music class is the whole group singing with opportunities for the individual to shine.
When asked to offer advice to parents, Allison said “Don’t be too hesitant.” Music can be used for fun and to comfort. If as a parent, you still feel uneasy singing, Allison recommends buying and playing music. She clarified that playing music is different from putting on the TV because music allows the parent to continue to be present both with eyesight and in interaction in a way that is impossible with a screen. But in the end, Allison encourages all parents to sing to their children and says that your children “aren’t making judgement” so you should “free yourself from judgement” as well.
Her advice for teachers included using music as cues when transitioning in the classroom and repeating songs so that children can learn them. Once the class knows a song, then the teachers can add variety and build upon the songs so that they are challenging and offer new opportunities.
Lastly, Allison told us some of her favorite songs. She said that she loves “Popcorn” by Greg and Steve,because it helps children “lose their inhibition” and ties in disco, which is always fun. Another favorite is “Listen to the Horses” by Raffi and the “All the Pretty Horses”, which is a lullaby that Allison sang to her own children and said that it has a “soothing melody like a waterfall.” Don’t all these songs sound great? At SEEC we love hearing new music! What are some of your favorite songs to sing?