Music Australia News

Music Games and the Art of Play

Image Credit: 13th Floor
Rhonda Davidson-Irwin
| November 7, 2018

Throughout history children have spent many hours playing music games. Playing is vital for how children develop and it assists how they grow and prosper in society. Music games have always played a major part in children’s creative play. I am sure many of you can remember a time where you delighted in such activities throughout your own education.

The simple pleasures of playing traditional music games such as “Ring Around the Rosie” or “Charlie Over the Ocean” may be sadly lost to most children in our current school education system. Musical games have the serendipitous power to entertain in any situation, whether that may be in the classroom, the beach or the park. We all have a voice and with simple props such as balls, sticks or scarves, music games provide fun encompassed with quality and education Yet sadly this is not happening in most of our schools.

Recent research states that 75% of brain development occurs after birth, meaning that music games make for the perfect activities to pioneer neurological advancement. Music games therefore assist with the development of fine and gross motor skills which leads to improve language, socialisation and emotional skills. Not to mention, music games have also proved to dramatically enhance physical dexterity and psychological skills which in turn develop creativity and problem-solving abilities.

A large variety of traditional music games include activities which incorporate different collaborative formations. These could involve circles, lines, partner work, clapping work and dancing. This variety of possible approaches ensure that children participating are never bored and thus having fun while developing a wide variety of skills across the curriculum.

Moreover, reports state that children are spending dramatically less time physically playing each day. This also translates to school time as the already crowded curriculum facilitates this. These figures have showed the most substantial decline in the last two decades, proving that we must actively work to combat this in our classrooms. Music education provides one of the primary means of which children are given the opportunity to play through music, making it essential to our curriculum. Only 30% of schools in Australia have access to music programs, showing that the vitality of music play is really being neglected.

If music and music games are so important to a child’s development, we must contemplate the mental repercussions of this clear reduction of implementation. It appears that children are showing higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Going back to basics and doing music and music games at the beginning of each day could be the answer to many of these issues. Creativity has been valiantly fighting sorrow for years therefore we should acknowledge this tool and bring it actively into action.

Music therefore should be the right of every single child, not merely the privilege of some. Every student deserves it be a continuously cherished should be a cherished part of their childhood, just like it was with ours. We must start actively scheduling free time and playtime for our children. Childhood used to be synonymous with play, yet many schools have responded to the 21st century’s crushing academic pressures with reduced free play. We must not allow music to be the sacrifice, when we know all too well how important it is.

We know that music training during childhood accelerates brain development and sound processing. Music games have consistently been found to benefit language acquisition, listening comprehension, impulse control, problem-solving, abstract thinking and the developing of reading skills. We know this is the case so why are we not monitoring the frequency of classroom music education. When music games are played at the beginning of each day it kick-starts the brain and brings the joy of learning back into our school education system. Leaving happier, brighter and well-adjusted children to nurture and assimilate into our society.

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