Music workshops for children

(Playing with sounds)
Propaedeutic music programme for primary school children.
The complex world of sounds has always had a primary role in the child’s life, and in the cognitive process in particular when we talk about sound production for children, we underline that the “voice” and “the whole body” are the most natural and immediate instruments that humans have available to produce sounds: “the voice that speaks”, “the vocal games”,” the individual and collective games with the voice that sings”, the singing connected to gestures, to rhythm, to the movement of the whole body and parts of it, the various sounds that the body can produce (the clapping of hands, the feet on the floor etc…), the different tones of voice in different human activities, ( talks, ceremonies, acting, information systems, cinema, tv etc…)the spontaneous or designed expressive models of the voice: shouting, crying, laughing, singing, opera singing, the vocal games based on the imitation of sounds and noises of natural reality

  • Play with Sounds
    (Overview of workshop plan for children between the ages of six and twelve)


    The Play with Sounds workshops aim to stimulate creativity, freedom of expression and confidence in children through a series of musical games. The project enables the child to discover that his own body and voice are musical instruments in themselves.

    The musical games used in the workshops touch many different aspects of child development, such as socialisation skills, imagination, cognitive abilities, observational and listening skills, spatial awareness, general physical co-ordination and more specifically eye-ear-hand co- ordination.

    The workshops give the children an excellent introduction to musical theory and terminology.

    They are introduced to sound parameters such as pitch, intensity, rhythm and timbre and learn how to compose using simple rhythmic and polyrhythmic structures.

    The Play with Sounds workshops aim to create an environment which is active and experimental and open to improvisation. All of the games described below can be adapted according to the concentration levels and abilities of the children being taught. For example a game could be extended to 30 mins for children of eight years olds and similarly condensed to

    15 for a child of four or six. Likewise the content of the games can be simplified or complicated according to the children’s response.

    Workshop Plan

    Duration of workshops

    In terms of time, each workshop will last for last a maximum of 15- 20 minutes for the younger children- i.e. 6 to 7 year olds and a maximum of one hour for older children- i.e. 8 to 12 year olds.

    Class size

    Minimum four children, maximum ten.
    This workshop will focus on familiarising the children with rhythm and learning one another’s names.

    The Name Game

    The children stand in a circle with the workshop leader in the middle. The workshop leader moves round in circles; sometimes with his palms closed and sometimes with his palms open. Closed palms means the children stay silent. Open palms means that the children speak their names whenever the workshop leader spins past them.
    Aims and objectives

    Observational skills- the children develop awareness of when to speak and when to stay silent.

    Introduces children to turn-taking; encourages them to listen to one another.

    Appreciating the difference between sound and silence.

    The “Stop” Game

    The workshop leader beats a drum using different rhythms. The children are encouraged to walk in time with which ever rhythm is being played. When the child hears the sound of cymbals s/he stops still where they are, in whatever position they happen to be in; along the lines of the game musical statues. The workshop leader will use a variety of drums and instruments for the children to walk to; including metal, wood and animal skin.
    Differentiating between different rhythms.

    Develops co-ordination

    Use of different instruments introduces child to different timbres.

    Develops balance and concentration when child has to hold a standing position on hearing the cymbals.

    Spatial awareness

    Listening skills

    The Robot Game

    This game is a direct follow on from the “stop” game. The workshop leader uses different instruments to represent different parts of the body. For example, when the child hears a drum they move their feet. When they hear the cymbals they move their legs, when they hear a shaker they move their neck. The instruments are played using different rhythms which the children keep time to, which ever part of their body they may be using.
    Aims and Objectives

    Same as the stop game but with added emphasis on co-ordination between different parts of the body.

    Encourages children to differentiate between sounds.

    This workshop will introduce the children to conducting and will show them how pictures and sounds can connect.

    The Sea and the Fish Game

    The workshop leader asks the children to imagine that his hand is a fish swimming in the sea. When he raises his hand high, the “fish” is “jumping” out of the “sea” and the children must clap their hands. However, when he lowers his hand, the “fish” is “swimming” in the “sea” and the children must stay silent.

    Encourages the children’s conversational and imaginative skills. They are encouraged to talk about the “fish”- what colour is it, how fast is it swimming etc. as well as imagining both it and an invisible “sea.”

    Develops eye to hand co-ordination.

    Develops observational skills and increases concentration

    Encourages children to differentiate between sound and silence.

    Shows children how to follow a conductor.

    The Conductor Game

    This game is a direct follow on from the previous one. The workshop leader starts by moving his hand very slowly. This means that the children are to clap quietly and slowly. The bigger the hand movement, the louder the children are to clap. When the workshop leader closes his
    Hand the children are to remain silent.


    Encourages children to differentiate between loud and soft sound.

    Develops observational skills.

    Develops co-ordination between eyes and hands

    Develops memory skills- children need to remember how loudly to clap according to the teachers hand movement.

    Sounds in Boxes Game

    The children are encouraged to talk about the different sounds they can hear around them, such as a baby crying, or a door slamming or a chair being scraped across the floor. The workshop leader draws pictorial representations of these sounds and he and the children choose an
    appropriate sound for the picture. For example, they might decide on “bang!” for a door slamming, or “Waah!” for a baby crying. When the teacher points to a picture the children must make the appropriate sound.
    Aims and Objectives

    Development of conversational skills.

    Develops memory

    Observation and concentration skills.

    Encourages children to experiment with their voices.

    Relates to child’s knowledge of the world around them- they identify and talk about sounds which are familiar to them.

    These workshops will focus on spatial awareness, distinguishing between different sounds and working as a team.

    The Ship and the Lighthouse

    The children spread out across the room and each one is given a wooden block to play on. One child however, is given cymbals to play. One child in the group has no instrument and wears a blindfold. The child with the blindfold must navigate his way around the children with wooden blocks and identify which child is playing the cymbals by listening.

    Aims and Objectives

    Learning to work as a team- the children playing the blocks must work together to make it hard for the blindfolded child to identify the cymbal player.

    Spatial awareness the children must ensure that the blindfolded child doesn’t bump into them

    The blindfolded child develops his listening skills.

    Sea and Sand Game

    The workshop leader draws two parallel lines on the floor with a relatively large space in between. This is the “silence” space. Half of
    the children stay on one side of the line. This is the “sand”. The children are given instruments such as drums and wooden blocks to play. These represent the sand. The rest of the children stay on the other side of the line. This is the “sea”. They are given metal instruments such as cymbals and triangles to represent the sea. One child is blindfolded and walks down the “silence” space. If this child walks into the “sand” the children on that side play their instruments; indicating that he needs to move back. If the child walks into the “sea” the children on that side do the same.

    Aims and Objectives

    Learning to work as a team

    Concentration and self-discipline- only playing instruments when needed.

    Associating different sounds and instruments with physical things- e.g. metallic instruments representing the waves of the sea.

    This workshop will focus on pictorial representations of music. The children are introduced to basic composition.

    Sounds and Graphics Game

    The workshop leader draws a series of scribbles against two parallel lines. These scribbles represent sound. The bigger the scribble, the louder the sound. The gaps in between the scribbles represent silence.
    The children must follow the lines through clapping and playing on instruments.
    Aims and Objectives

    To teach the children how to follow a pictorial representation of music.

    Development of co-ordination between eyes and hands.

    Development of observational skills

    Extension- Encourage children to create their own compositions.

    Chin Toc Boom Gong

    The workshop leader draws four different shapes. These are “chin” “toc” “boom” and “gong”. The class is divided into different groups representing each of these shapes. The chin group is given one set of instruments, the toc group another and so on. The children play their instruments whenever they see their groups corresponding shape.
    Aims and Objectives

    Same as previous game, with an emphasis on working as a team. This workshop will focus on and teaching the children about pitch.

    The Tree Game

    The workshop leader tells that children that they are going to pretend to be seeds growing into a tree. They crouch down, pretending to be a “seed”, and use their voices to make low sounds. They gradually rise into the standing position, using higher and higher sounds as they “grow.”

    To teach the children about pitch.

    To encourage the children to associate sound with movement- i.e. crouching low for low sounds, reaching up for high sounds.

    Imaginative skills.

    Experimenting with the voice.

    The Native American Game

    The children stand in a circle. The workshop leader stands in the middle with a drum and a cymbal beside him. He explains to the children that they are going to pretend to be Native American warriors. When he plays the drum, the children move around in one direction, crouched down low. The drum represents a “low” sound”. When the teacher crashes the cymbals together, the children change direction and stretch upward as though they are using a bow and arrow. The cymbals represent a “high”sound.

    Imaginative skills

    Working together as a team- e.g. all children have to be going the same direction for game to work.

    Linking pitch and movement.

    Co-ordination skills.

    This final workshop will show the children how mathematics and music relate to one another. Mathematical Logic
    The children spread out around the room. The workshop leader holds a pair of cymbals. When he bangs them together once the children give themselves a hug. When he bangs them together twice, two children hug one another. When he bangs them together three times, three children hug one another and so on.
    Aims and Objectives

    To give the children an awareness of basic maths.

    Development of conversational skills- talking about how may groups the children have divided themselves into.

    Listening skills.

    Linking music, maths and movement.