Background Music

As a person who has worked in the management side of Early Childhood Care and Education for the past 6 or so years, sometimes it is cathartic to put down the staff roster and the invoices and pick up a baby instead. So today I did just that. The following is a recount of what ensued.

It is morning tea time and all the babies are happily in their “lowchairs” eating variations of dairy, fruit and crackers. The Greatest Playschool Hits hums along in the background and I find myself singing along to the catchy tunes. Wait! In an hour you’ll be back at your desk, swimming in CCB percentages and the next edition of the newsletter and you’re going to have this stuck in your head!

I wander over to the couch with a free range baby and sit with him and the radio in my lap. I tune it to the AM stations, hoping for some classical music; instead I find some funky jazz beats and I’m happy. The babies, by this time are finished their morning tea and are sitting on the other side of the room. They immediately look over at me; interested in the new noise they were hearing and probably wondering where it was coming from.

Baby 1 takes a keen interest and joins me on the couch. She seems intrigued by the noise coming out of this small machine next to us so she holds her hand over the speakers-more than likely she can feel the vibration of the music through them. She watches as I adjust the bunny ears and attempts to do so herself.

Baby 2 finds the static noise the most interesting. We navigate through the air waves to find some more tunes and Baby mimics the sound. “Shhhhhh” he says, when the radio makes the same noise.

Baby 3 now hops up on the couch next to me and sways in time to the sounds of R.E.M’s “Losing my religion”. Eric Clapton’s version of “I shot the sheriff” takes her fancy too. I like this baby’s taste in music. We could be good friends.

This interaction lasts about 10 or 15 minutes – an impressive amount of time for a group of babies to maintain an interest in something.  Yet the whole time I can’t help thinking to myself, do we teach children to tune out? Is background music meaningful?

As a sidenote I also ponder the thought that for this generation of people it is most likely that the humble radio will become redundant in their lifetime! What a sad notion. It has been good but I should probably get back to my desk.

The above, whilst more generally a story of my morning, was also an example I used with the team to demonstrate a different approach to writing learning stories or observations on children’s learning. Sometimes, as Educators, we get stuck in the process of churning out observations, ticking boxes on a checklist and looking for moments we can relate to an outcome in the EYLF. It’s perfectly acceptable to see things exactly as they are and it is highly recommended to question everything you know. Write from the heart and you will capture childhood memories that last a lifetime.

Kelly Dixon

Having worked my way through the Early Childhood Education and Care field over the last 12 years, I have developed a keen interest in working with the adults who work with the children. My focus is guiding confident and motivated Educators, working with centres to improve organisational culture and moving towards creating a more professional standard of education and care Australia wide. My favourite book as a child was The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I still read it at least once a year so I never forget what it's like to live with the imagination of a child.

2 thoughts on “Background Music”

    Kelly, what a wonderful interaction you had with those babies. I think you need to go in there for 15 minutes every morning and groove with those little ones. Babies are more able to pick up subtleties in music (and sound in general) than most adults but unfortunately those neural pathways get pruned around 11-12 months if not nurtured. So, more “radio play” – it’s an excellent hands-on game with a powerful medium that gives them access to a diversity of sound texts.

    Clare McHugh says:

    Lovely article Kelly, on a moment in time for babies and adult. Low tech too. Radio was the original wi-fi. It won’t die. It will just come to you in some new package.

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