Almost two dozen 3- to 5-year-olds sat on the floor of the program room recently at the Columbia Public Library. They came not for a magic show but to learn through music and movement.
The children did not know each other, and were shy and quiet. But when the music started to play, the atmosphere in the room changed. The children began to laugh, talk and, with their entire beings, work to catch instructor Melissa Robinson’s eye.
The music and movement program is designed by Kindermusik, an educational organization that links a child’s musical development with development of his or her cognitive, physical, social, emotional and language abilities. The recent session at the library was created in conjunction with Palen Music Center, the Columbia branch of Kindermusik, and is part of a series of programs the library offers for children. The music and movement class will probably be repeated in January 2004.
In addition to playing music, Robinson read a story and asked her young listeners to take part. They followed the rhythm of the sentences and used sticks to make sounds and their hands to beat the floor to imitate footfall.
The children also sang, and through the repetitive nature of the songs, picked up new words without noticing.
Some children were unwilling to join in, so Robinson told them it was fine to sit out. “They learn from observation," she said, "just as much as they do from participating in activities.”
After the class, Robinson said that one of her most memorable experiences teaching music and movement involved a boy who had a lot of trouble talking. His problems all but disappeared after he participated in the program, she said.
Parents are required to attend the programs or be near at hand. “Through music, kids can learn words accompanied by movement," said Xiaolin Zhang. "I definitely will bring my kids to attend a similar program if I have time.”