If you were looking through the latest trends in education, your search would quickly return stories of parents speaking out “in defense of recess,” or studies about how developmentally important play is for young children. One particularly memorable news story in recent history was the viral article about Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Fort Worth, Texas, who recently expanded recess (in contrast to many schools who feel pressure to cut recess in lieu of more instruction time).
Working with the LiiNK Program out of Texas Christian University, the school now offers students four fifteen-minute recess periods per day. The result? It’s been overwhelmingly positive. Kinesiology professor Debbie Rhea, the creator of the project, calls the 15-minute breaks a “reboot” for children. “It gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level,” she explained in an interview with Today.
One teacher confessed that she was nervous about the decrease in classroom time, but her worries turned out to be unfounded. As she explained to reporters, “students are less fidgety and more focused… They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues.”
In an American Association of Pediatrics publication, they state that “play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.”
We get it – play is important. Hugely so. And we believe this is equally as true in music lessons as it is in the schoolyard.
Fortunately, “play” has been a core part of the Meridee Winters music method from the very first lessons. (In fact, the teacher manual contains its own chapter on “Music as Play.”) With MW lessons, you may see your child rolling bright blue foam dice around the living room, composing a song to a picture, or identifying notes while timing him or herself. The result of these types of activities isn’t just a highly entertaining lesson, or even a more inspired student. These games are all specially designed to build specific skills and boost musicianship. And the vehicle for this? Play.
Surprisingly, though, music lessons aren’t often known for playfulness. The most common approach to learning an instrument is “rote and recall” – play this, memorize that. While there is a place in all music lessons, including ours, for the fundamentals of note reading, scales, theory and more, it often comes at the expense of the very thing Eagle Mountain Elementary has been working hard to protect: play.
As Meridee puts it, “creativity and play don’t have to happen in lieu of instruction. They are, in fact, powerful tools for learning. That’s a core principle of this method.”
The curriculum we use today has been twenty years in the making, and today, Meridee’s “Top Secret Game Book” has grown to over 250 pages. Teachers are trained extensively on these materials, and even attend monthly workshops to learn and brainstorm new ways to enhance lessons. We’re glad that you’re part of our playful community, and that you’re in on our secret – great results and quality lessons can (and should) be fun!
We’ll leave you with this quote from William Shakespeare:
“If music be the food of love, play on.” We think music is the food of life. (Play on, folks.)
© 2016 Meridee Winters. All Rights Reserved.
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