We follow up our royalty and magic storytelling in music series this month by introducing the first few characters in the Magical Musical Kingdom, and their related rhythms (the King featured in the last article!) As adults, characters in stories represent concepts, but as children, these are ‘people’ with personalities to whom they can relate, like they do with cartoons and other fictional characters. I used to be asked about who else the characters played with, and what the characters did over the weekends! Yet musically, as soon as children heard the character rhythms, they often remembered them for their ‘personality’ and the movement that they represented, and could then accurately play their rhythm. All songs are available on www.youtube.com/musicaliti.

1. As a quick reminder, our background planning to the Magical Musical Kingdom included

Time: 10 parts, 10 characters, 10 musical skills

Rhythms: movement-based (gross motor), progressively halving or
doubling note lengths

Melodies: pentatonic-based (5 notes), progressively using more notes

Ages: non-walkers, toddlers and walkers (broadly, birth to 7)

 

2. Character: Queen Quaver

Music note: quavers/eighth

Jogging twice as quickly as the walk: jogging, jogging, jogging, jogging

 

Physical warm-up: Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to instrumental music while jogging around the room, any direction, either holding baby, or holding hands with our new walker or pre-schooler.

Vocal warm-up: Warm up our voices: Do you have your whispering voice? Yes, I have my whispering voice. Do you have your speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking voice. Do you have your queen voice? Yes, I have my queen voice! Do you have your singing voice (singing like an ambulance tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice (ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: Queen of Hearts (game) Circle dance together, holding a scarf between you in each hand. Alternate walking around left and right with walking forward and backward.

Song 2: Queens are Royal (instruments) Playing shaking instruments like egg shakers, jog whilst singing the song.

Story part 2: King Crotchet was married to Queen Quaver. Queen Quaver moved quickly and quietly, and she was always two steps ahead of the King. Queen Quaver was very beautiful, the most beautiful lady in the land, and people travelled from all over the world to see her. Wherever she went, the mountains peaked higher, the grass shone greener, the flowers grew brighter and even the rivers shone until they glistened, although she hardly made a sound. Queen Quaver loved to play tennis and would always bounce and hit the ball as quickly as she could.

Craft:Make and/or decorate jewellery, like rings and necklaces (out of paper or pipe cleaners and beads). Walk around the room with it, singing the song!

Activity:Play a modified version of tennis with big balls or balloons.

 

3. Character: Knight Quaver-Crotchet

Music note: quaver-crotchet/eighth note-quarter note

Combining jogging and walking step: jogging-walk, jogging-walk,
jogging-walk, jogging-walk

 

Physical warm-up: Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to instrumental music while doing a jogging-walk, jogging-walk around the room, any direction, either holding baby, or holding hands with our new walker or pre-schooler.

Vocal warm-up:Warm up our voices: Do you have your whispering voice? Yes, I have my whispering voice. Do you have your speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking voice. Do you have your knight voice? Yes, I have my knight voice! Do you have your singing voice (singing like an ambulance tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice (ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: Grand Old Duke (game) March around together to a jogging walk whilst singing the song. (Protect your kingdom by moving carefully around people.)

Song 2: Knight and Horse (instruments) Playing tapping instruments like sticks
or drums, using the jogging-walk, jogging-walk beat.

Story part 3: King Crotchet and Queen Quaver lived with a brave and handsome Knight Quaver-Crotchet. He was the most brave person in all the land and would do anything to protect his King Crotchet and Queen Quaver. When bad people took things from the King, Knight Quaver-Crotchet would travel to the other side of the world and never give up until they were caught. He wasn’t scared of anything or anyone because he was fit and well trained. When he was training, Knight Quaver-Crotchet loved to fence, a sport with swords that relied on cunning and expertise.

Craft: Make and decorate a paper sword. Walk around the room with it, singing the song!

Activity: Choose a toy to pretend to be a horse and pretend to ride it, having a horse race!

 

4. Character: Lady Minim

Music note: minim/half note

Slow walk taking twice as long as the casual walk: slow walk, slow walk, slow walk, slow walk

 

Physical warm-up: Shoes off, calmly (no talking) listen to instrumental music while doing a slow walk, slow walk around the room, any direction, either holding baby, or holding hands with our new walker or pre-schooler.

Vocal warm-up: Warm up our voices: Do you have your whispering voice? Yes, I have my whispering voice. Do you have your speaking voice? Yes, I have my speaking voice. Do you have your lady voice? Yes, I have my lady voice! Do you have your singing voice (singing like an ambulance tune)? Yes, I have my singing voice (ambulance tune). Ready to sing!

Song 1: Down Came My Friend (game) Stand opposite each other, or line up toys opposite each other, so that you can walk down the middle doing a funny dance, while you sing this song.

Song 2: Pink Hat (instruments) Play a chiming instrument like a triangle or gently tap a glass of water, listening to the long sound that it makes, slow-walk, slow-walk around the room.

Story part 4: Knight Quaver-Crotchet was married to Lady Minim, a very special Lady who was very good at caring for sick animals. Lady Minim moved slowly and calmly so that they were never startled or afraid and some people said she could even speak the secret language of animals. When she wasn’t caring for animals, Lady Minim loved to play bowls, gently rolling one ball to hit the bullseye.

Craft:Make and decorate a paper hat or animal. Walk around the room with it, singing the song!

Activity: Play a modified version of bowls by taking turns to roll a ball towards a target.

 

The next article includes the development of the next sessions, showing how different rhythms can be introduced at these early stages by musicians and non-musicians alike.

 

About the author

Frances Turnbull

Musician, researcher and author, Frances Turnbull, is a self-taught guitarist who has played contemporary and community music from the age of 12. She delivers music sessions to the early years and KS1. Trained in the music education techniques of Kodály (specialist singing), Dalcroze (specialist movement) and Orff (specialist percussion instruments), she has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology (Open University) and a Master’s degree in Education (University of Cambridge). She runs a local community choir, the Bolton Warblers, and delivers the Sound Sense initiative aiming for “A choir in every care home” within local care and residential homes, supporting health and wellbeing through her community interest company.

She has represented the early years music community at the House of Commons, advocating for recognition for early years music educators, and her table of progressive music skills for under 7s features in her curriculum books.

Frances is the author of “Learning with Music: Games and Activities for the Early Years“ “Learning with Music: Games and Activities for the Early Years“, published by Routledge, August 2017.

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