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 Digital drawing!

This current 6-part series of early years music articles features a new activity each month from a number of arts activities trialled for 1 and 2-year-old children, along with musical suggestions, with recordings on YouTube. Technology has changed many aspects of life. For young children, digital drawing presents a unique opportunity to express creativity in early years. Read on to find out how you can encourage creative digital drawing in your setting and add it to your list of early years activities. 

In our last article, I commented on the passions of individuals leading to change, specifically technology gurus, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Not only are they known for their passion but they are also known for their influence and progress on technology.

Technology has changed so many aspects of life, with far-reaching and sometimes unexpected results. For a start, the way we communicate and stay in touch with people has become so much quicker and more immediate. Two clear effects are that this has reduced a lot of privacy that we used to take for granted, and made people feel obliged to be available and accountable more than ever. Surprisingly, it has also resulted in reduced teenage births, increased access to education, and greater global awareness in new generations.

Other aspects of life, like shopping, banking and health, have also become much quicker and more available. Managed properly, this should allow us to spend less time in queues and more time doing the things we enjoy. Interestingly, we often end up using that free time on … technology, and that is either on shopping or social media!

Music has been affected through technology, too, with interesting results. Depending on where you live or the types of instruments used in performances, the note A may be tuned to different frequencies and there has been some debate that tuning to 432Hz (instead of the standard concert 440Hz) is more natural and pleasing – it actually sounds just a little lower than 440Hz. This has led to some debate in different fields, with claims of “432” music being more calming for different thinkers or more natural, and a medical study (Calamassi and Pomponi, 2019) found that heart rate was reduced, with breathing and blood pressure slightly reduced, and people feeling more focussed and satisfied by listening to music set at the lower frequency. Similar findings were identified with using 432Hz music with spinal patients (2020) and COVID emergency nurses (2022). So it was only then a matter of time before the art world was affected by this trend to not only share old works but also create new works.

These were the 6 ideas that the Finnish study by Lehikoinen used to involve 1- and 2-year-olds in creative activities by getting them to participate:

  • Dance-painting – paint feet, move to song (part 1)
  • Magic dough – create play-dough objects from songs (part 2)
  • Digital drawing – digital communication (part 3)
  • Musical drawing
  • Balloon painting
  • Snow-painting

This month, we are focusing on digital communication and digital drawing. The songs below all include suggestions of incorporating technology in a teacher-led environment, but this can easily be flipped on its head to become child-led. By leaving children with technology, they could take pictures with tablets or phones, and explain the importance of the item they pictured. Alternatively, technology can be used in 'painting'  and digital drawing programmes, where different shapes and colours may be used to express ideas or feelings about songs.

Aiken Drum

There was a man lived in the moon
Lived in the moon, lived in in the moon
There was a man lived in the moon
And his name was Aiken Drum

And he played upon a ladle
A ladle, a ladle
And he played upon a ladle
And his name was Aiken Drum

And his hat was made of good cream cheese…
And his coat was made of good roast beef…
And his buttons made of penny loaves…
And his waistcoat was made of crust pies…
And his breeches made of haggis bags…

This 'other world' song about the 'Man in the Moon' can have any suggestion included in how his clothes were made – his hat was made of Samsung phones, his coat was made of Google glass, his buttons made of iPads … now imagine the pictures, videos and drawings children would take!

How many miles to babylon

How many miles to Babylon
Three score and ten
Will you get back before I do
Yes and back again
Open the gates and let us through
Not without a beck and bow
Here’s the beck, here’s the bow
Open the gates and let us through

This song talks about different types of measurement for distance, and this could be used to introduce children to different ways of counting things – how many groups of things, and dividing groups of things between others. Pictures and electronic drawings would bring a richness and child point of view.

Hickory dickory dock

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory Dickory Dock

The notes in this rhyme are often too wide for most new singers to sing accurately and successfully, but it should not stop being played or sung to children. The use of numbers, specifically one-zero and the up-and-down comparison to the use of on-off in technology can easily be used to develop a simple understanding of the binary system and the importance of numbers in technology. Pictures and drawings not only show understanding but also feedback on what it means to children where they are.

And finally:

Video killed the radio star

Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
Pictures came and broke your heart
Oh-a-a-a oh

While our title – and final song – focus on the loss of auditory-only entertainment, we can bring a positive view to the way that technology is used and how digital drawing is now a possibility! In an ever-changing world of developments, technology should enhance, not replace, creative endeavours. And when we understand the ways in which technology can be used, and how we can express ourselves through technology, we can enhance our own worlds.

Click here to visit the Musicaliti website.

See the other articles in this series below!
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

About the author:

Frances Turnbull, a musician, researcher, and accomplished author, boasts a skill set that encompasses both music education techniques and a Master's degree in Education from the University of Cambridge. Frances' literary contributions shine a spotlight of music, dance, and movement within early years education.

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