Preucil Preschool is many things—a school buzzing with creativity in the art studio, play and inquiry-based learning in the classrooms, nature exploration on our playground, and social relationship building in all of our daily interactions. But from its beginning in 1976, having sprouted from the Preucil School of Music, Preucil Preschool has been a place for children to experience the joy of music. Doris Preucil started the Preucil School of Music in 1963--at the time it was one of the first Suzuki music schools in the United States and has since achieved international renown. Doris’ love of music and respect for children led to the development of a preschool, where all children were (and still are) welcomed and viewed as having musical potential. Today, Preucil Preschool is one of the richest music-based preschools that I have found, providing daily music experiences with highly trained music teachers.
At Preucil Preschool, we appreciate music for the beauty it adds to our lives and the lives of others. Music has been around for thousands upon thousands of years. It is a means of bonding, communicating, and self-expressing. We know that music has other benefits as well, especially for developing minds and hearts. The many benefits of music education for young children include speech, language, literacy, and mathematical development; overall cognitive and intellectual gains; and emotional well-being. A full review of research is beyond the scope of this post, but here are some highlights of Susan Hallam’s review of research, The Power of Music: It’s Impact on the Intellectual, Social, and Personal Development of Children and Young People:
While these benefits are amazing and very beneficial to children’s development, what we see on a daily basis at Preucil Preschool is a sense of accomplishment by mastering a complicated song, excitement of sharing our own musical creations, bonding and connections that happen while sharing our voices and music, pride in standing up and singing for others, energy that comes while bodies move in and through rhythms and beats, and most importantly, the pure joy in actively engaging in daily musical experiences within the context of our day. Music at Preucil becomes as natural and spontaneous as laughter, dance, and play.
“The benefit of music education for me is about being musical. It gives you a better understanding of yourself. The horizons are higher when you are involved in music. Your understanding of art and the world, and how you can think and express yourself, are enhanced.” --Dr. Eric Rasmussen, chair of the Early Childhood Music Department at the Peabody Preparatory of The Johns Hopkins University.
In addition to active engagement and participation with music, Preucil preschoolers have many opportunities to enjoy live musical performances by the Preucil School of Music faculty and students. Anne Quito argues that listening AND watching live classical musical performances exercises our brains and attention spans. Again, research illustrates many benefits of listening to classical music including improved memory and concentration, stress reduction, increased test scores. Hearing and watching music being produced and given to us is a magical moment of sharing. As Dr. Suzuki told us, "Music is the language of the heart without words."
Hallam, S. (2010). The Power of Music: Its Impact on the Intellectual, Social, and Personal Development of Children and Young People. International Journal of Music Education, 28(3), 269-289
The Superhero song was the first completed song composed in afternoon song-writer's club this year!
I have had an engaging and inspiring time in our first year offering Afternoon Music at Preucil Preschool. We have truly traveled through a year. We began the year working through the fundamentals. We sang songs, moved through the beat using egg shakers and rhythm sticks, and moved our whole bodies along with the music.
We enjoyed talking about how music is a language that everyone can understand. We sang our names and feelings that we were having. We all took turns sharing experiences that gave us that shared emotion. We found guitar chords and body movements and ways to use our voices to express Happy, Sad, Mad, Scared, Tired, Excited, and Disappointed. All of these feelings were brought up by the students, and we were able to develop them depending on what emotions the kids brought to class that day. We could talk and sing and dance through our feelings and our similarities.
After all of this musical groundwork was laid, singing and moving, hearing and feeling the music, and using music as an emotional and physical outlet, it came time to truly express ourselves. The kids realized that they had things that they wanted to sing about. They wanted to make up songs about what mattered to them and share them with their friends so that we could sing them together. Our first song was a Mermaid Song – Inspired by a Little Bear book. We then needed to sing about our favorite family members, our pets!
We made up songs about our dogs, cats, and our roly-poly bugs. We first talked about our topic and what we knew about it and wrote down as much important information as we could come up with. We sometimes found a rhyme that we loved! We talked about how we felt and which kind of music and guitar chords could show that feeling. We wrote it out and sang our songs, taking ownership of creating something and singing a song that meant something to us and that had never been sung before.
In Afternoon Music we play, explore and grow as a musical community.