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Musically Montessori:#6 Warm Ups for Hands, Breathing, & Voices in Preschool Music Class!

YOUNG CHILDREN REALLY ENJOY THE PROFESSIONAL APPROACH TO MUSIC BY STARTING MUSIC CLASS WITH SOME FUN WARM-UPS! Hand, voice, and breathing warm-ups are important exercises that professional musicians practice and so can little children.





All photos in this post are from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

***©Carolyn Lucento 2015. You are warmly welcome to use any of the ideas I have posted here, however, the content & photos are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without my permission.

This is the sixth article in my series: "Musically Montessori, A Sequential Curriculum for Everyday Music." You can read the previous articles here.

LESSON TITLE: “Let’s Flex Our Muscles!”


FEATURED SKILLS TO DEVELOP:
  • Concentration
  • Body Coordination
  • Developing strength in the hands & fingers
  •  
MATERIALS NEEDED: 
  • Open space for group time
PROCEDURE:
1. PREPARE: Sit in view of all the children, with back straight and relaxed.

2. EXPLANATION: The idea is that everyone will work the muscles in the hand to prepare for playing instruments later in the lesson.

3. MODEL: I begin by modeling for the children how to prepare the body for sitting straight and tall, by wiggling into a comfortable position and showing a big smile. I hold my hands in front of me ready to demonstrate to the children how to flex the muscles by holding a tight fist and then releasing.

4. SAY: “Let me see how strong your finger and hand muscles are! We all need strong muscles to play our instruments! Can you make a tight fist? Hold your finger and hand muscles tight…tight…tight! Flex…Now release.” Say this for the muscles in the shoulder and then the muscles in the face, too:
“Let’s see those strong muscles in your shoulders, now! Tighten & flex!…Now release.”
“Tighten up the muscles in your face. Those are important for singing…hold them tight!…Now release.”

5. SHOW: I show the children how to hold a tight fist, by demonstrating my fists closed tightly for about 10 seconds or so. Then a distinct releasing of the muscles to a relaxed position.

          Next, I show them how to hold the shoulder muscles tight by demonstrating with my shoulders lifted and held in position for a few seconds. And, once again, a distinct releasing of the muscles to a relaxed position. 


          Then, I show them how to tense the muscles of the face and hold for a few seconds. Once again, release with a dramatic gesture. 




6. INVITE: After flexing the muscles, I love to comment on how much the children are growing and how strong their muscles are developing. I let them know that all their activities in the classroom are making their bodies strong and that they can practice flexing the muscles of the face, shoulders and hands anytime throughout the day.

7. SHELF WORK: You can set up a “music work out center” in a basket on the music/movement shelf in the classroom. Fill it with a squeezy ball, (like the ones that are used in offices to aid in the prevention of carpal tunnel), a foam or cloth 1 1/2 lb weight set (one for each hand), and a small child-proof  mirror (for the child/ren to see their faces when flexing the face muscles)

EXTENSIONS & EMBELLISHMENTS: 
 ~  Use this activity at the beginning of each music lesson circle   
 ~  Add Montessori-style command cards to the “music work out center”. They can read: 
  • Flex your finger and hand muscles
  • Flex your shoulder muscles
  • Flex your face muscles
 ~  Add little illustrations to the back of each of the command cards for pre-reading practice
 ~  Sometimes children get a little fatigued when practicing writing skills during class time, and this is a good time to refresh by doing these little finger, hand and shoulder exercises.

LESSON TITLE: “Let’s Control Our Breathing!”




FEATURED SKILLS TO DEVELOP:
  • Concentration
  • Body Coordination
  • Developing breathing techniques for successful singing 
    MATERIALS NEEDED: 
    • Open space for group time
    PROCEDURE:
    1. PREPARE: Sit in view of all the children, with back straight and relaxed. This activity is designed to follow the above lesson.

    2. EXPLANATION: The idea is that everyone will work the muscles of the diaphragm to control inhaling and exhaling.

    3. MODEL: I begin by modeling for the children how to prepare the body for sitting straight and tall, by wiggling into a comfortable position and showing a big smile. 

    4. SAY: “Let’s practice our breathing. Make your backbone straight and your neck long. Now,  rub your hands together to get them nice and warm. 
     ~ Place your right hand below your belly button and your left hand above your belly button. 
     ~ Breath in through your nose…out through your mouth.
     ~ Right hand on your heart and left hand at your throat gently.
     ~ Breath in through your nose…out through your mouth.
     ~ Right hand on top of your head and left hand over your forehead.
     ~ Breath in through your nose…out through your mouth."

    5. SHOW: I show the children how to do each motion by modeling as I speak and by making long quiet inhales and exhales.                    

    6. INVITE: After practicing our breathing, I tell the children that this is yoga breathing and that they can do this breathing on their own anytime during the day.

    7. SHELF WORK: In your “music work out center” you can add a Montessori-style command card that says: “Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” The child/ren can choose the card and practice breathing exercises anytime during class time.

    EXTENSIONS & EMBELLISHMENTS: 
     ~  Use this activity at the beginning of each music lesson circle   
     ~  Show children pictures of the muscles inside the human body and point out the diaphragm muscles below the lungs. Then, you can explain that strengthening these muscles by exercising them helps develop good singing voices.



    ~ Have children place their hands on their bellies and pretend they have a “belly balloon.” Then invite them to fill up their "belly balloons" by taking a long inhale through their mouths, then making the “s” sound while they slowly exhale. This will sound like the air being let out of a balloon. The children will be able to feel the muscles of their diaphragms tightening as they slowly exhale.

    LESSON TITLE: “Let’s Warm Up Our Voices!”




    FEATURED SKILLS TO DEVELOP:
    • Concentration
    • Body Coordination
    • Auditory discrimination of high and low
    • Developing ability to adjust the voice from low to high 
      MATERIALS NEEDED: 

      • Open space for group time
      PROCEDURE:

      1. PREPARE: Sit in view of all the children, with back straight and relaxed. This activity is designed to follow the above lesson.

      2. EXPLANATION: The idea is that children will relax the muscles of the mouth and begin to expand the vocal range of their voices to sing higher and lower when directed to do so.

      3. MODEL: I begin by modeling for the children how to open the mouth to form a circle so that my singing voice sounds “beautiful!”

      4. SAY: “Let’s warm up our voices and relax the muscles we use for singing.
       ~ Put your hands on top of your head so that you lift your rib cage and take a nice full breath in through your mouth…inhale.” 
       ~ Buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh-buh…..And stop.
       ~ Now, let’s make the sound ‘moo-oo’ like the cow: Inhale. Moooooooooo….And stop.
       ~ Can you make the ‘moo’ sound in your low voice? Inhale. Moooooooooo….And stop.
       ~ Let’s make the ‘meeee’ sound. (point to myself) Inhale Meeeeeeeeeeeee….And stop.
       ~ Now, can you make the ‘meeee’ sound in your high voice? Inhale Meeeeeeeeee….And stop. 
       ~ Now, the ’sss’. Inhale. Sssssssssssss…..And stop.
       ~ Let’s relax our jaws. Make this sound: ‘m-w-o’…Take a nice long inhale through your mouth, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo, Mwo…And stop."

      5. SHOW: I show the children how to do each motion by modeling as I speak and by making long quiet inhales and dramatic movement of the mouth and jaw.                    

      6. INVITE: After practicing our breathing, I tell the children that this activity is something they can do at other times in the day, especially outdoors where the sounds don’t disturb others.

      7. SHELF WORK: In your “music work out center” you can add Montessori-style command cards that say: “Moo”, “Mee,” “sss” and other sounds like, ch, sh, and zzz, etc. 
        
      EXTENSIONS & EMBELLISHMENTS: 
       ~  Use this activity at the beginning of each music lesson circle   
       ~  Invite children to lean forward slightly, as if looking down, and then make the "m" sound. Ask the children  if they feel any tingling or tickling in their face or lips. Tingles mean that the vibrations of the voice are coming from the throat out through the mouth and this makes their singing sound full and more beautiful. This can bring on a whole discussion of sound, vibration, and vocal chords!
       ~ Add other sounds to loosen the muscles of the mouth, jaw and throat, such as "m" combined with each of the vowel sounds ("ma, me, mi, mo, mu") 
       ~ Invite children to make sounds such as "choo", "shoo" etc.
       ~ Sing a familiar song (Ex: Twinkle, twinkle) using one sound such as "la", in place of the words.
      Here's one of my little quirky videos that might help make these voice warm ups come to life. I hope you enjoy it!





      You might enjoy some of the other little videos at my website on the page STUFF FOR KIDS. Here's that link:Little Music Lessons.

      Don't miss the upcoming articles on TEACHING A NEW SONG, FUN ECHO RHYTHMS, and MORE in my series, Musically Montessori, A Sequential Curriculum for Everyday Music! You can receive these right in your inbox, just click here to subscribe:Magical Movement Company Subscribe for Updates  

      I am so delighted that you are reading my Blog and I really hope that you have gotten some ideas that you will be using with your group! This post is also part of the "Montessori Monday Link-ups" at Living Montessori Now, where you can find lots of wonderful articles and resources for your early childhood environment. Just click this link:Montessori Mondays.




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