What's Happening in the Montessori Music Room? Marching with Music from Georges Bizet!


All photos in this post are from the artists at Dollar Photo Club unless otherwise noted.

These days, in our Montessori music classes, the children are ready for learning the basic concepts of music.
One of the first lessons in music education is about keeping a steady beat, and we all know that if you put on some marching music, people will start marching without even thinking about it!

The best way to learn about steady beat in music is to actually move to the beat of music being played or sung. Clapping, stamping, tapping, snapping fingers or clicking tongues...and of course marching! These are all ways children can practice keeping a steady beat. 

What is wonderful about marching music is that it is often counted out in a four beat pattern ("March, two, three, four!") and the beat is very pronounced and easy to hear.

Children have usually gone to a parade by the time they are in Preschool and so they have seen and heard a marching band. So, when I introduce this music lesson featuring steady beat, I like to show the children a photo of a marching band and tell them we are about to listen and march to some marching music!

I have a collection of miniature flags from all over the world and so I invite the children to march to the music while carrying a flag! I show them how to hold the flag up high and wave it gently in a dignified manner.

Many Montessori classrooms already have a set of miniature flags and I highly recommend a flag reference book, since the children will want to know the names of the countries the various flags represent. Here is my favorite flag reference book:Amazon Smithsonian Guide to Flags of the World.

I have collected miniature flags over the years from many sources, but Montessori Services is my favorite. You can actually order individual flags from them and not have to purchase a whole set. Here's that link: Montessori Services Geography Resources. 

Next, I demonstrate to the children how to bend the knees and lift the legs for marching. I count out the beat and say, "1, 2, 3, 4...March, 2, 3, 4", and I lift alternating legs while I count. We all practice a bit and if you show the children a picture of the position for marching, they will probably understand the movement immediately. However, this is a developmental milestone when a child can really lift the leg up high and keep the beat steady while marching. In our classes there are 24-36 children, and so we "march in place" and this works just fine.   

Now, its time to do our marching and so I turn on the cd and we march and march, waving our flags elegantly in the air! I play this music for about a minute so that the children stay focused and don't get too tired of marching!

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Here is a youtube video of a fantastic orchestra playing this wonderful march from Bizet's opera, "Carmen."

After our important musical movement activity, I have the children sit down while still holding their flags. I invite them to prepare for listening to the marching music of Bizet again and this time we will move our flags in front of us and keep the beat with the flags instead of our marching feet!

I always show the children a picture of the composer we are learning about and they are always intrigued when they see an actual picture and learn the term, composer. Here's the picture I use (from public domain) for the French composer, Georges Bizet.

Once again, I play the cd of this music for about a minute and the children greatly enjoy waving the flags to the steady beat of the music. 

Later in the lesson, we passed a drum around the circle and each child showed us their way of playing a steady beat pattern on the drum.

If you don't have flags in your environment, children can still greatly enjoy marching to Bizet's music. I recommend JUST marching (without props) with groups who are young or new to the preschool classroom environment. 

Marching is also another fun way to practice movement on "The Line" in the Montessori style environment. You can read more about Montessori "Line" Activities at my posts here:Musically Montessori #3: Let's Begin With Movement on the Line

and here: The Montessori Line a Place for Movement: Obstacle Course!

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