Online resource review: Music Playtime9:13, 14th September 2020
This review was written by Karen Marshall and appeared in the June 2020 issue of Music Teacher.
Music Playtime an online teaching resource devised by experienced classroom music teacher Sandy Holland, who MT readers might know for her work with Peter Noke on E-Music Maestro and the popular Learn to Sight Read and Hear the Difference books for piano. Holland’s latest creation is a topic-based music teaching resource developed for 3 to 7 year olds. The resource was commissioned by Lancashire Music Service and is designed for teachers, parents and carers. Packed with advice, audios, videos and planning tips, Music Playtime was developed through Holland’s own work with pupils at Forton Primary School. It’s available via subscription at music-playtime.com. The cost is £70 for a single Early Years or Key Stage 1 subscription, or £120 for both. A music service or academy trust can negotiate a group of subscriptions through the link on the homepage or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What does Music Playtime include?
The course offers an ‘active’ musical experience with playing, singing, creating and listening at its heart.
The activities are accessible and clear, easy to plan from and, in the course’s own words, ‘Ofsted-proof’. Materials link to the music national curriculum. There is also a ‘topics section’, plus a glossary page on musical terminology. This topic section provides the lion’s share of the materials. Within the topics section, the following categories are included: Ourselves and our friends; Pets and other animals; Dinosaurs; Families; Maestro and the Christmas tree. These sections are split into Early Years and Key Stage 1. Some elements are taken from the national curriculum, including exploration of pitch, tempo and duration. There are also additional PDF documents with words and illustrations to print out and use in the classroom – and additional resources for more complex elements such as texture and timbre. There are useful lesson plans and templates for items such as graphic scores.
Introductory resources: these include lots of songs and games that can be used as an ice-breaker for the beginning of the lesson. For example, there is a ‘hello everyone’ song.
Songs and Chants: several songs and chants are included in each topic area complete with their words and instructions on how to use them. There are some helpful demonstration videos that are with the teacher and a small group of children. Songs include traditional ones like Alice the Camel and newly composed pieces such as Dinosaur Lullaby. Many pieces are accompanied by piano with the odd piece like Wishi Ta Tuja with piano and a range of vocals and percussion.
Skills and Games: here the musical elements are explored from pulse games (like passing the dog to the pulse as the children sing) to composing a Christmas piece using prepared lyrics while exploring rhythm and pitch.
Creative Music: there are opportunities to compose, improvise and play by ear, as well as experiment with different voices for expression, such as a talking voice, singing voice, slow voice, excited voice, running voice, high voice and low voice.
Listening appraising and movement: music is performed for the children to move to. For example, March of the Geese by Kanado (performed on piano) is included along with an African drumming performance. Dinosaur’s Escape again performed by an instrumental ensemble provides all kinds of different musical effects for the children to describe, played by an array of instruments from woodwind to brass, strings and percussion instruments.
Cross Curricular Activities: for Arts and Crafts there’s an opportunity to make a model dinosaur. Literacy links to poetry and writing, with maths exploring numbers, shapes, telling the time and even Venn diagrams. Science is also included with a project centred around the senses along with something for PSED (Personal, Social and Emotional Development) about communication.
This is an outstanding music education resource where the love of music is at its very essence. As a practitioner myself in this area for nearly 30 years there are plenty of new ideas that I will be introducing into my school in the future! Fun, practical, easy to use, with high-quality graphics, videos and sound files, I am sure it will inspire a whole new generation of children in their musical journeys. A real achievement.