LISTENING TO THE SPONTANEOUS MUSIC-MAKING OF PRESCHOOL CHILDREN IN PLAY: LIVING A PEDAGOGY OF WONDER
Kierstead, Judith Kerschner
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This study sings with joy the wonder of preschool children spontaneously being music-makers in play. Through hermenuetic phenomenological methodology provided by van Manen (2003), voices of Heidegger (1962, being-with), Levin (1989, listening), Ihde (1976, music-language), Casey (1993, place), Merleau-Ponty (1962, the body), Levinas (1987, "we"), Arendt (1959, new beginnings), and Steiner (1984; 1985a,b; 1998, human development, freedom) support the work. The study asks: What is the lived experience of preschool children spontaneously making music in play? In Waldorf preschools, forty-six children in three age-differentiated classes are observed and tape-recorded in a pre-study; observations of twenty-four children in a mixed-age class and, during outdoor playtime, an additional twenty-four children from a similar class are observed and recorded in note-taking during a year-long study. Significant themes of will-ing, be-ing, and time-in-place emerge. Freedom to move about in play with peers is essential to music-making that spontaneously expresses Life-lived-in-the-moment. The phenomena of this study -- the songs, chant, and other sound-shapes -- are the being of children, who are not bound by time or by space. In this study, musical form includes a sung-tryptich, a communal-collage, call-response, a transforming chant, and language that sings and stretches into many, varied sound-shapes. The wonder of Life shines through. Teaching music of early childhood is being one's self a music-maker in being-with children. This teaching is preparing a place of beauty, order, and caring, where a rhythmic framework of fine- and living-arts experiences extends the letting-learn, and where the children move about, playing freely with materials that nurture the imagination, indoors and out daily, rain or shine. Teaching is moving through richly developed integrated-circles (songs, poems, and verses, with gestures), worthy of the children's imitation. Teaching is telling tales from the heart, planting seeds of wisdom. Teaching is "reading the children" then creating soft edges in moving-with-one's-own-singing from one activity to another. This is a Pedagogy of Wonder that respects the child's will, enriches the child's Being, lets-be the spontaneous music-making of preschool children in play, nourishing that music-making by being-with the child musically. Listening to the spontaneous music-making of preshcool children in play offers a new beginning.