Written by Prachi Shah on 27 April 2022
For the pandemic and post-pandemic generation, staying at home has had its own pros and cons. Although it has made children (especially toddlers) curious about the world outside, it has also deprived them of the natural musical stimuli that they would otherwise be exposed to.
At the time of the Covid pandemic, Johnson and Merrick (2020) discussed the utility of Zoom, a web-conferencing software that effectively met the teaching challenges of distance-learning by enhancing students’ interest, autonomy and learning motivation in music.
However, software utility seems to be the least of the problems for today’s parents. It is normal to hear things like "My child really loves music, but doesn't like to sing when asked." or "My child sings all day, but resists when it comes to learning music in a structured way." At times, the parents also ponder as to whether or not their child will keep themselves engaged in an online music class that goes on for over half an hour.
Well, this is quite obvious considering the attention span we all have—which is not more than that of a goldfish. So, how do we at Shankar Mahadevan Academy address this? What makes our teachers and curriculum stand apart from other online platforms that teach music to children?
Here are the 8 Ways in which Teachers at SMA Keep Your Children Engaged while Learning Music Online
1. Teaching Customised to Your Child’s Aptitude
Some children are innately musical and some are not. The musical aptitude of a child is usually dependent on the environment they’re brought up in. While some children develop a profound interest in music due to the musical environment they’re brought up in, some might just be fascinated by the sounds around them. Some might foot-tap and clap to the songs being played on television while others might just be interested in dressing up like a rockstar!
Our teachers have the knack for identifying the kind of musical aptitude your child carries. After tapping into it, we modify our style of teaching and lessons based on your child’s personality. We understand that not all children look forward to a typical online music class. And hence, we make sure that your child enjoys everything taught during the class, and all that is taught in class adheres to their aptitude.
2) Interactive Learning Sessions
Establishing rapport with every child that learns from us is of utmost importance to us. After all, a welcoming attitude and warmth is all that’s needed to make the child feel comfortable during an online music class. Our teachers ensure that they interact with your child from time to time so that your child feels heard. Of course, in a way that the takeaway of the class remains unaffected.
Watch a demo of one of our classes and you will find children talking about their favourite hobbies, their interest in science, or a show and tell session about their latest toy—or even their favourite bird. And if the mood be, we also might doodle while we learn our favourite song! So whether your child is playful, serious, introverted or chatty, our teachers are all up for a musical session that includes a quality interaction tailored to their interests.
3) Inclusion of Voice Modulations and Role play
Monotony of voice can be one of the biggest drawbacks when it comes to teaching music to kids below 6 years of age. They can get easily bored if the teaching involves the same old monotonous tone. It is said that as singers have an innate ability to listen and reproduce a song, they also have the hidden-talent of mimicking voices and different tones.
To make the class experience appealing and add a fun element to it, our teachers teach rhymes and swaras in different voices including a baby’s voice, an animal’s voice or sometimes the voice of your child’s favourite cartoon character. We also indulge in a lot of role play, sing duets, etc. using different voice dynamics so that the child gets entertained and there isn’t a minute of boredom or monotony involved. What follows is a lot of laughter and giggles galore!
4) Inclusion of Hand Gestures and Teaching Props
We believe that using props and hand gestures while teaching music to young children captures their attention and helps them focus more on the song and worry less about errors. After all, it is difficult to worry about how your tone would sound when you are busy roaring like a lion or quacking like a duck. Thumb puppets, soft toys, charts and animated videos are a common part of an SMA class experience.
Although we constantly work on enhancing the singing abilities of your child by teaching musical notes, we teach them about the dynamic quality of notes through hand gestures, making them climb ladders/staircase in their own house or encouraging them to move/dance as they sing.
Shankar Mahadevan Academy’s Grow With Music Program has a lot of songs that have simple actions, right from the old classic Incy Wincy Spider to different regional languages songs that your little ones can tap their foot to. While some toddlers bounce up and down their chairs and giggle as they sing, some prefer to involve their parents and go around their chair galloping like a pony. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
5) Teachers that Are Excellent Story Tellers
We often talk about how magical the old times were when our grandmothers put us to sleep by singing traditional lullabies and narrating folklores in the most dramatised way. And thereafter, express displeasure over how technology has taken this organic feeling away from us.
Well, things are no different at Shankar Mahadevan Academy. Although our sessions happen online, we keep the legacy and beauty of traditional songs, lullabies and stories alive and understand that they serve a more prolonged purpose. Our teachers are excellent story tellers and touch the interpretation faculties of your child through storytelling by enhancing their morals and values. Why not explore our archives of My Favourite Lullabies before you put your child to sleep tonight?
6) Teachers that Are Friends
Teachers are often looked up to, which is a good thing if it comes out of respect. But the word “teacher” also generates an innate fear in children as they’re taught to look up to teachers as authorities. This fear further creates a barrier in learning and a disinterest in the subject being taught. “A smile, a song and a mile further” is our motto when it comes to teaching music to children online.
Our teachers are often looked up to as confidants and friends with whom the children can share funny anecdotes, musical qualms and how their day has been. Exploration of music, we believe, should be a two-way street and this mutual sharing of music is what helps our students create a trustworthy and a profound relationship with our teachers. Each day at SMA is not just about teachers teaching music to students but also the other way round.
7. Exposure to Different Languages and Cultures
Jay Schulkin, a scientist at Georgetown University’s Department of Neuroscience says, “We probably sang before we spoke in syntactically guided sentences. And music is a fundamental part of our evolution.” A team of researchers at the University of Turku and University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Educational Sciences, and the Beijing Normal University (BNU) concluded through their research that music and language have an impact on the neural processing of auditory signals.
Now this might be a scientific way of looking at it. But parents often want their children to be exposed to different languages and cultures, which can be made possible through music. At Shankar Mahadevan Academy, we not only teach our students regional songs of India by taking them on a visual tour of different states but also expose them to world music by teaching songs in Japanese, Spanish, French and many other languages.
8. Musical Play Dates and Online Concerts
If you thought our teaching was confined to online classrooms, you might need to rethink. Young kids learning from us totally look forward to performing all that they have learnt during their class in front of their friends, parents and our very own Shankar Mahadevan Sir. Our teachers hone these young talents and make them performance-ready. And the glint in their eye speaks volumes about how much they love music and look forward to performing!
Needless to say, these online concerts boost the confidence levels of kids and train them to become better listeners. Here’s a sneak peek into what goes on as a part of our online recitals and our annual function SANGAM, wherein kids perform in front of musical stalwarts and get showered with words of appreciation from them.
If you’re looking forward to having your kid embark upon an incredible musical journey, visit our website and check out all that we have to offer as a part of music for children. We are sure you’re going to love it!