Mastering musical concepts often requires much repetition. Repetition of patterns in songs reinforces content and retention of words and melodies. Since all children do not learn in the same way or at the same rate, much repetition using a variety of learning strategies is important. When planning repetition strategies, they should be chosen with thoughtful consideration in order to maximize the learning opportunity. Meaningful learning and music-making experiences are the result of well-thought out plans for teaching a song. Avoid mundane drill-like repetition. Add something new and engaging to each repetition. Do it again, but in a different way.
High repetition enables the child to develop an appreciation and enjoyment of a song or musical selection. Repetition reinforces the memory of the listener which, in turn, lays the foundation for comparing new musical material. Repetition aids clarity and understanding of music and words.
Through repetition and multiple applications of their musical learnings, children enhance their abilities to transfer new concepts with understanding from one musical setting to another.
Follow an orderly, sequential plan for high repetition. The process should include modeling, a positive feeling tone, and lots of variety. The repetitions should always be meaningful to the child.
When using high repetition in a group setting, keep an energetic pace to maintain the interest and concentration of the children. Avoid long practice sessions that cause them to become unfocused.
Examples of high repetition strategies include:
oListening to the song and patting the steady pulse or beat;
oEcho-speaking the words of a verse or section of the music;
oEcho-singing the melody on a nonsense syllable such as "la;"
oSinging song phrases antiphonally, e.g. parent/child; teacher/class;
oSelect a repeated word from the song and have the child stand or raise his or her hand when the word is sung.
After the song is learned, sing the song omitting a few key words. Have the child speak or sing the missing words at the appropriate time in the song. Then play or sing a song and have the child "draw" the melodic contour with his or her hand.
Let creativity and imagination be your guide in planning for repetitions of a song or musical selection. Consider the use of visual aids and movement to reinforce the concepts being repeated.
Using a diverse palette of repetition strategies brings freshness and excitement to the learning process. We are the engineers of successful learning for our children through the use of creative and meaningful repetitions.
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