Sounds of Intent Level 5

What to expect from a child functioning primarily at Sounds of Intent Level 5

Assess the child’s level of musical engagement through careful observation

  • Children functioning at SoI Level 5 can grasp simple musical structures (in songs with a chorus, for example) and have an intuitive understanding of tonality and metre.
  • They can reproduce simple pieces they know and have an increasing capacity to sing in time and in tune. Some may play instruments as beginners.
  • They can perform with others, maintaining an independent part.

Choosing activities for the child

  • Children functioning at Level 5 are likely to enjoy simple songs and games that use straightforward musical structures (that have a different action for each verse, for example).
  • However, they are still likely to enjoy purely sensory activities in sound (Level 2), activities that utilise simple patterns or repetition and regularity (Level 3) and ‘call and response’ and ‘question and answer’ games that involve copying and changing motifs.

Listening to whole songs and understanding their structure

Little Amber Card 37 Introduce the family to lots of songs with simple structures that the child will be able to follow

  • Start with children’s songs, with actions to help make the structure clear, like ‘The wheels on the bus’.
  • Try folk songs and working songs from different cultures, like ‘What shall we do with the drunken sailor’.
  • Sing pop songs (which often have simple structures) like ‘We will rock you’ and ‘Hallelujah’.
  • Try Classical melodies – which in the West include ‘Ode to joy’ and ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’, for example.
  • Use materials from the Little Amber website. Little Amber Music Resources

Little Amber Card 38 Introduce the family to recordings of simple instrumental pieces

  • Start by humming songs that the child knows. Do they still recognise them?
  • Next, play instrumental versions of the same songs.
  • Then play instrumental pieces that have a lot of repetition, like ‘Eye Level’, the ‘Can Can’ and ‘Bolero’.
  • See if the child enjoys minimalist pieces by composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Try longer pieces that use similar musical ideas over and over again (by composers such as Vivaldi) or more complicated pieces that use similar phrases repeatedly, like ‘Mars’ from ‘The Planets’ by Holst.

Little Amber Card 39 Encourage parents to take their child to hear all sorts of music in different places

  • Introduce the family to music in all its variety.
  • For example, encourage them to hear street musicians and buskers – perhaps the musicians would let the child feel their instruments afterwards?
  • Some venues have children’s concerts and ‘relaxed’ performances that can be a good place to start concert-going.
  • The child may enjoy listening to singing as part of a religious ceremony.
  • Carnivals can be a great multisensory experience.

Little Amber Card 40 Introduce families to music where melodies have special meanings

  • Introduce pieces that tell a story like ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’.
  • Play the important themes and explain what they mean. Sing them, dance to them!
  • Introduce pieces that are meant to sound like things, such as the ‘Honky Tonk Train Blues’ and ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’.
  • Play the theme music from particular TV programmes or films and explain the association.
  • Introduce pieces that have particular cultural or religious connotations and talk about them.
  • Play music from the family’s own culture.

Playing and singing whole songs in time and in tune

Little Amber Card 41 Encourage the child to sing songs on their own

  • Try starting with the simple songs that you’ve introduced to the family or that they already know well.
  • Try giving the child and microphone and amplifier to use – it may provide the necessary motivation and give the child confidence.
  • Encourage the child to sing for different family members and friends – do they have favourite songs that they like to hear?
  • Don’t forget it can be fun to sing and dance at the same time.
  • Make recordings of the child singing, for future enjoyment and reference.

Little Amber Card 42 Help the child to play what they can sing

  • Start with songs that just use a few notes, like ‘Hot Cross Buns’, ‘When the Saints’ and ‘Frère Jacques’.
  • You can help the child find the starting note by showing them the pattern of black (raised) and white notes.
  • The position of different notes can be reinforced with small textured patches being stuck on them.
  • Encourage the child to have a go at the recorder too. If they find it difficult to cover the holes, you could glue washers around them.
  • They could try the ukulele too.

Little Amber Card 43 Discuss with parents the importance of giving their child the chance to sing and play in different places

  • Music is above all a social activity, and it’s good for the child to get to know the different contexts – different places and occasions – where music is played and sung.
  • Does the child like to sing at nursery school?
  • Are there opportunities to perform at the local community centre?
  • Each venue will make the child’s voice sound different; a microphone and amplifier may give them confidence.
  • Encourage parents to allow their child to sing and play for different people: friends, relatives, adults, other children … the response from each group may be different.

Little Amber Card 44 Make up stories for the child where they have to sing or play different tunes for the main characters or actions

  • Encourage the child to make music as part of imaginative play.
  • For example, you could make up a story set on a farm, with ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’, ‘Goosey, Goosey Gander’ and ‘Horsey, Horsey’.
  • Try a story about going on holiday, introducing songs such as ‘We’re All Going on a Summer Holiday’ and ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat on’.
  • Create a narrative about a trip to the zoo, using songs such as ‘We’re Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo’, ‘Nellie the Elephant’ and ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’.
  • Supplement the stories with actions and words – have a ‘book bag’ for each, including a playlist of songs, that parents can use on their own.

Playing and singing whole songs with others

Little Amber Card 45 Sing the child’s favourite songs with them over and over again!

  • Start by singing songs ‘in unison’ – so you and the child (and other family members) are all singing the same thing at the same time.
  • You could have an accompaniment too, to help stabilise the pitch and rhythm, and to add interest.
  • Then, start the child (and parents) off, singing a song they know well, and then you sing another part underneath. Can they keep going, or does your part put them off? If so, begin by doing it very quietly.
  • Next, teach the child (and their parents) the second part, and take it in turns to sing the main tune and the counter-melody.
  • Try singing rounds, like ‘London’s Burning’ and ‘Frère Jacques’.
  • Try singing in three or four parts.

Little Amber Card 46 Encourage the family (and friends) to form a band that the child can join

  • Start by playing a simple drum pattern and get everyone to join in, doing the same thing at the same time.
  • Then encourage the child and others to keep going with the drum pattern while you play a repeated pattern of chords on the keyboard (styles like reggae are good for this).
  • Next, see if the child can play a simple melody on the keyboard or recorder while others continue to drum or play chords.
  • Teach the child how to play two or three chords on the keyboard, so they can provide a harmonic accompaniment.
  • Add more people to the band!

Little Amber Card 47 Encourage improvising with other people

  • Start by showing the child (and their parents) how to vary the tunes they know by changing the words (and so probably changing the rhythm).
  • Now, to a regular beat, chant the names of different people in the room.
  • Next, do the same thing but with drums instead of voices – so without the words. The rhythms can vary however the child likes.
  • On the keyboard, show the child how to vary simple tunes that they know by changing the rhythm of repeated notes, while others keep a steady beat on percussion.
  • Lastly, encourage the child to add new notes to the melody, or even make up new melodies by using limited sets of pitches (such as pentatonic tunes that use only the black notes, for example).

Little Amber Card 48 Encourage parents to give their child opportunities to make music with other children

  • Start in a small group with songs that everyone knows well, and ask them all to sing the same part.
  • Now divide into two smaller groups, and try singing different parts at the same time.
  • Remember that children who are visually impaired will be relying solely on auditory clues as to who is doing what – so sitting close to those singing the same part will be particularly important.
  • You could use a discreet tap on the shoulder to indicate to a child that it is their turn to come in in rounds and part songs.
  • Make opportunities for people to join in using instruments too.