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Music lesson plans for Preschoolers

Danville, VA- Averett University announced a new music initiative on Wednesday. It's called Growing Up Musically, aka, G.U.M.

The 12 week program has already started at Head Start in Danville. Averett University faculty and education majors work with the preschoolers once a week.

"Research informs that a lot of preschool teachers do not have music training, or don't have a lot of it, " said Janet Phillips, Assistant Professor of Music at Averett University. "The most significant finding was that they didn't feel comfortable leading music activities because they didn't feel qualified and they weren't musically trained."

So G.U.M swooped in with instruments in tow. Each week instructors use songs kids already know and develop their music skills from there.

"We have these instruments called boomwhackers, " said Phillips. "They are plastic tubes that are pitched in the major scale... do re mi fa so la ti do. They can sing a major scale and they're three and four years-old."

Education leaders said each activity means more than just music time.

"Exposing children to music early ignites all areas of child development: intellectual, social, emotional, motor, language and literacy, " said Tara Martin, Head Start Director.

"The practice of music increases communication between the left and right hemispheres, " Phillips said. "If your brain functions better, you're going to do better in school. They haven't found any other art that does quite that same thing yet."

After each weekly visit, Averett music instructors leave lesson plans so teachers can reinforce what the kids learned throughout the rest of the week.

This is a 12-week pilot program. If it goes well, leaders said they hope to expand it to all preschools in Danville.

Here is a press release from Averett University:

Averett University is excited to announce a new music initiative in early childhood education - Growing up Musically (GUM). The initiative, which was generously funded by benefactors and former Averett campaign co-chairs, Ben and Betty Davenport, began in January at local Head Start and Smart Beginnings' childcare facilities. Dr. Janet Phillips, Averett's assistant professor of music, is delivering a series of music programs for our area's youngest students.

"Not only will the Growing Up Musically Program provide joy and music to our preschoolers, but our early childhood education teachers will expand their knowledge of how to instruct children in music and incorporate music, rhythm and movement into their teaching practices, " said Tara Martin, Executive/Head Start Director. "Our teachers are working closely with Averett's faculty to develop their comfort level in instruction, and it has been a wonderful partnership."

The specialized programming is pulled from Averett's music department in order to deliver unique benefits to existing early education providers' curricula and to the children. Research demonstrates that younger children's early exposure to music provides the following benefits: fewer referrals for discipline, higher educational aspirations, and fewer absences from school. In addition, children exposed to music show higher levels of confidence, impulse control, self-identity, problem-solving, conflict resolution skills, empathy and social tolerance.

GUM also integrates service-learning for student-teachers in Averett's education program. Student-teachers are working as interns to deliver the 12-session GUM program at childcare facilities and teach early childhood education (ECE) providers how to incorporate music and movement as part of their instruction.

Averett's music faculty and education students are working directly with the children and instruments once a week at the various childcare sites. They leave daily lesson plans and tip sheets for ECE teachers to reinforce that session's learning throughout the rest of the week during daily lessons and play. This strategy enhances early childhood development and teachers' knowledge in a new delivery outreach model.

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