Sound Communities is a CPD project building communities of practice in early years music and speech and language across London, Luton, Essex and East Sussex.This short video explains some more about the project and gives the opportunity to hear directly from some early years practitioners who have already taken part about their experiences and the impact for children in their settings. In this clip the children are enjoying a copycat game, an idea that has been introduced to them by an adult. However now they are making their own rules, and rather than automatically copying every idea, they are beginning to choose for themselves what gestures they like and what happens next.The leadership is shared between them, and the children are enjoying having their ideas valued, both from the adult filming, and from the rest of the group when we hear them joining in behind them. Even though the children are not talking, they are interacting non-verbally with each other, taking turns, making eye-contact and copying each other’s actions and movements. In this video we can see two children sharing attention and interacting non-verbally through their music making. We can hear a strong beat being played which is being matched when a third, younger child, briefly joins, so that all three children are confidently tapping and sharing a sense of pulse or beat. If you listen carefully every now and then you can pick up a doubling of the beat, first suggested by the boy, and then picked up by the taller of the two girls. It is this ‘double’ sound that is repeated more and more until the two older children are playing twice as fast together, joined to each other’s energy.Did you notice how when one child paused to fix his instrument then other hesitated too? Children pick up on each other’s playing behaviour and often accommodate each other during moments of change or repositioning of the instruments, regulating their behaviour as they wait for each other to join back in and see what happens next. Being able to share attention like this and tune into each other’s non-verbal cues is also an early communication skill. Can you tell if there is a leader here? They are so ‘a-tuned’ it’s difficult to tell! This clip shows a child using resources other than instruments as sound makers. Can you think of any ideas of how this child’s play could be extended? Some ideas might be… A range of beaters could be offered, so that the child can explore a wider range of sounds with the objects available Have the same resources set up on a table or outside to facilitate movement An adult could join the child in play by mirroring/imitating their actions, or extend by adding a different pattern, rhythm or object. This would also be a nice way of encouraging non-verbal communication between adult and child. In order to be able to mirror children’s playing accurately, we need to notice the details of their playing. Notice the different ways this child plays – using the beaters differently and creating different rhythms by playing double taps on certain discs. We can see in this video how the adult is following the children’s lead by imitating their actions with the instruments, matching their timing and pace, and adding relevant sounds and words that match the children’s ideas (e.g. “change!”). By doing this, she is facilitating their interaction with one another (they are taking turns and sharing spontaneously!) as well as supporting their language learning. This is a very simple ‘follow the leader’ game, a very effective game for showing children their ideas are valued and for extending connection and communication through shared gesture and eye contact. Children love to lead and have their ideas followed, and with big gestures leading with his arms this young lad is able to control the music making stopping and starting, and from loud to soft. Children will play this kind of game for much longer when an adult is involved and will extend and develop their ideas by exploring different sounds, choosing, playing and maintaining contact with the leader In this extract you can see an emerging 4 way conversation. The child is directing the adults’ musical play using single words (e.g. “go”). And a combination of gestures pointing for “go” and a hands up sign for “stop”). The child then chooses to bring the sounds together at the end and a new idea emerges, faster playing and another child joins the interaction. A community of drummers in this shared communicative and musical exchange. In this short film the child is exploring sounds and making choices that lead to the composing of a piece of music that has structure. See how he explores and sequences the sounds. Watch his face before he drops the last cluster of sticks on the drum.This child is mainly exploring sounds and objects independently, however he is allowing the adult to share attention and proximity with him while he plays, a duet or coming together in shared thinking as the adult uses the same sounds and actions to match the boy’s musical play . Can you think of any other ways the adult could join the child’s world and perhaps further encourage two-way interaction? In this extract we can see lots of exploring going on, as the child and adult natural take turns, copying and try out different sequences. This repeating back invites a musical conversation, values the child’s ideas and reinforces the connection between the two. A new idea emerges when the teacher chooses to only play the last two notes of the child’s longer phrase.This acts as a kind of musical question game leading to a new game. Communicatively, we can see how the child waits for the adult’s response each time before he plays again – much the same way we do in conversation. Moving the chime bars around into different patterns allows the game to continue and creates a visual score as the child creates their own sequences. We’ve picked this video as it’s super engaging, really well paced, is fun and has space for children to extend and develop their own ideas. Further musical qualities you can observe here include:The constant pulse heard through the sticks and seen through the practitioner’s movement Use of dynamics Interesting contrasting rhythmic sections Clear instructions, repetition of the action words and simple but effective modelling of the activity. You could encourage children’s communication in this activity through pausing/waiting for them to take a turn, offering choices, or allowing them to take the lead and add their own ideas. It rained around our way yesterday. Those of us who were at preschool enjoyed playing and exploring out in it… the water was dripping down from the gutter. It was really rhythmic. A nice little moment which we called ‘rain-water symphony’. As you might imagine, our children enjoyed using all these containers in their own exploration. The rain made beautiful sounds as children held pots under this area as they were filled up.There was lots of rhythmic play as children stomped, jumped in puddles too. The sounds got faster, altering as they ran chasing each other in wellies and wet suits, up and down our path. One little girl found a crack in the path that was channeling water into our builders’ tray. She sat in it for ages, filling her metal bowl, becoming absorbed in the process of filling her container and emptying it into the tray in which she sat.