Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Scenes from YOUR Childhood

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I got my start in piano improvisation playing for children’s music classes. It was fantastic training. First of all, kids are not polite. If you get their attention, you know it. And you also know it if you don’t.

Second of all, when you are playing for children, you can immediately see the effect of your musical energy reflected in their movement. I learned how to play flying music that actually made kids feel like flying, horse-riding music that made them want to gallop, quiet music that made them want to lie down and close their eyes. If I didn’t, they didn’t, and class was kind of a bust. And there were a lot of those classes when I was starting out!

My “Spaceship Game” from the book/CD set Feelin’ Free was created in desperation one day, when I had a class of five rambunctious boys. I had to find a way to catch their attention! And give them a lot of musical signals to follow – crouching on their launching pads for the countdown, blasting off, flying through space, landing on an interesting planet, and then moving the way creatures on that planet moved. We had rubber planets for bouncing and watery planets for swimming and hot planets for running and every other kind of planet you could imagine.

The “Magic Forest” stories from Feelin' Free were invented on the fly as well. I needed a way to get kids walking (my Dalcroze roots are showing here!), moving in different ways (through different levels, tempi, meters, and energies), and then back to walking again. So I created some special walking music and told stories about what the children were doing in their “magic forest” that day. I’d start the story by asking for suggestions of things to put into the story. Princesses, dragons, trains, horses, hamburgers (really!)

My only rule was, no superheroes or identifiable characters from movies or TV (now, that would include video games).I found that, if the character was part of a screen experience, that it severely reduced the imaginative capacity. That character would have to behave in a certain way, and perhaps be associated with and there could be arguments about what that way was. It’s not a problem with giants and ogres and unicorns and so forth, because there are lots of these in the folk tradition, and no one has the last word on how they act. If you haven’t seen it on a screen (or at Disneyworld), the screen is your own mind. And there can be no arguments about that! Try it – any instruments will do. The kids will love to act out your music, and  you’ll get a really good idea of what communicates and what doesn’t.

I’ve done various concerts for grown-ups and others, based on this children’s model. A favorite of mine is to play Schumann’s Scenes from Childhood, and demonstrate the different elements of Schumann’s childhood memories – playing tag, pleading for cookies, riding the rocking horse, and so on. Then I ask the audience to give me some titles based on their own memories – and make up a suite on the spot!

It’s fun, and grown-ups are just as excited to hear you play their “suggestions” as children are. Here’s a video I’ve just uploaded from a Monadnock Music Festival Concert, given at the Town House in Peterborough NH. The piano was gorgeous, and the New Hampshire Arts Council had given me an "Artist's Entrepreneurial Grant" to have a 3 camera shoot of the event. What a luxury!

There were some challenging requests that particular afternoon. An actor from the Peterborough Players was present, and he described in great detail what it was like to be tricked into getting his tonsils out. (His current role was the sadistic dentist in the Little Shop of Horrors! Maybe he was working out his traumatic past). A former “choirboy” requested that I play his experience of singing Symphony of Psalms with Stravinsky in the audience and Toscanini conducting! (That was a little intimidating, especially since I could not remember a note of the Stravinsky).

A childhood friend had come, and she asked me to play Mrs. Haley’s First Grade class. We both remembered making little farm dioramas in dirt trays, with grass seed, and the magic of watching the grass grow! That was sweet.

The school year is beginning. Maybe, for a special treat, you could your children what they would like you to play for them – princesses, dragons, best friends, dogs. It will help you get to know them.

And to get in touch with the child you used to be – and still, at heart, are.

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