Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Music’s Expanding Boundaries

Andrea Apostoli is Presidente AIGAM (Associazione Italiana Gordon per l'Apprendimento Musicale).
In this capacity, he trains and certifies dozens of Italian teachers each year in early childhood methodologies using Gordon Music Learning Theory concepts. His classes range from teacher preparation coursework, to classes for expectant parents and their preborn children, to regular parented music/movement classes, to professional concerts for parents and their preschool children. Andrea travels to the United States periodically to renew friendships with many of his Gordon Institute of Music Learning (GIML) friends.


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

Listening… A Tremendously Important Invisible Activity


“Did you like?”
“Look, the violinist is playing!”
“Ohhh listen to the flute!”

I listen to this sentences and many other when I conduct the Concerts for infants and toddlers in the Rome Auditorium and abroad.

The day before the concert I meet the parents for a conference and I say to them more or less: “This concert is FOR your children. We do not fear their spontaneous sounds, babbling and movements while we’re playing. It is instead very important that you, parents, never speak during the concert.

We will play real and not childish music.
Please, forget to be a parent and enjoy the concert.  

They look at you to feel the importance of what is happening. Think that when they fall down, before crying, they look into your eyes, and they do the same when an unknown person come’s in front of them. With your attitude you communicate to  them the meaning and the sense of what is happening.

In many years of concerts we have always seen real focused children near to really  focused parents and children very tense and distracted when their parent instead to focusing its attention and emotions to the music was constantly worried about their child attention. Be a focused adult instead being an adult constantly worried whether your child is focused or not.”

I am sure that you can believe me if I say to you that the day of the concert it is still very difficult to have all the parents really involved in the concert.

If many of them could only understand and feel that listening is something that happens in a relationship - that the child look and listen trough their eyes and their hears!

And more, listening IS an activity.

When adults see an infant that is completely focused, with big eyes in silence even not moving her body,  they often try to distract her or they say (in our early childhood music classes) “Oh, David seems to be not very involved and interested in the music class...”.

They say like that,  perhaps, because they are uncomfortable comparing their child attitude to the one other children have - moving their body and responding with their voice to the music.  We have to explain to them that listening is - as I told in the title - a tremendously important invisible activity. Through listening and observing during the first years of life the human being develops the most important competencies of their entire life.


Movement Matters Apr 27, 2012

This is so true! Parents being nervous about their children’s participation comes from many sources, I think:
1. From being worried about how they appear, whether they are being a good parent, how other people will perceive them in public if their child is making a fuss. Because they are focusing on their own reactions to their children, rather than tuning into their children, they are not really present for the child - which tends to make the children more anxious. It’s a catch-22.
2. From the fast pace of the media which is now what most people use for entertainment. When I was a child, the television images moved slowly. Now there are edits that move at MTV rates. And of course, video games, and all the things phones do these days . . . these things are uni-sensory and 2-D, they do not leave time for the imagination. People get neurologically programmed for this and can’t slow down. It’s a cultural form of ADD.
3. there is so little silence in life nowadays, people are unused to it. To listen to music, or to a child, it is necessary to listen to the silence that surrounds the sounds. This is the way we tune in, slow down, listen and learn. And if the parents do not do this for themselves, how can they model it for their children?

Gari R Stein Ann Arbor Jun 11, 2012

Parental involvement and distracting their children seems to be a universal issue. Here in Ann Arbor MI, I do a music/movement program in collaboration with the Symphony. Our concerts are geared for the youngest of our population. Before the concert, I remind the grown-ups of their role as role models. I urge them to let the children be, that observing is a valid form of participation and for them to be quiet and not talk to their little ones, so they can listen. I am always amazed when there may be a small group of adults chit chatting, or taking pictures and once, one mom talking on her phone. Yikes! How can we expect children to listen, when we are not able to. Listening is such an important skill. But in competition with our hurry up dot com world, it is a skill that needs to be taught. I love how you refer to listening as an invisible activity, happening in a relationship & the importance of listening and observing in the early years. I like to pass this information on to teachers when conducting a professional development session too. Thank you for this insight and magnificent work you do, Andrea. Gari Stein-Music For Little Folks

Carol Koch-Worrell Jun 24, 2012

I know that in Kindermusik, we view listening and participating, all as modeled activities. I do completely agree, some parents have a terrible time with this. As a mother of 5 boys, I’ll say, it is difficult to listen intently and “ride out” the noise my little ones might make while they are settling into their listening mode.
It’s similar to the time frame at home when the children ask to watch TV in between activities. They have to learn to re-settle themselves as their attention shifts from one focus to another.
I always say that if we truly knew what adults were paying attention in church, we’d appreciate the attention span of children more. Adults can sit and make no noise or movement while not really paying attention at all. (thinking of to do lists…etc..)
Most children have to move…and learn not to move as their attention varies.

kim lee Feb 18, 2013

Thanks, this is inspiring. I need to learn to be a focused mother.

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