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.

Repetition and Variety


Dear ECMMA friends,

This is the last post about the principles of Dr. Gordon making the case for an excellent repertoire of music for children to listen to in order to develop their music aptitudes.
I choose to write about the last two - repetition and variety - together, just because they could sound one the opposite of the other.
I truly believe that educators and parents should just observe the children to understand what they need to grow and develop their aptitudes and competences.
Their behaviour “speaks” to us but often adults do not listen and observe it.

About repetition: a child who is seated on her high-chair  plays with the mother's keys. She shakes, bangs, and at last the keys flay away from her hands randomly. She will be enthusiastic about the noise of the keys on the floor, and even more if they will hit other objects on the way to the floor. As soon as the mother will place the keys back on his high chair he will repeat the action again and again. Piaget calls these actions circular reactions and they show how much repetition is a natural need of children to learn.
I have in my ears the little voices of children when after a song they say “Again!”.
I teach in Italy and they say “Ancora.” I teach in Germany and the say “Noch mals."
This is a need they have and - because nothing in the child behaviour is without a deep reason - is also something fundamental to the learning process.

For sure, children during their early childhood are also really attracted by variety.
They look or crawl and later walk around, always looking for something new and different.
Dr. Gordon says that “you don’t know what something is until you know what is not”. This is the principle of Discrimination learning. The recognition of differences is a prelude to knowledge.  And again looking to a very young child, a newborn for example, we see focus of her attention to new stimuli.They are not easily distracted. Rather, they refocus their attention.
The newborn body grows with milk; the newborn mind grows with significative experiences and stimuli that are perceived within the senses.
She seems to be getting to know it! She observes, touches, takes to the mouth, bangs against the floor or the table... then she seems to “meet” a new object by chance, and the cycle starts again - observation, touching, taking to the mouth, banging etc.

When we lead musical meetings (I really don’t like to call them “classes”) for very young children with parents we know that variety is also very important to maintain the attention on our singing. If I sing 3 o 4 songs, all in major/duple and with a similar tempo, I will see the children look for other interesting stimuli in the room. If we sing in different tonalities (modes) and meters their reaction will be really different in attention and focusing.
When I lead the special concerts addressed to very young children (0 -2) I follow exactly the same philosophy. We play real music for them but I keep it brief (often cutting long pieces in a musically significant way), and varied.  Variety is crucial to keep the attention of hundreds of babies and children. Sayng “to keep” I do not intend that they could “loose” their attention but just that they could focus it to something else (visual or tactile).
Instead of having them exploring the space around them, looking for “differences” to discriminate, we are changing the the music frequently to keep them listening. 

This video shows some of what I have in mind.

Thank you
Andrea Apostoli


Dorothy Simonis Denton Mansfield Jan 26, 2012

THANK YOU> I really enjoy the evocative “musical meeting!”
dorothy denton

Movement Matters Feb 01, 2012

What a lovely concert! Perhaps in a future post you could tell us more about how you create and choreograph such an event. I am particularly interested in how you transition from piece to piece.
I did notice that one child had his hands over his ears . . . another interesting topic might be “Intensity” - when is it too much for young children?
thanks again for your thought-provoking posts!
Eve Kodiak

"Miss Carole" Stephens Feb 05, 2012

Thank you for sharing the video.  I will be in Italy at the end of March - are you doing concerts in Rome or Florence then?

Marilyn Lowe Springfield Feb 19, 2012

Thank you, Andrea, for sharing your years of experience and insights.

Gari R Stein Ann Arbor Feb 20, 2012

Wonderful. Beautiful. I have seen your work before and love, love, love it
Would love to see more, more, more again and again.
I partner with the Ann Arbor Symphony doing concerts for very young. We love doing them. But your style is muy simpatico. Bravo. Thank you. Thank you.

Marie Alberti-Thomson Feb 26, 2012

Marie Alberti-Thomson Springfield:  Many years ago you were giving a workshop at the University - then SMS and now MSU.  I have your first book and though not having read all of it, still enjoy parts and definitely enjoy and agree with your philosophy.  Have just retired from 50 years of teaching music, but still learning. wink  My last few years I also enjoyed using parts of Marilyn Lowe’s new method.  Marilyn and I enjoyed entertaining in our homes, members of the Suzuki World Tour children a ‘few’ years back.  Keep up the good work and mentor, mentor, mentor!  Alberti

Susan Seale Mar 04, 2012

Thank you for posting your video!  I too am very interested in the preparations for such an event.  What beautiful filming:)

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