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.



Silence is something that no longer exists for many children and adults in our society.

When even the last song plays on the radio, or the television is no longer on, or cell phone ringtone would be not present, we still wouldn’t have real silence.
That “invisible” (excuse me for the pun) sound that comes out from the air conditioning engines or ventilators or refrigerators is always there... Always.
I think that we could compare the effect that background sound makes to music listening, to the effect the lights of a city or even a small village makes to an astronomer who tries to observe the stars with a telescope.

Often when I am teaching a workshop to preschool teachers, after a while I am emphasizing that Listening is fundamental to music listening, someone comes up with: “Yes I agree. In fact in our preschool the HI FI is always on playing songs for the children”.
I answer usually:  “Always rhymes with never”. Yes, always with never and “all” with “nothing” (again a pun... Excuse me).

Try to ask to a Supermarket cashier: “How can you stand all day with this music in the ears?”. I do it often and I always have the same answer... “Ah!, You know that if you were not reminding me I really wouldn’t be hearing it.”
They don’t say “listening to” but “hearing”.
The same happens to people that live in a big city.
During the night down in the street ambulances, drunk people, young people with the loud music on in their cars... And they sleep.
When they go to visit a friend who lives in a countryside, during the night... Silence. And they cannot sleep. Because the silence is unusual to them. When the friend comes to sleep at their house in the big city, he or she cannot sleep.
Our brain does not isolate sounds that are familiar and that do not make any relevant change in our life. At the same time, any new sound is very important because that could mean something to pay attention to, to learn or to escape from.

Silence is to music listening and learning  what a white sheet of paper is for drawing.

This year with real joy I was asked from the National Santa Cecilia Academy to cure and conduct 12  Ad.agio concerts. Adagio in Italian has a double meaning. One is the musical one: slow. The other is “comfortable”.
Ad.agio is a format I created to let people (adults in these concerts) listen to music in a different way - on a big carpet on the floor, with the musicians around them.

I am sure that one of the keys of Ad.agio success is that I ask at the beginning not to clap at the end of the pieces, but instead, after 1 hour and half at the very end of the concert.
In that way between the different pieces we have silence and the people can more carefully listen to music that doesn’t lead to a judgment and to a clapping.
During those concerts I see often people with tears on their faces.

Thank you
Andrea Apostoli


Dara Sep 24, 2011

Che bel pensiero sul concerto adagio! Mi capita spesso di avere i miei studenti di ascoltare musica in classe, proprio permettendo loro di abituarsi veramente ascoltare e sentire. Spesso, gli studenti sono sorpreso dal modo in cui questa attività li fa sentire. Sono amare le parole che state scrivendo! E non vedo l’ora al tuo post successivo. Grazie.

In English:
What a beautiful thought about the adagio concert!  I often have my students listen to music in class, just allowing them to get used to really listening and hearing.  Often, the students are surprised by how this activity makes them feel.  I am loving the words you are writing!  And i look forward to your next post.  Thank you.

Marilyn Lowe Sep 24, 2011

How nicely you express the need for and the beauty of silence. Listening purposefully brings joy and delight, because one can actually hear what is happening in the music. I saw a wonderful video of one of your Ad.agio concerts and love how the little children are free to respond with movement or voice. Beautiful for all in attendance! Thank you for sharing.

Movement Matters Sep 25, 2011

Welcome, Andrea! Thank you for your reflections upon THE most important aspect of music - and life! Silence, as you express it, is really not the absence of sound, it is a state of being.
A couple of days ago, I had the privilege of sharing a couple of hours with Paul Winter and about 75 artist/educators at a NECAP conference. I am always struck the way Paul begins his playing - gently blowing air through his horn, incrementally increasing the strength of the breath, until a tone emerges. It is such a deep demonstration of how sound is born, and then returns, to silence.
Here is a link to an article (“Extending the Silence” is 3rd down in the list) written after a different improvisation workshop, with David Darling and Music for People. It is a series of questions and vignettes about different aspects of silence.

jennifer schramm Sep 29, 2011

I experienced a workshop at AOSA with Paul Winter last year that was similar to Ada.gio but the 4 musicians were in the center and the rest of the educators in the darkened room were surrounding them on the floor.  It made us more away of our senses as we discussed the improvisations.
In my early childhood classrooms I have used a simple yoga pose called “the pose of the child” for years as a way for the children to experience silence.  They listen to their own breathing and are calmed as they lay on the floor in this position. Sometimes we use it when we first come in or as a transition when the children are done moving.  I also use it as a time when we shut everything out to listen to music selection.  I say “pose of the child” and the students tuck their knees under their tummies and lay their foreheads in their palms.  This stretches out the child’s muscles and teaches them about self calming.  It also gives them a space to be silent in a never ending cycle of sound that takes place in their school environment.

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