Mindful Music Warm-Ups – “Tuning In”
By Abigail Barrett, Music Teacher & Instructional Supervisor
Education Through Music-Los Angeles
April 27, 2022
Out of my eight years in education, this year has been the most unique. After being remote learners for nearly two years, students are still acclimating back into the classroom setting or embarking on their first ever classroom experience. I currently teach general music to students in grades TK-2. These young students have had to become very adaptable to keep up with the rapidly changing environment. Students began the year full of energy, eager to learn, and fully focused with smiling eyes hiding behind their face masks. As we reached the mid-year mark, students and teachers alike seemed to be fatigued. Some students lost focus, others struggled with behavior, while others either languished in energy or did not know how to channel their energy.
According to the article, “Children’s mental health is in crisis” published in the American Psychological Association, a 2020 survey of parents around the country facilitated by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago cited that 71% of parents said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health. And from March 2020 to October 2020, mental health–related emergency department visits increased 24% for children ages 5 to 11 and 31%…compared with 2019 emergency department visits, according to CDC data (Leeb, R. T., et al., Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 69, No. 45, 2020).
I found myself digging deeper into my “teacher bag of tricks” to boost energy and capture their attention. I shortly found out that many of my methods were not effective, and trying to keep up with their mis-directed energy left me extremely exhausted by the end of the day. At the end of one particularly exhausting day, I had an “Aha!” moment. Rather than meeting their energy, focus it; bring their tired minds into a mindful space by slowing down the pace and giving them a quick break from the high demands of their ever-changing new experiences.
The next day, I began my classes with a short Mindful Music Warm-Ups – “Tuning In”. Immediately, I could feel the energy shift among the entire class. Every student was engaged and able to focus their energy into the warm-up. Once the warm-up was over, students maintained their focused energy for the rest of the class. This is now one of my favorite and most effective tools for student engagement, and certainly one I can use at home with my own children, too.
Mindful Music Warm-Up – “Tuning In”
Focus Group: TK-5
Time: 4-5 minutes
1. Select a soothing instrumental track to play quietly in the background.
2. Start in a seated position with legs criss-crossed with both hands out to one side.
3. Raise your arms outwards and upwards towards the sky, making a rainbow shape as you take a big rainbow breath in. Hold for 4 seconds and exhale on “Ahh”. Repeat steps as you exhale on all the vowels (A- E- I- O- U).
4. On final breath, freeze at the top of the rainbow and begin with touch and sound focus. Start with a light tap on the top of the head, “Tippity TA – Tippity TA” (2 times) (Note 1). Make it a rhythmic tap as you say and tap simultaneously. Move the sound downwards to the nose, as you say and lightly tap, “NOH no-no NOH no-no” (2 times) (Note 2). Ask students to pay attention to how the sound and vibrations are produced. Move further down to a quiet sound on the chin, as you say and lightly tap, “CHHH Ch–ch CHHH Ch–ch”
(2 times) (Note 3).
5 Rub your hands together slowly to begin creating the sound of rain with your fingertips and palms. Begin with light taps on alternating palms, then begin to snap, then light pats on your lap to make the rain grow heavier and heavier. Then, gradually do the reverse to make the rain ease up and stop.
6. Finally, cup your hands and slowly flatten them on the ground as if to plant a seed. Talk about how the rain we just made, with a little bit of sun, will help the tree grow.
7. Start to stand up slowly, acting as though you – the tree – are growing stronger and taller until you are tall with arms stretched out wide.
8. From there we make sure our feet are rooted in the ground, our shoulders are up, back, and down, and we are nice and tall – warmed up and ready to sing!
NOTES – Making Deeper Connections to Musical Concepts: