Category Archives: nursery placement

With a little help from my friends… An open invitation!

An Open Invitation: ‘With a little help from my friends’





P1100298Dalai Lama

Thursday 29th August

St Andrews Church, Queen’s Terrace, St Andrews



Cello suites/Scottish Music/Surprise!!

Who, me?

Who, me?

You will need:



Your ears!

The plan:


The charities:

Heisenberg (Jill Craig)


Families First (St Andrews)

Sistema Scotland/In Harmony

Arts in Fife/Dundee

Drake Music Scotland

Music in Hospitals

Military Wives Choir (Gareth Malone)

Scottish Ensemble {insert group here}

Rokpa/Tibetan Children’s Villages/ICT

tibet screensaver

Brooklands College

Signpost International (Dundee)

Just Made/Gillian Gamble



Pragya (India)

RSPCA/RSPB/Big cat rescue

SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!! Answers on a post card to: Jess Long!


Community Music 1: final placements (5th and 6th May)

Sadly, our time with Woodside Nursery is drawing to a close. For our final sessions, we have chosen to go to the nursery on 2 consecutive days, with the Thursday being a refresher session and the Friday a ‘sharing session’ so that we can showcase what we have been working on with the children to their parents, teachers and to the CM1 staff. (These sessions are being assessed as part of our coursework.)

“Refresher Session”: Thursday 5th May,with 2 groups of about 15 children

We started as always with the Hello song (lead by me) and Hickety Tickety (Alison) – the kids in both groups were very enthusiatic and sang both songs very well , which was impressive as our last session was some time ago. We are using material familiar to the children for the sessions, as it is all stuff that we know they enjoy – they particularly love jumping up and down and doing actions for songs like ‘Cracker Jack’.

Here is the plan for both the session today and the one tomorrow:

  1. Hello Song (sitting) – Jess
  2. Hickety Tickety – Alison
  3. Have you Brought – Liz
  4. Cracker jack (with actions/jumps!) – Liz
  5. Ally Bally – Jess
  6. Angel fish (with a fish puppet) – Alison
  7. Pease Pudding (with actions for hot, cold, pot and 9 days old)
  8. Bear game (with chimes/bells for goldilocks, and claves played forte, mezzo forte and piano for Big Bear, Middle Bear and Baby Bear) – Liz
  9. Reading the Goldilocks Story with instruments – Alison
  10. ‘Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear’ rhyme with movements – Alison (I remember this one from my childhood!)
  11. Goodbye Song (standing in a circle) – all of us

We all had lots of fun today as the kids were full of energy and sang with very loud voices and loads of smiles – it was lovely to see them so happy, and see so much improvement in the quiet ones. The best moment for me was when we had finished with the first group and they were lining up at the door: suddenly about 15 little voices in unison shouted ‘GOODBYE!!’, and they all waved at us happily – aww… 🙂

Term 2 placements at Woodside nursery

This term we are continuing to work with children at Woodside nursery (near St George’s Cross). Our theme for the term is ‘storytelling’: introducing an element of music into a well known children’s story to bring it alive for the children.

So far we have done a total of 4 placements this term (even though it is week 6 – how did that happen?), and I have been to 3 of these. Our placement team consists of Liz Lawton (flute, 2nd year), myself and Alison Miller (Violin, 2nd year).

Our first placement, back in January, was basically a recap of what we did last term, with a few old favourites (Apple tree, which the kids love) and a lovely wee song we composed in class called ‘Angel Fish’ which goes like this:

‘Hello I’m the Angel Fish , darling,
The prettiest thing in the sea
What a shame there are no other creatures
As gorgeous and lovely as me!’

The words are from ‘Commotion in the Ocean’ and Alison and Liz supplied the tune.

The most recent two placements (18.2.11 and 22.2.11) have been more focused on storytelling, with our story being Goldilocks and the 3 Bears (we consulted the nursery to find out which story the kids were currently doing and they suggested Goldilocks). We’ve been trying to get the children used to the concept of dynamics, by associating each size of bear in the story (Big Bear, Middle Bear and Small/Baby Bear*) with a dynamic – ie loud, medium, and soft. This has been helped by using 3 different sized cuddly toy bears as visual aids, and last placement Liz and I played a game where she held a bear up and we taught the children to make the different volumes of sounds using drums, shakers, claves and castanets. I then read the story to them (so much fun!) and we asked them to play the right sound whenever the big/middle/baby bear was mentioned. Using props encourages the children to focus on the physical teddy bears and therefore help with their imagination/concentration/association, as they get quiet bored when listening to the story!

Next week we will attempt to teach the children the Goldilocks song – have a listen here!

*We are told not to call the bears ‘Mummy bear’ and ‘Daddy bear’ as some of the kids may come from backgrounds where this may upset them. Can’t decide whether this is political correctness or a sensible precaution…

Placement 3 -19.11.10


This week we had 2 groups of about 15 children, mostly non British (and of these, mostly Chinese) except for one or two in each group. I wondered how the British children felt about this now that they were the minority, or is it just normal for them? Generally this session (the fourth week that we have come to the school- I missed one) the children were more confident, and as usual even the more reticent ones were joining in by the end of the sessions. The sweetest thing is when you ask a child who is not joining in to participate, and they say firmly that they can’t, and then a few minutes later you notice them doing it!

We used mostly repeated material from the previous weeks but with one new song/game – Fiona’s ‘Apple tree’ song which goes like this:

Apple tree, apple tree

Will your apple fall on me?

I won’t scream, I won’t shout

If your apple knocks me out!

The children sit in a circle and a toy apple is passed round in time to the beat. Whoever is holding the apple when the word ‘out’ is sung is out of the game, and in our version they got to go and sit with one of us and play instruments (such as drums and shakers) in time to the beat, which they really enjoyed and which helped develop their sense of rhythm.

We also repeated Liz’s crackerjack song (with actions) which again proved very popular as it gave the kids a chance to jump about and move around a bit which helps to use up their extra energy. Most of the time they are very happy to sit in a circle for half an hour which I am really impressed by – I’m not sure I could have done that when I was four! Most children took part and only one girl didn’t do the actions.

Our order this week was:

o   Hello song – this time standing up with hands joined in a circle (Alison)

o   Hickety Tickety name song (me)

o   Have you brought… (Fiona)

o   Apple Tree (Alison)

o   Horsey Horsey (me)

o   Cracker jack crack, standing with actions  (liz)

o   Goodbye song (liz)

Each of us got to lead a song twice which was good – I’m still feeling self conscious when I lead in front of the children and the other students and teachers, but at least I know that I can do it and get the children to respond when I ask them to sing something. Horsey horsey was great this week, with the children singing quite loudly, and we did lots of versions: a really quiet one, a loud one, and 2 versions with different instruments (claves and castenets) to imitate the horses’ hooves. From what I can tell and their body language, I think most of the children enjoy their musical sessions, as several are becoming very enthusiastic and one in particular is incredibly cute when he smiles J  I’m not sure how our sessions contrast with the rest of what they do at nursery but I hope it’s a nice change for them!

In both groups there was one child who didn’t sit still and distracted the others by moving around, not doing what they were asked, and the teacher had to ask them to behave – I’m not really sure how to approach this, as I don’t feel that we are in a position of enough authority to react strongly to misbehaving. But overall, it was a very good session – I was completely shattered afterwards!

Placement 2, 29.10.10: Halloween Party!

This was a very sweet session, as the nursery had gone to a real effort to provide an exciting Halloween environment for the kids- the rooms were decorated with pumpkin lanterns which the children had made and other Halloween decorations, and the staff had all dressed up, some quite impressively (think false nails and false pink eyelashes!) Most of the children had dressed up too, and there were some spectacular costumes including lots of princesses, wondergirl, Super Mario, a cowgirl and some pumpkins. The children were obviously excited by special occasion and this showed through in our lessons, but rather than being destructive excitement, it reminded me of the power of fun in learning – children are much more likely to remember something if it was associated with something they enjoyed doing, rather than something boring.

We started both sessions off with the hello song, as we will do in every session, and continued with the ‘Hickety Tickety’ name song, which some remembered, but some had not been there the previous week. What I found enormously rewarding was that one child in each group managed to sing the tune back correctly with their name, on their own, whereas the previous week none had had the confidence to, with most others simply saying  their name shyly. I hope as we progress through the term that more and more children will have the confidence to try singing on their own-something which is difficult and scary for even most adults.

The rest of the sessions consisted of mostly new material including 5 little pumpkins (rhyme), ten little bats (sung to the tune of 10 green bottles with the children running round the room until they were tapped and one by one sat down), Pumpkin Pumpkin, Halloween’s Coming, Jelly on a Plate, and one song which we taught them last week- Chop, Chop, Choppety Chop, but this time making ‘Halloween Soup’ with spiders, rats and slime!  What doing the new material with the kids highlighted was the need for proper preparation and the ability to know the words by heart in order to teach them– in some cases, we had only agreed to include the song just before the session and so most of us didn’t know the words (the exception to this was Fiona, who fortunately displayed exceptional memory skills!) Children can tell instantly when you’re not prepared and it’s quite embarrassing struggling for words in front of a class of fifteen five year olds… Also, there was a lack of communication between the nursery staff and us as to what the children had been taught, as during one session the children kept asking to sings they had been taught but which we didn’t know, which we got around by asking them to sing the song to us which worked well. The final thing we could have done better was keeping an eye on the time: we ended up with one very long session and one very short one, as we didn’t know that the kids had a Halloween party meal arranged for the half hour before our session ended.

However, I felt overall that the session was a very positive one and a powerful learning experience for both us and the kids. One positive thing that I took away from the session was a comment from the head teacher just as we were about to leave – she said that some of the kids had been singing the ‘aye, aye’ part of the hello song to each other after they had left our session. This left me feeling very privileged to be part of teaching these children in what was probably one of their very first experiences of music and singing.