S.P.A.C.E. For Music – Musical Skills

What are the essential “ingredients” of an early childhood music session? As an early years music specialist with a particular interest in movement in learning music, I love the concept of SPACE, so used it as an acronym for the skills that develop in music sessions. One of my first articles looked at the life skills and benefits of holding music sessions for children in nurseries and early childhood using the acronym, S.P.A.C.E.: Social, Physical, Academic, Creative, Emotional. Today we are going to look at the musical activities that can be used to create a successful early childhood music session, using the same S.P.A.C.E. acronym, this time for Sing, Play, Act, Create, Explore.


Many children respond positively to singing. From infancy, singing has been shown to reduce infant distress, neonatal crying and infantile colic, while improving their movement, heart rate, auditory memory and mental health (Gebuza et al., 2018) . Singing could actually be considered an essential pre-requisite for any early childhood music session, and thankfully, many early years childhood experts recognise this.

We sing before we play on the instruments because:

Singing provides immediate feedback and shows understanding.

Singing is a powerful and effective way to involve children in making music. This is because it is engaging and inclusive. Musically, the ability to sing songs, or even sing the notes before you put them on an instrument, makes instrumental play vastly easier. Getting into that habit in early childhood is a skill for life. Musically, too, singing provides immediate feedback on whether or not children are listening and can understand and respond accurately – you can hear immediately whether a child is singing too high or low, too loud or quiet. Games involving matching notes helps the brain to develop the awareness needed to sing in tune.


Play is children’s work, and many cultures accept that play is a natural and essential aspect to not only childhood but all through life. In childhood, play involves repeating common or significant events to which children can explore and respond. Usually these will be based on family life, going to school, doctors or shopping, and culturally significant celebrations.

We play games and instruments every time because:

Games are fun and easily hold attention because you have to respond immediately.

Games teach self-control. Only if you can control your responses and reactions, then you can join in, and even win. Games teach the players about following rules, and “other-mindedness”, or becoming aware of the way others think. Musical games often involve sequential movements or dances, with no winners or losers, but focus on turn-taking, sequences and pattern-recognition – important life skills. Musically, they teach timing, the value and effects of silence, and orchestral or co-operative working.


Acting allows children to explore different types of people, unfamiliar situations, and express a wide range of emotions in a safe, non-judgemental place for a brief period. Knowing that people will return to who they were before can allow children to express extreme emotions and experience the results of these emotions for a brief period without long lasting consequences.

We act out the story or characters because:

Acting develops empathy and helps to develop subtle changes in dynamics like loud and quiet.

Acting is a non-threatening form of game that develops empathy. As a human being, empathy is an important skill that allows us to manage our expectations of others’ actions. As a musician, this is even more important as it allows us the ability to experience and bring across the emotions and intentions of the music, making it an emotive experience that touches our audience.


Creating music is the point of music: the doing, the living-in-the-moment experience of making something (music) out of nothing (silence). Some people only recognise the formal performance, but the joy of creating music is in the learning, the repeated rehearsals, the exploration of timings and volumes, creating moods and the expression of feelings that go beyond words.

We create our own music because:

Understanding and creating original music shows true musicality.

Creating is any act of making music, whether learning a new song, or performing it for an audience. At nursery level, children naturally live in the moment, so the concept of learning a song and perfecting it through repeated rehearsals towards a performance can be challenging and may just seem to be a different way or place to play. The process of controlling those notes and beats through singing, drumming or strumming, turns children into music creators.


Exploring music could be music appreciation or “improvisation”. Improvisation is making up new music, which takes the process of learning music full circle. Improvisation uses newly learnt musical skills in a new situation, either by creating a new song or by using the skill in a new and creative way.

We explore new ways to make sounds because:

Improvisation is the ability to respond musically to a feeling or story.

Exploring music can be looking at the way a song has been made, or it can be creating a brand new song – like improvisation. Improvisation can be a whole new song with a made-up tune, or just part of the song could have a made-up tune. At nursery level, children may not have the skill to make up a song that they could repeat, but they do have the confidence and creativity to make up part of a song on the spur of the moment.

Introducing music at the preschool/nursery level is considered essential because of the important part that music plays in life. Used to celebrate all important life events, it is also an expression of individuals, common life experiences, and collectively, even a comment on society. So while we are not delivering music sessions with the intention of every child becoming a musician, we are teaching musical skills so that every child, every citizen, can experience the profound impact that music can have on life.


Gebuza, G., Zaleska, M., Kažmierczak, M., Mieczkowska, E., & Gierszewska, M. (2018). The effect of music on the cardiac activity of a fetus in a cardiotocographic examination. Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine, 27(5), 615–621. https://doi.org/doi: 10.17219/acem/68693

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At Musicaliti, we believe that every child has the potential to become a musician. Our S.P.A.C.E. program helps unlock your child’s musical potential by building five essential musical skills: Sing, Play, Act, Create, and Explore. Through our carefully designed curriculum, your child will gain a deeper understanding of music while developing social, physical, academic, creative, and emotional skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. Join our S.P.A.C.E. program today and watch your child’s love for music soar!

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