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Spontaneous, glorious, multisensory life

Updated: May 29

What happens when you put jazz together with art and communication?

As I write, the wind is swirling round my home. It is raining heavily and spring seems so far away. What to do, but to find joy in bringing multiple senses alive to re-ignite energy, lift the spirits and bring spontaneous creativity into the day. I put on a rendition of Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald.

Children playing drums
Music & Movement class at Music House for Children

Jazz's origins are rooted in the present, living moment, imbued with spontaneity, complex harmonies, often heading in unpredictable directions, and based entirely on individual translation. Babies are a living embodiment of what jazz is.

Babies respond to their immediate environment, their needs and the people around them. Within a safe framework - i.e. their basic needs are met, and in the context of relative routines - babies investigate, challenge, command, consider and reflect in multi-sensory ways. This means they look, feel, utter sounds, move and create as a consequence of direct experience and established structural framework. It sounds complicated, doesn't it? It is meant to! 

Summertime is sung by many great singers including Willie Nelson, Lana Del Ray, Norah Jones and Sam Cooke, amongst many others. Despite being essentially the same song and melody each interpretation evokes different responses, moods, emotion and action. Consider responses by babies then, in the context of early life experiences. As with jazz enabling spontaneous exploration, reflection, curiosity, interaction (with others), risk (safe) and emotional variety all form part of the great building blocks of early development. Imagine a young child simply existing. Isn't that just the most impossible idea?

Live musical experiences provide a joyful platform for our children to engage, reflect and respond using different sensory mechanisms. Facilitating musical moments strengthens audio discrimination (the frequency and whereabouts of sound). They compel vocal and physical responses, provide a fabulous backdrop to visual or artistic play (think toys, fabric and natural resources - leaves, etc) and nurtures shared communication and experiences. 

Put on a little jazz. Listen. Then listen again. Did you respond in the same way? Try the same with your child. Choose a favourite song or piece of music and watch to see how your child captures, harnesses, then responds to the same piece of music played again. 

This month we celebrate World Art Day (15th April), English Language Day (25th April) and International Jazz Day (30th April). What better way to do so then to provide the following for your children and babies:

A large piece of lining paper and crayons

A glorious jazz song

Space and time 

All you have to do is enable, engage, withdraw, observe and be in wonder of your children. 

The wind has strewn the dark clouds in fractured heaps across the sky. The sun has burst out. I'm off to play something on the piano. I've no idea what but it will be a little jazzy, a little fun and completely spontaneous. 

Happy April!  

© Emma Hutchinson 

April 2024

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