Pam Pam – Songs without words & Pam pam 2 – Tribute to Edwin E. Gordon
Quarteto Gordon for young children
The tracks included in these CDs are melodic and rhythmic songs without lyrics, sung with neutral syllables and exclusively a cappella, i.e. without instrumental accompaniment.
Some of these songs have been specifically composed to be included in the repertoire of music-education activities based on the Music Learning Theory (MLT) by Edwin E. Gordon.
Others, instead, are arrangements of “classical pieces” by various composers, periods and styles, which were recorded by Quarteto Gordon musicians and educators according to the MLT guidelines.
Edwin E. Gordon and the Music Learning Theory
The Music Learning Theory was developed by the musician, music educator and researcher, Edwin E. Gordon (USA, 1927-2015). Based on his several-decade-long research on music psychology, this theory explains how human beings learn music from birth.
The results published by Gordon and observations in the field allow us to state that our potential for musical learning is innate. Even before birth, we all have a potential disposition towards music. This learning potential can be transformed into real knowledge when stimulated from early childhood.
In order for this to happen, children need to be helped at an early stage to develop a relationship with the musical language, which should take place and be fostered in a natural, enriching and effective way.
The importance of shared listening
One of the easiest and most relevant tools to promote musical learning is the listening experience.
For this reason, it is essential to foster a culture of shared musical listening, in which adults —parents, caregivers or educators— act as mediators offering children interesting and enjoyable musical listening experiences (see some practical suggestions below).
While learning to speak, children’s listening experience implies paying attention to adults speaking with a rich, complex and varied vocabulary, which they apply to each and every different communicative context.
Similarly, while they discover and learn the musical language, children should be able to listen to a wide variety of musical contexts and content —from the simplest to the most complex ones—, different styles, genres and expressive varieties.
Sung music, without instruments…
Singing is the simplest, easy-to-use and instinctive tool adults informally employ to musically express themselves with children.
In order to help them learn the musical language in the most effective way, children need to receive certain stimuli from listening, allowing them to sequentially acquire some skills, such as intonation and sense of rhythm. These are closely related to the development of musical thinking, which Gordon called “audiation”.
When children are shown these skills by adults by means of a singing voice model — analogously to the spoken voice in the case of language—, it is possible to see how instinctively predisposed they are to establish a musical dialogue with adults. Such dialogue begins with an exchange of glances, with silent attention and attraction until when children start to create motor and vocal responses.
… and without words
Children have an instinctive attraction towards verbal language in their early childhood. Gordon’s studies have shown that using songs without lyrics allows them to focus more on music content during music-education activities.
This does not mean that shared listening with instrumental music or songs with lyrics is not important for children. All quality music is a relevant stimulus. The more varied and rich the musical experiences children live with adults, the more will those experiences constitute a cultural heritage they will benefit from during their whole life!
When singing songs without lyrics to children, they are given the opportunity to recognize the human singing voice sung in a deep and clear way. This stimulates their desire to embrace the musical dialogue through voice, a tool they already own and can easily use.
However, listening and singing without lyrics are not so common experiences. Most adults have lost the good habit of singing to children. Partially for these reasons, singing without lyrics is the main tool we use in our music-education activities addressed to early childhood. We decided to record this CD with strictly vocal arrangements just to share this basic tool with parents, educators and adult audiences in general.
Short, diverse, complex pieces
We know that very young children’s attention can be very deep, but it generally does not dwell on the same object or stimulus for a very long time.
For this reason, the songs included in this CD are short but have different and varied musical contexts and content.
This variety is achieved through songs that contain different musical material: modalities, meters, styles and expressive resources.
This way children’s attention will be stimulated by the alternation of different musical contexts, and this variety will help them to informally recognize the differences in the wealth of the musical language and to develop audiation.
Young children often feel at ease and confident when they listen with adults to simple music, such as, for example, traditional children’s songs. In order for the listening experience to be triggered and the learning processes to take place in an effective and productive way, children need to have been in touch and acquainted with more complex musical content since their first months of life.
The selection of the pieces and arrangements created for this CD aims to act as an educational example of how to organize musical material, from the mere exposure to melodies up to the most complex harmonic and rhythmic results. It is meant to foster a type of listening in children that gradually combines parts with the whole, while considering their listening and learning needs.
Shared listening: practical tips
Taking into account all details provided in the previous sections, we would like to recommend some ideas to adults —parents, caregivers, educators— so they can use this CD as a useful resource to enrich children’s musical listening.
- Try to create moments dedicated specifically to listening to music together. In order to do so, find a small area and free it from pieces of furniture, toys and other items that could reduce the attention paid to listening. This space needs to be quiet and to allow a good freedom of movement. You can sit on the floor or on a warm and firm surface.
- Select some tracks of the CD (you do not have to listen to it all at once!). Just start with a small repertoire by listening to two or three tracks.
- While listening, remember that it is very important to stop using language: do not talk to children (who do not speak yet) or with children (who already speak). With children who already speak, silence can become a game or a little rule to be proposed before the listening time. For example, you may decide together that you can no longer speak from the moment you step into that specifically-prepared space until you leave it. From the very beginning, in order for listening to be a truly deep musical experience, you should not even mention the names of the tracks nor mention what that music could symbolically represent. Try to avoid using words to describe what you are hearing.
Keeping quiet though does not mean to stand still and expressionless during the experience of shared listening. On the contrary, while listening, everyone is free to use their body. It will be thus possible to observe in what way children will also be listening with their body and interacting with music through movement and voice responses.
This interaction can vary from motor quiet and silence to space exploration with movement and spontaneous speech production.
Enjoy that beautiful moment in which both children and yourself discover listening and the relationship with music.
We have presented and present with great joy our first CD with the main goal of sharing with children and adults the following hope and wish: that everyone could live the experience of musical listening based on its immense intrinsic value, i.e. the ability to get in touch with the wonderful expressive language of music.
In particular, we dedicate this achievement to Professor Edwin E. Gordon, who is our source of motivation and inspiration thanks to his continuous and exciting work, who fosters our know-how every day by means of the practical and theoretical knowledge and skills he offered us with his brilliant Music Learning Theory.
We would like to express our gratitude to Audiation Institute and Silvia Biferale for the huge personal and professional support constantly received from them during all these years in which we have been engaged in disseminating the MLT in Brazil.
Technical data sheet
Nine (Aline Romeiro)
PierE (Pier Elisa Campus)
Foffo (Arnolfo Borsacchi)
Wlad (Wlad Mattos)
Mixing and mastering
Wlad Mattos, Cassio Martim (Pro-Studio) and Arnolfo Borsacchi
MusicaMobile – Cultura e Interação
Maria Elisa Flores and Valeria Dantas
IEGAM – Instituto Edwin E. Gordon de Aprendizagem Musical
Registered at Pro-Studio, São Paulo (SP), Brazil
between January 6th and 12th, 2012