Budapest Study Tour – Part 1

After an early departure from the hotel and a minibus trip to beyond the city, we spent the morning at the Napraforgó Kindergarten. We started the morning observing a class of 17 children aged between 3 and 7 years of age for a 45 minute session. Starting calmly with the parachute concealing a set of instruments, the children listened careful to the sounds heard compared to the instrument in their hands. Amazing responses for such young children, all in a calm manner – very much mirroring their outstanding teacher, Éva Vasvári. Other adults were in the room but a no time did they need to get involved with the session. Once the instruments were put away, the parachute was used in various ways as the children said a rhyme and expressed the beat in different ways. Throughout the class, the children sang and chanted whilst expressing the steady beat in many different ways. Known songs and rhymes were introduced in numbers guises, all reliant on musical memory and familiarity with regular repertoire. A number of group activities and dances followed, with emphasis at different times on tempo and dynamic changes and phrase lengths. The final group dance had the children inviting us to join them with me being partnered with the tiniest three year old of the group and even he was able to change directions with the rest of the group. After this, the children sat down, one six year old sang on her own and the rest of the group joined in. To finish the class, Éva sang a calm, quiet song with all the children sitting still and paying attention.

After a brief rest, we met in a separate room for a group of six more able musicians to participate in a gifted and talent session. Initially they demonstrated how they are beginning to learn the recorder: from known songs uses limited tone sets, in this case just so and la on C’ and D’. After this they moved onto a singing and improvisation section with the children suggesting different ways to move to the music, including jumping and gorilla impressions. The final section of this 40 minute session was an extended activity focused upon the Domino Fili movement from Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. This involved various tasks including dancing and drawing, being performed over the ten repetitions of the music.

The time at the Kindergarten concluded with an explanation of the set-up of that Kindergarten, the general music education system in the Early Years in Hungary, and details of the various tasks we’d observed. What a fascinating start to the week.

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