I want to share with you a couple of songs I use with early years groups. They are both based upon peepo/peekaboo games that excite interest from even the youngest babies that attend my early years groups – some are just a few months old. Rather beautifully, my mum described a game of peepo as ‘the first joke you share with your baby’.
So, here are a couple of songs I use. The first ‘Where is Baby Hiding’ was improvised within a session.
The second ‘There is Someone Who is Hiding’ is from a book called ‘The New Useful Book’ which is full of songs, rhymes and games for children.
I took the words and melody and added a tango-style accompaniment to increase the sense of drama and playfulness. I distribute scarves (slightly see-through, so the children can still see what’s going on) and they and their parents use these to ‘hide’ from each other.
Daniel Stern* describes peekaboo games as “one of the all time favourite, international infant games, [it] is of course a repetition of disappearances and reappearances of the face…. The infant, of course, remains a spectator and the mother [or other caregiver] the sole player until considerably later.” I wonder if the reason it is so popular with the older children is because they are familiar with the concept from when they were babies, but are now able to take a more active roll, deciding when to hide and when to reveal themselves.
Stern also notes that the repetitiousness of the game is characteristic of much of the way in which carers interact with babies, his example is “Are you hungry? Are you? Huh? Yeah, I think you are.” This repetition, as well as being part of verbal interaction, is also a key aspect of musical construction (think about any nursery rhyme) – it has a question, an answer, a theme, and some variation.
What I find so fascinating, is not only that the interactions between infants and caregivers are essentially musical, and that we all learn language and communication through musical elements – but also that we seem to automatically use these amazing musical tools when interacting with the little people in our lives – our voices modulate, we repeat, we vary, we keep the phrases short. Part of my reason for wanting to work this year with infants was to learn more about how I could work with this age-group and gain experience, and also equip parents with a few extra resources. I feel that being with parents and children is teaching me so much about being a music therapist.
*The First Relationship by Daniel Stern, 1977