Interview with Ray Schall, Infant Room teacher at Lynn’s Daycare

ECSC’s Luisa Massey interviews longtime New Mexico early childhood educator and musician Raymond Schall on using music to connect with children.

 How long have you been an early childhood educator?
15 years, all at Lynn’s.

What are your thoughts about using music in the classroom?
It should be used more! And it shouldn’t be limited to the classroom, take it outside! There’s more space for the children to move, there’s more space to use various sized instruments, and also the acoustics sound different outside.

What in your opinion are the benefits of using music in your classroom?
It allows for children to be creative and express themselves. They can also learn from others (being taught how to use the instrument), adapt it to their own creation, as well as teaching and working with others. In the past I’ve had children work together to create and replicate pieces of music. This sets the children up to learn to cooperate and work together towards common goals. It’s can also be an outlet for them.

What types of musical instruments do you use in your classroom?
We have the “typical” percussion-type instruments such as rhythm sticks, bells, tambourines, drums etc. I bring in other instruments, which might not be well known such as a glockenspiel, karimba (finger piano), cello, pipe drums etc. I also have more traditional instruments such as the guitar, and household instruments such as pots and pans, metal water bottles, for children to experiment with.

How do you use "up-cycled" materials to build your instruments?
I use them in any way I can! I mount them outside (pots, pants, metal objects) for children to experiment with the sound. We’ve made finger pianos out of different wood pieces from other items. Materials are easy to find and inexpensive at thrift stores, or donations from families! My next up-cycle project I want to make tank drums (drums made out of propane tanks).

Any advice for educators who want to get started using music in their classrooms?
Just start having children experiment with different materials and sounds to see what they’re interested in and follow that! Let the kids lead the way and follow it. I often use YouTube and the internet for resources, how-to’s, activities and guidance. Bring in more than just the “usual” percussion instruments, bring in instruments and materials that produce different notes, different tones, and different frequencies.

Do teachers need to have a background in music to use music in their classroom?
Absolutely not! My background is self-taught, so no formal lessons or education. Anyone can do music in the classroom!

How do your children respond to music?
The babies are fascinated by it! It’s often times an “ice-breaker” since some very young children can be wary of males, as well as helping to transition children from home to school when they’re upset or tentative about the transition. I play it for naptime, so it helps to soothe them and go to sleep as well. The preschool children are so used to musical experiences, they view them as “the norm”.

Watch Ray playing a PVC Pipe Drum below: