Funkee Munkees sessions provide a fun and stimulating environment in which children and their carers can learn together

Music is an established conduit for learning, particularly in young children. Research has found that listening to music uses both sides of the brain, a fact that makes it valuable in artistic, academic, emotional, physical and spiritual development. When joined with movement and instrument play,  the advances in neurological development are greater still. Funkee Munkees sessions, lasting approximately 35 minutes, include group singing of both new and established songs, and the children are also invited to participate using age-appropriate instruments, dancing and other movement. I feel it is important to achieve a balance between, on one hand, a proper structured progression of learning, and on the other, making it easy for the children to understand what is being asked of them, and also encouraging their enjoyment.

Research has found that preschool children who participate in a music class for as little as 30 minutes per week show significantly greater gains in phonological (the sounds making up language) awareness than those who don’t. Children often form words in songs before they can say them in a sentence, as patterns and sequences are more easily detected in music (shown, for example, in how the alphabet is often first learnt through singing the ‘ABC’ song). Simply, our brains remember language better when it is set to music. 

Providing a social and cultural focal-point for families, thereby both supporting and involving my local community

School staff ideally remain with the children throughout the sessions to encourage the children’s participation, support their efforts and maintain control.

The sessions provide affordable access to an inclusive, fun and stimulating environment for the children. One of the most important uses of music in children’s lives is a social one. Singing songs at nursery, birthday parties or in the home, or making up rhymes with other children, are social forms of musical engagement that have been in existence for as long as we know. This interaction with other children, along with movement, rhythm, and vocal activities, develop far more than just music skills. Given the right atmosphere, the entire family, and beyond that, the community, benefits. The positive aspects of using music for learning are broad in number and significant in nature. Music should not just be an ‘extra’ in child care; it is a gift to children which will last their entire lives.

About me

My name is Declan Duffy and I have twenty years of musical experience as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. I first started teaching with music whilst working in France as a school language assistant, where I was employed by local parents to teach English through song to pre-school children. It became clear to me immediately that many children engage so much more quickly with music and song, even when played on one guitar, than they do with the spoken word. Since that time, I have tried to share music with children whenever possible, whether in a teaching capacity or not.

As an employee of Waterstones booksellers I give singing and storytelling sessions to young children and I also attend local schools to lead musical and literary events. I am also part of a children’s entertainment trio, along with storyteller Martin Maudsley and illustrator Charlie Fuge, playing at children’s events, festivals and parties.

I have read extensively on the subject of musical education for children and am also a regular attender of children’s playgroups with my own daughter.