The Hungarian word "Ringató" means: "Dandling".
During the activities, the educational principles of the “Kodály concept” relating to pre-kindergarten children are practised. When should the musical education of a child start? Kodály’s answer is as follows: “…nine months before the birth of the child…I would go further: the musical education of the child should start nine months before the birth of the mother”. Of course, at that time Kodály did not mean the modern research concerning the analysis of the mother and embryo relationship. What he meant was that every mother should believe that singing and saying ditties just like her own musical education were all important from the aspect of the healthy development of the child (even the infant). That is why it is useful for the mother to know baby songs, lap games, Hungarian folk songs and other musical material which children of this age like, and through which the musical education can already start in the family.
What is the aim of Ringató activities?
First of all I would like the mothers to learn the songs mentioned above; the ones they sing with pleasure every time and which both the mother and the child enjoy. Maybe also the father, the grandmother or grandfather should learn and sing together at home. I would like them to believe in the “Kodály idea” and realise how true it is, that singing and playing lap games together must really be a spiritual nourishment for the child. I would also like them to learn some methodological knowledge about the musical education of young children without thinking of it as too scientific. Furthermore, I want both the children and mothers to enjoy themselves and to receive real positive experiences during my activities.
Ringató in practice, some information on its methodology:
The atmosphere of my lessons is relaxed. They are structured and planned in advance but they are also flexible and easily adaptable to the given situation. When new items are introduced, they are repeated many times, not only in the initial session but also throughout subsequent weeks. This enables the Mothers to learn the songs more easily. It is important to note that these lessons are not for the children but for their parents. The children have no tasks; they have nothing to do except to be there! They can join the games if they feel like it. The activities are 30 minutes long.
Under the age of three there is no direct teaching. The time of direct teaching comes at school age; it is too early in kindergarten. During the activities we only arouse the children’s interest for music. We surround them with musical stimuli and give examples to the parents of how to sing and play at home. It is important to know the limits! Too much stimuli can be just as damaging as an environment lacking any!
Why don’t we listen to electric music? We never listen to CDs or cassettes during our lessons. Most important are building personal relationships, live singing and the sound of live instruments. We only play tunes that the child has already heard several times before. In this way, it is easier for the young children to follow.
Why don’t we use instruments of rhythm or other instruments producing sounds? Using such instruments at an early age would only create noise during the activities. The movement of the children is not yet developed so as to enable them to play together on the instruments. They can neither grasp nor use the instruments of rhythm properly. In any case, no tasks are given to the children during the lessons. They don’t have to do anything. They can play if they want or they can just listen if they want or if they can… Common singing, playing games, moving around are primary, but sometimes there is an amazing silence which is very often born spontaneously!
What are Lap Games? The name “LapGame” originates from Áron Kiss who compiled the first “child-toy collection” in 1891. This expression means the group of riding, rocking, and swinging games, lullabies and games using the arms and feet. All lap games are miniature dramas. They have a beginning, a cumulative tension, then at the end there is a clashing and joyful moment of relaxation. For young children these games of movement, singing and saying ditties are the root of artistic education. These games emotionally have the same catharsis for the children as a theatrical play, a poem, a novel, a painting, a piece of music or any other artistic work can have for an adult. For a child it is very important to experience this joy with someone who is close to them emotionally such as the parent or grandparent. Sometimes I “tempt” the children to play with me, and it is quite natural that they often (especially at the beginning) do not want to join. They hold on to their mothers or fathers. At this age the so called “one person attachment” is determining.
A few words about repetition:
It is important to repeat a game several times. It is important for the children not to learn something and to make a production from it afterwards! (Even though we love to see our children singing, reciting something etc.) The aim of the repetition is to make and maintain the atmosphere created by a little lap game. A game like this is usually shorter than one minute, so by the time the child understands what has happened, the song and the game have already finished. This is why we sing, say and play it over and over again. The fifth time the game is played, children understand that it’s something you can be happy about. They notice that something naughty is going to happen in the end, they have butterflies in their stomach and they know what is coming next. We might be bored after the tenth repetition, but then the child says: once more!
How old should the children be to attend the activities?
As previously mentioned, there is no age limit for attending these lessons. The lessons can also be attended by pregnant women as they are for adults and not for children. We only surround the children with musical stimuli. They have no tasks to do, they don’t have to rehearse anything; they only have to listen. This can also be done by a developing baby in his mother's womb! There are some lap games which can be played by the mother and the child (if the child is in the mood). These games can also be played with babies who can already sit, stand and walk. Little babies only listen to the games, or the mother gently “rocks” the baby, which is the best thing to do.
Usually, mothers bring their babies who are aged 6-months and upwards. It is rare for mothers to attend with younger babies but we encourage this and are always delighted when it happens. Mothers can bring their children up to kindergarten age although the younger kindergarten children also verymuch enjoy these games and songs.