Musical Garden Created at Upland Country Day Pre-School is Bringing Students Together

A school in Chester County, PA, has created its very own musical garden to spark creativity and encourage musical learning and group play for its preschool students.

Upland Country Day School, a co-educational private school in the county for preschool to 9th-grade students, created the musical garden earlier this year to fill an outdoor space in a creative way for students to enjoy, specifically pre-school students.

Daniel Hickey, Head of School, comments on the project; “Last year, we embarked on a significant renovation project for our preschool building. There is ample outdoor space around the building, so we wanted to fill that space creatively. We are fortunate to have Kevin Umbreit, President of Recreation Resource USA, as a current parent at our school. We know him to be very knowledgeable and experienced in outdoor play equipment. As we worked with him to brainstorm layout and various pieces of outdoor equipment, Kevin pointed us toward Percussion Play.”

The school fundraised significantly for the overall project and was lucky to have an individual donor who helped fund the equipment. Missy Derabertis, Head of Bee School (the preschool), took the project on, deciding which products to install, which include the Harmony Bells, Harmony Flowers, Calypso Quatro Post, Rainbow Bongos, and a Sunflower Petal Drum.

Students at the Bee School, aged 2.5 years to 4 years old, use the instruments in their free time while outside, collaborating with each other to create songs and even create their own bands together.

Missy Derabertis, Head of Bee School, says, “Our students love to have several friends playing all different instruments all at the same time. The students love to run from one instrument to the other, either collaborating with friends or taking some time to create music by themselves. These instruments affirm the love of music in the Bee School. They bring so much joy and sound to our campus.”

Missy also highlights that the student’s behavior has changed as the instruments encourage students to move their bodies more, create beautiful sounds, and engage with friends- bringing the students together. Missy says, “Music is so important for all ages, especially our youngest learners. It is wonderful to have so they can explore these sounds at such a young age. It gives them confidence as there are endless possibilities as they create "songs," sounds, and bands. It is perfect for creating a community feel, having the students work collaboratively together at times as well as individually. It is also excellent for their whole body (kinesthetically) as they move from instrument to instrument. Allowing children to express themselves is fantastic and opens their ears, minds, and brains to music.

Missy continues, “The instruments also help to build fine motor skills as they are learning to play the instruments using the mallets provided. It allows children to release some energy in numerous ways, whether they are hitting the bongos, running from flower to flower, or moving from bell to bell. The children are enjoying the outside while using many different senses to create some wonderful sounds. Lastly, it is aesthetically welcoming to our whole community (visually and physically) as many family members enjoy stopping and playing whether it be for a quick minute or whether they stay and play for some time.”