Chit Chatting with Liz from Musical Folk in New Haven – part 2
Enjoy part 2 of my chat with Liz!
I ain’t gonna lie – the only musical talent I have is starting up my Pandora.com app every morning on my iPhone! Because of this, one of the things our family (hubby included) liked the most about Music Together is the very casual, open atmosphere that felt more like play than performance. We learned to happily sing along whether in tune, or not. How important is it that parents participate in class with their child?
Well you have really pinpointed the true success of this program… It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t sing in tune, your child loves to hear your voice. And the true success of this program IS the adults singing, and participating wholeheartedly in our classes. It is non-performance based, and a very fun and relaxed atmosphere where the children learn at their own pace and the curriculum is age appropriate. We encourage the adults in the room to strongly model everything that we do, from singing to modeling the movements with each song. The children copy everything the adults do. We’ve discovered that if the adults don’t do it, the children won’t either. It’s fascinating to see the results of that. They also learn from the other children in the room, but the adults are their role models and their greatest music teachers. We often see amazing reactions from the children when the adults in the room are having a blast singing. What greater joy could you give your child than their catching mom or dad singing to their hearts content and can see the fun that they are having. This semester we had the “Sad Little Puppy” song, and some of the moms & dads were really into “howling” like a dog during the chorus and the children thought this was hysterical.
As a trained public school teacher, I’ve seen the arts diminish from the core curriculum first hand L As a parent, it’s made me that much more motivated to provide music and other art experiences for M as a toddler and now preschooler. How important is it, really, to provide music experiences like Music Together for young children?
It is so sad to hear that the arts are the first thing to go in schools when they consider budget cuts. For me who has found music to be one of the most important parts of my life, I shiver at the thoughts of music being cut from schools. We know that music learning supports ALL learning and most recently we have some more concrete evidence to prove this. In fact for the past few years there has been a project in Bridgeport, CT called the Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD) whereby they introduced the arts to “some” children in the preschool grades and evaluated their findings. Music Together was the chosen music component for this project. An independent evaluation study was conducted by the Michael Cohen group over the course of the year and reported that the children who received the Music Together program made significantly greater progress in the cognitive, language and physical developmental domains than did the four year olds in the classrooms that did not participate in the program.
Considering this data, the conclusions counter the current trend in schools to reduce or eliminate music and the arts from schools. When the facts clearly show tremendous benefits from the arts – shouldn’t we be moving towards adding more arts to our schools instead of taking them away? Imagine what the results from this study when music is introduced even earlier and on a consistent basis.
When the facts clearly show tremendous benefits from the arts – shouldn’t we be moving towards adding more arts to our schools instead of taking them away?
Imagine a child not having the arts introduced to them, how could they ever know that music was their calling, and they could even be the next Beethoven, or Van Gough or just simply miss out on developing a love for the arts. Imagine our lives without music and the people who bring that to us. So I say if they are cutting music from your schools, or not introduce it in the early years, go out and find it and bring it into your child’s life.
We want our children to appreciate music, and if we don’t introduce it to them in a way where they can “make” music they may never experience that great joy that it can bring. We have become more music “consumers” in this day and age, rather than “Music Makers”. In fact, this is one of Music Together’s greatest goals: to be “makers’ of music and to enjoy singing with a community of people the way it was done in the olden days where people gathered around pianos, and campfires to sing songs. We need to foster this in our children and have them hand down those traditions to their children, too.
I know that Music Together is not “performance based.” Out of curiosity, at what age is a child ready to start playing an instrument?
This is one of our top questions. While there is no hard and fast rule, most music teachers recommend that a child be 6 or 7 years old, generally speaking. However, when a child has started an early childhood music program such as Music Together at a young age, they may have developed basic music competence (singing in tune, and keeping accurate rhythm) and may be ready sooner than 6. These are important skills to have developed before being ready to play an instrument. There are many questions of readiness that only a parent and the music teacher can answer, which also may include the choice of instrument (eg. piano vs. violin). Do you think your child can sit for a half hour lesson, and can they practice everyday for that length of time? If you are thinking about this for your child, speak to a music teacher first and you can work together to make the right decision for your child.
How would you say that Music Together is different than some other music programs for children and their families?
Music Together is considered a “gold standard” in an early childhood education program. It was founded in 1987 by Kenneth Guilmartin and his co-founder Lili Levinowitz, Ph.D. The curriculum is research based, and through research and feedback this program just keeps striving to be of the highest standard in early childhood education. Our teachers are highly trained and each semester attend workshops to prepare them for our new material and to learn how to develop and sharpen their teaching and music skills. Also, because we have mixed age classes, mom can bring more than one child to our classes. Other programs often break up classes by age, and if there’s a 10 month old and a 3 year old in the same family, they have to go to separate classes, which is just difficult to manage. Plus, I mentioned earlier the great success in having mixed aged classes!
Another difference to other music programs out there is that we have a CD and a book that a family takes home each semester. That means about 27 new songs to add to their repertoire each semester. And there are 9 collections of new cds, so in a 3 year period a family will not repeat the same collection of songs. Other programs out there do not have as vast a curriculum that stems over a 3 year span, and may not have a CD and book to accompany their program spanning that length of time. Our families have told us that they adore the music that we introduce. It’s fun and sophisticated enough to keep the adults coming back to this program semester after semester. We introduce music from all over the world with unusual tonalities and rhythms that is not typically on children’s albums or programs.
Music Together is national and international, right?! Where do interested families go from here to join Music Together?
Yes, Music Together is an international program with centers popping up all around the world now. Music Together is in just about every town in the US. For Music Together classes in the Greater New Haven area, families can find me at www.MusicalFolk.com. I hold classes in New Haven, Hamden, Woodbridge, Branford and Madison and we have many free demonstration classes coming up in early September for our 10 week fall semester that our listed on my website. We would love to have families join us for these free demos and to see first hand what happens in our classes.
For classes in other locations families can go to www.MusicTogether.com and click on class locator to find a location near their home.
Thanks to Kim at kidHaven for the opportunity to share information about this wonderful program! ~Liz