Q. What are Music Together Fresno-Clovis classes like?
A. Twelve children and their parents or caregivers meet weekly in 45-minute sessions for ten weeks to experience new songs, chants, movement activities, and instrumental jam sessions. Both adults and children sit in the circle and participate together, led by a teacher with early childhood and music skills. The teacher helps adults understand how to participate and the importance of relaxing and enjoying the activities with their children.
Children have may opportunities to create and to play - making up rhythm patterns, making up new words to songs, making up movements to express a sound. Some children will simply sit and "study" the experience, as they absorb the musically rich environment. Other children will sing, play, and dance freely, because they are in a comfortable, encouraging environment and because they know the songs and chants from the songbook and tapes they take home from the class. Each class has standard songs that the children will enjoy and get to know each week, such as the "Hello Song," the instrumental "Play-Along," a lullaby, and the "Goodbye Song." Eight to ten other experiences are included in each class, ranging from free movement to songs in unusual meters.
The enjoyment doesn't stop when the class is over. Each semester families receive a song collection and recording of original compositions and traditional songs performed by outstanding singers and instrumentalists. The children will often ask to hear the Music Together®® CD in the car and a home, or when friends come over to play. The songbook often comes out at bedtime or naptime and can be used as a storybook. Parents are encouraged to "read" the songs, even if they don't read music. At home, parents will also enjoy their children singing parts of Music Together® songs and dancing spontaneously to music.
Years after your child takes a Music
Together® class, he or she will still remember the "Hello Song" and
other favorites. Parents of former students tell us: "We still have those CDs!" With a childhood of Music Together® experiences, your child will
be among the young people who have a deep-seated love of music-making.
Q. May I bring both my 3-year-old and my 10-month-old children to class together?
A. Yes you may! Music Together® has a mixed age concept philosophy
and is designed for children anywhere from birth up to 5 years old. We are
about family music, and in a family we are not all the same age or the same
size, but all have a musical experience together. Studies show that it is
beneficial for the little ones to see what their older siblings can do, and
that it is equally beneficial for the confidence of the older siblings to
experience feeling a little like a role model themselves!
Q. What if I don’t sing well or in tune? Will my model of not being in tune be detrimental to my own child’s sense of pitch and musicality?
A. Even if you don’t sing particularly well, (and most people have
the ability to sing better than they think they do!), your singing and
participation is a key element in nurturing your child’s musical growth. It is
possible to teach anybody a skill. But only the people that we love and with
whom we have an emotional bond can pass along the disposition to love to do
something. For those of us whose parents enjoyed and participated in making
music, that disposition is passed along to us. Your child will absorb the music
from class that you are playing at home and in the car and will also absorb the
music while in class, where most people are singing right in tune. Your child
will be able to develop a right sense of pitch from these.
Q. As a parent or caregiver, what is my role in class?
A. The best way to help your child absorb new musical skills is to participate and have fun in class yourself. Your active participation is the key to your child learning and growing musically. Sing, sing, sing! You don't have to be musically skilled and it doesn't matter what you sound like. Let this be your weekly chance to let go and liberate your own sense of play. Your child will LOVE this chance to see their adult acting silly and to engage on his or her own level. It is widely understood that children learn best when their learning experiences are joyful. When you're having fun, your joy is contagious!
Resist the urge to give verbal cues to your child such as "Do what she is doing, or hold your instrument this way." Trust that your child will learn best by just seeing and hearing you doing and enjoying it yourself! Similarly, children are free to move around the room as long as they are doing it safely. After all, some children learn best while they are in motion. Running around the circle, however, is a safety issue as well as a distraction. If you child likes to run, feel free to scoop up your child for additional movement fun even if the rest of the group is engaged in a quiet activity. Your child might like being bounced or swing, and this will help your child get the kinesthetic stimulation they crave. Each weekly class will include plenty of time to run, gallop, wiggle, swim, and jump during our more active songs!
Finally, support the creation of a
music-only environment in class by not talking to your children or adults
during the 45 minutes. Children's brains will always prioritize adult
conversation, so please wait to socialize until after class. The more "big
people" we have participating, the richer the musical experience is for
Q. My child is very enthusiastic about the music at home, singing, moving, and having a ball! But when he comes to class he is very shy. Why doesn't he participate more in class?
A. We know that most of the children will do about a hundred times
more at home than they do in class. That is very much the norm, and in fact
shows how much they are learning! Most of us, even as adults, will do more in
private than we will in public in front of our “peers.” Children are no
different! More importantly, class is where the children are taking everything
in. They do this in a multi-layered way, through listening, through watching,
through movement, by playing instruments and dancing, or simply by being there
and absorbing it at another level. The most important actual participation in
class is your own participation because you are their most important role
model. Then you will see at home how very much they are learning in class!
Q. Is my child too young to learn music?
A. From the time children are born, they are immersed in the
language of our culture. That is how they learn to talk and walk. In Music
Together, your child becomes immersed in the music of their culture. That is
how they will learn to sing!
Q. What if my child doesn’t pay attention in class and roams around?
A. Our children absorb learning how to walk and talk from being immersed in the atmosphere of people who are walking and talking. It is the same natural and gradual process in Music Together, only with music. Additionally, each child has their own unique learning style. Some children are more visual learners, some learn more by listening, and some are kinesthetic learners. For those children who learn through movement, and it is just fine if they do so in class, just as long as it is safe behavior. In Music Together, we encourage and acknowledge each child’s need to learn in their own way, at their own level, and at their own pace.