Even though I’d been there before, I let myself go down that same road again—questioning, wondering, doubting what we were doing. Was this music class having any effect on my baby? Had she been too young for this after all? Sure, she loved the CD, but at just 1 year of age, what CD didn’t she rock out to? She is an ideal fan.
Once again this week in our Music Together class, during the Jack-in-the-Box song, my daughter Kyra gazed off into the corner as we sang and did movements in a circle. She looked so sedate. I was tempted to whisper to the woman next to me that it was her naptime, lest she judge me for not having a perfectly alert superstar.
Then, pointer fingers hidden, we sang, “Will he come out?”
And before I could pull my finger out of its hiding spot and raise it in the air, Kyra did it first. “Yes, he will!” we exclaimed, and I couldn’t help but praise little K out loud for her genius.
“Oh, you have been listening all along! You weren’t spacing out—you were concentrating!”
It’s just like every Music Together teacher we’ve had since my eldest was a baby has said: “You may not think they’re taking anything in, but some day soon they’re going to surprise you.”
With Kyra’s sister, Ginger, it was an affinity for keeping a perfect beat with her fingers. So far, for Kyra, it’s Jack-in-the-Box.
Music Together is a method of introducing children (ages 6 months to 4 years) to music that was first developed by doctoral students of music at Princeton in the mid-1980s. They based the program on research that shows children learn through play and the best way to develop fluency is to encourage the actual experience of music rather than instructing in concepts and skills.
The students also believed music to be a birthright, and drew much from literature about how important music is to early childhood development of everything from language to critical thinking.
But before you think you would be shelling out cash just to get some kids together to listen to music, let me tell you that the way Music Together facilitates this experience is very well-constructed and the teachers extensively trained.
First of all, the idea that caregivers are your child’s best role models is very important to them. So, even if your crawler is over on the other side of the room touching someone’s sparkly shoes, as long as she isn’t disruptive, it’s fine—you’ll be encouraged to just keep on singing the songs and doing the basic movements. As I’ve said, they’re picking up more of what you’re doing than you think.
Also, each session has its own CD based on an instrument theme, which you are encouraged to play often at home and in the car. Each song on the CD is chosen very carefully for its ability to impart tonality, rhythm, language and other competencies.
Plus, in addition to all the dazzling balls, scarves and shakers that come out, you and your child will get treated to songs in several languages, basic dance movements to get the body moving with the beat, and periodic tonal soundings to train the ear to hear chords.
My kids adore these CDs, partly because many of the songs are sung by children. They are often a savior in the car or at home when things take a turn for the worse. I should know, having listened to them for the last three and a half years straight.
My eldest is now in pre-school while Kyra and I are in class, but she’s counting the days until summer, when she can attend with us. Sure, she’ll be the oldest kid in the room, and she knows every song backwards and forwards already. But if there’s one thing Music Together has taught me, it’s never too early, or too late, to introduce your child to music.