With five kids who play instruments, I spend a whole lot of time at music lessons, watching recitals, and encouraging my kids to practice. And by “encouraging” I mean begging, bribing, and yelling. I truly believe the earlier you start exposing kids to music, the better they are able to develop a good ear for music and the easier it is for them to learn an instrument. There are also many studies that show that studying music helps children perform better in school. There are many different options for preschool music classes, from national programs to local ones. Here are some of the best I’ve found in Pittsburgh. They all offer different types of musical study, so find the option that fits your family the best!
Sound Beginnings/Let’s Play Music
Sound Beginnings is a relatively new national program for children ages 2-4. The classes are for a parent/caregiver and child, but younger siblings may also attend. Classes are 30 minutes and focus on music and movement. While it’s an organized program of study, it also provides flexibitily – there are four semesters that can be taken in any order, and parents can bring multiple aged children to the class. The website says, “Sound Beginnings is a course to develop intelligence and confidence in your child in a setting of music, play, and parental nurturing!” The cost is approximately $40/month for 1 child, or $55/month for more than 1 child.
The Let’s Play Music program follows Sound Beginnings (but you don’t have to do Sound Beginnings to start Let’s Play Music) and is designed for kids ages 4-8. Their website reads, “Let’s Play Music is a music theory course that emphasizes total musicianship through piano playing, singing, classical music, note reading and ear training… and it’s accomplished through play!” Unlike Sound Beginnings, Let’s Play Music is a structured three-year program. In the first year, students learn to play bells, and in the second and third years, they take group piano lessons. This program is unique in that it teaches extensive music theory in a fun way – the kids love it and develop a foundation of music knowledge that enables them to continue on with any musical instrument after completing the program. Classes are 45-55 minutes. In the first year, parents are required to attend every other week, and in the second and third year, parents attend once a month. There is weekly homework and the children can earn prizes. The cost varies per teacher, usually starting at $45-55/month.
There are four certified teachers in Pittsburgh. For more information, check out www.letsplaymusicsite.com.
Kindermusik is an international program and one of the oldest preschool music programs. The website reads, “Since 1978, our research-based music-and-movement curricula have enhanced the lives of millions through the universal language of music, supporting whole-child development and providing the early foundations of future school success.” Kindermusik offers many different classes based on the age of your child. They also offer family classes and classes for kids with special needs. Classes are for parent and child, are 45 minutes, and the cost is $66/month.
There are fourteen studios in Pittsburgh. For more information, check out www.kindermusik.com
Music Together is also an international program that has been around since 1987. It is for children ages newborn through age 7. The website reads, “Music is more than instruments and voices. It’s more than rhythm and movement. Music is a powerful force that can inspire, create community, and build family bonds. And it can be life-changing to develop our inner music-maker as early as possible.” Music Together includes nine collections of songs, with 25 songs in each collection. They offer a variety of classes, some organized by age, others mixed ages, as well as a guitar class, special needs classes, etc. The cost is $195 for a 10-week session.
There are 20 studios in Pittsburgh. For more information, check out www.musictogether.com
City Music Center
City Music Center is a music school at Duquesne University. They offer a preschool eurhythmics class for ages 3+. Eurhythmics is a music learning method developed by the Swiss musician Dalcroze, which teaches musical expression, structure, and rhythm through kinesthetic training. Most students take the preschool music class in addition to an instrument, but some take only the eurhythmics class and start an instrument when they are a little older. The website reads, “For the past 27 years, we have proudly served as the Pittsburgh area’s premier provider of musical instruction for students of all ages. We strive to educate all interested students, regardless of their musical ability or financial situation.” The classes are 45 minutes, just for the child. The parent comes in for the last 5 minutes to review what the child learned that day. The program runs for 32 weeks and the cost for just the eurhythmics class is $400 for the year. They do have financial aid for those that need it.
For more information, check out www.citymusic.center
Center For Young Musicians
Center For Young Musicians is a music school with four locations in Pittsburgh. They offer an Early Childhood Music program that includes two sequential courses – Toddlers and Twinklers. The website reads, “CYM’s Early Childhood Music classes act as a first step in a holistic music education. They are closely connected with the first steps of instrument study and music literacy in their design, focus and implementation.” Each class meets for 11 months and consists of a weekly 45-minute group class and numerous recitals throughout the year. The Toddlers program is for the parent and child, ages 2-3.5 and the Twinklers program is just for the child, ages 3.5-5. In this program, children explore various instruments (piano, violin, viola, cello, or guitar) to see which one they would like to play. The cost is $126/month.
For more information, check out www.youngmusicians.org
Good luck and happy harmonizing!