Music is around us all the time. Driving in our cars we listen to music, watching TV music is played in the background, and even shopping in the grocery store music is playing. When we listen to music it brings out an emotion in us. Happy when we are bopping and singing to the music in the car or sad when we are watching our two favorite TV characters go through a tough time. As adults we become accustom to how our emotions are attached to the various rhythms and melodies of the music we listen to. What we don’t remember is that we probably learned all of this when we were a baby.
Babies and toddlers love to learn new rhythms and melodies whether it is from their parents singing to them, watching their favorite characters on TV, or simply banging a book on the table. Introducing music to them at a young age is a great way for them to really understand the different components that come together in making a beautiful song.
If you are looking for a music program that will help teach your child age appropriate music then Higher Voice Studio® in Carnegie, PA teaches the Music Together® program for children up to and through age five. While most educational and sport programs group kids by age, the Music Together® program believes in mixing children of different ages so the children can learn from each other. Our daughter is almost four years of age but there were many children under the age of one in our classes.
The Music Together® program was introduced in 1987 as a music program where parents and their children could learn to make music together and listen to music together. I recently had an amazing opportunity take the Music Together® classes with Holly Van Hoey at Higher Voice Studio®. The studio is conveniently located on Main Street in Carnegie. The beautiful exposed brick interior is inviting when you first walk into the studio, and there is plenty of room for all the kids and parents to gather around.
The classes all have the same general structure with a variation of songs in-between. We start every class with a few drum rolls on two drums laying on the floor. We drum slowly, then fast, then slowly again. It gets everyone excited about knowing that class is going to start. Once the drums are rolled away by the kids, which the kids love to help roll them, we start with our hello song. Holly goes around the room singing the hello song on her ukulele while putting the names of each child in the song. All the kids enjoy hearing their name in the song and it tends to get them excited about class. With each song that is sung during class it is encouraged that the parents try their best to sing along. When the kids see the parent participating they start to get involved too.
After finishing the hello song Holly leads us right into a segment where we use our hands to make repetitive sounds that even the youngest children pick-up on doing. We eventually add lyrics, sometimes silly sayings to get everyone laughing. At this point in the class if any of the kids had been a bit shy, they are now getting involved and enjoying the music.
In the next portion of the class we enjoy some more singing and sometimes incorporate dance. For the little ones that can’t walk yet, they usually bob up and down to the music. For the kids who can walk it gets them up allowing them to get out some of their energy through dance. My favorite part is when the colorful, rainbow scarves come out. We all dance to the music with our scarves flying around in the air, and for the babies they like when the parents play peak-a-boo.
The kids love when the box of musical instruments comes out. There are drums, triangles, noise makers, tambourines, shaky eggs, castanets (shaped like frogs and dogs), and so many other fun kid-friendly instruments. The kids pick out their instruments they want to play and then they also help pick out instruments for their parents. We usually have a jam session for five minutes and then the kids help clean up the instruments by putting them back into the box.
At this point we start to wind down by taking in a deep breath and as we are letting it out Holly turns off the lights. We sing the stars shining song while winding down. After the lights come back on Holly gets out the ukulele and sings the good-bye song. The good-bye song is similar to the hello song where each child’s name is put into the song. The best part of this song to me was that it lets everyone know that we will be back to make music together again. One final strum on the ukulele by each child ends the class.
My husband attended the classes also and this is what he had to say about them:
We are almost at the end of the 9-week session right now and it’s funny to think back to that first class. We didn’t really know each other and most of the kids were shy and quiet. But all of the parents and kids soon started smiling and enjoying the music. Because we sing all of the kid’s name multiple times during each class, everyone knows each other. All of us had huge smiles the first time the youngest one in the class started bouncing to the beat during a song!
We also learned who needed to get the shaky eggs (again the youngest on in the class) and who would jump up to help push the instrument box. All of us are encouraged to sing and bop along with the music. Everyone smiles and we all enjoy watching the kids, ours and everyone else’s, bop along with us. Nine weeks doesn’t seem like a very long time, but thinking back to that first class makes me realize how far our daughter came. She went from hiding behind me and asking to be held to singing a bunch of songs during class. She surprised us all when she asked for one of the songs at home and even began singing it so we knew exactly which one she meant.
I didn’t know what to expect when we started the Music Together Program, but now the session is coming to a close, I am hopeful that we all will make music together again!
The Music Together® classes are about 45 minutes, and there are nine sessions in a semester. When you come to your first session each parent is provided with plenty of very informative material on the Music Together® program including a CD with all the songs. You can put the CD in your car and sing along with the kids or listen to the music at home. We like to put the CD in at home and dance around. Our four-year-old will ask for one specific song to be played over and over again, as it is very easy for her to sing to with the repetitive rhythms and melodies. She wasn’t very interested in singing before we started the classes but the songs are very easy for her to remember which makes it easy for her to sing to.
Holly Van Hoey is the instructor for the Music Together® program. She taught the program to kids in the San Francisco area before moving to Pittsburgh. Her energy and powerful voice are as much fun as her bright red hair. Holly believes that “parental involvement and music-making in the home can foster and inspire beautiful family bonds” and after attending just a few sessions I believe this to be true also.
The Music Together® program is a great way to get your baby or toddler learning about rhythm and melodies, and it is a great program where the mix of babies and toddlers can learn from each other. Some children music programs will only allow kids of the same age to interact, but at Higher Voice Studio® with the Music Together® program my four-year loved interacting with the babies. The babies also liked the interaction as they would laugh or giggle and try to crawl to other kids. It was a great way for various ages to come together and learn from each other.
If you are looking for a music program for your baby or toddler up to and through age five, I would highly recommend the Music Together® program at the Higher Voice Studio®. In the classes that I have taken there are not just moms who attend the classes but many dads are also present and singing. My husband attended the classes and he really enjoyed them. His favorite part is seeing our daughter come out of her shell and sing.
There are 3 free Music Together Classes coming up if you’d like to check those out:
Tuesday, March 20th, 10-10:45 a.m.
Friday, March 23rd, 10-10:45 a.m.
Saturday, March 24th, 9-9:45 a.m.
Also, Music Together’s Spring Registration is open for sessions starting in April.
Higher Voice Studio offers a variety of programs for all ages including private voice and private piano lessons. Simply go to their web-site: www.highervoicestudio.com for more information.
For more information on Higher Voice Studio® contact:
HILERIE KLEIN RENSI, Owner
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (412) 429-1000