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Early Childhood Music Classes: What is their value and what is appropriate?
Music Makers: At the Keyboard
Music Makers: At the Keyboard is a comprehensive approach to learning music. Learning music comprehensively is much more than being able to name notes or being able to differentiate between quarter and half notes. Comprehensive musicianship leads a child to music literacy, or the ability to hear in one’s head music that is written on the page. Conversely, the musically literate person will be able to figure how to play the melody, harmony, and rhythm of a piece s/he hears, without needing to see the written music.
Music Makers: At the Keyboard is a group method. By studying the piano in a group setting, singing games and movement activities are naturally a part of the experience. These are the very things that nurture the musician inside each child, making success at the keyboard possible. The group also allows children to learn from each other and overcome performance anxiety. Most importantly, the group setting keeps the fun in music-making.
Music Makers: At the Keyboard is an aural approach. Years of experience have shown us that children learn to read and understand musical notation only after they have a strong aural foundation in place. In Music Makers: At the Keyboard, keyboard skills are layered on at the appropriate time and at an appropriate pace, thereby allowing the aural foundation to be established and reinforced. But that doesn’t mean that the children won’t be playing very much. The fact is that in the first year, they will be taught to play more than 25 songs in the keys of C, D, E, F, and G Major and c, d, e, f, and g minor. Additionally, the children will be playing I, IV, and V7 chords in multiple keys with both hands!
Music Makers: At the Keyboard lays the groundwork for keyboard success! Through the variety of activities in each class the children become independent musicians. They have both a love of music and a love of a specific repertoire, both of which are major incentives for practicing. In addition to playing the keyboards, the children will be involved in drumming and dancing to nurture their rhythmic development, singing to nurture their tonal development, and echoing patterns to nurture their aural development. And composing and musical dictation activities lead the child to music literacy.
Children who complete Music Makers: At the Keyboard not only possess a strong desire to make music, they have the aural and keyboard skills that will enable them to do so. It prepares children for future piano study, as well as whatever musical adventures the future holds!
Lancaster and New Holland locations
Beginning September 7, 2011 for 15 weeks
Janet Maass Fitz
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR MUSIKGARTEN CLASSES
Patrice Stribling Nelson
1. RELAX AND HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME! This is not about the beauty of your voice, or your dancing ability, or how quickly you can memorize words to songs – this is about your relationship with your child and helping them develop the wonderful musical beings that they are. Everything that you do will be perfect and beautiful in your child’s eyes, so have fun!
2. FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS. If you need to feed your baby or change a diaper or step out of the singing circle with a crying child, do so with complete comfort and confidence. Yours and your little one’s comfort is first and foremost. Just please don’t leave – come back into the circle and rejoin the activity as soon as it feels comfortable to do so.
3. STAY IN CLASS! If on a particular day your child doesn’t respond favorably to a certain activity or stimulation, don’t push it. Lack of participation on the child’s part is common, depending on their level of development at that moment in their life. Babies often just observe, and don’t join in for months. Toddlers normally opt out, get distracted, run off to explore and experiment. Preschoolers always participate, but go off on wild tangents as their wonderful imaginations take over. It’s all good! THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART: As long as the parent stays actively engaged in the class activity, the child sees the example being set and gradually begins to learn better focus. You may gently redirect your child back into the activity, but above all else, keep on doing it yourself – keep singing, tapping, marching! Children respond positively to continuity and consistency, and they will learn to refocus into the class activity if they see you doing so, and gently guiding them to do the same.
4. THESE CLASSES ARE ABOUT YOU, YOUR CHILD, AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP! I as teacher am simply a model to guide you and your child through the developmental program. For that reason, I will not interfere with your interaction with your child, but I do ask that each parent takes responsibility for how their child’s behavior affects others’ experience in the classroom. Children are naturally curious about one another, and the older babies sometimes like to crawl over to touch or interact with another baby. Toddlers and preschoolers love to connect with one another. This is fine! However, if I sense a child’s actions are interfering with others’ enjoyment of the class, please understand if I gently return your child to your side.
5. PLEASE BE ON TIME! These classes are short, and are designed to achieve a certain flow so the children can become absorbed in the activity. When someone enters late, everything can grind to a halt by the distraction and that flow might be disturbed.
6. One of the joys of Musikgarten is the friendships that parents, caregivers and children form with one another. This is a wonderful part of the Musikgarten experience! However, actual class time is specifically for focusing on the bond between you and your child. Socializing is perfect for before or after class, but once the class begins, please put all of your focus on your child, the bonding experience you two are sharing, and your music making. Please do not interrupt the bonding another mother might be experiencing with her child. But please feel free to socialize before and after class!
ENJOY!!! CELEBRATE YOUR CHILD!!
Music Brings Us to Life!
At the start of a new session, I love to share the following words of wisdom that my Musikgarten friends put in circulation:
As we look forward to a new season of music making there are a few things regarding your child’s participation that I would like to mention. A child needs to feel comfortable in order to learn. The single most important factor in establishing comfort for a child is a sense of familiarity. In order to become familiar (and ultimately comfortable) a child needs to be given time and space in which s/he can explore, observe, absorb, and then assimilate all that is surrounding him or her. Each child approaches this task differently. Some need to remain in the comfort of a parent’s lap, or held in their arms when dancing, while others will be cruising around the room in an attempt to investigate (and therefore get to know) every person and every inch of the room. Some children who seemed completely engaged last year may be quiet and reserved this year. Still others will jump right into whatever activity I suggest as though they have been doing this forever.
The wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) thing about children is that they are constantly changing. They are “works in progress” and as such, their reactions to things may be hard to predict. The best approach is to check your expectations and comparisons at the door. There is no “right” way to respond to these musical experiences. Children who quietly observe are as actively engaged as those who physically participate. Even those who are exploring the room are getting the benefit of being in a musical environment. The best thing you can do for your child is to participate freely in the activities yourself, thereby modeling for your child the joy that comes from making music.
Finally, remember that we learn music the same way we learn language. When we keep that in mind, we are reminded that being in a musical environment, regardless of the child’s outward behavior, is crucial to his/her musical development and to his/her overall development. After all, we would never stop talking to our children just because they did not respond the way we had hoped!”