Good morning and Happy Friday!
What makes a great Music Together class great? Surely the families attending, their personalities on their own and the synthesis of those personalities when mixed with others and with your teacher, plus music. Sometimes an ideal class has children who are all the same age (there is something comforting and fascinating about that), but a critical opportunity is missed once a baby is old enough to reach the mixed percussion on its own. I used to have an article on the Valley Cat Music Facebook page called The Zone of Proximal Learning (or Something) that was about how well children learn from each other when they are grouped in mixed ages. This phenomenon starts early and never changes, as much as some of us might like to place younger generations in the basket of ignorables. (KIDDING!) If you have grandparents in your life or in your class, count your family lucky.
An ideal Music Together class has a variety of ages: three babies, three toddlers, three 2–3-year-olds, three 4–5-year-olds. That's a lot more preschoolers than you probably thought, huh? I rarely get kids who stay in through Basic Music Competence anymore, but in classes where there are 4-year-olds, the level of the whole class rises and kids stay in longer because it's so clearly evident that when you give your child the opportunity to keep learning, they will exhibit tonal and/or rhythmic competence, in class or at home. If your child can't sing a song beginning to end in the same key, then they are not done with Music Together; if they can't keep a steady beat in a duple meter and can't do the Goodbye Song tap-clap-clap pattern at least twice, then they are not done with Music Together... IF you want them to reach Basic Music Competence and be able to lead Happy Birthday at their friends' parties and family events. ;-)
You may have a child who reaches BMC early (prior to 4), or you may have gone through all nine song collections. Are you done? What else are we learning in music class? I made a list in an email once, and it was a very long list (even I was shocked). I'm sure you could come up with your own list based on what you've observed in class and at home (and in preschool).
Here's something else to remember (ha, pun intended): Your child won't remember Music Together class if you leave before they turn three. They may or may not remember it if you leave before they're 3-1/2. Go take a look at the article Lili Levinowitz (co-creator of Music Together) wrote called "The Chest of Drawers." It describes the way in which children build memory structures before they can store a memory. As a wannabe neurologist, I find it fascinating. As a music teacher, it makes me somewhat sad because many of your children will grow up and maybe have a glimmer or tickle in their brains about Teacher Deborah or Daphna or whoever... maybe they will have memories within the bubbles of particular Music Together songs (now that's something I'd like to study!). These are such precious times, fleeting but substantial. And these are just end-of-spring thoughts, incomplete and nostalgic.
Up next: What's an Ideal Class SPACE?