What is an online class?
The primary online platform Valley Cat Music will use to teach live, interactive classes is Zoom. You may also receive a recorded Zoom class as your primary class or as makeup; Zoom-recorded videos are stored in Dropbox, and you will receive a link to the appropriate Dropbox folder for the current song collection. If running a Zoom meeting is not possible due to tech issues beyond teacher’s control, a pre-recorded class will be created, including space for your family’s responses and suggestions.
In addition, a Facebook livestream of about 15 minutes, its video version, or a pre-recorded three-song video will be created each week to augment the main weekly class.
What technology do I need?
You will need one device to run Zoom (computer, laptop, tablet, phone), and all other devices in your house that connect to your WiFi/Internet should be turned off to boost your device’s bandwidth at that time, as much as possible. Some families prefer to connect their computers to a Bluetooth speaker to increase the volume, especially when we are playing percussion to a recorded track.
Keep Zoom updated, and when you are asked to agree to let us unmute you, please say yes and always. When your teacher can control the muting/unmuting, you can separate yourself from your device to focus on making music and modeling for your child.
You will also need a Facebook account for the purpose of joining a private group each session and to comment/make suggestions during Facebook livestream broadcasts (Facebook lives on the public-facing Valley Cat Music page do not require an account to view).
Have your cell phone handy for a quick text if something’s wonky, a quick pic if someone’s delightful, or a fun video to share with your teacher who misses you!
What instruments/props do we need for class?
First rule is that everyone gets a set of everything, and all grownups play. Most instruments require two per person so there is one in each hand/paw (to get both sides of your brain talking to each other and building symmetry, balance, spatial awareness, dexterity).
Note on Mouthing: All babies go through a mouthing phase (it's necessary, normal, and natural), so please allow your children to explore their instruments orally... but safely. No walking with sticks, mallets, or other long-handled instruments! Sit with Sticks!
1. EGGS/SHAKERS—2 per person
2. RHYTHM STICKS—2 per person
3. SCARVES—2 per person
4. JINGLE BELLS—2 per person
5. A BALL—1 per person
6. A DRUM—1 per person (djembe for Rhythm Kids)
7. MIXED PERCUSSION (at least three choices per child not from above list)
8. RESONATOR BELLS (for rent) • PARACHUTE (sheet) • GIANT RAINBOW SCRUNCHY (tied circle of stretchy cloth)
Instrument bags available to rent (not including parachute/scrunchy); message me for prices or check the Store.
What else to bring: Songbook & Notation Booklet, lovey/doll/stuffed animal, blanket for babies, djembe for big kids/RK
How long are the classes?
Music Together Online classes are 30-35 minutes, augmented by a weekly video or livestream on Facebook; in-person classes pre-COVID were 45 min. Each fall, winter, and spring session is eight to ten weeks; summer sessions are five or six weeks; holiday interim session in December is three weeks.
Where can we do music class?
Anywhere you get the best Internet connection; anywhere you are where singing is allowed. :-) That said, it’s best for your children to “go to class” in the same space set up for music-making, dancing, jumping, spinning, lying down, etc., with all of your instruments prepared for that week’s lesson. It will be easier for your child to focus on and absorb what’s happening musically if their toys are in another room or put away/covered, but it can also be very special to see how a child connects Music Together to their daily life through the interaction of toy and sound.
Travel note: As long as there’s space, you may certainly switch classes if you are traveling to a different time zone and wish to continue attending Zoom music classes from your destination.
Who can come to class?
Anyone in range of your screen is welcome to participate in a Mixed Ages class! All children 6 and under should be registered (only one tuition; all siblings are free), and if we know the names of older kids, we will include them in class if they are joining in. This is a GREAT opportunity for extended-family music-making. Also, if space/bandwidth allows, grandparents or other special caregivers are welcome to join the Zoom—please do ask!
Note: only one device per family is allowed unless you are inviting a relative to drop in.
• In a Babies-only class (for not-yet-crawling babies), each baby will require the full attention of one parent, grandparent, caregiver.
• In a Rhythm Kids or Big Kids class, only the specified age group (4/5, 5-8) is allowed to participate (w/parent if desired).
How will I get my music materials during the pandemic?
Families living where they would normally attend a class in-person should arrange to pick up their materials from Valley Cat Studio in Valley Village; families living out of town will be mailed their songbook, notation booklet, and CD. Shipping fee is $7, payable through the online store or Venmo.
How should we use the materials?
• Play Bongos song collection at home and in the car as often as possible, especially during the first few weeks of class. (CD, “Hello, Everybody” app, Family Music Zone online, downloaded to your iTunes/music program.) Be sure to listen all the way through! Have it on while you’re playing, cooking, bathing, cleaning up toys….
• Use songbook to help your child connect to the songs, to tell you what they want to hear, or at storytime instead of a regular book, singing through the songs as you go along. Fill in the printed prompts in the front and back as a musical keepsake!
• Use the notation booklet to play along if you play an instrument or to learn the lyrics. Show it to your kids to help them understand that music is something that can be read, like language. Familiarization with notation will help them when they are ready for more formal music instruction.
What is my role in class?
Please prepare for class by reading through the MTO Tips & Tricks. Be ready to interface with your teacher through your device to provide suggestions, either via Chat or audio—especially if you have young children or kids who are Zoomed out by distance learning.
You are the teacher in the room reflecting the teacher on the screen. Your child could go the whole class without ever needing to watch the screen if your device is positioned where you can see it but they are facing YOU.
Children are biologically wired to respond most to those with whom they have close bonds, so your role is to sing, dance, relax, and PLAY! Your active participation (modeling) is the key to your children learning and growing musically (and the only way your teacher knows you are getting what she’s teaching, so please position yourself where you can be seen, too)!
Support the creation of a music-only environment by not chatting with your children or other adults during class (try singing your message instead!). It is difficult for a young child to ignore adult conversation, so please wait to socialize until after class.
Refrain from giving verbal or manipulative directions, such as "Bang the drum” or holding your child's hand and hitting the drum for them; even suggesting a color for them to use can affect creativity. Children respond best by just seeing and hearing you doing (and enjoying) it yourself, and some kids want to watch before trying. Other kids need to move, which is fine, especially in the MTO world, and as long as they’re safe, their movement may be helping them process what they’re hearing!
When will I receive confirmation of class enrollment?
Confirmation emails are sent once the class has met minimum enrollment. If the class has not met minimum enrollment, you will be notified of placement in your second choice class.
What if I start classes after the semester begins?
We accept enrollment throughout the session for Music Together Online. You may sign up for three makeups via Zoom as long as there is space; in addition, you will receive video recordings from the beginning of the current session to catch up to your starting point, as song activities build over the course of the session.
NOTE: Tuition for Music Together Online will not be prorated.
What is the make-up policy?
Families will be provided backup recording links every week of their Zoom class to watch on-demand or as a makeup; however, to schedule a replacement Zoom class, please use the makeup scheduler at valleycatmusic.com/makeups.aspx.
Makeups do not carry over into future sessions or to other families and must be complete during the current session or forfeited. If you know you will be missing more than two classes, please alert the director for class planning.
Anytime you know you’re going to miss your class, please text your teacher so we are not waiting for you to begin class. Thank you!
What is the drop-in policy?
Please click HERE to see the full drop-in policy! Thanks.
What is the cancellation policy?
For Music Together Online, there are no refunds or credits unless Valley Cat Music is unable to provide ANY video or recorded content. If you aren’t sure how it’s going to work for you, please take advantage of the free demo classes or the optional second class offered the first two weeks to new (or new-to-MTO) families, and be sure to read the MTO Tips & Tricks under FAQ at valleycatmusic.com or email director for advice.
In the event of tragedy, of course please contact the director for assistance. You may cancel your registration but retain your video library if it’s of comfort.
Can we take pictures of online classes?
Yes and no. You may take pictures and shoot video of your family engaging in MTO in your home, as long as other online families are not showing and as long as you are still participating in class! Good times to catch a snapshot are during a jam, free dance, or when your child is fully absorbed in what their teacher is doing online (or you've got a second parent/caregiver doing class with your child).
Posting your MTO pics/vids to the private Facebook group for the current session is GREAT, and we will work together to make sure anyone inadvertently in your photo is okay with that or gets to say "no, thank you; please remove it." I adore photos and videos of your kids, so you can always text Deborah any kid pics!
Screenshots and screen recordings during MTO class are strictly forbidden.
The classic Music Together class for children 0–5 is a mixed-age environment because extensive research shows interaction between children of different ages & stages (as well as children and a variety of adults) is more beneficial to learning, growth, and development than grouping children in same-age classes where comparison and judgment is common, and the Mixed Ages class allows families with multiple young children to attend together. (Further reading: see article on Home page under News.)
In each Mixed Ages (Family) class we strive to create a musically rich, developmentally appropriate environment where the whole family can enjoy music and nurture skills at the level right for each child. Mixed-age classes provide a rich learning environment because children of different ages thrive when they interact with each other: the younger children are often fascinated by the older child, and the “big” children enjoy helping and sharing with the “little” ones, but the most important interaction is still between caregiver and child. Competition is reduced when the ages are mixed, creating a more relaxed class. This approach is based on research from music education, early childhood development, and family relationships, as well as our 25+ years' experience in the field. This class develops Basic Music Competence (singing in tune and keeping a steady beat).
Other class types include a Babies-only class for pre-crawling infants, the Rhythm Kids curriculum for older children 5–8, and Adult Guitar/Uke evening classes.
Can I breastfeed in class? Can we potty-train in class?
Breastfeeding is absolutely welcome. You will not be recorded. As for potty-training, please move your potty off-camera and continue doing your thing! If anyone is uncomfortable with a child being partially naked, please let me know and we’ll ask potty-trainers and streakers to attend video-off as needed. :-)