Music Together(R) National Newsletter for Families
HOME                 ABOUT US                 WHAT'S NEW                 TEACHING                 PRESCHOOL                 STORE
Example Image
In This Issue

+ From the Program Founder
+ Children's Responses
+ Featured Family Video
+ Shopping
+ For Enrolled Families
+ Featured Family
Fall Letter from the
Program Founder

Dear Parents and Caregivers, 

For many Music Together parents, there are times in class or at home when they experience a moment of clarity---an "ah-ha!" moment. With surprise and delight, they better understand the impact of the program on their child, and on themselves, too. 

In Music Together parent-child classes, grownups often encounter an "ah-ha!" moment during their very first class experience. Adults may be nervous, thinking "How can you give music lessons to all these little children at once? And they're all different ages!" But then the class begins, and they see babies and four-year-olds playing instruments together, and parents rhythmically moving to the music and singing with their children. They realize that Music Together is all about making music in a way that's completely natural---it's not a music lesson, it's a family music experience!
For parents in preschool programs, the first "ah-ha!" moment may happen during a visit to the classroom at music time or during the first parent event at school. They may have been experiencing the CDs, the songbook, and their child's excitement about music at home; but now they experience for themselves how natural and enjoyable the activities can be.

About halfway through the first semester, a different kind of "ah-ha!" moment occurs when parents start noticing just how deep the learning can go. The mom whose child stares at the teacher and seems to do nothing in class realizes what's really happening---her child's attention span is locked onto his surroundings and he's "downloading" everything going on in class. The dad whose child is always asking for the CD at home or in the car finds himself spontaneously singing one of the songs while cleaning up the kitchen, and his little helper corrects him with, "No, Daddy, it goes like this..." And many parents notice how the involvement with the music stimulates their child's expressive abilities, particularly in movement and language.

The relaxed, playful atmosphere found in a Music Together class also allows many parents to feel it's a safe place for them to explore their own music-making abilities. This realization happens at different times for different parents, but somewhere along the way they realize they are actually learning, too! Perhaps understanding how their children learn and how to support that process helps a parent better understand his or her own musical childhood, whether it was good or not so great. Often, parents discover they really do love to sing or dance, or they rediscover musical abilities lying dormant since high school or college. 

Gradually, on car trips and airplane rides, at bedtime and at the kitchen table, the songs and activities become part of family life, and---ah-ha!---parents realize that Music Together has become a favorite form of "quality time" for the whole family.

Apples and Cherries

Kenneth K. Guilmartin
Music Together LLC

TopOfPageChildren's Responses Are
Not Like Ours

During my first Music Together parent-child class, the teacher had a relatively easy time getting us adults to behave in proper "music class" fashion: we sat nicely in the circle, paid attention, and did our best to sing and move just like the teacher. Meanwhile, our various-aged children were crawling across the circle, toddling outside it, gleefully using a handy windowsill to pull themselves up to standing, hopping energetically, or just sitting and watching. There was even one child---alas, my very own---who trotted around the circle for the entire forty-five minutes. (I was mortified.) Yet the teacher seemed utterly unperturbed; indeed, she asked us to keep participating rather than chase down our wayward children. How could she be so sanguine about the fact that the children were not paying attention or learning anything?
Mixed Age Class
Actually, a lot of learning was taking place. Even my on-the-go daughter inexplicably learned all the songs while seeming to pay no attention at all. I was seeing first-hand that very young children's ways of learning are different from adults'. They learn instinctively and constantly, absorbing the world through their very pores: they learn through immersion in their environment, through interaction with adults and older children, through imitation and play.

Therefore, children do not conform to an adult's idea of what "participation" should look like; we see a full spectrum of music responses and behaviors in a Music Together class. Some may be the result of a biological imperative such as the need to crawl or walk, and some simply reflect the children's free expression of their varied temperaments. One of the delights of a Music Together class is that children are so gloriously unselfconscious about being just who they are.

Musical Dad It can help parents to know that the apparently unengaged child is actually intensely in the present moment, absorbing everything around her. The crawling child, for example, may suddenly begin to rock back and forth on all fours, clearly in response to the music. The toddler may look back at Mommy, see her doing small movements to accompany the song, and attempt to imitate her. The constantly moving child may be moving in time to the music. And the shy child, motionless on Daddy's lap, may be so intently focused that his eyes never leave the teacher. These careful watchers often confound their parents by going home and imitating all the activities from that day's class!

Interestingly, some of these behaviors may be quite different from the way children behave outside of class. A relatively calm child may respond to music with tremendous gusto, or a naturally ebullient child may become utterly quiet. It's important for the bewildered parent to recognize that classroom behavior is a reflection of the child's individual learning style---and that there is no "wrong" or "right" style.

Granted, some behaviors---as opposed to learning styles---can be problematic. Music Together teachers are trained to understand typical behaviors in the developing child and to manage any that may be inappropriate. It's appropriate, for example, for a toddler to wander around; he is compelled to walk and is unlikely to harm anyone. A three-year-old who runs, though, can be a hazard, and the teacher is likely to redirect him to walk, skip, march, or jump instead. What's key is that, within appropriate boundaries, the underlying kinesthetic style of each child is accepted. In the same way, the observant style of the watching child is equally accepted---it would be unnecessarily stressful to pressure this kind of learner to participate.

Play-along PhotoIn Music Together, we "accept and include" the myriad learning styles, temperaments, and music behaviors of the children in our classes. Very young children---unlike their parents!---are simply not developmentally ready to sit nicely in a circle. Whether your child is on the kinesthetic or observant side of the spectrum, you can relax and embrace his music responses while participating fully yourself. Your child will have the benefit of your example, and you'll have the chance to discover something about his learning style.

-Susan Pujdak Hoffman, Certified Music Together Teacher Trainer and Staff Writer/Editor
Featured Family Video

In this video, five-year-old Derek has fun with the Music Together chant, "Here Is the Beehive." Chants are an important part of children's music development, which is why every Music Together song collection includes at least one. A simple chant provides a wealth of musical information about rhythm, meter, accent, dynamics, and changes in inflection. When experiencing these elements exclusive of the pitch and melody that a song also provides, children can better focus on the rhythmic aspect of music. Another bonus? When your son or daughter is fussy, an engaging chant might be just the thing to change the mood! 

One chant in the Flute song collection is "I Had a Little Frog." It's perfect for bath time! While reciting it, don't forget to express your "inner frog" by croaking "r-r-r-r-ibbet, r-r-r-ribbet" and occasionally flicking out your tongue to catch a fly!

Keep making music at home---and share your photos, videos, and stories with us on Facebook or YouTube.
Shopping cart note

~ Fall Harvest Special ~
 Free Pair of Red Egg Shakers!

This fall, you'll receive a free pair of red Music Together egg shakers ($4.50 value) wiith your order of $30 or more at the Music Together online store. Have fun singing "Shake Those 'Simmons Down" with the children in your life while keeping rhythm with these great-sounding eggs. Enter coupon code HARV2010 at check-out for your free gift.
Red Egg Shakers
Offer expires November 30, 2010, and may not be combined with any other offers or discounts.

'Tis the Season for Giving
and Receiving a Free
 Wooden Train Whistle!

Get a heaTrain Whistled start on your holiday gift shopping and receive a free wooden train whistle ($4.00 value) with your order of $30 or more at the
Music Together online store. Just enter the coupon code GIFT2010 at check-out.

Give the gift of music to the children and families in your life this holiday season. Visit us online for gift sets, instruments, scarves, CDs, and other wonderful musical gift ideas.

Offer expires December 31, 2010, and may not be combined with any other offers or discounts.
For Enrolled Families

Did you know that there is a section of the Music Together website JUST FOR YOU? Check out "For Enrolled Families," where you'll find new ideas and videos on ways to incorporate music into your family's daily life, learn more about the research behind the program, and link to other news on the website, including the Music Together Experts Blog.

Find us on Facebook

Top of page
Featured Family: An Interview with Heidi Gralla-Chang
Heidi Gralla-Chang and her children have been attending Music Together classes since 2001---one of the most "senior" families ever in our Music Together community! The family is currently preparing to "graduate" from family classes. In honor of this event, we spoke to Heidi and the director of her center, Jackie Freimor, of Over the Moon Music and More, located in Westchester County, New York.

MT:  What are some of the reasons why you and your children have remained in Music Together for so many years?

ObwisanaHeidi: Music Together has greatly enhanced my love for music and it helped make us a musical family, which I treasure. It was the first place that anyone ever welcomed my lousy off-key singing! I was surprised when the teacher actually told me my daughter would appreciate hearing me sing.  Also, I am so happy that Jackie was my son Joshua's teacher, as he got older. She really understood how to make the class appropriate for all ages. She always made a point of reminding us that a child who looked like he wasn't listening might actually be listening very carefully.

Jackie: It's been wonderful seeing Heidi and her family acquire new musical skills and have so much fun together. Over the years, Heidi has become more and more comfortable with singing and dancing in a group. She now participates so enthusiastically and with so much joy that it's beautiful to watch.

MT: What are some of your family's favorite songs and activities?

Heidi: When my son Brendan---now age nine---was little, his big sister Rachel used to change the words in "Mr. Rabbit" to "Mr. Brendan," and he loved it! And my kids still like to sing "Canoe Song" in a round.

MT: Jackie, do you have a favorite Gralla-Chang musical memory you'd like to share?

Jackie: Every week, I've loved watching Heidi and her son Joshua cuddle for the lullaby. She cradles him like a baby---though he's five-and-a-half now---and sings with him! It's the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

Try this musical activity idea from Jackie with your family!

"The Earth Is Our Mother" Variations: The song "The Earth Is Our Mother" (from the Music Together Flute song collection) is about caring for different parts of the natural world (like the sky, rivers, and trees) as though they are beloved family members. Try making up verses about taking care of members of your family. For example, when your child is upset about something, it might be appropriate to hug and rock her, singing: "My baby is crying; I must take care of her."
Or, at dinnertime you might sing: "Louis is hungry; it's time for di-inner."
Example Image
Copyright 2010 Music Together LLC. All Rights Reserved.