I did not expect to be thinking about John Denver and the Muppet's Christmas album in the middle of July. The heat is reason enough to conjure imaginary mountains of snow, but my thoughts drifted to one of my favorite childhood music memories after I took my son to our first Music Together® class at Meryl's Music.
Wondering if there might be a reason why I specifically thought about Christmas carols from my childhood after the first class, I went to Google for some answers. It turns out
that the part of our brain which follows the notes in a piece of music is the same part that stores memories. Even though the class did not involve any of the songs specifically from my favorite childhood album, there must have been enough similarities to bring that musical memory of mine back to the surface. This also explains why I can still (proudly) sing all the words to Milli Vanilli's Blame it on the Rain when I probably haven't heard the song in ten to fifteen years. Music is now being used as a therapy with Alzheimer patients as a way to recall important events and emotions.
Some may argue that taking an infant or toddler to a music class is more for the caregiver in attendance than the child. Others will cite a growing body of research that suggests an early introduction to music is vital for a child's development. While listening to Mozart may not make your child the next Einstein, exposing your child to music has many positive benefits. When children interact with the music they hear, by singing and playing along, they not only develop an early sensitivity to pitch (such as recognizing when a note is off key) but research has demonstrated that musical interaction can lead to improved social and communication
I don't need exhaustive research studies to tell me this. Intuitively, I believe music is as important as language and that the two are often intertwined. I learned my ABC's by singing them and have a catalog of songs taught to me when I was a child, which bubbled back to the surface of my sleep-deprived brain after the birth of my son. Parents and caregivers have been singing lullabies to soothe their children far longer than any research studies or specially marketed baby genius CD's have been around. Music is a fundamental part of our culture and is one way in which we express our range of emotions. Music is everywhere. It is so completely integrated into our society that you often do not even realize you are hearing it (until you catch yourself humming or singing along). The car radio. The commercial jingle. The opening credits of a movie. You hear music at the grocery store, in elevators, at the dentist or the airport.
When I signed up for Music Together® I had a picture in my head of a group of children unencumbered by self consciousness responding to the music by dancing
and singing. I wasn’t far off. The class was 45 minutes of playful fun and it was easy to see which children had been attending previous sessions. While my son remained a cautious observer during the majority of the class, the children who had taken classes before enthusiastically picked up
instruments, tapped in time to the beat, and joyfully ran around our group interacting with each other and the music. You leave the first class armed with a beautifully illustrated songbook, a music CD that contains all the songs covered during the session, and an informational brochure containing a DVD.
Determined to make the most of this class, I popped the CD into the car stereo and was pleasantly surprised. It is actually really fun to listen to and a few days after our first class I have already played it several times. The songs have a variety of tempos from slow and smooth, to lively Latin beats that my son already seems to show a preference for. A key aspect of this program is right in the title; music together.
So in the spirit of full commitment I will be belting out the songs in the car as we bop around town on errands and have instituted a daily dance parade around the living room with improvised instruments.
It is already quite obvious to me that my son mimics the actions of the people who love and care for him, so my level of involvement is important. The repetition of the music outside of class encourages him to recognize the songs and there is nothing better than watching your child express himself as he moves to the beat by bopping, clapping, swaying. The playfulness is infectious and we are having a great time. Perhaps
when my son is grown, instead of having a head full of John Denver and Milli Vanilli, some of his musical memories will be songs he and I learned in Music Together.
Music Together® is a parent-child music class of mixed ages from birth to age five. Classes focus on interactive play where both the caregiver and child share songs, play instruments, and participate in rhythm chants and movement activities. Classes of mixed ages foster family-style learning where the younger children watch and imitate the older ones, and the older children learn by leading the younger ones. Meryl's
Music and Arts Centers offer a variety of classes for children (from birth to age seven) at studios in Harwich, S. Yarmouth, Bourne, Eastham, and Sandwich. Please visit www.merylsmusicandarts.com for more information.
Disclaimer: This review was made possible by Meryl's Music & Arts. All thoughts are the blogger's own.
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