We pay over $18 per class and drive 40 miles each direction (or take the train) every week to Peanut and Twig’s Music Together class. Starting this fall, it’s even more because we are paying for Twig also, who was free until she turns 8 months old.
I’ve tried to find a different music class. We tried one out where the teacher literally played Sponge Bob Square Pants and told them to run around the room in a circle. We tried to set up a similar music class, meaning one where they actually learn music, closer to home, but couldn’t get enough people for it to be worth it. We tried doing other non-music classes, but all of them expected things that were not developmentally sound (e.g. a 2 year old must sit on this spot and not move for 20 minutes or they’re not allowed to participate), didn’t actually have a benefit in the future, gave them candy as a bribe, or a combination of the above and more.
Maybe we would have liked these other classes, had Music Together not spoiled us. What is Music Together, you ask? Simply put, it’s a music class that introduces them to real music. That’s only one of the many reasons we love our class though.
Non-coercive. Children are told not to run. That is the only rule. No sitting in one spot. No forced participation (except the parents, we most certainly must participate). They actually acknowledge that your child will go through phases where they just want to observe. It’s a normal part of development!
Real music. Most children’s music, heck, most adult music too, is written in C major. That is only one of many, many chords. To be frank, I find it quite boring! It’s probably the requirement to repeat it over and over and over whilst playing the cello that has given me a bias. It’s important for children to be exposed to all sorts of major and minor chords for musical literacy. There’s also real rhythm in these classes. Not only triplets, but even 5′s (I’m not quite sure what that’s called). That even threw me off! I don’t know that I have ever played a song in 5′s.
Long term benefits. Peanut already has wonderful tone. Dare I say better than myself or my husband? And she’ll make up tone and rhythm patterns for us to repeat back to her. This class leads directly into Musical Bridge, which teaches them musical theory before learning to play an instrument. It gives them a head start to learning music.
Short term benefits. When Twig was born, she immediately started to be soothed by the music from class. I can not tell you how many times I sung “One little drummer marching up, marching up, marching up…” whilst changing a diaper. There were many times that it was the only thing that could get her to stay still long enough for me to get the clean diaper onto her. Not to mention when she’s crying or just when having fun.
Making me sing. I don’t have a horrible voice by any means, but the idea of singing, especially around adults, makes me nervous. I remember when Peanut was young that one of the moms of an older child was telling me how much she uses song in her everyday life. My immediate thought was that I could never do that because I just don’t have the gall. Turns out I do. Not only do I sing happily through our class and all around our house, but I sing in public too! When the girls are being grumps in the grocery store? We start marching up the isle singing. When Twig is crying at the park, I sing a lullaby in her ear. When we just feel like having some fun, let’s sing! Singing is a glorious parenting tool and Music Together has helped build my confidence to use it.
Making my husband sing. Sure, he’s not quite as cavalier as I am when it comes to singing in public, but I honestly can’t tell you that I really heard him sing before he started attending Music Together with us. He has a deep baratone that I enjoy listening to, so this is quite a shame! I suppose I’d have to confirm this with him, but I believe that singing is a useful parenting tool for him too. At very least, it gives him another way to connect with his girls. Which brings me to…
Connection. We connect as a family through this class. We go every Saturday all together and sing and dance. The Peanut sings to Twig when we get home. Peanut sings tonal and rhythm patterns for us to repeat. We sing to Peanut. We sing in the car. We dance around the kitchen to music while waiting for dinner in the oven. This class helps us to really incorporate music into our lives and the lives of the girls, all whilst making a stronger connection as a family. After Twig was born, this connection was especially important for Peanut.
So, that’s why we continue with our music class. That’s why we have a special cash envelope devoted to Music Together that gets a good chunk of change every month. That’s why we continue to drive to Salt Lake to take this class every Saturday. It’s all worth it.
I feel the need to put a little disclaimer down here. Music Together did not pay me to write this. Imagination Place did not pay me to write this. This is all of my own accord because I feel more people need to know of the benefit of music, and specifically this program, to their child.