I was wondering what topic I could cover today without spending a lot of time, since I'm up against the wall in getting prepared for my big fundraising event happening this Saturday. The Family Jam is in its 8th year. It's the most musical fun you'll have all year with your children. It's two hours of singing, dancing and playing instruments together. There will be boxes of percussion instruments available for everyone to share in the fun. This year, I've put together a full band to lead the songs. We have a drummer (Lorrie Keyoskey), bass player (Evan Parsely), two fiddles (Mat Kane and Francis Lindop), button accordion and sometimes keyboard (David Gerhan), recorder (Paul Rosenberg), guitar (Mark Maniak) and mountain dulcimer (me). We'll also have a few contra dances geared towards young people and led by Paul Rosenberg, who leads Family Dances in the Albany, NY area. If you have children in your life, you don't want to miss this exciting event.
As I pondered today's topic, I saw an article on the benefits of music education for children. It's just one of many articles promoting early childhood music classes. https://musiceducationworks.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/a-childs-brain-develops-faster-with-exposure-to-music/ So, I am apologetically promoting my Music Together classes in this post because, of all the music programs I've taught, I think this one is the best by far. The benefits in exposing children to music classes early on are numerous. This article talks faster brain development with exposure to music education, but music classes also help with socialization, cooperation, math and language skills, and the list goes on. Every year, I hear parents rave about their children's language skills and remark on how much earlier younger siblings who have attended class since they were infants, are acquiring spoken language. I've also heard praise from elementary school music teachers and music therapists. Here are a few testimonials from families who have participated in my classes.
"We're so glad our daughter is being introduced to the world of music via Deb Cavanaugh's Music Together class. Deb demonstrates that music can be exciting, calming, challenging, relationship-building, and a great comfort. Each Music Together class is structured and predictable, and Deb rotates use of various props and instruments, encouraging improvisation and silliness. Her musical skills, modeling, and expectations of us in class have increased our musical confidence... and possibly even our skills! Our five month old seems to enjoy music more and more every day."
"My daughters, who happen to be delayed in speech, have made significant progress in communicating and listening, and even their therapists say it's directly due to Deb's Music Together® class."
"My daughter has such a great time at Deb's Music Together® class each week, that I have trouble getting her to leave! And if there's a holiday where there isn't class some week, we play the CDs and sing and get out our own instruments in our living room-- she insists on it..."
"This course has been a great experience for both my son and I. One of the first things I learned, is that my participation was integral to my son getting the most out the class. We have a lot fun with the music and the wide array of instruments and other fun props used in class.
Music, seems to make everything fun, the “bye bye” song even helps making having to put the fun things away fun! I've found that this also works in putting our toys at home away, a nice added bonus :)."
"My 14 month old son, T------, has really taken a liking to Deb, the families and the entire program, and we both look forward to our special time to sing, dance and be together. As a parent, I am so pleased with Music Together - the structured, yet unique classes from week to week are a lot of fun. Brings me joy to see him, while riding in the car, or listening to our cd at home, recognize the songs we have heard and played to in class."
"For the past year and a half our Music Together®® class with Deb has been the highlight of my daughter, K----'s, week. It has been astounding for me to see how much a child can learn before her second birthday and just how she blossoms musically. K---- can now repeat rhythms, sing mostly on pitch, and play instruments. At home she often hands out different instruments to the rest of the family so that we can all jam together. When we're driving in the car, the only music she ever wants to hear is the CD from the current music class..."
"I want my child to understand that music is something you experience, not just something you sit and listen to. Deb allows that to happen in a way that is so subtle and organic, you don't even realize it's happening..."
Although some of the praise is for me as the teacher, most of the credit must go to Music Together for creating such a fun and comprehensive program. They make it easy for everyone, giving lots of support to the directors and teachers. As I near the end of my winter semester and gear up for the spring semester, I start to realize how important this program is in other ways than music education. In every class, there is a parent education component, too. I get to remind parents how easy it is to use the songs in everyday life to help their lives go better. Singing or whispering instead of yelling when your child is not listening. Singing songs about putting shoes and coats on, cleaning up toys, brushing teeth or hair, etc. It's such a pleasant way to get things done without all the stress of cajoling them or trying trick them. The trick, however, is remembering to do it the easier way, and that is not always easy in itself.
If you are not already aware of Music Together, definitely check out the website, even if you don't have children, and see what this life-changing program is about. There are many grandparents who bring their grandchildren to classes. It's for everyone and you are always welcome to try a class for free!