Music Together

Yesterday the girls stumbled on some of our old kids’ music. First they landed on some really insipid stuff from a CD that someone had given me, and I came into the kitchen and said, “Oh my gosh, that stuff was awful even back when you were a toddler! You’ve got to get some of the good stuff, likeour Music Together music!” They’d forgotten all about this stuff in their rush to learn every single word to Call Me Maybe and enjoy Taylor Swift’s latest video.

As soon as the music started playing, both girls remembered and were singing and dancing like crazy. It was a huge nostalgia trip for me, and they were having so much fun. What was amazing is how well they remembered all of the music from Music Together. I started singing A Ram Sam Sam and M jumped in to make it a round at the exact spot where we used to started a second round in her music class back when she was 3. She remembered it all.

It was particularly funny because I’d just been emailing back and forth with Matt from Matt’s Music Together. He had invited me to visit a Music Together class with him, and while I haven’t had a chance to visit his class yet, I assured him that I was already fully capable of gushing about Music Together. But I thought that it was particularly lovely that he’d started teaching after doing Music Together with his son. Here’s what he said:

I first started doing Music Together with my son, who at the time was 8 months old, in Albany with Heldeberg Music Together.  We both instantly fell in love with the program.  The music used for the program is not your standard “children’s” music, it offers a diversity of arrangements, rhythms, and a cultural variety that is unmatched by any other children’s music program.  We sang, we danced, we laughed, and I watched my son become more and more talented as we continued on with the program.  Not many parents can say that their 3 year old can sing in tune and play in the rhythm of the song, and mine for the most part, can. I attribute a large part of that to the Music Together program.

After a few semesters of being a participant, the Center Director, Deb Cavanaugh, asked if I wanted to become an instructor.  She knew I had a background in music (8 years of voice lessons, acting and being in a few bands), and also knew that it would be a good fit with my schedule, since I was a stay-at-home dad with my son.  After taking the Music Together teachers training and spending a few semesters as an apprentice under Deb, as well as Carol Jurs from Music Box Arts Music Together, I had the opportunity to open my own Centers in the Capital District (Troy and North Greenbush).  Since then I’ve expanded and have a center in Chatham as well.

I can honestly say, I have one of the best jobs in the world.  Having the opportunity to watch children explore the world of music, laugh, play, and slowly become musically competent  is unbelievably rewarding.  There is never a class where I’m not smiling or laughing.  And seeing a child grow up and become more and more “talented” in music, makes me feel like I’m helping change the world for the better.  Coming into class and hearing a parent talk about how their 1.5 year old is in the back of their car, tapping to the music and trying to sing makes and how proud that parent is, leaves me overjoyed; because I know that even though the children probably won’t remember me in 15 years, they will probably remember some of the songs I helped them learn, and they will have a life skill that they’ll never forget.  Singing in tune and  playing in rhythm is like riding a bike. . . once you’ve learned how you don’t unlearn it.  And I’m helping the next generation do that, and consider myself extremely fortunate to have found this path.

Anyway, I’ve got more information on Matt because 1. he asked and 2.  he’s actually going to be doing a giveaway of a session through KidsOutAndAbout, which we’ll be putting in the newsletter coming out later this week (if you aren’t signed up for the weekly newsletter, you can do it here). Yay, I love me some free stuff!

We loved doing Music Together classes. It’s a wonderful first class that babies love, and it’s terrific if you have more than one child to entertain (like I said in my Mixed Age post) because children can appreciate and learn from the classes on their own levels. There’s nothing worse than waiting for your 4-year-old to finish a class while your poor little 2-year-old pleads to join in. I also think that the classes helped my children to become music enthusiasts. M sings in school chorus and church choir and is playing the cello (although we might make a switch to something more portable and band-ish), and J plays the piano and is looking forward to being old enough to join in the singing. And yes, they both sing on-key. Oh! And another great music-appreciation activity for us was J’s dance classes with Ginny Martin, and she’s got a couple of free demo classes coming up this Thursday. I am still super-bummed that she’s forsaken all dance for gymnastics.

Matt didn’t have a handy photo from his class, and I thought surely that I must have one from our years of classes, but then I didn’t. And I realized that it’s because when you’re in a Music Together class as a parent, you’re not a spectator: you’re a full participant. So I have tons of pictures from Tumbling Tykes, because we mothers would often linger on the sidelines to chat and gossip. Not in our music class with Carol Jurs–I’d be singing along and shaking eggs with everyone else. And you know what? Dancing and singing together is a lovely way to bond with those kiddos. Each Music Together session comes with a new collection of songs, and our first collection was called Triangle. When I first listened to it, I was not fully sold on it, but within a few listens I was singing along with everything and forgetting to turn it off when I was alone in the car. And the CD was always in the car because for several months at various stretches it was the only way to keep the girls happy in the car. The other music collections are great, too, but I remember laughing with other mothers because each of us liked our first Music Together CD the best–we’d wink over how you just never quite get over that first love. Anyway, we had a lot of fun with Music Together, so I’d recommend it to anyone with young kids.

I mentioned that I was scouring my old photos looking for Music Together shots, and while I didn’t find them, I did find an old video clip of J that I thought you guys might like. Remember the photo of J dancing that is on my cards and on my Facebook page? Apparently while I was taking photos, Cute W was videotaping. I’ve actually struggled to upload videos onto the blog before with dismal results, but today I was determined. After trying about 13 different complicated things that didn’t work, I did something embarrassingly simple that did work, although the image is a bit wide for the column. Also, I have to laugh a bit, because apparently Matt’s son acquired rhythm early, and for J, it was clearly a work in progress. But gosh, she’s cute, and she clearly appreciates music! Here she is:

Now that I’ve finally figured it out, you can expect more videos in the future.

 

 

8 Comments

  1. NanaDeb

    thank you (once again) for your deep love for all you do. I adored this video! What a neat surprise at the end of your post! I am a nana to a 4, 2, 16 month & 2 month old grand children! They love to hear music as well. I adore it! It feels up the soul when happy or sad, lonely or together, sleepy or full speed ahead! Enjoy sharing your gift with the little people of today & the adults of tomorrow! :))

  2. Claire

    We had a great experience with Kindermusik, for similar reasons. My son’s preschool director thinks he’s gifted musically, and I know the skills he learned at Kindermusik (combined with how it helped him develop a love of music) are part of what she’s responding to. It’s great that these wonderful programs are available for toddlers and preschoolers.

  3. Thank you to all of the Moms, Dads and caregivers who have helped to make Music Together grow in the Capital District over the past 12 years since I brought this incredible program to our area. Our teachers are all well trained and qualified to present this amazing program to families. I want to especially thank Matt Yaeger of mattsmusictogether.com, Deb Cavanaugh of heldebergmusic.com and Terri Roben of musictogetherofsaratoga.com for your dedication and helping to make musicboxarts.com such a success. Thank for your support and love if Music Together and carrying on this incredible program.
    .

  4. @Matt & Carol, happy to spread the word
    @Claire, glad you’ve loved Kindermusik; I hear great things about it, too.
    @NanaDeb, aren’t you sweet–thank you!

  5. Thanks for sharing the positive experience of taking Music Together classes! It really is a great music and movement program, and continually updated and researched by it’s founders, both PHDs in early childhood. After teaching it for 8 years, I am still learning and never bored. I love hearing feedback from parents and seeing children who have been in classes with us.

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