We love music. You can often find music playing through our home -- in fact, one of my "big girl home" wishlist items for a future house of ours is a sound system throughout the house so that music can be piped through. I also used to place headphones around my belly while pregnant with Camille and play classical music nightly (sidenote: really gotta get on that for baby 2.....).
Enrolling Camille in music classes was an idea that I presented to Ian when we decided that I would stay at home with her. Obviously Camille and I do a lot of free and low-cost things due to moving down to one income (library storytime, trips to the park, art projects at home, playing outside) but I was really excited when Ian was extremely encouraging for us to move forward with music classes. They are a wise investment for many reasons that I have recently learned, and I can't wait to share those!
Most recently, we have enjoyed the holiday music session at Music Together of Charlotte. This four-week session focused on all sorts of holiday-themed music ... traditional tunes like Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as well as songs and rhymes for Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The parents were all given CDs of the songs sung each week so that we could play the music in our cars or homes between classes. This was an excellent way for Camille to be familiar with the songs as soon as she heard the opening notes in class.
We attended three classes at the Blakeney location and also attended a make-up class in Dilworth for one week when we already had other plans that Wednesday. Make-up classes were really easy to schedule and I really appreciated the flexibility during the busy holiday season!
I loved dressing Camille up in holiday-themed clothes each week (the first set of photos above is from the first class, which was the week before Thanksgiving -- I didn't break out the red and green until December 1st!).
So, what were my take-aways from having her enrolled in these music classes?
My favorite, favorite lesson that the instructor stressed is this (and it actually brought tears to this hormonal mama's eyes): Your baby LOVES your voice. Lives to hear your voice. Finds comfort in your voice. Would walk directly across a crowded room directly to the sound of your particular voice. Good, bad, or ugly, your singing voice sounds like Celine Dion singing a sweet lullaby in your child's ears. I do not have a good singing voice, but this gave me confidence to belt out the songs with pride with Camille as she sat on my lap. (Sorry to anyone sitting on either side of me, ha!)
Parent and caretaker interaction is stressed highly in this class. They want you to be involved, using your voice, clapping your hands, playing the instruments, and just showing your child that you are happy and excited to be there, ENGAGED and participating. And, taken directly from the Music Together website, I just love this statement: "By emphasizing actual music-making experiences, we introduce children to the pleasures of producing music instead of passively consuming it from iTunes or TV."
Even small actions like waving scarves around from side to side to the music can help with eye tracking and rhythm for little ones. I so appreciated learning these tips through music classes so that I can keep up the teachings at home. To the children, anything can be an instrument -- a wooden spoon beating on an overturned soup pot, the zipper going up and down rhythmically on a jacket, a stick hitting the side of a tree to a familiar tune. If you are interested in reading about some of the research done for early childhood music therapy, here are some great resources.
There are over 2500 locations in over 40 countries of Music Together and here is a class locator if you are interested in checking it out! I really hope we can continue with these awesome classes for Camille.