Why Music Class?
What do we do in music class?
Our class structure varies according to age. Here’s what you can expect from each of Miss Stephanie’s music classes.
- Infant class: 4-12 months This half-hour class includes massage rhymes and tickling songs, babies playing together around a large gathering drum, bounces, maracas, peekaboo songs, and lullabies.
- One year old class: 12-24 months This half-hour class includes tickling songs, fingerplays, playing instruments such as maracas, drums, and rhythm sticks, and movement to music. This class is more motor-focused than the infant class.
- Tot/Preschool class: 2-4 years This forty-five minute class has a weekly theme, such as: Animals, Transportation, Motor Skills, Seasonal/Weather, Creativity, etc. This class is a bit more structured than the one year old class, and includes more challenging fingerplays, instrument songs introducing a greater variety of instruments, creative movement to music, sharing songs, and storytime.
- Music Therapy Friends: 3-11 years This is a music therapy group that focuses primarily on very specific developmental goals. Interventions, songs, and instruments are directly geared towards the students who are enrolled in this class. In the past we have worked on social interaction, speech and language skills, sensory integration goals, attention to task and following directions, and motor skills. This class is very unique, and the perfect group for children who have Down Syndrome, autism or autism spectrum diagnoses, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, sensory challenges, and even mild speech and language delays.
Miss Stephanie’s early childhood music classes are music therapy based.
What exactly does this mean? Each music class, organized by age, has a focus on developmental skills, rather than an emphasis on obtaining musical techniques. While many children do acquire new musical skills, such as keeping a steady beat, developing their singing voice and sense of pitch, and gaining knowledge of different instruments, Miss Stephanie focuses primarily on teaching the children developmental skills through music.
- Motor Skills By playing instruments such as maracas, drums, and rhythm sticks, children practice fine motor skills. Grasping a mallet and playing a drum incorporate eye-hand coordination and fine motor strength. By playing rhythm sticks with both hands, children practice bilateral coordination- playing with both hands simultaneously- a skills that can be difficult for toddlers. The instruments we play in class and the fingerplays we practice are helping to refine motor planning, bilateral movement, and coordination as well as increasing fine motor strength. Through movement to music, we practice a variety of gross motor skills, including balance, coordination, and agility. Our movement songs incorporate jumping, stomping, toe-tapping, and dancing.
- Attention/Following Directions The fingerplays and action songs we do in music class are great ways to help build your child’s ability to follow directions and develop attention skills.
- Social Skills For our younger age groups, music class may be one of the first opportunities for your child to participate in a group setting. Just being exposed to other children the same age can be a valuable social experience for a toddler. In our older classes, we introduce “passing songs”, in which the children take turns playing an instrument. Music class helps foster the ability to treat peers with respect and be part of a community.
- Speech and Language Development Singing is a wonderful tool for language building. Through song, we can practice articulation of sounds, vocabulary, and language expression.
- Self-confidence and creativity This may be one of the most important aspects of our class. Watching a hesitant child begin to blossom and feel good about him/herself is one of the most rewarding parts of class participation. As children become more self-assured, they feel more comfortable expressing themselves in class, moving creatively to music, using their voices to sing, and participating with enthusiasm. I honestly believe that helping children to realize their own uniqueness, importance, and potential is one of my favorite parts of teaching music class.
And of course, we do gain musical skills along the way. Here are a few of the music-related benefits of attending class:
- Keeping a steady beat Children often have naturally good rhythm, and it is rewarding to watch them playing their rhythm sticks on the beat, steadily playing a drum, or rhythmically clapping their hands to the beat.
- Singing voice Many children begin to develop a strong sense of pitch, and we hear them singing along to the music in tune! Music class helps to develop a pleasant singing voice, and more importantly, the confidence to sing along in class.
- Introduction to and enjoyment of a variety of instruments and styles of music Our class is a great introduction to different styles and genres of music, and we give children the exposure to many different instruments: maracas, bells, rhythm sticks, drums, and in the older class, we add xylophones, cabasas, tambourines, guiros, ocean drums, and many others.
And finally, there is often a benefit to the adults who bring the children to class.
- A much needed opportunity for socialization with other adults Taking care of young children can be extremely draining and isolating, and music class can be a supportive environment for sharing with other caregivers. We have often used the time before and after music class to build friendships, brainstorm ideas for parenting challenges, and simply vent our frustrations.
- A structure for your week There has been a lot of controversy about “over-scheduling” our children. I am a firm believer that too many activities is not always a positive experience for parent or child, but particularly with toddlers, having something to do that gets you out of the house can be a lifesaver. Many of the children who attend music class look forward to class all week, and talk excitedly about it at home. It makes them feel they have an “important” class that is just for them.