When I found Music Together (which made this list), my children were 1 and 2 years old. I drove around 45 minutes one way to attend because the teacher and classes came so highly rated by fellow moms, who had a similar parenting philosophy to mine. I couldn’t help but wonder: would Music Together live up to the hype?
You can jump, wiggle, and dance
We signed up. Our first session (10 weeks long) was hard. My older child ran around the room. A lot. My younger one clung to me. Our next 10 week session was also difficult. My older child mostly sat in the hallway during class, only coming out when the instruments or special items came out (which is fairly often, actually).
Yet, we persevered. We made friends. I reminded my kids, “We can walk in class, and jump, wiggle, and dance, but no running.” One still ran. The kids grew and then both kids would run and sometimes wrestle. We continue to talk about what we can do in class. They like to roll on the floor a lot. Hey, it’s better than running.
If it’s so awful, why continue?(spoiler: they’ve been learning)
I’d feel so frustrated, anxious, and tired. Why did I continue music classes?
First, Music Together has a developmentally appropriate philosophy. Straight from the introduction in their songbook, which I will be referencing again later, “[l]eading child psychologists endorse mixed-age groupings because children learn more easily and more deeply there than in single-ended classes.”
“Resist the urge to manipulate your child’s hands,” our teacher says on the first day. The classes are ages newborn to 6. Even babies can feel the rhythm and make noises in tune with the music. In addition, kids don’t have to sit still. It shuts off their learning. Along that same vein, children are allowed to put instruments in their mouths and parents are responsible for putting them into the “icky bucket” after the exercise.
The music included each session is rich and diverse, definitely not your typical “little kid” music that Americans have grown accustomed to providing to their children. Music Together “allows each child to be responsible for his own learning and helps adults view children’s growth through stages of development, not ages” (from the songbook, addition information available here). That definitely echoes my philosophy!
Second, my kids showed signs that they were learning the music, even the one who is “not participating.” We recently did an exercise where we sang the song in different ways. One part fast and then next part slowly. Then, another LOUD and the next quietly. My children were mimicking these patterns and dynamics in the car after class. Not only that, they’ve continued this exercise weeks afterwards!
Music Together states in the front of the song books, that research shows that 84% of us are born with enough musical intelligence to play in a professional orchestra. Let that sink in. They go on to assure adults that we all do have musical talent, even if it’s currently undiscovered.
Third, it seems that one child has acheived “pitch competency.” It’s pretty amazing to me, because I always felt sad I wasn’t blessed with a great singing ability and my rhythm is worse. With practice, I’m getting better. My other child is coming along with both pitch and rhythm. It’s amazing, since I thought musical ability was something one inherited.
Global and welcoming
Think Music Together is solely for Americans? Think again! Music Together classes are available globally! They welcome all caregivers to class (mothers, fathers, nannies, grandparents, etc). In addition, all classes are using the same music at the same time. If we travel to Japan today and we go to a class, we would know the music!
So, does music together live up to the hype?
Yes! That doesn’t make it easy for the parent, however, the rich, relaxed learning environment is great for kids. They aren’t forced to be still. Movement is encouraged. And emotions are respected (for example, if a child is sad over the instruments being put away, the sadness is understood by the teacher).
Check their website for availability in your part of the world!
The relevance to traveling?
Music Together classes would be an excellent activity to seek out if you are doing some long term, immersion style travel. There are certain things I always search for while researching destinations and one of those things is to see if there is a Music Together class local to where we would consider moving.
Believe it or not, this is not a sponsored post! All opinions are mine. I do think the classes are a wonderful, play-based way to learn music. The ads below are affiliate links. Purchasing through these links costs you nothing extra and goes toward keeping this site up and running. Thank you for visiting today!