Despite the fact that neither my husband or I have any musical talent to speak of, all three of our kids love music -- each in their own way.
Ellie is quite the dancer and she is quick to get moving when she hears any sort of music (the girl isn't shy). Brendan likes to hang back and listen intently -- memorizing all of the lyrics while nonchalantly tapping his foot. Little Colin loves a good maraca or shaker and he invariably concludes each song with an uproarious round of applause in celebration of his most excellent performance.
As a mama, I love to see how music awakens a child's enthusiasm, curiosity, and imagination. I love to watch them dance and sing along. I love the smiles on their faces while they are having fun (and learning all sorts of new things at the same time).
For all of these reasons, I have long been a big fan of music classes for kids. There is something sort of magical about gathering together in a room with other parents and kids, sitting on a carpet filled with drums, tambourines, and music-makers in all shapes and sizes and just watching what happens. This experience always makes me feel good (I suspect that the kiddos feel the same way).
Last Sunday, 20 month-old Colin and I met up with my sister and her 5 month-old daughter to try out a Marsha's Music Together class. We gathered together in a comfortable room with other parents and kids. The kind and gentle teacher led us in some familiar (and a few not-so-familiar) tunes. We moved our bodies. We were LOUD and we were very, very quiet. We played with a huge variety of instruments. We had fun making music together.
Marsha's Music Together recognizes that children have an innate need and love for music. This program has been popular in the Hyde Park neighborhood for years and is expanding to new Wicker Park and Lincoln Park locations this fall.
Each class has rituals that the children need and enjoy — the hello song, an instrumental play-along, a lullaby and the goodbye song — plus eight to ten varying experiences involving unusual meters and tonalities, sometimes using props like scarves or a parachute. Many of the classes are for mixed ages (birth through 5 years). I found that this mix of younger and older children makes for a lively, interactive atmosphere (and also makes it easy for families with multiple children to attend one class together).
If you think this sounds like something that your little music-maker would love, I encourage you to try a free class. Marsha's Music Together is holding free demonstration classes at a variety of locations throughout the city this week. Have a look at the schedule of demo classes to find one near you.
Enrollment for the fall session is now open. Each Music Together session includes 10 weekly 45-minute classes filled with live music. Each new family also receives the complimentary booklet Music and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers plus 2 copies of a CD with familiar tunes (one for home and the car).
Whether you do it in a class setting or simply at home in your living room with a drum and a kazoo, I encourage you to set aside some time to make music together with your little ones (trust me -- you'll be so, so happy that you did).
Disclosure: Marsha's Music Together is a new sponsor of A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks. I am being compensated to help spread the word about their program (which is an easy thing to do because we really loved our experience in the demo class).
Cross-posted at Wee Windy City.