It’s official: We’re Back to School!

How did everybody’s first week go? And how did summer end so quickly?

Transitions can be difficult — for kids, and parents, AND music teachers! Lucky me, I have a little lull in my schedule to take a big breath and ease into the school year. My boys started classes the last week of August, and many school-year-based preschools started this week. And I will start weekly class sessions *next* week, when everyone has settled in a bit!

Which means that I have the opportunity to give some details about the music program, and answer some FAQs.

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1.) What do you teach in music class?

Well, I did a whole post about this question earlier in the year, and you can read it HERE. But the short answer is this: I teach them that music is fun, and important enough that their school makes time for it every week; whether in my class, with their classroom teachers, or as a whole school singing together. They will learn to sing new songs, and move their bodies, and grow as musical beings in a supportive environment free from performance anxiety. Kids who have a positive association with music from a very young age are more likely to continue a music education throughout their lives.

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2.) Do they learn to play instruments?

Winds and strings? No. But I bring percussion / rhythm instruments to every class session, and we experiment with them together. What happens if we click our shaker eggs together? Or roll them on the floor? Can I pretend my rhythm sticks are a fiddle? Or a trumpet? Or a big letter “X?” Will a bell around my ankle sound different than a bell around my wrist? We imagine that our scarves are beds, and butterfly wings, and campfire flames. We’re working on our big, whole-body, gross motor skills. Don’t worry — I sneak a few lessons about time and meter in there too. We march in 2, dance in 3, and sing in 4, and no one is the wiser! 😉

The kids also get to strum the guitar, and I bring in featured instruments, like my flute or mountain dulcimer, or borrowed instruments like trumpets and trombones. (Then they get to watch ME learn — my brass skills are pretty limited!)

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3.) Well, how can they develop fine-motor skills?

Every child is on his/her own development continuum. A four-year-old might be writing her name and tying her shoes, while a two-year-old might be figuring out how to hold up his pinky finger independently of the rest. To develop these little muscle movements, we are doing finger plays with every theme. Hands and fingers become insects, fish, shapes, animals, tiny people… and there’s a whole lot of counting going on! It’s fun and challenging for them, and they will probably want to show you what they can do! Bonus: now they have a ready “toy” when you’re stuck in traffic or a waiting room somewhere — their own hands!

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4.) What curriculum do you use?

I do NOT use a ready-made curriculum. I prefer to create my own, with the help of dozens of pint-sized friends!

This year, I’m hoping to change things up a bit. With a couple of years of leading music & movement classes under my belt, the biggest hits are readily apparent… for example, when the kids are still demanding Five Little Pumpkins on Valentine’s Day! Each month will have an overarching theme that relates to the season or the current themes in the classroom. A sprinkling of holiday songs will be added in, when appropriate. We will rotate the same songs in and out within each month to really give the students mastery of the words, so THEY can sing them to YOU! But beyond that basic outline, I try to remain fluid about what we will explore in any given class. (Yes, even if that includes singing Five Little Pumpkins on Valentines Day.)

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Please join me here to sing along with us this school year! Click the block of lines in the upper right hand corner of you screen (especially if you are reading using a mobile device), and look for the links to “FOLLOW” this webpage via email or WordPress RSS feed, as well as Facebook, and Twitter. I’ll be posting themes, song lists, lyrics, videos, photos from class, and more!

Looking forward to an awesome year!

Chucks

Meow, meow!

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