27 January 2012

Music Together.

Growing up, I didn’t live in a particularly musical household.  There was no piano, no one played an instrument, and I don’t remember much random singing.  What I do remember was the chocolate brown 8-track stereo that sat in our living room, and my sister’s and my first record player with rack of 45’s.  I have fond memories of holding countless ‘concerts’ in our shared bedroom, using hairbrushes as mics and dancing around lip syncing to George Michael and the Pointer Sisters to our audience of stuffies. 

When G turned 18 months, I began looking for some kind of music class to enroll him in.  I wanted to expand his world just that much more, and also give us an opportunity to do something altogether.  I found one, it started just a couple weeks ago, and already I feel like my perspective on music involvement in a child’s life has changed and grown for the better.

His first class, while fun for T and I, was not so much for G.  He wasn’t really into it, never left our laps, and made me wonder if we had made the right decision to commit the next 10 weeks to this adventure.  But class 2, just last Saturday, was a different experience.  He was more active, definitely into the instruments, and began to show his own little moves. 

Then earlier this week, there was a parents-only education night to talk about why musical influences in early childhood development are beneficial, and to share more about the philosophy of Music Together.  I went solo, and on the drive home, it got me thinking about what musical influences had shaped my own experiences.  I’ve never thought of myself as musical because I can’t read music, didn’t up playing that saxophone that I entertained the idea of doing back in fourth grade, and like many, do my best singing in the car or the shower.  But in thinking about those impromptu bedroom concerts, how many cds I actually do own (G, ask me what those are someday, as I’m sure by the time you’re old enough to read this, they will have died the death of the 8track and record), and how much music and dancing ruled my 20’s, my definition of what being musical means, has shifted. 

Maybe I do have a bit of musicality in me.  I still love listening to music. I still love singing to it in the car, holding my own pretend concerts in the kitchen while cooking (the wooden spoon makes an awesome mic), and I still get psyched when a really good 80s song (and G, I will teach you the definition of a ‘good’ 80s song versus a BAD 80s song) plays that I haven’t heard in a while.

What I love now is that I’m already seeing the influence of this class in G at home.  At the first class, we were given a songbook and cd of all the music that’d be played this session.  It’s called the Bells collection, and has a series of really catchy songs meant to get moving, shake those maracas.  We play it in the car and on weekend mornings.  I sing the songs to him while we get ready for ‘school’, or getting cozy for bed.  And he’s now starting to repeat it.  And even better, liking it! While he may not appear to always to be into it in the actual class, that little mind is soaking it all up like a juicy sponge that is bursting with new knowledge.   

One of the important lessons I took away from the parent-education night was not only is it important for the parents to participate as freely as the child, but to allow the child to express himself in their own way. Meaning, if we're listening to the music and G's not banging on the drum to the exact beat, don't correct him! He's doing it his way and having the most fun doing so.  That's what matters.

We have eight weeks left to the class. I can't wait to watch him continue to express himself in creative, fun, and carefree ways as he learns to appreciate the music. Something we should all take a lesson from in this fast-paced, busy adventure we call life.

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