What to expect...
What happens in class?
Children and their caregivers actively participate in playful activities that incorporate movement, songs, rhythmic rhymes, instrumental jam-sessions, and both rhythm and tonal patterns. Familiar traditional folk songs as well as rhythmic rhymes are presented in each class. In addition, some unfamiliar songs and chants in unusual and meters are presented to help children develop a rich vocabulary of music. We use a variety of fun materials with the activities including shakers, wrist bells, dynabands, parachute, drums, sticks, stretchy rope, scarves, hoops, resonator bells, puppets.
Why do you only offer mixed age classes?
Early childhood educators recommend mixed age grouping as a better learning environment. This type of setting encourages students to learn from one another and gives families an opportunity to make music together. Children of the same age are not necessarily in the same stage of musical development, so the best music educators individualize instruction and teach many different levels of complexity at once. Furthermore, the activities are adult-child oriented rather than child-child oriented , so children do not need to be with children of the same age.
Are the same songs used every semester?
No. The First Steps in Music curriculum has several cycles of different collections of songs and chants. In addition, we include several of our own favorite songs and chants from a variety of other sources.
Do you use instruments in the music and movement classes?
We use some simple percussion instruments (not pitched) that are easy for young children to play or use for exploration. Many of activities , however, involve movement , which can best be done with scarves, parachute etc.
I am not musical. Can I really help my child develop musically?
Yes! Parents are a child's most important teachers. Research shows that children learn their disposition toward music from their primary caregiver. A parent who has difficulty singing in tune can still teach his/her child that music is fun and important by modeling enthusiastic participation. Experiencing music in our classes, at live concerts, and on recordings will teach a child to discriminate accurate pitch and rhythm, so the "non-musical" parent can relax about these things.
Do infants really benefit from music classes?
Yes! Even though your infant may appear passive in class, he or she will be actively absorbing the language of music. Research has shown that the most important developmental years are between Birth and 18 months. Furthermore, your participation in class along with information from the Parent's Guide , First Steppers Newsletters, and parent education opportunities will help you understand how you can best help develop your child's musical potential. Infants through 8 months are welcome to join our classes without charge when attending with an older sibling. A Babies-only introductory class is now available for families who prefer a setting that allows adults more opportunity to learn the best way to develop their child's music aptitude using songs and activities specifically chosen for babies.
How is your program different from other music and movement programs?
All early childhood programs provide a wonderful service to families who are interested in enjoying community music experiences with very young children. Our program has chosen to incorporate the First Steps in Music curriculum for the following reasons:
The First Steps in Music Curriculum is research based and unique in that it emphasizes a rich, musical vocabulary using songs and chants that are attractive and appealing to both children and adults. The First Steps philosophy focuses on musical development rather than non-musical goals. The First Steps philosophy encourages mixed ages, a setting that we believe has many advantages. The First Steps in Music philosophy supports informal , non-performance oriented lesson. We encourage children by using spontaneous responses and provide many opportunities for them to move around in class. The First Steps in Music curriculum offers flexibility that allows us to develop lesson plans that work and to incorporate some of our own songs and chants. First Steps in Music teachers receive quality training, must be certified instructors and receive excellent support from the creator himself, Dr. John Feierabend - one of the few leaders in Music Education. First Steps in Music teachers are experts in early-childhood education, as well as music and many hold their Masters degree or higher.
What if my child does not want to participate in the class activities or wanders around the room?
We expect children to behave like children, which means they sometimes wander, and don't always want to participate. Some are observers by nature. This is very normal and not related to any musical interest or talent. An active child is not a problem in the classroom unless he or she is hurting other people or preventing them from being able to participate or learn. Children who are either wandering or just observing absorb much more information that parents might realize. Many report that their children prefer to experiment with the sounds in the car or at home.
What would I do if my child misbehaves in class?
It is helpful when parents manage discipline issues quickly and quietly. Use a look or gesture if possible. The less the adults in class talk, the better it is for the rest of the families. If it is a situation that involves excessive noise, step out of the classroom until the crisis is over. Feel free to come back when you are both ready.
What happens If I need to miss a class?
Like most schools, we can not refund tuition for classes missed during a session, even if those absences have been frequent. The orientation of our program is towards extending the class experience into the child's life outside of class by means of parent education and supportive materials. Tuition includes these items and consequently is not "wasted" even if classes are missed. In addition, we provide for 1 make up class per semester per child. To help us manage make up classes properly, please phone 978-973-2303 to let us know you will not be in class.
Can sibling , grandparents, friends attend class?
As a general rule, sibling or friends who are not enrolled in class should be left home with another caregiver. However, visitors (adults) are always welcome . If you are bringing a visitor please contact instructor to verify there is a space in class. There will be an additional charge for unregistered sibling attending class for a second time per semester (only 2 classes are allowed).