40 minutes of music with guitar, bells, shakers, puppets, bubbles, and varying monthly themes. Our classes are designed to enrich, engage, and entertain young children (AND their grownups) in a fun, joyful setting.
Our Philosophy and Approach
At this point it's fairly common knowledge that live, interactive musical experiences are great for a child's developing brain and body. Music itself is a complex language, and early participation helps to lay the foundations for pattern recognition across many disciplines they will later encounter- improvements in language processing, gross and fine motor skills, and musical aptitude have all been linked to early musical exposure. Some programs will go so far as to claim that certain movements/songs/sounds/syllables will stimulate specific areas of cognition. In our opinion, each child is too different and the science is a bit too fuzzy for us to feel comfortable limiting our material in this way (no offense to those who do) but we do choose songs and activities that have been personally tested and modified over the years for maximum engagement and with developmentally appropriate practices in mind.
However there are plenty of other very valid reasons you might want to bring your child to an early developmental music class. Children can have some of their first experiences in socialization here- sharing, listening, making new friends, following rules, and resolving conflicts in a safe and monitored environment. Many children in the NYC area have a limited local family network, and early childhood classes can provide a built-in community of support and a chance for the kids and grownups alike to meet neighbors with common interests. Some parents also see classes for this age group as an opportunity to prep their kids for what's to come- a taste of a school setting where there is a clear focus on a teacher and a timeline to follow (while still allowing for the creative play and flexibility that early childhood learning requires).
And sometimes, it's simply a fun excuse to get out of your apartment. Or a break from the pressure and tedium of entertaining a rambunctious toddler. Or maybe you just love seeing your child light up with joy dancing to their favorite song- you can get some of the best pictures and videos from class, these kids are adorable and hilarious when they're in their happy element. Or maybe you simply love music too and want to share the experience as a family!
We try to keep all of these factors in mind when designing our curriculum. We piece together a mixture of material with a broad appeal that gives kids lots of opportunities to explore the music at their own developmentally appropriate pace, and we often modify our plans on the fly depending on the needs of whomever drops in that day. We swap out themes and props on a monthly basis to provide enough repetition for the kids to feel comfortable but enough variety to keep the adults entertained and introduce great new music and activities. Our song selection is a combination of tried and true kids standards (there's a reason why kids are drawn to the same certain songs, sometimes you have to trust the wisdom of the ages), fun pop songs that everyone will appreciate, and original material that we've created when we just can't find a good song about firetrucks or superheroes or sunscreen, etc.
Above all, we want our classes to be a bright spot in your child's day. Music has enriched our lives beyond measure, and it is such a privilege to share it with a new generation of music lovers and creators.
We don't have any hard and fast rules for attendance but if you want your little one to get the most out of class, here are some pointers-
~ Children take their attentional cues from you. If you're on your phone or talking to the person next to you the whole time, you're sending the signal that whatever the teacher is doing isn't important and they don't have to tune in either. The occasional text and conversation is completely fine- we want class to be a relaxed environment where you can make friends and let someone else entertain your child for a while! But just know that the more you pay attention, the more they will too. Trust us, we get bored singing The Wheels On The Bus for the millionth time too (in our case it's probably the billionth), but if you dance along and focus on the experience you're creating for the children in the class it's new every time.
~ Participate as much as you can. It REALLY doesn't matter if you can't carry a tune (we're certainly not here to judge you, and kids don't care one bit). Again, your child will be taking cues from what you're doing, so at least grab an egg shaker and tap out a beat. Wiggle around and work on those dance moves you'll enjoy using to embarrass them as teenagers. There's a huge boost in the energy of a class when the grownups are involved in creating the music- everyone has a better time and the kids are much more focused.
~ Don't force movements on a child. Sometimes it takes a while for a kid to start singing and dancing during class. It's pretty common for a child to sit silently and watch what's happening, and then go home and test out what they've learned much later that day in the crib or the playground or the bathtub. For whatever reason their brains need to observe and absorb first before they participate, so show them by demonstrating on your own person and let them come into it naturally.
It's also really common for kids to wander around when they first learn how to crawl or walk. Exploration and gross motor development is their main priority but don't worry, they're paying more attention to the music than it seems. So many times we've seen kids spend a couple of months climbing the walls only to come back front and center with all the words and moves memorized. As long as they're enjoying themselves and they're not putting themselves or others in harms way, don't feel like you have to force them to sit and listen the entire time. Simply make sure they're safe, try to encourage participation when you can from whatever side of the room or lawn they're on, and trust that they have their own reasons for doing their thing.
~ If your child has a meltdown, please pull them aside and give them some time to calm down. It happens to the best of us, but whatever your parenting philosophy on how to handle a screaming child, it's very hard to sing over it and lots of kids are sympathetic criers. You'll be doing everyone a solid by pulling them outside or the room or simply away from the group until they can catch their breath.