Sunday, May 11, 2014

Music Classes for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers: Learn to Listen

 Listening skills do not come naturally to many toddlers and pre-schoolers. Their attention span is zero, as there are too many things around to see and explore, for them to bother remembering to listen and pay attention. Attending a music class has been a great way for my 3.5 year old son to practice how to listen and follow instructions.  This was a surprise benefit, as I thought a music class would be mostly about music and singing songs and, maybe sometimes, dancing.

For the past month Santino has been attending Kindermusik classes, led by Angelica Zeljka Wilson. Classes take place once a week and we now look forward to our Thursday one-hour sessions, as we can't imagine our lives without them.

I've always tried introducing various experiences to Santino's life, and music seems to be one of his favorites. With a House DJ for a father, since birth Santino has been exposed to many genres of music, including house, techno, disco, all kinds of Russian/Ukrainian music (courtesy of Ukrainian mom), blues and rock, etc.

Santino has tried playing many instruments already. So far its been a key-board piano, harmonica, drums, and pretty much every object that he can bang, clang and ding-a-ling to produce sound. He likes making beat the best. 

The interest comes and goes, and at one point we deadlocked, as he didn't seem to enjoy learning about music any more. Santino forgot about his instruments for a while, concentrating mostly on dragons and dinosaurs (check our activities here). I started looking around for a fun way to re-introduce music in Santino's life.  Enter Angelica's course.


We were referred to the Kindermusik classes by another mom (isn't this always the best way?) I contacted Angelica, and she signed us up! I wasn't sure what to expect, but kept an open mind. Take a mom's word: we were not disappointed. Angelica's classes are everything what you think they might be and more. With her help kids learn about rhythm, highs and lows in music, find out the importance of paying attention to words, free their imagination and discover the new horizons. But most importantly, Angelica gives kids opportunity to learn how to listen.

Santino is not a calm child, his imagination is vivid and he follows it on a whim. If he says that he is a bird, he sure will try to fly - get out of his way, or mama, catch him before he steps on somebody; or if he is being a dragon, he will definitely "fly", but also will "spit fire" - mama, catch him, before he spits on somebody.

I didn't have many high hopes in terms of him learning anything specific, as most of the classes Santino attended, he learned nothing. He definitely was exposed to many new experiences, which is very important to a growing boy, but failing to pay attention results in not many new skills learned. To my utmost surprise, Santino started this class by paying attention. He immediately learned what "and stop" means, and even if he doesn't follow the rhythm yet, he know very well when to start to bang/sing/jump and when to stop.


His favorite part of the class is experimenting with various instruments. We are looking forward to this part, as it is always something new and fun. Bells, "zig zags, various jingles, stones, shells... all kinds of sound-producing objects, fit for all kids.  I like that there's always enough instruments for everybody, and if one particular instruments becomes more popular, than another, everybody is encouraged to share, and kids mostly eagerly do.

Even more than instruments, Santino enjoys all physical activities of the class: jumping, marching, running, dancing, hiding under a parachute and waving scarves. I think what he loves the most about them, is that I usually participate in the same activity. All parents are encouraged to jump, run ("tippy toes please!"), wave parachute and throw colorful kerchiefs. Santino loves this so much, that he often can't calm down until he hears familiar "aaaand stop!"

I love that the classes are so cozy, take place in a clean well-organized space. Groups are small, which I personally find convenient and balanced. I love how Angelica creates new themes for every session, teaching, but also allowing kids be kids. She accepts everybody for who they are, even remembers their second names, like "Peter Parker" for Santino.


 Dancing, singing, learning new words, new moves, new ways of listening to the music, this is what these classes are about. Thank you Angelica! I would definitely recommend your classes. Well, this is exactly what I am doing. If you are interested in Angelica's classes, please visit her website: Kindermusik, Little Stars Music Studio



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