Little chairs gathered in a circle ... little hands, five fingers spread wide and held at the top of our heads ... "Doe a deer, a female deer," we sang happily. These are my earliest memories of music class. Musical chairs, shaking maracas, playing the recorder ... Simply put, music class was care-free fun.
Unfortunately though, amidst math and language arts, science and history, even bible and art...I somehow lost the idea of carefree fun music lessons. I mean, don't get me wrong ... we've studied music. Composers and classical music history ... a little bit of piano, xylophone, and violin lessons. But the kind of elementary music learning where the kids dance around the room with egg shakers? We really hadn't done that.
Shame on us.
Well, thank goodness we've had the opportunity to review Music Together “Family Favorites” CDs and “Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers” ! Music Together first began offering music classes to the public in 1987. From their website: "Music Together is an internationally recognized early music and movement program for children from birth through age 7 - and the grownups who love them." Music Together also offers CD collections and fun music tools such as rhythm instruments, shakers, scarves and more at their online store.
Music Together's philosophy is based on the following three principles.
1. All children are musical.
2. Therefore, all children can achieve basic music competence: that is, they can learn to sing in tune, and move with accurate rhythm.
3. The participation and modeling of parents and other primary caregivers is essential to a child's musical growth.
I happen to agree that all children are musical. Every single one of my children have been dancing fools from nearly birth right up to an age when they suddenly begin to feel self-conscience. But until that time (usually between ages 1 and 4 or so) they have been recklessly inhibited to dance at the mere sound of any musical note. Our youngest son, age 1, even loves to sing. He's not speaking words yet, but he very seriously sings tunes in the car, while playing in the living room, sitting in the high chair at dinner. It's so ridiculously cute. Check out this video of him singing...
He especially likes it when we all clap for him at the end.
The Music Together Family Favorites CD includes the following 19 songs.
Dancing with Teddy
Goin' for Coffee
Goodbye, So Long, Farewell
I've Been Working on the Railroad
John the Rabbit
May All Children
One Little Owl
Playin' in the Kitchen
Ridin' in the Car
She Sells Sea Shells
Spin and Stop
Splishing and Splashing
You can listen to demos of each song on the Music Together website. This CD has won eleven awards including a Parents’ Choice Silver Honor award. It also includes a 32-page booklet with activity suggestions for each song.
The Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers is a companion to the CD and divided into three main parts.
The first section described the fundamentals of the program: An introduction to the Music Together philosophy, a discussion of types of songs and activities, how to work with instruments and props, and classroom adaptions for children with special needs. I read through this section entirely before beginning the program with my kids. I found it full of helpful suggestions. I also appreciated the section titled "Why is music important?"
From the book:
"Because of its ability to forge unique connections in the brain, integrating mind, body, and emotions, music enhances a child's language, cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development."
The second part of the book contains the 19 songs from the Family Favorites CD including notation pages. Each song also has several teachers pages with ideas and suggestions to use with All Ages, Infants, Preschoolers and Older Children, and Children with Special Needs.
Every time we have a Music Together lesson, I keep this book close at hand to flip through this middle section, choosing ideas to implement with each song.
The third part of the book is a series of reference pages about the Music Together program, classes, Guitar Reference Chart, and glossary.
After I read through the book, I gathered the little kids (ages 5, 4, 3, and 1) into the living room with the intentions of listening to and dancing to just a few of the songs. Before I knew it the 7, 9, and 10 year old were dancing as well. Even my 11 year old joined in as we all did the conga line to I've Been Working in the Railroad! It was so much fun, we couldn't stop until the last song...and I must say, it was quite the workout as well!
Since then, we actually have managed to keep our music lessons to just a few songs, but we are all still having just as much fun!
Here L4, L3, and J1 are banging on bowls with spoons as they listen to Playin' in the Kitchen...
As you can see they love to dance...
Clapping to the rhythm...
Can you see how much fun J1 is having...
Here the kids are dancing to our family favorite, the Stick Tune song. We use pencils as rhythm sticks. Big brothers and sisters come out of the woodwork to participate in this fun song and we all wind up singing it for the rest of the day...
I'm pretty sure L3 enjoyed dancing with the scarf the most...
Of course, we can't forget that parent participation is an integral part to the the Music Together program. As I said before, I am getting quite the dancing workout. But my favorite songs have to be the slow, lullaby type songs. Each time one comes on, sweet J1 runs to me with his arms raised. We waltz and spin and sway around the living room together...Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo can be purchased for $39.95. You may also use the coupon code “Schoolhouse” at checkout on the Music Together online store to save an additional $2 on your purchase. Don't forget to check out other reviews of this product at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.