Music Together® For Home

Why the Instrument Play-Along?
By Cora Lansdowne on February 12, 2020

Have you noticed that after about a half-hour of class each week we have an instrument play-along?  For the first 30 minutes of class, our children are deeply involved in receiving information by observing, testing, and processing.  Following this, we give the children some time to experiment with the information they have been receiving and the data they have been collecting, by providing instrument play.  Instruments provide a rich exposure and entry to different ways of expressing and experiencing beat.  And this is necessary in order for them to learn and develop musically.  

Singing in Layers
By Cora Lansdowne on February 11, 2020

When you sing a song to your child, it is truly a wonderful thing.  You make a connection with them in a way that no other act can.  When you sing a song WITH your child, that is a shared experience in a league all its own.  Taking it to another level yet is when your child hears you singing a song in layers, such as when you sing in a round or when you sing one part of a song while another part is sung simultaneously by someone else.  We work on this multi-layering, or part singing, in class often.  And it gets REALLY exciting when a child in class starts to sing one of the layers.  This means they are able to audiate - or hear in their head - their part even while they are actually hearing another part.  That is some major brain work going on!  Not to mention the thrill of singing in community with others this way.  What a sensory treat!  

Save the Best for Last
By Cora Lansdowne on February 11, 2020

Many times, the end of a phrase or a song is the easiest for little ones to access.  When you are singing at home, emphasize the ending of phrases  - make it a game with silly faces or exaggerated stomps or just purposefully making eye contact with your little one - while singing.  Don Alfredo, Follow Me to Carlow, Great Big Stars, Mary Wore a Red Dress, Trot to Grandma's House, Ridin' in the Car, The Tailor and the Mouse, and of course, Pop Goes the Weasel are ALL songs that have memorable endings.  Your little one will catch on quickly and join in the fun!

Music in Daily Routines
By Cora Lansdowne on October 23, 2019

Several of our songs in the Flute Collection lend themselves well to daily tasks and routines.  Washing hands, brushing teeth, bath time, nap time, going out, putting on shoes, changing diaper, you get the idea!  In class, we substituted words and phrases about getting ready in the morning to "Rocketship", sang about places we've been in "Train to the City", and we chanted "Saying and Doing" as a lullaby for our end of day routine.  Songs are also a wonderful way to label our actions. Giving words to what our bodies are doing is an important cognitive and communication building block.  Songs like "LIttle Johnny Brown" and "Shake Those Simmons" helped us to use our words to describe our movements.  As you sing together more and more in your home, you might notice that your child responds most easily to transitions during the day when they hear the song that cues that activity.  For example: when it's bath time, your child will begin to associate bath time with that special bath time song and it might make transitioning to bath time easier! 

Melody's Building Blocks
By Cora Lansdowne on October 10, 2019

Much like babbling is an important beginning step for language acquisition, singing tonal patterns helps children make sense of melody, which is essentially a "musical sentence".  Those two or three note snippets that we sing as call and response in class are actually helping your child to hear the important building blocks of a song.  When we sing tonal patterns, we are isolating tones from the previous song and making them shine a little.  Playing with these isolated tonal patterns simply capitalizes on a child's natural learning process.  You can do this at home too!  After you sing a song, repeat a couple of the more prominent tones from the song.  See if your child will echo them back.  Or mom and dad can go back and forth with some tonal patterns while little ears are listening!  Sometimes in my own house, I call out to someone in another room in a sing-song way, and my clever family member answers back in the same sing-song way.  And remember to always have your antennae tuned into your child, because one of these days, they just might sing a tonal pattern for YOU to echo back!

Experiencing Rhythm
By Cora Lansdowne on October 02, 2019

Research shows that children need to experience rhythm in their bodies before they can audiate it, or hear it inside their heads.  You can help with that experience by making your own movements clear and purposeful, to help them SEE the beat.  You can also tap the rhythm on their backs, to help them FEEL the beat.  Movement is a huge part of Music Together class - every song we sing is accompanied by movement.  When you are at home, move your body from your head to your toes whlie you sing along to music - use big and small movements, use your hands, your feet, your arms, your legs, use your creativity and a little silly quotient to help your child see and feel the beat!  

Basic Music Competence
By Cora Lansdowne on September 17, 2019

Music Together uses informal instruction for musical development.  This means that children who are immersed in a musically rich environment through playful interaction will gain musical intelligence much the way they learn speech in their native language - by teaching themselves.  Basic Music Competence (BMC) is the ability to sing entire songs in tune and to physically keep a beat and this is the ultimate goal in Music Together Mixed Age classes.  Until a child has achieved BMC, they will be in primary music development (PMD).  Many children do not complete PMD unitl first or second grade and BMC until third to fifth grade.  And while your children are working toward that BMC goal, don't be surprised if you find that YOU also are starting to listen to music differently, with a more keen ear toward rhythms and melodies.  And that you are more comfortable making up rhythms and melodies.  And singing out loud and dancing to music is much less intimidating than it used to be! 

Singing All Day Long
By Cora Lansdowne on September 17, 2019

Here's a fun challenge... using your own voice and no recordings, how long can you go through your day singing to/with your child instead of talking?  In Music Together class, we typically sing (and dance and move and play instruments) for 20-25 minutes at a stretch without much talking at all.  We still manage to communicate, laugh, share, and imagine during that time.  Can you sing to each other for an entire ride to the grocery store or to/from day care?  How about getting ready for bed - can you sing and dance your way through your nighttime ritual?  It just might be a fun experiment!  

Using Your Family Book
By Cora Lansdowne on May 07, 2019

Each semester, you'll receive a Family Book with your tuition.  The Family Book has illustrations for each song in the semester's collection and a line of music notation for that song.  Children often become really attached to books and the Family Book can easily become a favorite.  Your child will probably make the connection between the illustrations and songs and they might start to use the book to signal to you which song they prefer.  They might also sing their way through the book, recalling all the songs in the collection using the illustrations as a cue.  Grown-ups can use the Family Book too!  Why not test yourself - skim the pages and try to sing the first line of each song in your head.  And then sing it out loud!!  When you are reading through the book with your child, be sure to point out fun things in the illustrations, the neat facts or history about a song, or use it to springboard pretend play or to spark conversation about the fun you had in your last Music Together class! 

Creativity in Music
By Cora Lansdowne on April 15, 2019

Sing it quiet, sing it loud.  Sing it fast, sing it slow.  Give your instrument-play a surprise "stop!" and then "go!"  Sing it opera-style, sing it with a twang.  Pretend you are playing a violin, a harp, a piano.  Sing it bouncy, sing it smooth.  Little by little get slower, little by little get softer.  And then end with a "boo"!  We did all of these things this week using our songs This and That, Tingalayo, and Sneakin' Round the Room.  There are so many ways to vary music making.  Many times, you don't even need words, just movement and vocables (sounds instead of words).  Get creative with all the ways you can sing and dance!