Music Together is an early childhood music program for infants through 2nd graders and their parents/caregivers. The program’s basic premise is that all children are musical and can achieve basic musical competence by having their parent be an enthusiastic role model. Luckily, “the example need not be musically accurate!”
While Music Together offers a 3 day teacher training program in their methods, they also offer a product named Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook for Teachers that can be used as a music curriculum. The goal of the program is to have children singing in tune and moving with accurate rhythm. The Songbook for Teachers is a coil-bound manual that begins with an introduction to the Music Together philosophy and then introduces each song, gives ideas on what to do with the song, and then gives ideas on how to extend the song or modify it for special needs children. On the CD there are 19 tracks of beautifully done music that correlates with the songbook and you can listen to samples on the website.
When I first received this product I listened to the songs on the CD while looking through the accompanying curriculum, making notes as I went along about my first impressions (ie. the speed of the song, how difficult I thought it would be to sing, did it make me want to get up and dance). My daughter was also listening in with me and I could tell that there were some songs that just grabbed her right away – those that made her naturally want to clap along or move her body. I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed when I looked through the songbook for the first time as there are no explicit instructions on how to structure the class. I did find suggestions in the book for having a music session about 3 times per week and that you want to aim for wordless songs about 30% of the time. There is also advice on how much instruments should be used – once or twice in a 30 minute class.
I found that for us it was much easier to find time for music 1-2 times per week. In general, we began each session with the hello song and then did one or two more songs before wrapping up with the goodbye song (a total of 4 songs). I tried to pick a song to concentrate on the musical side (tapping out a rhythm or word substitutions) and then another song for movement/dancing purposes. For rythym exercises egg shakers and rythym sticks are recommended. However, we had on hand maracas, a tambourine, and wooden spoons and they substituted just fine for our music session time.
Overall, my children really enjoyed this music time together. It was a great afternoon activity that we could do that didn’t really call for lots of preparation. I do wish that the CD included tracks that contained just the melody so that we could provide the singing. As it was, I never became confident enough to sing the songs without the CD accompanying me, but maybe after hearing the songs over and over this will change.
Price: $39.95, save $2 by using the coupon code “Schoolhouse”