I always feel like I am failing in this area with the kids. Joey and Brayden never enjoyed music time....we even tried those toddler/baby music classes. Neither liked it.
I wasn't really sure with the girls, but I did eventually attempt a music class for toddlers a couple years ago. Caty did not like it at all!!! She didn't feel in control, and the kids bumping into her just was too much for her. (If you haven't gathered from the pacifier always in pictures....Caty has sensory issues...the pacifier helps her gain back control. We are working on that.) So something I wanted to be fun for her was miserable.
We learn about musicians, but you can't really dance to Bach. At least not the way that Caty likes to dance. In the van, we listen to Radio Disney. The girls really do like music. So I was super excited to have the opportunity to have a "fun" music curriculum to review, you know something that isn't just learning about composers.
Music Together Family Favorites is a music and movement approach to early childhood music development for infants through early elementary children. It is an early music program for children to do together with a loved one.
The Music Together approach develops every child's birthright of basic music competence by encouraging the actual experiencing of music rather than the learning of concepts or just information about music.
Basic Principles of the Music Together Philosophy
The kit that we received included Music Together Family Favorites CD (CD $14.95 or you can buy the download for $9.95) and Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers ($29.95). And to be very honest, I felt a bit overwhelmed at first glance. Seriously....I went to school to be a history teacher, not a music teacher. But the Teacher guide is so simply laid out that I was stressing out for no reason!
Each song features information that includes what can be done with different age groups completely broken down per ability level, various activities and games that can be done with each song, a list of the instruments used in the recording we are listening to, teaching tips, special needs students suggestions--including tips for those with sensory issues, and even the sheet music and words. I would read the 2-3 pages of materials ahead of time, and then make sure I had the suggested instruments or items on hand for our lesson. When time, I would pop in the cd and we were set. The total prep time about 15 minutes depending on how much I could read with the kids distracting me.
Some of the songs included illustrations that we could look at while singing or listening to the song. The illustrations were really great to encourage storytelling and early literary skills.
This was one of Caty's favorite songs on the CD...One Little Owl. She really enjoyed this song and we listened to it a lot. We were even able to cross it over into a fall art project:
We tried to include this program at home a couple times a week. If we did get to do it two times, we would try to stick with the same song. But we actually carried the CD with us when we were traveling to field trips or just running errands. Both the girls enjoyed the songs and we would practice singing the words together. They were simple enough for Caty and Lydia to both sing along to. Now we did not carry instruments in the van, but Caty and I would practice chanting in the van while waiting for Lydia at her violin lessons. That was neat to show her that you do not necessarily need instruments to make music, and we could keep the rhythm with our hands.
Here was another song favorite, Playin' in the Kitchen....this we would pull out some pans to play along with the song. And she would try and keep up with the tempo.
Here she is 'Dancing with Teddy', we must have played this song a hundred times that day, and she still asks to listen to it in the van.
This program is meant to encourage a music rich environment in the home. It's meant to help kids to learn rhythm, learn to sing along to music, and improvisation skills through play. Keeping this in mind, I left their instruments down in an open area that allows them play with all her favorite "instruments" whenever she wanted. She would set them out when it was music time and get ready. (So it might look funny with the pots in the picture...but she made me leave those pots in the instrument basket. She said they had the best sound!)
She enjoyed experimenting with the various levels of sound that each item would make whether the song was a slower song or had a fast tempo.
After our previous music class experience, I was nervous how Caty would react to this program....and she has LOVED it!!! I think it was since we were tackling this at home, and we were able to control the volume and I could pick times when I knew she would be more agreeable (not just when a class was offered).
She rarely picked up musical instruments before. And we have a wide variety in the house. But this approach really helped her to learn to enjoy these. She loves music even more now and even tries to clap along with songs and attempts to keep the beat when trying to dance. It is very neat to see the difference in her love of music in just a few weeks.
So the question that you are probably asking me now...Will we keep this program up? Definitely...YES!!! Would I recommend this program? YES....YES....YES!!! It is definitely a lot cheaper than the classes we have paid for and she refused to go in to. It includes 19 songs, which could be 19 weeks of music class if you so choose. That's a real deal!!! So YES, I would recommend this program. It is definitely meant for younger elementary ages and preschool. Lydia, at 7, did enjoy playing the instruments or dancing with Caty. But the boys...they thought it was too young for them.
The Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo is available for a special price of $39.95 (a $5 discount). If you use the coupon code "Schoolhouse" at checkout at the Music Together online store, you can save an additional $2 on your purchase.
To see how other Crew Mates used Music Together with their families, visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.
*****Disclaimer......I received Music Together Family Favorites free of charge for the sole purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."