For Parents and Caregivers
Freely Participate: Our classes accept and encourage all levels of music and dance experience. It doesn’t matter to your child if you are not a trained singer and it doesn’t matter to your teacher either. We accept and include all of these variations as they make our classes even richer. Many of our best ideas as teachers come from the participants in class.
Keep it Musical: Please keep caregiver/parent talking to a minimum. Talking interrupts the process of audiation for the children. When you need to communicate with your child, try singing it or using affirming touch. Music Together® is a great way to meet other parents or to attend with friends, but please have your conversations and make your plans before or after class.
Find Your Own Way: We welcome you to do what is best for your child in class. This may mean sitting with them while the rest of the group is dancing, or standing and rocking when the rest of the group is sitting. Some children with special needs require different types of movements and pressure on their bodies, please feel free to adapt what we are doing in class to suit your or your child’s abilities.
The rules for a Music Together class:
- Parents and caregivers are required to participate in the fun :)
- Dancing or walking feet only – No running in class
- Use your singing voice: No chatting (grown-ups) or screaming (kids)
- Use gentle hands when putting away instruments
- We sit with rhythm sticks and bell mallets
- No food or drink in our classroom
- No cell phones in class (If you would like to take pictures at some point, just ask your teacher. Not a problem!)
If you are new to Music Together, your child will grow tremendously over the first weeks of the class. We have often observed that it takes several weeks to almost a full semester for children to acclimate to this new environment. Children express this in their unique ways, of course. Please feel free to talk to your teacher about any concerns or questions you have about your child in class.
Your teacher will prepare consistent lesson plans including several ritual items your child can count on: the Hello song opening, the Goodbye Song closing, the play along and lullaby/quiet song just before the Goodbye Song. Having these items in place each week allows your child to know exactly what to expect in class. You will see them gain comfort and confidence in the routine of class as the semester progresses.
Children’s Behavior in Class: Some Commonly Observed Behaviors
The Wanderer –This child can often be seen circling the group or looking out the window. Relax and keep participating in the class; this gives your child an engaged adult to return to. They always come back!
The Changing Child –This child used to sit quietly on your lap and now is wandering about the room! This is also the child who sings and dances at home but is a quiet observer in class. As children develop we often see shifts in classroom behavior and home behavior. Know that this is typical. The best thing to do is to relax and to accept your child at the level in which they are participating, while you maintain your genuine enjoyment of the activities.
The Suddenly Quiet Child–This child is a Music Together veteran who dramatically shifts behavior and becomes quiet or conversely, obstinate in class. We see this behavior mostly in children who are recognizing their musical expression as different as that of the expressions of others. Congratulations, this is a significant stage in your child’s journey to basic music competence!
Discipline and Fussing Children
In our classes we are quite used to children fussing from time to time as all children (and adults) do. If the behaviors are not addressed,however, they can become a distraction to other families in class.
The Fussing Child –This child is usually protesting a change in activities that they sense or hear happening. Reassurance may be all that they need to know that more fun is on the horizon. Try holding them or giving them a moment to wander until the next activity starts. Staying engaged in the class yourself may help bring them back to focus as well.
The Distressed Child–A slightly more distressed child may be afraid of all the activity and noise going on at their level. Picking them up, standing yourself to help them get out of the overwhelming activity may be all that’s necessary. A child who is uncomfortable in class may occasionally need to be taken out of the class and then brought back in. When the parent/caregiver presses through in these situations- most children respond positively and look forward to class once they are familiar with our routine.
The Meltdown-in-progress Child – The child who has thrown an instrument, injured themselves or another, or will not follow the general rules of our classroom needs to be removed from the room for a few minutes to calm down and be reminded of the rules in class. A few moments outside of the room, preferably not wandering, but in your confident arms, can help your child regain their sense of self and help them transition back into the music. Your judgment is the best tool in determining when your child is ready to come back into the classroom.
We want to be your partners in ensuring Music Together is an enjoyable experience. Please discuss with your teacher any behavioral concerns you might have. We respect all parenting styles and encourage families to approach one another with a similar respect and patience.
Enjoy the music at home.This class is only a jumping off point. The songbook is full of suggestions for enjoying the music with your child at home, and you may think of many other ways. Even if you don’t read music, you might look at the pictures together, or follow along with the CD. Feel free to change the words to suit bath times, bedtimes, etc. It’s your music - you can change it any way you want.