Lilly Eppler, who turns 2 on Sept. 6, holds scarves waved about to illustrate rhythm. Music Together in the Keys uses props, games and fun to instill sophisticated music concepts that wire young brains for overall success. For the first time, classes for children 5-7 years old will be offered along with the standard baby and toddler classes.
Local music classes for babies through 7-year-olds start soon
Music Together, classes to expand children’s minds, for babies through 7-year-olds, starts Sept. 23 in Key West. The program is an acclaimed, scientifically research-based, innovative method that teaches sophisticated music concepts under the guise of fun. The colorful, playful, non-competitive experience also wires young brains for overall success.
Longtime Key Wester and musician Libby Curtis brought the program to Key West in 2009, and this year, in May, Music Together in the Keys earned an Emily Boyd Lowe Music Fund grant award.
“I raised my three children in Key West and was very aware of how little was available for infants and toddlers,” Curtis said. “When I learned of the Music Together program, I became fired up to offer it in the Keys. I knew I’d found the most beautifully prepared curriculum and wanted all the infants and toddlers to have this opportunity.”
At a recent summer class, babies as young as 4 months old watched from their mothers’ laps as toddlers and adults waved colorful scarves, played maracas and other multicolored, “ruggerized” instruments, drummed on the floor, marched and danced in time to the catchy and varied Music Together songs.
Without knowing it, the children (and adults) are learning the nuts and bolts of their culture’s musical structure through play, which research shows is more effective than traditional, by-the-book lessons.
The 2- and 3-year-olds screamed with delight as a giant multicolored parachute was gently lofted in rhythm over their heads.
For years, the weekly classes have been for only babies and toddlers — and the grown-ups who love them. But this year, Curtis is debuting Music Together’s “Big Kids” classes, for 5- to 7-year-olds, to be held after school. Parent attendance is welcome but not required.
Composer and musician Ken Guilmartin founded the original Music Together program with music professor Lili Levinowitz in 1987.
For optimum brain stimulation, children must actively participate in music and associated movement by age 7, recent research confirms.
“It’s expanded his mind in so many other areas,” said Key Wester Lucy Simonton, mother of 3-year-old Ambrose, in July before a summer term class.
Simonton started bringing Ambrose to Music Together in the Keys when he was 2.
The weekly classes are held in the renovated historical rectory behind St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 404 Duval St., off Bahama Lane.
Hadyn Riley, 3, now bids farewell to people in three-part tonal patterns he learned in class, said mother Lisa Riley. Hadyn happily sang his goodbyes after a recent class.
During the 45-minute classes, the toddlers may toddle, the babies may mouth the colorful (always sanitized) tambourines or bells, or they may simply stare at the dancing and singing adults like they’re crazy.
It’s all part of the process. Parent involvement is crucial to the learning process, for children instinctively listen for their caregiver’s voice — even if that parent has a voice only a child could love.
The Music Together Big Kids program is specifically designed for 5- to 7-year-olds, whether or not they have taken Music Together classes before. The kids play more advanced rhythmic games and learn how to sing notes on cue, for example.
Curtis also credits her employees for making Music Together in the Keys successful.
Sondra Esquinaldo, a fourth-generation Conch, has been teaching the course since 2009; Molly Miles, who has a bachelor’s in family and child welfare from Kaplan University, started teaching Music Together classes in 2011. Miles has lived in Key West four years.
Stacy Rodriguez, a 14-year Key Wester who’s also a journalist, recently joined the ranks as well.
The registered teachers successfully completed a rigorous three-day training program.
Visit www.musictogetherinthekeys.com or call 305-797-1999 for more information. $185 tuition includes:
• 10 weekly 45-minute classes (Big Kids class is an hour); • New song collections every semester; • 2 new, professionally recorded CDs each semester; • Songbook with color illustrations, graphics, and activity ideas.[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]