Anyway, I was pondering what to tell you about and at Pk's music class this morning, I thought I would share the joys we have experienced through the Kindermusik programme, which happens to begin at birth. We started when Pk was a year old but with this baby, I would like to start earlier.
There are lots of children's music classes out there, some much better than others. We did a fun Mother Goose programme at the library, one at the parenting centre and a fantastic class that was offered by an Orff specialist at the local library when Pk was younger. I should probably preface this by saying that my undergrad degree is in music and I am somewhat picky - it makes me insane to go to a class that is marketed as a "music" class when the instructor can't model in-tune singing and when the singing features some of the less attractive features of amateur karaoke. We have had a great experience with our Kindermusik instructors.
Kindermusik is a developmental programme that mixes music, literacy, movement and instruments (I believe that the infant classes also have an infant massage component, as well). It's a once weekly programme and registration includes the class itself, a book or two for the enrolled child that connects to the unit being explored, a parent guide with excellent suggestions for exploring the musical concepts at home, CDs featuring the music that will be explored in class and an instrument. The CDs have become a favourite for us at home and I have found that the selection of music on the CD is excellent - children are exposed to a number of genres, music from around the world, classical ("art") music and language (finger plays and rhymes). We have taken several classes now and I have to say, for us, the best class has been the Family Time class (a class offered to meet the needs of different ages, a real bonus for parents who have more than one child and don't have the time to take several classes). As an childhood music specialist, I have consistently been impressed by the range of musical concepts that are explored from high and low, timbre, tempo, dynamics and instrumentation and all in the context of a developmentally appropriate class - we don't find ourselves fighting the toddler need to move and to explore. The expectations of the child are very reasonable, making the class enjoyable for everyone. Pk has gotten to play all kinds of instruments, can identify many instruments of the orchestra, is demonstrating awareness of beat and is beginning to do some pitch matching - not bad at 2 1/2. As far as we are concerned, this programme is worth every cent (and at $130 for ten weeks including all of the materials, I think it is very, very reasonably priced).
The only caveat I have in recommending the class is that some instructors are better than others. Luckily, it is a very widespread programme these days and if you live in an urban centre, you shouldn't have any trouble at all finding multiple classes. We love our instructor Laura and plan to keep going with the programme as long as possible.