Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby Stuff I Love

I started this series last week and then promptly forgot about it, sorry. It's been quite a week - we have been fighting a war with a raccoon and it has now ripped open the roof so we have been working with the bank and interviewing roofers - just the way I expected to spend the last bit of my pregnancy. On the plus side, my wonderful family doctor gave me a note this week and I will be starting my leave early, finishing next Friday at 35 weeks (there's nothing wrong, she could just see that I am exhausted and finding it hard to manage it all at this point). I am thrilled. I am praying that baby doesn't arrive until at least 37 weeks - there is just so much to do and I would also like to get a little bit of time to think, pray and organize so that when the time does come, I don't feel so unprepared.

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.


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  2. I'm so happy to hear you will have a few weeks off - it is so helpful in feeling somewhat rested and ready.

    I must say, you are far more ambitious with getting out to scheduled things than I ever was with my babes. I did one series of baby time circle with Pumpkinpie, and other than that, I'd be sure to get out for walks at least once a day, hit the coffee shop briefly, and make a point of spending time at the park, and that was about it for me!