It’s the Last week of the TAMBOURINE COLLECTION?! Wowza, that was fast! Summer
classes begin June 10, so before we reconvene in a couple of weeks, these ideas should tide
you over.

Let us know what you think on Facebook @MusicTogetherOfCharlotte or Instagram
@musictogetherclt. Use #MTCharlotteMondays and please share with friends. More music is a
good thing!

WHAT’S HAPPENING?
The US National Whitewater Center is at its’ absolute best on summer holidays. Memorial Day,
May 26, the live music begins at 6pm by the water- the grassy area that leads to the stage is
very large, gently sloping and is usually packed with families and young kids. You can even
bring your dog (on a leash)! There are fireworks at 9:30, but hey-it’s summer, live a little! Bring
a blanket, and one to cover your sleepy little people, and enjoy a FREE event.
USNWC.org/relax/events/memorialday

 

ARE YOU PLAYIN’ YET?
ROUND ROBIN is the perfect road trip song- it’s in parts, it’s familiar, it’s a little tricky to sing,
and the laughs that will fill your car (because you’ll mess it up, repeatedly) is about as hilarious
and wholesome as it gets. The car is the perfect place to tackle part singing!

NAME THAT TUNE a la toddler- sing the first phrase of a song, and have another person sing
the next line. The great thing about this is that anyone can ‘lead’ it. “Standing in the field LITTLE
BIRCH TREE”, sings your 3 year old. Who will answer them? What would you sing?

 

GIVE ME THE GOODS
When is it time to start music lessons?
Music Together®® Founder and Artistic Director, Ken Guilmartin
, has some clear thoughts on
this issue.

It’s common to confuse a child who is obviously musically inclined for being developmentally
ready for formal instruction, like piano lessons. Waiting a little longer can help avoid frustration
on the part of both parents and children. Your child’s temperament, physical and emotional
development, and level of tonal and rhythmic competence are the most important factors
to weigh.

 

PRODUCT vs PROCESS
Product (music lessons): Working backward from the inevitable recital means being ready for a
public performance, which requires practice, which requires persistence, patience, and
commitment. Is this your child? Is your child developmentally ready for the pressure of
performing in public? If you are reasonably sure that this scenario will not frustrate your child,
then lessons might be the next step.

Process (informal experiences): Children don’t have to practice to play; they just do it, and
‘play’ is how they learn. They can repeat, experiment, invent, predict, and memorize as part of
their natural development. As their skills increase, there is the satisfaction of self-discovery,
intrinsic reward rather than external affirmation and evaluation. Eventually, open-ended play
gives way to the desire to learn things that are not their own creation.


THE IMPORTANCE OF BASIC MUSIC COMPETENCE
Without Basic Music Competence (BMC), even exceptionally mature and motivated children can
flounder in lessons. BMC, the most important factor for readiness, means the ability to sing in
tune and move with accurate rhythm.

The consequences of not having BMC in a music lesson boils down to frustration and a feeling
they ‘can’t do it right’. Children without BMC have difficulty recognizing if they are playing the
correct melody, and might not have the aural understanding of what makes a note ‘right’ and
another ‘wrong, and it is also difficult to keep a steady tempo, or understand note values. As
with language, music fluency starts with the aural/oral level, through plenty of direct exposure.


CREATING A RICH MUSICAL ENVIRONMENT
~ YOU take lessons. It piques your child’s curiosity and is a powerful role model.
~ Have family dance parties with music YOU love
~ Have pitched instuments (xylophones, handbell sets) that children can use to experiment with
melody and beat
~ Sing along to favorite Broadway soundtracks- they are musically beautiful and melodically
challenging to sing


GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS:
Children develop at different rates physically, emotionally, socially, and musically, so the
following can be only approximate guidelines for what might be best at different ages.
Threes and fours will continue to thrive in group music classes that allow for a direct, playful
experience of music and movement. Create a music environment at home, too, by integrating
spontaneous music-play into your daily life.

Fives and sixes will enjoy classes that begin to introduce more sophisticated music concepts
within the context of a whole music and movement experience, such as Rhythm Kids, which is
offered in two levels: Level 1 for 4-5 year olds and Level 2 for children in kindergarten through
second grade.

Seven to nine is often a good time to explore traditional lessons. Choose a teacher you think is
a good temperamental match for your child. It’s more important at this point for him to fall in love
with his instrument than work with a noted maestro. (That can come later!)

Ten and older is not too late to begin! The older child tends to be focused and to progress
rapidly. Sometimes, however, she may find beginner music to be “babyish,” so the choice of
materials will be crucial. Try Béla Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, a series of books with musically
interesting exercises that older children find appealing.

Finally, the way that you support your child through their music development has to be authentic
to you and your family. There is nothing wrong with having your child start with an easy Beatles
song book if that’s your jam. Feeling successful and having fun leads to wanting to practice. The
more you love music, the more music you love!