Music Mondays Blog

Music Mondays May 27th, 2019
By Music Together® CLT on May 24, 2019

For the preschool crowd, it is officially SUMMER! Let’s get this vacay underway!

WHAT’S HAPPENING? Have a morning of adventure and head into center city to the Romare Bearden Park 

The Lynx line (the train) extends from Carolina Pavilion on South Blvd, to UNCC, with Park and Ride lots all along it. 

It’s perfect for a picnic, there are boulders to scale (kid-size and manageable), a big field for running and playing, an interactive, musical children’s play area, and a jump in/ jump out waterfall- smack in the middle of the tall buildings! It’s free, novel, and there are coffee shops nearby (yay!)



Grab some heavy glass jars- think mason jars, mid-size, a tub of water, a child-size plastic pitcher or measuring cup, a lightweight metal teaspoon, and a patch of grass. Pour different amounts of water into the jars and hit the sides of them with the teaspoon. Voila! They have a pitch. You can add or pour out water to tweak the tones, to show the child what can happen, and then leave them to it. If you use heavy glass, preschoolers are not strong enough to break the jars. It’s kind of magical. (To understand why I am suggesting this, keep reading) 


So, give a child glass to play with? Have I lost my sense of safety? Here’s the secret: this was my favorite thing to do at my grandmother’s house in the summer. I was mesmerized and laser focused, altering the amount of water in the jars to be able to play the songs I had in my head. I was not a prodigy; it was something I could do by myself, my very own mini music laboratory. 

It wasn’t until decades later when I trained to be a Montessori teacher that I understood WHY I was so engrossed: the activity called to me, it hit my developmental sweet spot for self-discovery. The fact is that children have great powers of concentration if they’re given ‘work’ that calls to them. Dr. Montessori said, “Follow the child.” In other words, see what the child wants to do, and make that available to them. 

With this in mind- making available what kids are drawn to-let’s break down this activity:

INDEPENDENCE: can the child do it unassisted? Children crave independence, so anything they can do by themselves is a perfect endeavor, and if it is musical, all the better! 

ORDER: What comes first? What’s next? When is it finished? When do I start over? The order of dipping the measuring cup into the water and pouring it into the jars (both practical life skills they can practice and perfect), setting it down, pinging the jars, listening for ‘accuracy’, emptying, dipping, pouring, get the idea. 

CONCENTRATION: The reason a child is quiet when they get the remote control isn’t because they’re being mischievous; it’s because they’re INTERESTED. They see us do it- phones, remotes, keys, cooking, computers, etc.- and want to do it. Dr. Montessori realized that what is work for adults is play for a child. Anytime children can be involved in such grown-up activity (dipping, pouring, measuring), they are doing ‘real’ work. It scratches a developmental itch we might not realize they have. 

Children want to take care of themselves and help others. Observing and facilitating experiences that allow children to build on their abilities at their own pace is a profound way to support your child. The magic is often in the mess. (I did mention- do this on the grass, right?)

Music Mondays May 20, 2019
By Music Together of Charlotte on May 20, 2019

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!

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.


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?


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 (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.

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.

~ 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

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!

Music Monday May 13, 2019
By Music Together of Charlotte on May 10, 2019

Welcome to the Blah blah blah blahg!  (kudos to Phyllis Fulton for that description!)

We’ve got a shorter post for you today – trying to be more streamlined.  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!


It’s strawberry picking season!  What a great way to fill your kitchen with the fresh smells of spring   Give your toddler an opportunity to practice small and large motor skills while connecting with our precious earth at any local farm.  Here are some suggestions:



Also, don’t miss TEA TIME IN THE GARDEN on Sunday, May 19, 4:00 – 6:00 pm at Wing Haven Garden & Bird Sanctuary, 248 Ridgewood Ave., Charlotte.  A real treat!


We say it all the time…..informally playing musically with your child creates crucial neuropathways that allow him to sing in tune and keep a beat (not to mention all those amazing benefits we talked about last week).  So how do we do that?

  • Try improvising a counting song – how high can you go?
  • Make up new words about what you are doing to an old favorite song or nursery rhyme
  • Make weird sounds.  Babies and toddlers like nothing more than experimenting with their voices!  Start circling and dipping and swooning and swirling with your voices.  Think sirens and funny voices.  What does a llama say?  an aardvark? a sloth?
  • Find some drums in the kitchen!  Soup cans, pots and pans, spice bottles are all great rhythm instruments. 
  • Find a toy piano or guitar and bang and strum away!
  • Turn up the tunes – find the one you loved in college or high school – grab your child’s hand and dance, dance, dance!

The true power of musical play lies in YOUR participation.  If there is one thing we can learn from children, it’s how to play!  So, pay attention to her lead, and follow that unique creativity and experimentation with some good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction.



Well, the short answer is, we think you’ll find music helps us through those early months of a new baby’s life, and it can be tremendously beneficial to the child as well.

Your baby is a natural born music-maker!  Just listen to her coo, squeal, cry, giggle and eventually “babble.”  Just like babies babble in language, they also babble musically.  Have you ever heard your son “sing” on “da da da da da”? Or heard your daughter coo while a familiar song is playing?  That’s music-making, and only needs a bright smile and eye contact for her to continue.

If he has been lucky, he has been listening to you sing to him, play music for him, and feel you dance with him in utero.  Now that he’s in the world, just watch how your baby responds to music in his now independent body!  He’ll become very still, listening intently to the amazing sounds you are giving him;  or she will coo and may even “match pitch” (sing the dominant) towards the end of the song; or his eyes will brighten and move toward the sound of your voice; and, of course, her feet and hands will kick and wave and move about when music is around her!

So, what should you do?  Mimic his movements!  Coo back in the same pitch, tap a steady beat on her body, wave your arms about just like he does, and keep singing and dancing. It will reinforce that making these types of noises and movements is more than it seems – it’s music!

Music Monday May 6, 2019
By Music Together of Charlotte on May 08, 2019


This is our third blog and we are LOVING the response. Thanks to all who are tagging us, liking us, following us and all those other modern indications of friendship. We love hearing from you. Keep ‘em coming!  Keep tagging us on Facebook (@MusicTogetherOfCharlotte) or on Instagram @musictogetherclt) and don’t forget to use the #MTCharlotteMondays tag.


CHARLOTTE SHOUT continues this week and there are too many family-friendly activities to describe, but here are some highlights (it seems like First Ward is the place to be!)

  •  Entre Les Rangs, May 9 – 11
  • Soap Bubble Circus, May 9, 5 – 9 pm
  • Professor Whizzpop, May 9 – 11.
  • Argh, May 9 – 11
  • And if you want to wander beyond First Ward, the kids will enjoy
  • Prismatica, Tryon Street, between 5th and 6th St., May 9 – 11
  • Constellation, with Opera Carolina May 10, 8 – 8:30 pm. 


but most folks celebrate it this Sunday, May 12th!



We are in Week Six of our SPRING SESSION.  Now that you know all the music from the TAMBOURINE collection, and the weather has changed, why not get outside with your speakers and play some musical games!

  •  Grab a speaker, head outside and turn on the sprinkler!  Ride-O is the perfect song for “musical sprinkler.”  Let the kids run back and forth through the cool water.  Turn off the music, and kids have to STOP wherever they are.  If someone is in the water when the music stops, they can be a “judge” until the next game.
  • Ring around the Rosies” is a great outdoor game.  Try different speeds, different dynamics (some quietly some loudly), and maybe even try AUDIATING the words (leave “pocket full of posies” out, e.g.)
  • Musical Balloons can be a fun alternative to musical chairs.  Blow up some balloons and turn on the tunes!  (Maybe it’s Tingalayo this time!) Have the kids throw and catch the balloons while the music is on.  When the music stops, those that have a balloon in their hands “win.”  [This is especially good for those ages that need less ‘competition.’]



More than anything, we believe that MUSIC FOR MUSIC’S SAKE is the primary reason to play musically, experiment, sing and dance with your young children.  We believe it is a BIRTHRIGHT – and a great human gift that helps create bonds that last a lifetime.

But – what about the SAT?  Harvard?  Killer coding skills?  Yes.  There is definitely research that shows a correlation between musical activities in young children and development.  Here are the top five reasons music can be beneficial in the development of toddlers (as originally provided by Playgroup NSW,



Exposing your child to different tonalities and rhythms can help create unique neuropathways in their brains. This effect increases even more when you link music to different activities such as dancing. 



Babies can hear the difference between different types of sounds. After just a few weeks, a baby is able to identify their mother’s voice from other people’s. Exposure to music enhances a child’s natural ability to decode sounds and words.

By singing to your child, you can help them to identify sound patterns and learn through repetition. In addition to that, music also helps children anticipate what is coming next in a song and they know how to put these patterns in a sequence. By mastering these skills, children build the base of literacy and numeracy.


A lot of parents tuck their children in with a lullaby or calm them down with a song. Just as music can soothe a child, it can also lift their spirit.  You can use music to indicate play time, sleep time, or different moments in your child’s daily schedule.  Music gives young children tools for self-regulation that is not dependent on you!



Music encourages children’s inclination to move, developing their fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Plus, if the rhythm is very entertaining, you may even notice your toddler starting to jump up and down, which helps with their muscle development, strength and balance.



Even though at first your child may not understand the words in a song, they do develop their understanding by identifying the storytelling in a song.  To help children learn more words and identify the story in a song, try singing their favorite songs and nursery rhymes while inserting their name into the song. You can also encourage your child to change words in a song to keep them engaged and learning.

All these benefits (and we’ll be sending more in future blogs) are great for our children.  But even better is when families just sit back and make music for fun!

Music Monday April 29, 2019
By Music Together of Charlotte on May 08, 2019


HAPPY MUSIC MONDAY…We hope you are enjoying the #MTCharlotteMondays emails and blogs.  Let us know how you are using these tips in your daily life.  How can we make the information we are sending you more accessible and/or user-friendly?  We want to be a great resource for all things kids and music for you and your family!  And don’t forget to tag us at on Facebook (@MusicTogethrOfCharlotte) and Instagram (new handle! @musictogetherclt)

Here are a few things we think you need to know for the week:



Spring has sprung and there are a LOT of things going on in the Queen City this week!  CHARLOTTE SHOUT – Charlotte’s premier celebration of art, music, food and ideas in Uptown Charlotte  - starts today and runs through May 11 (  Park at either end of the Lynx line and ride in to enjoy some family-friendly fun like Intrude – giant illuminated bunnies that will take over the green or Impulse, glowing see-saws with a twist at the Levine Center for the Arts.

And if you are saving up your Charlotte Shout time for NEXT week, try MOMMY CON at the Convention Center on Saturday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.  There will be sessions for moms and dads on everything from postpartum care, feeding tips for children with sensory issues and even how and when to start solids.  Tickets are required but kids attend free, and you can learn more about these informative scheduled sessions here:



Children love playing with balls!  And they are great for gross motor and fine motor skills, experimenting with beat, and are fun indoors or outdoors. 

What???  Balls indoors???  I don’t THINK so!

Well, when you are hankering for some indoor ball play, look no further than the humble PING PONG BALL.  There will be no broken glass, they are light and easy to hold (even in toddler hands!), and they are too big to be a choking hazard. And you can buy them in packages of six!

Here are some great ways to play with ping pong balls this week:

  •  Put on “Old Brass Wagon,” and roll the ping pong ball back and forth on a hard floor with your child.  (“Rolling on the beat, with my ping pong ball, rolling on the beat, ping pong, ping pong, Rolling on the beat, ping pong, ping pong, Ping Pong ball is rolling!”)  Roll on the downbeat and if your child holds the ping pong ball, just mime the beat as if you have a ball in your hand!

  •  If your child is older or ready, try throwing and catching the ping pong ball on the beat.  You and your child can throw to each other OR throw and catch independently.
  • Put a paper cup on the floor and try tossing the ping pong ball into the cup on the beat of “Little Blue Car.”  “Ping Pong Ball, Ping Pong Ball, Ping Pong Ball, my Ping Pong Ball!”
  • Just explore the ping pong balls with some sensory exercises.  Practice blowing the ball with your child.  It contributes to the development of strong tongue muscles and mouth control, and it also helps develop their speech and pronunciation skills later on.
  • Put on “Sneakin’ ‘Round the Room,”  and hide the ping pong balls where your toddler may easily find them.  As she is finding them, be sure to count along to help with numeracy.


Let’s tune in to how our children learn!

(From Devi Borton, M.A., is a Certified Music Together Teacher Trainer and Center Director of FAM JAM! Music Together in Santa Fe, New Mexico.)

Look around a Music Together class and you'll notice different behavioral "personalities." Some children sit still and stare at their parent or teacher singing "One Little Owl." Others gaze out the window or look at their toes while the class clicks and sings "Tricks with Sticks." And some are constantly in motion, jumping or toddling around exuberantly, even when everyone else is in a close circle quietly singing "Inanay." Do you recognize your child in any of these examples?

Tuning in to the way your child learns can help you "turn up" their learning. It can also help you relax and have more fun in and out of class.

We see three main learning styles in young children: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Howard Gardner, who developed Multiple Intelligence Theory, understood that children learn by using a combination of all their senses, but that most children naturally favor one. That primary sensory "channel" is the strongest way for the child to tune into an experience and learn. Here's a guide to help you start to identify the way your child learns best.

Visual Learner: “I tune into learning best when I watch intently.”

·         What this looks like in a Music Together class: Child stares at parent's or teacher's mouth during singing. Child starts bouncing when we "flash" our hands to the beat. Child moves close to others during an activity to get a front-row seat.

·         Commonly misunderstood as: Not participating, not social.

·         How to support: Make sure to move rhythmically while you sing. Show your child the beat in your torso, gestures, and feet. Exaggerate your mouth and facial expressions while you sing.

·         Resist the urge to interrupt your child's focus by trying to get them to drum with you, sing with you, etc.  Let them learn the way that suits their style!

Auditory Learner: “I tune into learning best by focusing on what I hear.”

·         What this looks like in class: Child's gaze is off to the side or unfocused. Child may also engage frequently in singing or vocal play, enjoying the sound of their own voice. Out of class, child may tell parent, "Don't sing!" with the recording to avoid having two competing auditory sources.

·         Commonly misunderstood as: Spacing out, not engaged in the music activity, shy.

·         How to support: In class and at home, echo tonal patterns close to one ear and then the other. Clap or tap the beat audibly while you sing. Include pauses in your music-play (like before “come little donkey come” in “Tingalayo”).

·         Resist the urge to try to get your child to do certain things, like make eye contact with you, move their body, or play an instrument when they appear to be deeply listening.  That kind of deep absorption in the music is just what they need!

Kinesthetic Learner: “I tune into learning best when I am moving my whole body.”

  • What this looks like in class: Child toddles around the room for an extended period of time. Child often stands and bounces during activities. Child delights in being rocked, spun, dipped, and lifted by parent. Child may not want to sit with parent, may push parent away.
  • Commonly misunderstood as: Off-task, too rowdy, disruptive, too active for music class.
  • How to support: As long as they're safe, allow your child freedom to experience and respond to the music with their whole body. Play the recording at home as well as in the car to give regular opportunities for whole-body music-play.
  • Resist the urge to try to make your child sit down and "pay attention."  Trust that their kinesthetic style if just what they need!

Once you've identified your child's learning style, you might be tempted to over-focus on supporting that one sense. But, as Gardner says, children are not mono-sensory. They need a balanced sensory diet. Music Together activities naturally provide multi-sensory learning opportunities, connecting parents and children with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic stimulation and support. This ensures that your child gets a whole brain/body experience with music—and so do you! 

Tuning into your child's way of learning and processing makes the journey a lot richer, more relaxed, and much more fun!

Music Monday April 22, 2019
By Music Together of Charlotte on May 08, 2019


HAPPY MUSIC MONDAY…or as we say in these parts… #MTCharlotteMondays - that’s Music Together of Charlotte Monday (to distinguish music in our area from others parts of the country).  We hope the rising sun finds you singing a tune, dancing a jig and swaying along to some Carolina fine music this morning!

Here are a few things we think you need to know for the week:



This Sunday is Global Pay it Forward Day (read more about the history and what’s it all about here:  It’s a day to #standforkindness by approaching the day with a fully open and kind heart.  The purpose is to have a day that inspires atypical acts of kindness throughout the world, with the the hopes that the ripple of good will continue throughout the year.  Seems like something we could use here in Charlotte!

On Sunday, from 1:00 - 4:00, the Mint Museum Uptown is celebrating with a Sunday Fun Day - Pay It Forward.  The museum will provide space for your family to work on art projects, engage in gallery experiences, visit artist demos and participate in some family yoga, among other things.  You and your kids can paint landscapes inspired by the photographs of Ansel Adams, make crafts for friends and learn how to use art to “give back.”  What a great way to Pay It Forward!

Children & Mint members are FREE, adult admission is $6 and it is drop-in



Have you ever played “FREEZE DANCE?"

If the pollen has got you down or the weather just won’t cooperate, gather two or three (or, hell, gather ten) kids in a room for a romping game of Freeze Dance!  Pull up the “Hello Everybody” App, put your child’s favorite song on the speaker, and invite the kids to dance as the music plays.  You can press the pause button at any time, and once the music stops, the children get to freeze in dancing positions!  Up-tempo songs present different challenges than smooth and slow songs, so use a variety of songs whenever you play!  

TIP:  “Freezing” also builds inhibitory control, one of a set of important skills know as executive functions that develop rapidly throughout early childhood.  (Learn more about how music supports executive function here (




Music Together classes are MIXED-AGE CLASSES for a reason!

* Music Together pioneered bringing mixed-age groupings in parent-child programs, resulting in the “family model” of early childhood education, where all members of a family can learn - and play! - together.

* Mixed-age classes foster leadership, empathy and creativity - all of which support early music-learning and foster lifelong success in life.

* Recent research on mixed-age classes highlights additional surprising benefits:

Benefit #1: True Empathy. Babies are born with the raw material to develop empathy, which often shows up as a reflex to mirror emotion, like when one baby cries and others cry, too. But in order for this potential to become what researchers call “true empathy,” children have to receive and give caring. This is rare in same-age schooling, but opportunities for nurturing exchanges abound in mixed-age classes.

*Benefit #2: Meeting children’s unique needs. As a new parent, you may have joined a Baby Play Group to find support in parenting an infant for the first time. Finding community, comparing experiences, and sharing challenges all help new parents feel supported. (What a lifesaver these groups can be for parent and baby!) If, however, that baby never gets the opportunity to socialize, explore, and learn outside of this same-age group, key developmental needs will go unmet. As children grow, mixed-age settings provide the opportunity to be nurtured and mentored by older children, and to offer caring and leadership to younger children.

*Benefit #3: Learning by teaching, leading, and modeling. In mixed-age play, older children learn by teaching, become leaders, and model for younger children. The little ones, in turn, emulate older children’s skills. You probably learned to tie your shoes by watching an older sibling, neighbor, or friend—one who took the time to patiently show you how to make loops, cross over, and pull until you got it right. In mixed-age groupings, younger children naturally turn to older children for guidance, and older children instinctively offer help to the younger ones.

*Benefit #4: More creativity, less competition. When children of multiple ages play together, the focus shifts from competing for limited resources (like toys and attention) to having fun! Children have more chances for deep, imaginative play, for exploring new ideas, and for working together in novel ways. Parents, too, in a mixed-age classroom are less likely to compare their child to others. Nagging questions like, “Should my child be clapping, too?” are more likely to move into the background. Instead, they catch a glimpse of what’s ahead for their child and mentor other parents with a little “been there, done that” wisdom. 


Anderson, L.S. (2018). Building Empathy, Strengthening Relationships: The Benefits of Multiage Classrooms for Young Children and Their Caregivers. Young Children, a NAEYC publication (

Gray, P. (2011). The Special Value of Children’s Mixed-Age Play. American Journal of Play, 3(4), 500-522.



We want to see how music (even on a Monday) is playing out - forgive the pun - in your lives!  Share your child’s favorite musical activity, video or photo or just the family’s favorite Music Together song on social media using #MTCharlotteMondays OR tag us on Facebook @MusicTogetherofCharlotte or Instagram @mtofcharlotte.  


Carrie and Phyllis