As little ones crawled, toddled and danced under foot, Catherine Hale was right there with them, leading a recent Music Together class.
She wiggled, rocked and danced on the floor at eye level with the babies to preschoolers and their moms, who all participate in the class. Hale, a Raleigh mom of three boys, owns SproutSongs Music and has taught the Music Together program, for kids birth to five years, for about five years. Music Together, nearly three decades old, is taught in classes around the world.
The program aims to help young children achieve basic music competence through song, dance, rhythm play and other techniques. Hale started taking her own kids to the class and fell in love with it. The job has been a perfect fit for Hale, a former music therapist.
A typical class includes songs, finger play, instruments and props. Kids and their parents are encouraged to dance, sing and play together in the program. It's important for kids to see their parents enjoying music, she said. It's hard to expect a child to get up and dance if the parent refuses to take that first step.
"We are modeling music as just a daily part of life," Hale said. "If we're not doing it, we can't expect our kids to do it because we aren't modeling the joy of music."
At a recent demonstration class for a north Raleigh moms group, Hale and another instructor, Margaret Rush, led the group in a series of songs, movements and dances. It was the first time for many of them. Some of the young kids sat in their moms' lap. Others got up and followed most of Hale's instructions as they rocked on the ground, stood up to dance or grabbed shakers and other small instruments. Rush held out a basket for "tasted" instruments when they were all done.
Hale was quick to point out that whatever the kids were doing was just fine.
"It's OK if your child's not doing exactly what we're doing," Hale told the group.
From time to time, Hale or Rush would point out different musical lessons that moms and eventually the kids could take away. One song ended in a minor key, for instance. After another song, they highlighted the resting tone, a kind of home base for a song.
"Everything we do in here is for a reason," Hale said. "We're not just singing to sing along."
SproutSongs offers classes at Raleigh Music Academy in northeast Raleigh; Treasuring Christ Church in downtown Raleigh; and, starting next month, at Crabtree Valley Baptist Church on Leadmine Road. The next 10-week semester starts the week of Jan. 5. Hale also is happy to offer demonstrations to groups. The SproutSongs website has all of the information.
Thank you to Hale and the moms group for letting me crash the demonstration class this month. Seeing all those little ones made me miss those early days with my two girls!
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.