"Hello everybody, we're so glad to see you..."
Yesterday I graduated from Music Together. It took me a long time--my first class was about 9 years ago. Louisa and I took it together three times. I would guess that I probably took it three times each with Bella and Ruby, too...although they were close enough in age that their classes overlapped (we went all three together), so maybe it was less. In any case, that's a LOT of singing the Hello Song.
Other than this one class, I was never big on baby and toddler classes. Ruby was full of energy and not into sitting in a circle, so after Bella started preschool, we stopped going to music and did a movement 'class' (indoor playground) at the Y once a week, when she was about 18 months. For New Yorkers, it's hard to know what to do with energetic toddlers in the winter. It's not uncommon for toddlers here to be enrolled in such classes as: soccer, cooking, art, gymnastics, yoga, ballet, etc. Some kids go to a class every day, or even more than one a day. But not mine.
So what kept me going back to Music Together?
- Routine: It's nice to have a place to go with a toddler, for routine, for a change of scenery, and for socialization. Especially for Louisa, the poor third child (see: Different Child, Different Parent.)
- Friends: Bella and I first went to MT with Missy and Anna, our original mom/ daughter friends. Back then, when Missy and I each only had one kid, it was great to have a scheduled weekly place to bond with another mom.
- Teacher: Erin Lee Kelly taught all three of my girls (even though there was a 6.5-year break). She can rock out with the toddlers, I'm telling you. She also has a lovely voice and a talent for getting nannies to sing rounds. We tried another MT teacher once--and then we went back to Erin. She's the best.
- Songs: Yes, the songs are hokey, but they're also catchy and have a real nice hippy vibe. (Josh jokes that Uncle Jerry is Jerry Garcia.) Louisa is so attached to the music that we are often held hostage to her musical tastes in the car: if that MT cd that we've all heard a thousand and a half times isn't playing, she will cry until we put it on. On the bright side, we know how to make her stop crying in the car.
- Music Enrichment: All three of my kids love music. Granted, their dad, grandma, and uncles are musicians, so it's an important part of our family culture. But they each love music in their own way. Bella likes to sing, Ruby likes to pick out songs on the piano and on the guitar, and Louisa hums all day long--often imitating strings of notes that she hears, just as she was taught to do at MT. The early experimentation with instruments, rhythms, and voice reminds me of the way that my kids experimented with art-making using a variety of materials in their Reggio Emilia preschool. It encourages kids to take in music viscerally, and to take ownership of the experience of music-making. Okay, maybe that sounds like a load of BS. But it's actually engaging and fun.
Despite all this, I must confess that lately I was finding it harder and harder to get myself to MT. The class is full of nannies, who seem lovely but who don't provide me with companionship. It's a long walk, and I'm often rushing to get there because of whatever meshugas is happening at home early on a Thursday morning. And it's getting to be nice outside, finally, so we can go to the playground for physical exercise instead.
We're not done with music: we've just started six weeks of Bim Bom Baby, led by Cantor Shayna Postman, at our shul. The first one was this week, and Louisa loved it. Next fall, she'll start preschool. But Music Together is finally a part of my past.
"Goodbye, so long, farewell, my friends...."