Thinking of signing your child up for baby/ toddler music class? This is all a hype yes? No it isn't! Baby / toddler music classes are actually really beneficial for your child at any age. Here is a quick list of things to look out for before signing up for one (especially one with a package deal).
1 Live versus online
With COVID19, there are now live (with precautions put in place I hope) and online classes via zoom or other platforms. Choose LIVE. You just can't replace that face to face musical interaction with a teacher online. Especially not with babies or toddlers. Think we all had enough time staring at screens from home. Live class or wait till things get better and then join one.
2 Class size
Babies and toddlers do benefit from observing what other children do in these types of classes. However, the class size of such classes should be kept small so that the teacher is able to provide individual attention at times. I had a toddler who was not interested in any instrument I played until I took out the ukulele. That was my chance - I let the child come forward to attempt playing on my ukulele. With a large class size, the teacher will be preoccupied managing the class and not having these little moments with each individual child.
3 Mummies and monkeys?
Baby / toddler music classes should and must allow their parents to join in. It does help to let parents see how their children interact with music. And children love it when their parents show interest in their music and they in turn will show the same interest. When I was attending baby music lesson with my first child abroad, it was a special bonding time I had with her that I cherished.
No more monkeys jumping...
No please no. Music class is not turning the music on and letting the children with scarves or instruments run and "move" around to the music. There is a thought process which goes into music and movement. Running around like monkeys is like I said running around like monkeys.
4 The materials and equipment used
As a teacher myself, a good lesson plan is crucial. A good lesson execution with babies / toddlers who have very short attention span is crucial! Some music schools can have superb lesson plans, but the lesson has to be carried out just as well.
A music class for babies / toddlers needs to have enough equipment / instruments so that each child has a chance to play on them as a class. Examples of instruments and equipment to have in a baby music class are shakers, hand drums, scarves, bells, rhythm sticks, and a tuned instrument like the ukulele, guitar or piano. When I conducted such classes, I had these instruments plus sleigh bells, glockenspiels, violin, flute, harmonica, harp. Children respond differently to different types of instruments and you might just find out which they are more inclined towards. How amazing!
Does the teacher or music school understand the purpose of a baby / toddler music class? It is not to kill time or expand a child's energy. It is having that intimate interaction with music in a safe environment so that they grow to enjoy music. The teacher creates this environment, which leads me to the most important point.
6 The Teacher
This is the most important point. If it is a music school you are signing up with, choose the teacher over the school. It is the teacher who determines how much your child will benefit from the class. Choose a teacher who shows passion, versatility, care and concern, is patient, plays several instruments well. A teacher who is musical.