Friday, February 26, 2016

What Makes Sound Beginnings Different?

We know you have choices for your children: what they'll wear, what they'll eat, who they'll spend time with, and what type of education they'll have. The choices are many, but we can help you with one choice today: is Sound Beginnings the right preschool music class for your family?  You want to know: how is Sound Beginnings different from other programs out there?

When to Start Music Class?

Much as for learning a language, early exposure catches youngsters during a critical time when they are sensitive and responsive. Babies and toddlers are primed to distinguish pitches and melodies in music and language; hearing them early sets the child up for success speaking the native tongue and success as a musician. Just as every child holds the potential to be fluent in her native tongue, every child is born with the potential to learn to perform and understand her culture's music.

With this in mind, is it ever too early to give music to a baby?  The answer is no! Just as your baby benefits from hearing you speak to her (the more, the better), she benefits from hearing music in her environment and hearing you sing to her.  

When music educator, Zoltan Kodaly, was asked about the appropriate time to begin incorporating music education, he declared "nine months before the birth of the child...moreover, nine months before the birth of the mother." Not only did he endorse exposing babies and children to music, he stressed that everyone (parents included) has a right to learn music, and children need to be raised in a musical family environment. His slogan was, "Let music belong to everyone!"

Let's Play Music
When Let's Play Music was created in 1998, a handful of music programs for young children already existed. LPM Creator, Shelle Soelberg, discovered that by the time her daughter was four and had delightfully enjoyed a few years of early childhood music classes, she was ready for more.

She was ready to learn to read musical notation, memorize themes in classical music, be challenged to sing on pitch, experience more advanced ear-training drills, complete weekly homework assignments, and reliably perform on instruments in class.  Her brain was ready to learn more serious music theory!  But her fingers were still four years-old.

Private piano lessons lacked the multi-faceted, playful education Soelberg was looking for, and required too much dexterity and sitting still for a four year-old.  She strongly felt that children should not be held back from music learning, especially during the age when they are best primed to hear, distinguish, and internalize musical theory concepts, just because their fingers are weak. So she created Let's Play Music.  

The minimum age is firmly set at age four, when students can begin to reliably perform, sing, and complete homework, but the program is also specifically designed with the playfulness and attention span of those children in mind.  For years, parents were told to go enjoy other experiential music programs, and come back to LPM when their child was four.  Families begged for a toddler class, and Soelberg promised that one day a program would emerge.

Sound Beginnings
In 2010, the time was ripe for the creation of Sound Beginnings, a weekly preschool music class for children ages 2-4, with a parentUnlike LPM, younger siblings and babies are also invitedBelow are a few key points about Sound Beginnings:

Begin with the End in Mind: Sound Beginnings was purposefully created years after Let's Play Music.  Now that we have a firm grasp on the ear-training drills, the note-reading skills, and the musical concepts that will be taught in LPM, we were able to design a program that sets up for those skills in the toddler class.  The first 80 Sound Beginnings teachers, and most still, are also Let's Play Music teachers.  That means your teacher knows where we are going with playing rhythms, singing melodies, and identifying intervals- so she can help your toddler start to hear them now.  Sound Beginnings is unique because it is taught by teachers with an intimate, long-view awareness of how the skills in class will build up over the next five years.  Sound Beginnings is the best program to prepare toddlers for Let's Play Music.

Musical Concepts: We don't skimp on introducing real musical skills and playing with them.  Some concepts included are: audiation, staff reading, rhythm, pitch matching, major scale, pentatonic scale, solfege hand shapes, and classical form. Sound Beginnings is unique because we don't hold back on laying foundation for real musical skills.

Play time! Early childhood is a time when children learn about their world through play. A rich musical environment consists of a continuous exposure to new musical elements followed by playful experimentation with these elements. Class time will have lots of moving around and playing games.

Parent bonding: For the 2-4 year-old child, parent involvement is a must. You are the one your child wants to play with, and you are the one she trusts to guide her in music-making.  Sound Beginnings classes (and this blog) are a resource for guiding parents in the art of creating a musical environment through play. We'll teach you how to "play music time" with your child.  Read our post on the hows and whys of parent involvement.

Folk Songs and Games: Authentic folk music has short form, pentatonic style, and simple, repetitive language.  It's simply perfect for providing foundational skills in rhythm and melody while connecting to a common culture.  Read more about why we use folk music.

School Readiness: Research indicates that preschool music exposure improves reading and writing skills, not to mention classroom readiness. We will have a singing story time in each class, and you can learn to sing stories, too!

Specific Academic Concepts: Sound Beginnings is unique as a music program because we also include specific academic concepts.  Each semester we focus on different academic skills like telling time, counting, the alphabet, colors, manners, planets, and name recognition.  Children learn content like this best when it is taught through a song or musical game, so we show you how to teach through song. What specific concepts will you teach your preschooler next?

Fast-Paced:  Sound Beginnings covers 13-15 activities per 30 minute class, making it more fast-paced than other programs. Toddlers require much repetition for mastery and practice, so after trying out new games and variations in class, you'll probably have fun repeating them at home throughout the week.  We help you build a musical environment that lasts all week long, and give you plenty of ideas.

Workbook: Sound Beginnings uses our unique workbook in class.  Several pages are "smart charts" to engage students and teach concepts.  Your child will tap along in her workbook while singing the songs, and it works at home, too! Your workbook also has several stick-puppet figures to color and cut out; then you'll use them during our rhymes and songs from class.  We recommend a tote bag for carrying your workbook and puppets so they stay neat.

Although your teacher will give weekly home-fun suggestions, homework is not required or graded like in LPM. Some students love coloring and cutting, and others don't.

Digital Downloads: Each semester includes a CD of songs from class and beginning Fall 2016, a digital download of the CD.  Songs are easy to sing-along with and include traditional folk songs, classical pieces, and original compositions. We want to make it easy for you to get the songs in a format that works for you in your home.

Instrument Day: Children experience performing in front of a group in their own mini recital and have the pleasure of hearing real instruments on the final day of class.  After studying the instruments and their sounds, it's a pleasure to touch and try them.  Each semester also includes a take-home small instrument for the student to use during the semester and keep.

Superb Teachers: Our teachers are carefully selected, then trained in person to present our games and activities.  Teachers always have a support team and an online community of teachers available for idea-sharing and problem-solving.  Networking and support help us improve continuously.

What we Value: Our values are at the core of Sound Beginnings and Let's Play Music, shaping our decisions and attitudes. When you know what we care about, you'll know what to expect here, and have confidence that you're choosing a quality program.
  • We play! (and we understand its benefits)
  • We embrace the process of learning
  • We give consistent effort
  • We focus on abundance
  • We make the most of our time
  • We communicate openly and honestly
  • We pursue quality
  • We celebrate accomplishment
  • We face challenges with optimism
  • We purposefully cultivate relationships

Let's Go to Class!  

Although there are no prerequisites for Let's Play Music classes, students who spend some time at home or in SB class playing with skills like singing and making rhythms have an easier time meeting the demands of LPM. 

Would you like to have a special time each week for bonding and playing with your child, while increasing your knowledge and confidence about creating a musical environment at home?  Sound Beginnings classes could be perfect for you!

Find a teacher by searching our databaseMany teachers even have a video of their class you can watch, and most teachers welcome you to come visit for a sample class.  Semesters begin in Fall and Winter, but teachers may be flexible about adding students, so it doesn't hurt to ask if you can enter even if the semester has begun. 

Unlike Let's Play Music, there is no multi-year commitment for Sound Beginnings class.  You could try it for a semester and even take a semester off- so there's really no reason NOT to give Sound Beginnings a try.  I hope you give it a try and feel inspired to play and sing music with your toddler even more often.

1 comment:

  1. This is wonderful! Thanks for clarifying the purpose of Sound Beginnings and how it relates to LPM! I will be linking to my FB page!