by: Joyce Trigger, Owner & Director of Shady Oak Christian School
Shady Oak Christian School has been a Music Together school for several years. Music Together is an early childhood music and movement program for children from birth through age eight. Music Together classes can be found in more than 3,000 locations in over 40 countries. However, as you can see from the class locator on the MT (Music Together) website, there are no other in-school programs in Fort Bend County. It is truly a gift to our classes and families to have this research-based international music program as an integral part of our curriculum.
My MT story began in Houston at Prelude Music with teacher/trainer, Ana Trevino-Godfrey. Ella, my granddaughter, was 5 months old. I could see with my eyes, hear with my ears, and feel with my heart what was developing musically with her, as an infant. I knew I wanted to share it at Shady Oak. I went to TCU in Fort Worth to receive the teacher training and the rest is history!
Who benefits from MT classes?
Families benefit! Our parents join those the world over in recognizing the Music Together name. When you see that a school offers the MT program, you know it represents a commitment to high-quality early childhood education. Bringing parents, children, and families together is fundamental to the Music Together approach. The home component of the music curriculum is unparalleled. Listen to your CD’s throughout the year. It is obvious in our classes at school which children have heard the music outside of school. Dance with your children, pull out pots and pans in the kitchen to play along! There are great resources on the MT website to add to your family life! MT classes can be found in more than 3,000 locations in over 40 countries. No matter where they live, all Music Together families sing and dance to the same music  in the same fun, informal class setting that is the hallmark of the MT program.
Children in class benefit—At the beginning of September, we had a young 3 year old who cried for several days, missing his momma. He cried all day long, but especially at rest time. On the 4th day of school, we began our MT classes. This little guy stopped crying to stare, wide-eyed at me, the teacher. His other teachers and friends were sitting together in a circle. He never cried again! It’s like the experience of music, at that moment, took him to a place beyond his “misery”. When the music class was over, he was able to tune in to the other activities and people around him and fully participate.
Research has indicated that children in MT classes gain cognitive and language skills. Participation in the classes helps children develop music competence, which opens the door to a lifetime of music participation. Research shows physical (coordination) gains from participation in MT classes, and self-confidence increases.
Teachers benefit from joining their children in the fun, well-planned activities in class. They can use the songs to make transitions smoother and more developmentally appropriate. Because they see their kiddos in authentic situations in the MT classes, their observations help in making assessments about progress of each child. In addition there are valuable tools available for teachers to use enhance classroom life and reach curricular goals.
Our school benefits by joining together with connections over the world. We find Music Together to be an excellent fit for our school because the developmentally appropriate music curriculum aligns with the Shady Oak approach. We find that it fostering group cohesion, by “generating an intuitive feeling of community and bonding ….” (from the MT website).
Anyone who has participated in music in any way, from playing in high school marching band to singing in the shower knows its power! In this era of earbuds and iPods, it is important to remember that music is still used as a bonding tool “at many public occasions, such as sporting events, worship and weddings,” as researchers, Kirschner and Tomasello write. And let’s not forget military parades and funeral processions.
So, “Hello, Everybody”! Join in the fun!