Tunes For Tots

by Mark on October 19, 2010

We gather on the floor in a circle. A little girl is pounding on a toy piano as grandson, Jaymeson, bangs a drum. It is MusicTIME, an Eastman School of Music program aimed at 4 to 24 month old toddlers. I am nervous.

As Jaymeson’s tone-deaf grandfather, I, other parents, and sponsors will assist our baby Mozart’s in clapping or stomping at the beat as the instructor sings, “The best sounds in the whole wide world comes from you . . .” The scars remain fresh from being kicked out my kindergarten band because I could not play the tambourine. Fortunately, my wife Kathy, an alto saxophone player in four bands, is there to pick-up the slack.

The young children music program was founded by Donna Brink Fox, of the Eastman School of Music, who is a nationally recognized authority on early childhood music education. MusicTIME is one of four programs that develop children up to six years old. The toddlers are not playing instruments, but participating in music activities that include songs, rhymes, bounces, tickles, and moving to music.

Soon we are walking with Jaymeson in a circle singing “Go ‘round the mountain. To-di, diddle dum . . .” Several studies, including those by the Eastman School, show that early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. Before you know it, “It’s clean-up time” is sung and the toddlers help put away scarf’s and blankets used in the class.

MusicTime is another benefit of the local culture thanks to 20th century philanthropists, like George Eastman, that left these jewels in their wake. As for Jaymeson, there is growing tension between Kathy and his Uncle Kevin, a middle school music director, on whether Jaymeson will eventually the saxophone or trumpet. I don’t care as long as its fun and he stays away from the tambourine.

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