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early childhood education


Nurturing Parental Involvement Through Early Childhood Music


Rick Townsend, WMEA State Chair, Early Childhood Education


This topic pitches right into the early childhood wheel- house.


I am sure that several of my fellow WSM columnists will offer exceptional elemen- tary, high school and


college-based strategies for parental nurturing. Their strategies will range, no doubt, from programs that draw families to the institution, to programs that reach out to families, both directly and through family-support organizations. University- based community music schools have been attracting parental involvement for many years, as have public school com- munity education organizations.


Music and physical education teachers have an advantage in the nurturing process that other teachers and administrators can only wish they had. From church leagues and music classes to the YMCA, many opportunities exist for early contact with future school parents – connections that can last lifetimes.


I Wish…


In a perfect world, we would know our students’ parents from the time the chil- dren are very young. One community of music teachers enjoys this benefit by definition. The early childhood music and movement (ECMM) community is


Practical Pointers


a growing network of specialists whose daily responsibilities incorporate parental involvement – sometimes face to face, and sometimes through daily interactions with a school’s administration and teachers.


Today, increasing numbers of school music teachers are joining the ranks of the early childhood community as an enrich- ing (both socially and financially) adjunct to their daily teaching responsibilities. Their music classrooms are extending far beyond their schoolyards, and their students are expanding in age to include – yes – even preborn children. How is this taking place?


Face-to-Face Opportunities: The Parented Class Parented early childhood curricula abound. Kindermusik, Kid’s Music Round, Lynn Kleiner’s Music Rhapsody, Music To- gether, Musikgarten, and a host of other providers offer extensive training for music teachers who wish to expand their teaching opportunities not only into lower age groups, but most importantly, to in- clude parents in the classrooms. Teachers often offer these classes, as I mentioned earlier, through community schools, in- dependently in local church buildings, or through YMCA/YWCA-style community kids’ organizations.


Parented classes are typically 40-50 min- utes in length, with ample time before and after for teacher/parent interactions.


See the digital online version of WSM for links within this article.


Many long-time ECMM teachers talk fondly of those children who they taught as infants, then followed throughout the child’s school and college days, and who later returned to the teacher’s studio (or reported being involved with ECMM in a new community) with their own children. We are talking about lifelong relationships starting in parented ECMM studios. Feel free to email me for information about the various options available in early child- hood music and movement.


Early Childhood Piano


We have to be careful when we talk about early childhood piano. Some publishers are simply repackaging their old look-see, book-based curricula for earlier ages by providing cuter pictures and larger notes. “Harry Whole Note” is getting a new life. Fortunately, many early childhood piano curriculum developers are structuring curricula based on widely recognized developmentally appropriate best prac- tices. Piano teachers can find exceptional early childhood pre-piano strategies from Musikgarten’s Music Makers: At the Keyboard series, which begins, techni- cally, in infancy with parented classes, and gradually incorporates class piano activities by age six.


~ Rick Townsend


Consider two exceptional early childhood music/movement workshops available to Wisconsin teachers this coming summer, including a one-day workshop at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education, and a four-day ECMMA International Convention in Green Lake. Visit center.wsmamusic.org and convention.ecmma.org for more information on these offerings.


16 January 2012


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