Change is always a challenge. Sometimes it’s for the best, but doing something different takes an open mind and a fair amount of courage.
When Hunterdon Academy of the Arts decided to change the pre-school music program to Musikgarten, I naturally had to ask why. Why should all the teachers take time to re-train? Why change the music cd’s and some of our methods? Wasn’t the program we had been offering for over 20 years a quality program?
Of course it was. But that shouldn’t stop us as educators from seeking out different programs offering better methods, firmly based on the most up-to-date research of experts in early childhood music education and child development.
The Musikgarten program unfolds like a well-written story. It starts by exposing our youngest students to delightful songs, finger plays and dances that stimulate the senses and gives caretakers the chance to share precious giggles and hugs. The toddler and 3-4 year-old curriculum (Cycle of Seasons) continues the journey by repeating the tonal and rhythm patterns from familiar songs and giving these active little ones the chance to move, move, and move! At the Music Makers level, children begin to see how music is notated, again using those familiar patterns. Now, how easy is that? With more dances, music from around the world, storytelling and Orff instruments (trust me, these are way cool), the musical development of our students just grows and grows. Not to mention the side benefits of getting along with others, developing attention and listening skills, learning turn taking, classroom behavior and all that students need to be successful in school.
I am often asked by parents if we can offer their five-year-old piano lessons. My response is that we don’t find too many children that age with no prior music education experience who can be successful. They have shorter attention spans and don’t like to practice consistently. That just results in giving up, and the family deciding that “music lessons” are not for them. How sad that would be when the solution, in my opinion, would have been to spend a year or two preparing the child for those private lessons with a program specifically designed for young children, like Musikgarten. The classes for 5 and 6 year olds include singing, dancing and age-appropriate music instruction. When children reach age seven, they can’t wait to make music at the keyboard!
This easy, sensible progression to musical literacy that Musikgarten offers is the main reason why HAA decided to make the change. This is one teacher who thinks it was a great idea!
Michele Collins, Musikgarten Teacher at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts