Q & A, Questions and Answers about Mr. Mark's Music Together

Here are some common questions we get, with matching answers. 

Question: I have a three year old and a one year old. Which Music Together® class is appropriate for each of my children?

Answer: Music Together classes are "mixed-age" classes, which mean that every class is appropriate for both your children. As child development research shows, mixed-age learning environments show very positive results, and Music Together class environments are no exception. Preschoolers, toddlers, and infants all benefit from these fun musical experiences where parents and caregivers join in the fun and create a secure, relaxed environment for all the children. A Music Together class offers a wealth of musical activities and stimuli and each child benefits at his or her own developmental level.

Question: My child sings and dances with me like a fiend at home when we put on the CD, but she just wants to sit still in class and watch everybody else. Is there something I need to do?

Answer: The short answer is "no", there is nothing you need to do (Unless you yourself are just sitting and watching, then your child is possibly waiting for you to act involved, "allowing" her to follow suit). Lots of children respond this way, and we do mean "respond". That's their learning style. Every child observes, some children are more "obvious" in their observing mannerisms. So too, but in an opposite way, some children seem to want to continually bounce off the walls, so to speak. Neither style is right or wrong. You are in the class with your child to give her the sense of security that allows her to relax and observe (and more overtly participate in songs and movements when she wants to try). We give you CDs for home so your child can try out these songs she has been observing in class in the comfort and privacy of her own physical world (home).

Question: What is the "right" age to start my child with formal music instruction (music lessons)? 

Answer: (This is a very popular question and we hope to address it in more detail soon.)

Here's the short answer: at age six.

Now here's the longer answer: Around age six is when a child starts to work things out on her own, albeit in a very limited scope. This is a real rough rule of thumb, earlier or later ages are possibly preferable in your child's case. Something to keep in mind: As far as musical development for your child goes, there is no need to feel "rushed" to get formal lessons going at an early age--IF you are making music with your child (for example, singing together with Music Together songs and classes).Consider the case with books and reading. Your young child probably loves books, but the idea of signing up a five year-old for a creative writing workshop is a bit on the "aggressive" side, no? Just by reading simple, age appropriate books, your child is developing her language skills, imagination, thinking, etc. All these skills will come into play later on, with creative writing being one of many options. In the same way, a young child with a disposition to simple music-making is using any and all musical experiences in her development of musical skills. Singing in tune, keeping a beat--these may seem simple activities to adults, but they are fundamental and important and your child is developing musically just by singing, listening, dancing, playacting, etc. Once a solid musical foundation is laid, then the possibility of pursuing music lessons might be a great next chapter in your child's life story.

Here's a simple set of questions back to you, to help you decide if it's time for music lessons:

  • Does your child sing simple songs "in/on key"? (Not just one or two favorites, but generally all songs she comes across?)
  • Does your child keep the beat of songs? (Match tempos of songs she sings along with? Is she just as at-home with slow tempos as fast?)
  • Is your child ready to settle down for a reasonable stretch of time and receive and respond to one-on-one instructions from another adult ?
  • Is your child expressing any interest in playing a musical instrument (one's own voice counts as an instrument as well)?
  • Are YOU, dear parent, ready to commit time to: sit with your child during practice sessions and encourage your child to develop good practice habits?, get your child to music lessons ON-TIME every week?, IN ADDITION TO continuing to make music with your child (singing, dancing and such) as you have been doing up to now?
If you answer yes to all the above, then by all means start hunting for a good teacher!Consider also the ideas of "older kid" music classes (like big kids Music Together and others) and membership in a children's choir for your child if she shows interest in more formal music-making.

Now, you're probably going to ask the next question anyway, so.....

Question: What is a good first instrument for my six-year-old to start playing? 

Answer: The best instrument is the one your child wants to play, which is (hopefully) one you won't mind listening to your child practice on. In other words, most instruments are fair game, even for youngsters. No instrument is "harder" or "easier" to learn, it's your child's disposition toward an instrument that decides if the path to musical enlightenment is smooth or rough. Piano, guitar, violin, clarinet, cello, etc. All these instruments are fine options from which to choose.

That being said, there are a few caveats: Some instruments are not physically appropriate for young child. Instruments that take a lot of air, like a tuba or french horn may not be first choices. Also, drums (percussion) can be a first instrument, but keep in mind that they generally are rhythmic only, with no/little tonal aspect. In the case of drums, another musical instrument or experience on the side to compliment and help your child's tonal-related abilities to develop is recommended (Singing in a choir, for example; or xylophone/marimba, which is percussive as well; or basic guitar lessons.)

 

Question: My family was attending Music Together at another location. What is different about Mr. Mark's Music Together?

Answer: Substantively, it's the same class. Every Music Together family on the planet will be singing along with the "Flutes" song collection this fall, for example. 

Music Together classes are offered world-wide and you'll find the same song collections, the same shaker eggs and tone bells, in all locations! Music Together is a program thoroughly grounded in rigorous child-development research and as such, the folks in the head office (Princeton, NJ.) are rightfully proud of their program. They go to great lengths to make sure ALL Music Together classes everywhere are taught by fully-trained teachers with the proper Music Together song collections, etc.