With Christmas just a day away, your thoughts are probably consumed with all of the typical holiday "to-do's" like travel, gifts and party preparation. Who has time to even think about anything beyond 12/25 at this point? Well, as we all know, once the holiday buzz ends and January rolls around, we will find ourselves (and our children) immersed in the depths of winter with a bad case of cabin fever. Yes, those winter months where you, the kids and their immeasurable energy are trapped inside four walls without the freedom to run and play outside as they do during those carefree days of summer.
Now, before you panic, I already have a solution that will be sure to help you coast through winter like an Olympic skier about to win gold!
That solution is Soulshine Arts-Music Together Program
Based right in Middlebury, Soulshine Arts offers local families the opportunity to take music classes through the "internationally loved and research-based music and movement curriculum known as Music Together." As Soulshine Arts Director Leslie Pratt explains, Music Together has been the gold standard for early childhood music education since its creation in 1987 and is now in over 50 countries around the world!" Classes are designed for children and their caregivers to attend and provides students (both young and old) with an opportunity to immerse themselves in music through singing, instruments, dancing and movement.
Programs consist of mixed-age family music class for ages birth through 5-years old as well as a Babies Only class for the "tiniest music makers" (ages birth - 6 months). The Babies Only class is extra special as it gives new parents the opportunity to connect with other new parents and learn how to bond with and stimulate their baby through music.
What Makes This Program So Great?
There are so many reasons! First and foremost is the mission and philosophy of the program. As Leslie states, "The mission of Music Together is to make the world a better place by making it more musical." She also explains that "All children have music within them at birth and that children learn best through play."
Music Together provides a "trust in children that they know what they need in the moment to learn." As Leslie put it, "some children absolutely need to wander or explore and others sit very still and observe. We also know that young children learn best from the caregivers they are close with. This is why parent participation is the cornerstone of the program - regardless of the caregiver's musical skill. Overall, Music Together is intended for children to grow up "simply being music makers," and as Leslie reassures us "We'll worry about the music being 'accurate' later on!"
Other benefits of this amazing program span beyond the learning aspect and touch upon everything from emotional well-being, sense of community, parent-child bonding and tools for your parenting toolbox! Here are a few of the benefits you will find from attending a Music Together Program!
- Emotional Well-Being: "The act of singing releases endorphins (the brain's 'feel good' chemicals)." Additionally, "Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins"
- Sense of Community: The Soulshine Family has become a "community of families and network of support for each other." Be it in class or beyond, the families of Soulshine Arts truly care about each other and the children taking part in the program. There is not only a shared sense of community but a shared joy in the lessons learned through Music Together.
- Tools for Your Parenting Toolbox: Not only do parents experience an opportunity for joyful bonding time with their children, they also gain various tools for their parenting toolbox through the development of their musical selves. Additionally, the program isn't just about the weekly 45 minutes in class. Parents are given CD's to take home which become life-savers for those tough times in the car or anywhere else. Leslie puts it best when she says, "I think there are several reasons [why children respond to the songs]. The songs are familiar; they are in the little ones' brains and bodies, they are sung to them at home by their caregivers, and they know them from all the classroom activities. This creates a feeling of comfort and safety around the songs they hear."
- Learning: Music is truly the most "whole child" activity there is! Music Together's activities designed to create new neural connections across the hemispheres of the brain. Children are learning with their whole bodies, minds and hearts as well.
Finally, it is important to note that this program is not just about the children. As a parent who has participated in Music Together I can say with full authority that it is just as enjoyable for the caregiver as it is for the children. When I first signed up I knew that the program would benefit my girls but I had no idea that I would feel such a joy from the act of uninhibited self-expression. I sang my heart out, I danced, jumped around and had much more fun than I knew my thirty-something self could have while singing children's songs. My recommendation is that if you sign up for Music Together, take a cue from your children and "sing and dance like no one is watching!" It's the best thing you can do for yourself and for them!
About Leslie Pratt, Soulshine Arts Director: Leslie holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Emerson College in Boston. She stumbled across Music Together online and completed her first training in fall 2013. She started the program in spring of 2014 with two classes and is now offering 13 classes in Middlebury and one class at the Litchfield Community Center. She has grown Soulshine Arts from 20 families to 125 families this past fall and is now a Certification Level 1 Teacher!
Interested in Trying a Class:
Interested families can sign up for a demo at any time by clicking here.
Families are also invited to attend one of the below "special" demo classes coming up in January:
Mixed Ages Birth-5 Demo for New Families: Sunday January 7th at 10:30 PM
Babies Class Demo: Saturday 1/13 at 12:30 PM
Ready to Sign Up?
Soulshine Arts Winter Semester starts January 9th! Click here to register!