Choosing the Right Music Class
by Johanne Brodeur
Choosing a music class for your child is a little like standing in front of the yogurt section in the grocery store. Between the alluring flavours (Key Lime Pie, anyone?) and new textures, fat contents, and nutritional values, it’s hard to know which one to choose. However, the choice of a music class for your child has far more crucial repercussions than the yogurt choice of the week. Which class? What style? When? With whom? Where? Cost?
To help you decide, here is your “grocery list” of questions when it comes time to shop for a music class.
First and foremost, ask about the teachers. Do they have the right qualifications? Where did they train? Do they have any experience teaching children specifically? Keep in mind that having their own children and singing in the shower does not qualify them as a music teacher.
Does the program offer a wide variety of musical activities? Singing, dancing, listening, playing instruments and musical games are all part of a well-designed class for young children.
What kind of instruments will my child play? Is there a good variety of tones and timbres? Look for a wide variety of sounds (wood, metal, skin/drums) and melodic and non-melodic percussion instruments.
Children should be exposed to various types of sounds (for example, brassy, resonant, strident). Think of describing animals with instruments. You wouldn’t use a piccolo for an elephant. Using various tones and timbres will also increase auditory perception and language skills and help your child to enhance the understanding of subtle distinctions of music while increasing their ability for speech and languages.
How do the instruments get cleaned and wiped? Is the teacher using a non-toxic cleaner?
What are the concepts and goals of the program? Is the class designed realistically for each age group? If your child likes the class, is there another level in which they can continue? How many children are in the class?
Concepts should be introduced to children in a friendly, developmental, sequential manner. Your child should acquire new knowledge in a gradual way. One must master a step before moving on to the next.
Are the fees a reflection of what you will get for your money? Is it in your budget? Do they have a monthly payment plan? Are there any other advantages to registering with this particular music program?
Where does the music class take place? Is it a welcoming school? Are there opportunities to participate in recitals? Do they have children’s concerts?
Most young children’s music classes involve the parents/caregivers up to a certain age. You may want to ask if you need to be in the classroom or not, and if you can bring a sibling or not.
Is the class at a good time of day for your child? How about for you? Are the classes all year long or only a few weeks?
Music classes can be pivotal to your child’s development. Studies demonstrate the impact of music classes on increased abilities in reading and mathematics.
Introduce your child to music as early as possible. Music is part of everyone’s life and it is a lifelong journey. So, sing to your children—whether you consider yourself a good singer or not—dance with them, and experience music as much as possible with them. Go on…start singing—your child is listening.
Dr. Johanne Brodeur is the Head of the Children’s Music Department and the Music Therapy Department at the Victoria Conservatory of Music and she loves singing, even in the shower!