I am a huge believer in the positive influences music has on a child’s development. The impact of learning rhythm, movement, and melodies on a young child’s brain is well-researched. For many years, I have enrolled my own children in Music Together® programs, attending classes in both San Francisco and Chicago. In these classes I watched my boys learn to sing along with a group, explore and play instruments, internalize a sense of rhythm, dance, and discover the joy that comes with a wonderful musical experience. We were given CDs of each semester’s songs so that we could continue to listen and enjoy the music at home and in the car. Music was an everyday part of our lives and I found that when I was taking those classes with my kids I more naturally incorporated singing and rhythm into my speech/language therapy sessions, too, with great results.
But over the years I saw children in our classes who had challenges that simply made the classes too difficult for them to manage week after week. Sometimes I suspected that the transitions happened too quickly for them, and in other situations I could see that sound sensitivity was causing discomfort as a child had to leave the room for the loud or high-pitched songs. Maybe the group was too large for some. The teachers were fully open, welcoming and warm with all students, but I saw some kids who eventually just stopped coming. This always upset me, because I felt that with some specific modifications, those kids could have gotten just as much enjoyment and learning out of the classes as the rest of the children.
This past year I approached the directors of a fabulous local Music Together® program I am familiar with on the north side of Chicago, Merry Music Makers, to discuss what we could do for these kids in order to create a more comfortable environment for them. The outcome is a brand new class for ages 0-5 that will be taught by my fabulous associate, Laura Allison, who happens to be a talented musician in addition to her amazing skills as a speech-language pathologist! Laura has completed the intensive Music Together® training and will be teaching this fantastic 10-week class at our clinic on Saturday mornings, starting in January. Here is our official class description:
MIXED AGE – Supportive Environment
This Mixed Age Supportive Environment Music Together® class will offer increased support to children exhibiting regulation disorders, speech issues, sensory processing disorders or developmental delays. They will attend alongside their typically developing siblings. Adaptations will be made so that each child can participate to the best of his or her ability. The instructor will use visual aids to accompany music and activities, adjusting sensory input as needed to maximize the engagement and enjoyment of each child. Communication between parents and the instructor will provide parents with strategies to increase engagement and participation of their children. It is our goal to offer an experience rich in music, movement and interaction in a fun and supportive environment.
If you or someone you know is in the Chicago area and would be interested in this class, please visit the registration page at the Merry Music Makers website! Registration opens on Monday, November 16.