Kids music

Santa Rosa children’s music program adapts during pandemic


With a 20-year-old company that has the word ‘together’ in its name, Ginger Parish had to adapt – and quickly – when the coronavirus pandemic arrived last March.

The parish, which is celebrating 20 years of operating Santa Rosa Area Music Together, had 180 families enrolled in its in-person classes, which introduce the concepts of music and rhythm to children from birth to 6 years old. She quickly worked to transition her program online, with pre-recorded lessons and live Zoom sessions so that the 140 families who remained with the program could still participate once in-person gatherings were limited to prevent the spread of the virus.

The company celebrated its 20th anniversary with an online concert using Zoom, a format the parish has turned to for a series of fundraisers, the next of which, on April 17, will raise funds for the Volunteer. Fire Foundation. Parish, who lives in Pepperwood Preserve, where her husband is the reserve manager, said the cause was close to her after her home and most of her belongings were destroyed by the Tubbs fire in 2017. Kincade fire in 2019 also burned parts of the preserve, and she feared losing everything a second time.

“I just don’t look forward to the anxiety created by the constant fires,” she said. “So it’s fair to donate to the volunteer firefighters who are so in demand during the fire season. “

She offered outdoor classes in the fall, only to come back online only when the weather cooled and virus transmission skyrocketed locally. Now, as transmission of the virus has started to subside and the weather warms, Music Together has resumed outdoor classes, held in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg parks.

Music Together, based in New Jersey, started in 1987 and has spread to over 40 countries using the program. This is a music and movement program for children from birth to 6 years old and their guardians. Parish said his research-based approach to how children learn basic musical skills helps them develop their own skills by watching and playing at their own pace. The Santa Rosa Music Together area has been able to serve thousands of families since it opened in 2000. The parish said the Music Together program gives parents and children the opportunity to communicate beyond language.

“Just like you would never think of not talking to your child, you start talking to a baby from birth,” Parish said. “What we do with music is just that.”

Music is its own language and the majority of its classes are of mixed age, Parish said, allowing children to experiment with songs without lyrics. Instead, they hear sounds like “meow meow meow” and “la la la”.

Before opening his establishment, Parish performed songs in preschools. She said she could tell which kids felt comfortable with music and which were not.

“It made me realize how important the way music is made in someone’s house is,” Parish said. “When I was pregnant, I discovered this program.”

It impressed her, but it wasn’t until the age of 19 months that her son received training and decided to become an instructor.

“I thought I would just do it while he was little, maybe until he was in kindergarten,” Parish said. “But when he was in kindergarten, I was like ‘Wow, that’s great. Now I can stretch out. It’s going strong. I never wanted to stop.

Akhtiara Riley, who has two daughters, signed up when her oldest daughter was a baby after hearing about the program from other mothers in Kaiser’s Mommy and Me group. She went on a free trial of Parish’s Only Baby Class.

“I just loved it. I thought it was so nice to have this time dedicated to looking into my baby’s eyes and singing to her, ”said Riley. “It was a really great way to impart knowledge about rhythm and language.”

She signed up after her trial ended and has been in the program for four years. She said she met her best friends in the class because it was a bonding experience for the parents as well as the kids, some being first-time moms when they entered the program like her. had done.

The three main types of lessons available through Music Together are Babies Only, from birth to 8 months in person and 9 months online, Mixed Age, from birth to 5 years old, and Rhythm Kids, for children 4 to 8 years old. . As of March 2020, the majority of courses are only available online.

While Music Together focuses on developing a relationship between movement and music, the Canta y Baila accompaniment program is both language immersion and music learning. All the melodies in the program come from the Spanish-speaking cultures of Central and South America, Mexico and Spain and are not songs translated into Spanish.


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