Just like a child must learn to scoot, crawl and walk before they run, so too they develop early stage toning and mirroring sing-songy sounds before breaking into full-blown singing.
At Music Together Princeton Lab School (which opened a Falls Township location in October 2019), babies, toddlers and preschoolers coo, croon and sing along with their parents in fun and engaging music enrichment classes.
“Our hope is to create community,” Director Sarah Orfe said during a class.
In Orfe’s community circle on a recent Saturday sat eight babies and toddlers, along with their moms, dads and a grandma. The idea, according to Orfe, is that even the youngest infant can make music.
“There’s no such thing as too young,” she said. “Babies start toning when they’re born … They are ready to make music. We’re born singers.”
The biggest part of the learning process is mirroring mom or dad, she said.
“They learn it all from watching us,” Orfe said. “The most important thing is that they hear your voice. They learn from us, and develop a love for music making, no matter what we sound like.”
Emily Los Schumacher started taking her 9-month-old daughter Everly to Music Together classes when she was only three or four weeks old. Emily said she’s seen improved singing, with her always-smiling baby.
“She sings,” Los Schumacher said. “She screams. It has tones though.”
The 45-minute classes are as much about parent-child bonding as they are about making music from every shaky egg, tambourine and tone that can be hummed or sung. The upbeat classes satisfy kids’ tactile development (and keep them moving) with the incorporation of colorful scarves to sway about, small handheld instruments to play and rubber balls to squeeze, bounce, drum and roll.
The Music Together research-based music program began in 1987. It features a proven approach to early childhood music education which centers on family music-making. Since speech is slowed down while singing there’s a direct correlation between early childhood music education and language learning, Orfe said.
In addition, children who are exposed to music early in life learn the basic tenets and can more easily pick up an instrument and play later in life, Orfe said.
“We want to wire them now,” she said, adding that as children get older the ease of learning music becomes more challenging. “If they get it in the early years, they have it for years.”
Music Together offers a wide variety of classes designed for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Kids ages 4 to 7 can learn rhythm patterns and drumming, as well as play music games and sing, in Rhythm Kids classes.
The company is based in Hopewell, N.J. and operates locations in 42 countries. In the Princeton, N.J. area, Music Together offers 50 classes a week at 10 locations.
“We came to Falls Township because the next-closest location was Hopewell,” Orfe said. “We had a lot of families from this area making the drive and we wanted to make classes a little closer and easier to get to.”
At the Falls location six classes are available per week. Orfe hopes to expand to 20 classes per week by the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
Classes are limited to 12 or fewer children. Aside from Orfe, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from NYU, all the teachers have music degrees or a music-related PhD.
“You just have to love what you do,” Orfe said.
To learn more
Music Together is in the Gaslight Village Shopping Center, 85 Makefield Road. The center is open during class times. To see a schedule or register your child for a free class, visit the Website at https://www.musictogetherprinceton.com/ or call (609) 924-7801.