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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Music Together - Schoolhouse Review Crew

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I am not musically inclined.  In fact I’ve always steered clear of things like choir because I cannot carry a tune in a bucket.  Because of this, I haven’t learned much about music – and of course I don’t know how to teach it - not even a little.  This is a shame for my kids because music is so fun… and we had a GREAT time reviewing a product through the Schoolhouse Review crew called Music Together.  Luckily with a product like this I didn't have to know anything about music!
What is Music Together?
Founded by Kenneth Guilmartin and co-authored by Lili Levinowitz, Music Together brings music education to children in a simple, easy-to-incorporate, format.  From the website... 
Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music program for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, first and second graders, and the adults who love them.  First offered to the public in 1987, it pioneered the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement.
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The Music Together philosophy is easy to understand and based on 4 main points:
1.  All children are musical
2.  All children can achieve basic music competence
3.  Participation and modeling of parents and other primary caregivers is essential to a child's musical growth
4.  Growth is best achieved in a playful, musically rich, and non performance oriented learning environment

Music Together traditionally offers 2 programs:  family classes and preschool classes.  Both are taught by trained Music Together teachers.  Teacher training, licensing for teaching family classes and/or preschool programs is available on their website.   If you can't make it to classes near you that's ok!  By using the songbook and CD, this amazing program is available to homeschool families as well. 


Music Together Family Favorites:
We received the Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and Family Favorites CD.   The Songbook gives you all the tools you need to teach music in your own home.  After reading through the Music Together philosophy, as found in the Songbook, I was really excited to get started.  Not only does Music Together address the need for music education but it really simplifies the HOW of teaching music to children using actions, fingerplays, activities, instruments and other props.  My favorite is the "dyad" or lap songs which Music Together describes as a "rhythmic snuggle."  How delicious is that?  A large section is also devoted on how to use the music together program with special needs children.

The song book contains 19 songs from the Family Favorites song collection.   The page numbers in the songbook correspond with the appropriate track on the CD.  Recommended for ages 0-8 the Family Favorite songs were an instant hit with both my girls.  We played them at home using our homemade musical instruments and we played them in the car, bee-bopping our way around town.   Maggie's favorite song is Stick Tune.  Kayley's favorite is She Sells Sea Shells (mine too).  This is the perfect dyad song and it is so lovely to cuddle my girls while singing this sweet and simple tune.  Although you can purchase the "egg shakers" and rhythm sticks and so on we ended up making our own and it was simple.  I made the old-fashioned paper-plate tambourine, a prescription bottle shaker and our sticks were unsharpened pencils.
My girls are big fan of any music you can dance to so our musical instruments have seen a lot of use!  Check it out, you can hear a snippet of the fun by listening to sample songs here.

How to Use Music Together:
Each lesson starts with background information about the song you are learning.  It includes a list of activities that you will be accomplishing in that lesson and lets you know what materials you will need.  

Next the book gives ideas for things to do for all ages, infants, preschoolers & older children and children with special needs.

So, for example, Maggie's favorite song, "Stick Tune" all ages can practice and explore tapping macrobeat/microbeat and tapping every 2 beats or every 4 beats.   (As a side note this corresponded nicely with learning skip counting a couple weeks ago!)  We also substituted the word sticks with stomping our feet which made for a loud, noisy song!  (Of course the girls loved it!).  Preschoolers and older children can take turns being a leader or practice good stick safety.  Infants can enjoy the beat by having caregivers tap their toes, knees, etc.  Children with special needs may need help clicking their sticks and may be sensitive to the noise level.

In the upper right corner of each page is a small picture of a CD with the corresponding track number...handy for when you don't have the CD case nearby.

We enjoyed working our way through a couple of songs a few times a week...although it was HARD to get my girls to move on to a new song because they always wanted to go back and hear their favorites over and over and over again.  We are hooked on the music!  The songs are so catchy and get stuck in your head! 

Ready to buy?
Music Together Family Favorites Songbook retails for  $29.95 and the CD with booklet for $14.95.   Music can also be purchased as an MP3 download for $9.99.

If you purchase the Songbook and CD combo kit (instead of purchasing each separately) you save $5.00.   

Bonus!  Enter coupon code “Schoolhouse” at check-out on the music together online store you can save an additional $2.00!  

Music Together is an Award-Winning CD:
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  • A Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Award
  • Earlychildhood News Directors’ Choice
  • Earlychildhood News Judges’ Selection
  • National Parenting Center Seal of Approval
  • NAPPA Gold Award
  • iParenting Media Award
  • Learning®Magazine 2008 Teacher’s Choice
         for the Family
  • Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice
  • Children's Music Web Award
  • Mom's Choice Gold Award
  • Parent-Tested Parent-Approved Award

We are having a great time using Music Together and several of my fellow crew mates did too, to see their thoughts follow the link below:
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Disclaimer:  We received Music Together free of charch in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

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