Music Together® after an absence
By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on October 04, 2011

After three months traveling, and three months away from music class, it's great to be back at Music Together classes on the South Coast of Massachusetts! This "semester" we are focusing on Bongos, and I feel like the collection features a lot of old-fashioned favorites like "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" and "Greensleeves." Yet, my 3 year old does not know these are not new songs! It's fun to play Greensleeves on the piano and to act out the parts in "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain."

 Charlotte started preschool, and I already feel that her unstructured, celebratory time at Music Together has both prepared her for preschool and is a reward for both of us at the end of the work week. 

 I should mention that I brought along my niece this past class, and she hadn't been to class in six months! She just twirled in the center for a bit, but soon caught on, relaxed, and remembered. It's been great to share the music with my sister and niece, and connects us somehow in this otherwise frenetic scheduled world we find ourselves in as adults.   

Science of Music
By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on July 01, 2011
" New evidence from studies by Wen Jun Gao, Ph.D., and Sarah L. Pallas, Ph.D., at Georgia State University suggests that learning, or at least the organization and development of cortical circuits in the brain, is in?uenced by patterned sensory activity, such as listening to sound clicks presented at speci?c time intervals."* I read this in an article posted in the Music Therapy website while doing some research for a class. I realize that the Music Together program is not haphazard, and in fact steeped in research by professionals who have quantified the whys and hows of repetition as building blocks, and music as a language all it's own. In Music Together classes, I don't always understand "why" repetition and patterns work, but I can see the wheels turning in my young child's brain. It seems the more I learn and discover, the more mysterious the power of music becomes. *
Letting Children Receive....
By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on May 20, 2011
This morning's Music Together class in New Bedford was restful, relaxing. This is not always the case. Sometimes, as in any gathering with preschool aged children or younger, things can get a little rowdy. Things can get a little loud. While I love the "banging on the drum" aspect of Music Together, I especially love when children feel the "sleepier" rhythms and succumb to the more solemn aspects of Music. During the "Russian Folk Song" both my own daughter and my niece gave me a spontaneous "love" hug, that I feel was inspired by: the loving, soothing tones in the music, the "space" that Music Together creates, and their relationships with me. Little do they know that the gift of a hug like that, so unsolicited and so unabashed, teaches me the importance, once again, of demonstrating rather than always just saying, I Love You!
Healing through Music
By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on March 11, 2011
A rainy day and a sad week in the city I live in, as residents try to make sense of why a middle school aged child would be so depressed and forlorn that he would take his own life. Not a light topic for a blog entry, I realize, but hiding or forgetting an incident like this would not honor the little boy of only 11 years old. So at the end of class this morning, when we all rested on the mat with lights dim and sang, "May, may all, may all children, may all people in peace," I thought about Elijah - and his classmates, and his friends, and the kids all over the world who may be hurting. May music be one avenue to heal their little hearts.
A Parent's Perspective
By Rhonda Matson on March 04, 2011

SCMT is excited to welcome Stacie, as our first guest blogger.  Stacie will be posting weekly musings on her experiences in class with her daughter.  

A Parent's Perspective

by Stacie Charbonneau Hess

At the most recent class, my favorite moment was when all the children, and the grown-ups seemed "busy." Not a word was spoken, and every person in the room had her instrument during the "get your instrument and play along" song.  My daughter was rubbing two red sticks together, my niece was drumming with her hands. I noticed that everyone in the room seemed not so much to be making music, as much as they were the music. I thought how effortless - the opposite of manipulating kids into doing what we want -that moment was. I wondered how this type of learning might bleed into the whole approach of teaching young children.

There is a Native American saying that says: Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand.  I love that! It described the moment above.

Stacie is a a local writer and mother of three living in the New Bedford area.  When asked about her South Coast Music Together experience she says, "Years ago I interviewed Rhonda, when she was first starting the Music Together program on the South Coast. I recall she was a passionate and determined teacher who really wanted to share this incredible program with the community. Who knew that all these years later, I would be attending classes with my own toddler? They are so much more than I expected, and I could not put a price tag on our experience so far! South Coast Music Together has been a wonderful social, musical and learning outlet for C., but also the music has livened up our family's car rides and home life. Her older siblings, dad and cousin have all enjoyed the music, and dance and sing along with us."

Long, Short, Short
By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on March 04, 2011

An example of how the learning in Music Together classes "bleed" into other areas of life: this afternoon Charlotte and I were making block towers. She held up two different sized blocks, and said, "One long, one short," and started mimicking some movements we learned in class this morning. The movements were long, short, short, and meant to help us sing the rhythmically tricky "Happy Puppy, Silly Cat." She looked at me and said, "Rhonda teach me that." While I write this, she is still using the rhythm of long, short, short but applying them to blocks, not music!

By Stacie Charbonneau Hess on February 09, 2011

When asked if she was going to go to preschool, my 2 1/2 year old answered, "Yes! I'm going to paint and learn songs." 

I am so glad her first experience in a class is one where her voice is not only heard, but celebrated. When kids are older, it seems that teachers want them to be quiet and listen. I have a frustrated middle schooler who has to sit through lunch without saying a word. Can you imagine? Kids can go hours without opening their mouths during the school day. I wish Music Together's participatory approach would be incorporated into a formal school day.