In tune with kids

Class helps parents teach music to their young children

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Babies sat on the laps of their moms, dads, grandmas and babysitters, listening attentively as Beth Wendler-Musselman sang their names.

"I'm happy to see you, Cosette. I'm happy to see you, Cisco," she sang. And as she went on, she added the rhythm of her hands on her knees. The children, some not even a year old, followed suit.

Some were smiling and laughing, and some were staring at her open-mouthed, but all their hands were keeping the beat.

That is one of the goals of Music Together, a 10-week music course for parents and children ages 4 and younger designed to teach children to sing in tune and develop rhythm.

Wendler discovered Music To---

gether, a national program, while she was in Denver volunteering with a program for low-income families. They researched programs that would teach reading, music and art to children.

"I liked Music Together because it involves parents," she said. "It's all about families interacting with each other in a way that's very fun, loving and musical."

Wendler moved to Steamboat in July 2004. She started teaching the class at Robin Getter's The Center for Movement Arts this past winter.

Wendler has been pleased with her students in Steamboat.

"Parents are less shy here," she said, "and the kids are more comfortable in their own bodies. They are more comfortable expressing themselves physically."

Music Together is not a program in which parents can drop off their children and walk to the back of the room. Parents sit with their children during the entire class -- singing along, clapping their hands and inventing songs with their children.

Wendler doesn't divide the class up by grade, because she wants it to be open to the whole family. She also has noticed how much the younger children learn from the younger ones.

Terry DelliQuadri comes every week with his three children. The youngest is just learning to crawl and the oldest is 5.

The program is designed to stimulate babies and preschool-age children equally.

"My kids are really musical, and I'm not," he said. "This program is good because I don't really sing to them when we're alone."

The course comes with a CD, cassette tape and song book with all the music for the program. DelliQuadri said they play the CD at home, and 3-year-old Cisco sings along.

The class is very informal. Wendler does not believe in correcting the children and she tells parents not to hold their child's hand to help them keep rhythm.

"I want the kids to feel free to express themselves," she said.

Classes are held on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

The spring class is the second session of Music Together that Wendler has held in Steamboat. She plans to hold another course -- a shorter six weeks -- in July. The class costs $125 per child and includes all the materials.

To enroll in Music Together or to visit a class, call Beth at 846-0746.

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