CONTRIBUTED BY KRISTY WELLS
Six months ago I found an ad on the Okinawa Yard Sales website with information regarding a new music class available on the island. Lauren Baskins had recently moved here and brought with her the amazing learning experience called Music Together. Music Together is a music and movement class that allows children of mixed ages (from newborn to 5 years) to learn and play together with music. It is fun, relaxed, and aimed at a positive experience for both the parent and the child. It is truly a family experience!
Now, being a stay at home mother of two and my youngest was not even three months old at the time, I was very limited at what things I could get involved in. Most extracurricular classes are broken down by age. Music Together encouraged – no, WANTED (gasp!) – both my two year old son and my infant daughter to attend, together! I was giddy to say the least!
I had no idea what to expect at our first Music Together class. But Lauren quickly put us all at ease and guided us in the Music Together fashion of fun with music. There were movement songs, instrument play songs, plain old fun songs, and even a lullaby song at the end to calm the class down (it works!). As we continued through the semester, my son’s confidence in music grew exponentially. His memory for songs increased, as did his ability to clap, pat, and stomp to a somewhat regular beat. The best thing about his experience in the class is that there are no expectations for performance during the class. And honestly, just by watching him during most classes, someone on the outside looking in would question whether or not my son gets anything out of the music class. What he does is developmentally appropriate. He does not sit still; he does not even participate in all the activities. Sometimes he will run around the classroom. Sometimes multiple children in class will do that with him, too. Sometimes he will sit in the corner. And sometimes, but not often, his attention will be right there in class and following the lead from Lauren through a song or movement.
It is when I get home that I see the difference. Participating in Music Together has opened a door of confidence, social interaction, an early love of music, music development through instruments, and an opportunity for both my children to grow and learn together as a family. I really can’t say enough about this wonderful gift Lauren has brought to our island!
Lauren runs her classes through her business Music Together Trumpetfish. The price is $150 for the first child per semester. For a sibling older than 8 months, the cost for that sibling is just $50 more. Siblings under 8 months come for free. Each semester is 10 weeks long. Lauren accepts cash or check, and can accept Paypal by request for a small additional fee. Class is once a week, 45 minutes in length. Each semester has a different set of songs, and you receive a music CD (two copies, one for home and car!), music book, and (for your first semester) a Music Together development booklet. Classes are held on Mondays on Foster, and Tuesdays/Thursdays on Kadena at the Arts and Crafts Center.
If you decide to give it a try, come in comfortable clothing, with an attitude for fun and an open mind for learning with music and movement!
Please email Lauren at [email protected] for more information and to inquire about class openings for registration!