With the decline of music education in public schools, many public libraries are attempting to “pick up the slack” by offering early music education classes for kids. These classes not only provide a good way to make good use of your early childhood music curriculum, but also present a great way to gain new students for continued music education classes.
Approach your local public library and offer to help with an early childhood music class. Once you have your class set up, here are some tips and potential pitfalls in conducting a library toddler music program:
Have a one-minute orientation before you start your library children’s music demo class:
- Politely ask all patents to turn cell phones off for the duration of the class.
- Parents/adults are the models to the child and do everything. You may need to mention this again when you find yourself singing and moving if the parents are just sitting and eying their cell phones.
- All musical teaching aids, such as songbooks and musical instruments, go on a table out of the child’s reach so as not to distract in the beginning.
- All toddler hands must be free of stuff and ready to make music.
- Ask that no one leaves the class until the “goodbye” song.
Other tips and considerations for your early childhood music demo class:
- Assign a sticker to each child with their first name, so that you can include them in the songs you sing. This creates a personal connection with the children.
- Include some new music in your class, but don’t rule out the classics with which the kids are familiar – Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, Jack and Jill (add lots of falling and rolling on the floor), Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Walk and Stop, Clap with Me, etc.
- Make sure to include the parents, asking them to participate in each class to create a more memorable experience for them and their child.
- Expect all activities to take longer with larger classes.
- Add rounds (Make New Friends is a great song for this activity.)
- Bring enough sticks and jingle bells for everyone. Drums are also very popular.
- A moment of “quiet alertness” sometime during the class. This may not happen in your public library children’s music demo class, but if it does, acknowledge the children and parents at the end.
- Keep in mind that public library classes do bring in a level of families looking for the free music appreciation event. It is your job to make it more than that and invite the transition to paid children’s music classes at your own studio. Become the music and movement expert in your community, and mention your other classes that meet in a more intimate setting.
- After the “goodbye” song, move to the doorway to wave goodbye to every child and say their name.
- Turnout is often dependent on how well your library communicates its events.
Speak with your library administrators to see how they are marketing your demo class, and if there is anything else that can be done to make it a success, such as offering posters to be placed around all of the library branches in your area.
Most important, bring your business cards, brochures and have the class material available for parents to look through. After a few weeks of mentioning the material, parents will start showing interest in continuing the early music development experience with their child.
A very special thanks to this month’s contributing Musikgarten teacher:
Ellen Johansen, Ellen Johansen Music Studio