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I've been following the questions/recommendations about music classes with interest. My daughter has gone to Kids in Tune in Montclair since 18 months old. It does not include any instruments, and in essence is ear training at the younger ages. Everything is done with stuffed puppets or pictures with markers on a small board, or movement songs such as teddy bear, teddy bear... In the older class (at about 3) it starts to include concepts like beat versus notes, scales, and a series of voices contributing to one song. It's based on the Kodaly (sp?) method. It is a challenge for kids, since they have to sit in a circle, everyone has to take their turn, and the class is up to 12 kids. I've been very impressed with what my daughter has learned - at 3 she easily matches a tone, can sing on key most of the time, has learned to be focused in such a group with many distractions, and awaits her turn fairly well. It wasn't easy at times - she's pretty high energy and I had to periodically remove her from the room to calm her down when she was younger, but it seems to have worked well.
As for Kids In Tune: I wholeheartedly disagree with their philosophy. When I first moved here from NYC, though, it was all I could find, so we attended three 6-wk. sessions, with two different teachers. They request that parents attend but not fully participate during class lest some "tone-deaf" (an ignorant term for a lack of tonal development or training) parent confuse the children. It is my opinion that this policy sends a message to the kids that if it doesn't come out right then it shouldn't come out. How can that message foster practice and the ensuing development? They require 18mo.-3yr. kids to remain seated quietly (or singing songs--all with words in my experience) for most of the duration of the 30-min. class. I found it to be more of a class in discipline and voice training than music understanding and appreciation. Still, my child sang the songs at home (of course he'd already had 3 semesters of Music Together in NYC), and it was better than nothing.
Re: Toddler music
I recommend Kids-In-Tune. I started my kids in the program last year when they were 2, and they really like it. It's all voice; the philosophy is that young children can learn pitch, rhythm, etc. best by learning and singing specially selected songs rather than by learning or playing with instruments. There are three different class levels; my kids are in the first one, for kids 18 mos - 3 1/2. At their level, parents stay with the kids, and class lasts 35 minutes. The classes for older kids last longer, and parents wait for their children rather than staying with them.
I take my kids to Montclair, which is the closest location to north Oakland, where I live. I think the rates are around $60 for a 6 week session, with discounts for additional kids and additional sessions. I don't have the phone number handy, but the group advertises in Parents Press.
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