My 15-month-old daughter likes music. She loves listening to music in the house and playing with toys that make musical sounds. I think this is awesome; music has always been a big thing with my family, so having a child show interest in music this early is cool. And because she and I need more things to do during the week, I thought it would be fun to find a “mommy and me” music class for us.
I asked around about the best classes in the area and got a resounding recommendation for one particular class. Okie dokie. If so many moms and kids loved the class, it must be good. I signed us right up without even bothering taking the free sample class the program offered.
We walked into the class, and everything seemed promising. There were colorful squares of rug to sit on, and the teacher broke out a guitar right away and started singing a catchy welcome song. My baby was a little insecure at the outset, because she always gets worried that I’m going to leave when we go to strange places, but that’s no biggie. I held her tight in my lap and clapped along with the music.
After that, things started to go downhill for me. The instructor cautioned the adults in the room not to chat. And by “not chat” she meant not just refraining from talking to the other grown-ups in the room. She meant no talking to our kids. All we were to do is sing and dance along with her and let the kids see us modeling musical behavior. She urged us not to expect the kids to participate in class, but said that if we listen to the CD of the music every day, the kids would start to pick it up at home. Sound philosophy, no doubt. Repetition is a good way for kids to learn, as is watching adults. But I wanted to take a class with my daughter, not do a performance for her, you know? However, I swallowed my doubts and prepared to commit to the music and activities in the class.
Oh God did I hate the music and activities during the class.
I will fully admit to being a music snob. There is a very small selection of kids’ music that I enjoy; I’d much rather find kid-friendly music from my own collection to play in the car or at home. That’s why my 5-year-old is familiar with the work of Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles, but not Laurie Berkner it’s a personal taste thing. There’s nothing wrong with kids’ music, I just don’t like it as much as I like other music. However, I am willing to tolerate all kinds of things if my kids love them, so I would have jumped totally on board with the music in this class if my daughter had been smiling and clapping the way she does when her brother and I have dance parties in the living room. But she wasn’t. In fact, for the first 30 minutes of the class, not one kid cracked a smile, not even the kids who had attended the class before. It was just a room full of stricken-looking toddlers and adults singing simplistic songs and rather desperately dancing around. The kids finally showed some interest when the teacher brought out instruments they could play, making me wonder why she hadn’t started with the instruments to get their attention right off the bat.
But even the addition of egg shakers which my daughter adores couldn’t make up for the teacher scolding me for stopping my dancing to go back and let my daughter catch up with me. There were too many people between us, and I could see the look of worry on her face when she couldn’t spot me right away. No music teacher on earth is allowed to stop me from stepping back into her line of sight and making sure she’s OK. I spent the last 15 minutes of class seething and glancing at the clock every two minutes to see if it was time to leave, much as I’d done in 10th grade math.
Later that day the baby got ahold of my phone and managed to turn on the last song I’d been listening to on it. As “Party in the USA” started to play, my son hollered “Dance party!” and grabbed for my hands. We circled around the baby, who was holding the phone and grinning at us. The three of us danced and laughed together and had a musical good time.
After the kids went to bed, I went online and withdrew from the class. For us, a homegrown dance party where we all enjoy the music and play together is the way to go.
Photo Credit: iStock