Saturday, September 29, 2012

TOS Review: Music Together

Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music and movement program.  They offer programs for children birth through age seven.  Music Together began in 1987 and has based its programs on research that all children are musical.  All children can sing on tune, learn to keep a beat, and participate with confidence in the music of our culture, IF they have an early learning environment that supports this idea.

Music Together offers classes in many locations around the US and Canada for children for babies, toddlers,  preschoolers, kindergartners, first and second graders.  Music Together believes children learn best from the role model that their parents and caregivers provide.  So, they use that influence and have the parent/caregiver come to class with the child.  In addition to learning lots of fundamentals about music, rhythm, and movement, children and adults find the classes to be fun!  This relaxed introduction fosters a lifetime love of music.

Doesn't Music Together sound like fun?  I think so, too!  But, there are a lot of reasons it would not work out for my family.  Number 1, is that they don't offer classes anywhere near my home.  That said, I live far from everything so I wasn't expecting much.  I have other reasons, too, but this isn't to talk you out of a Music Together class.  In fact, it's to let you know about another option you have.

 You already home-school, why not add a music class to your curriculum?  You aren't musical?  You don't know where to start?  I've got an idea for you.  You ARE musical, you have a million and a half ideas, but they just haven't made their way into your busy day?  I have an idea for you, too!

You can bring Music Together home!  Music Together has put together a CD and Songbook especially for those who want to experience the Music Together philosophy at home, preschool, or anywhere there are children enjoying music!  If you have ever looked into a mommy and me type music program, you know that being able to purchase the program's CD and Teaching book is pretty much unheard of.  I am really excited to be able to tell you about this one!!

Music Together has compiled a collection of songs entitled Family Favorites.  In their Music Together classes, they use many different music collections, but the Family Favorites includes 19 of every one's favorites!  It also includes a 32-page booklet with fun music-making activity instructions.  

Music Together Family Favorites has won ELEVEN awards!!

The CD starts with a song entitled 'Hello Song' and ends with a song called 'Goodbye, So Long, Farewell.'  As you may be able to judge from those two songs, the CD could be used from start to finish as a class.  The run time is just under 45 minutes.  The songs include some original songs, some traditional songs, some songs from other cultures, and even some songs without real words!  

Music Together Family Favorites retails for $14.95 if you would like a physical disk.  Or, you can purchase an MP3 version and PDF of the booklet for $9.95.  You can listen to little clips of the songs on the Music Together Website.  You can also purchase individual songs if you have interest in just one or two.

My Thoughts on the Music Together Family Favorites CD?

Family Favorites from Music Together is a nice collection of songs.  They are catchy, fun, and entertaining.  It is hard to find good, wholesome, music that both kids AND mom like!  I have found myself singing random songs on my own!  

I noticed right away how much Explorer enjoyed the music.  As soon as the disk began she was up, dancing, trying to figure out where the songs were coming from.  The bigger kids were making up their own movements and instinctively grabbed their own 'instruments' without me having to suggest anything.  

We even played the CD in the background during our snack at co-op today.  I didn't point out anything, it was just background music, but I wanted to see their reaction to it.  More then once I noticed different children moving to the beat of a song, or twirling around with another child.  

Music Together Family Favorites would make a nice gift for a family who enjoys having fun and spending quality time together-in other words, everyone with small children!

Now, you may want to take your Music Together experience to the next level.  If so, you will want to pick up Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers.  The Songbook for Teachers begins with 19 pages on how to use the book.  I've mentioned that Music Together bases its methods on research and over 25 years of experience of teaching young children.  The beginning of this Songbook for Teachers goes into detail about this research.  It also explains the types of songs and activities that are used in the book.   The last few pages of the how to go into ways to work with a special needs child to insure all children get the most from Music Together.

The second part of the Songbook for Teachers are the songs.  Going in the order of the CD, each song has a section in this book.  The songbook starts with a little information about the song, then lists activities to do with the song, the pitch and meter, and instruments used in the recording.  

Each song includes ideas on how to use the songs with:
  • ALL ages and settings
  • Infants
  • Preschoolers and older children
  • Children with special needs

Basic sheet music is included for each song in case you would like to play it rather then listen to the CD.  Generally this is just the basic melody line, but a couple of the songs have a full accompaniment written out.

The end of the book is a reference section with information about the Music Together classes, contact information about classes and teacher trainings, guitar notes, and a glossary.

Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers is spiral bound, high-gloss, and has 112 pages.  It retails for $29.95.  

My Thoughts on the Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers?

Well, first off, the presentation is very pretty.   It has beautiful high-color photos, the pages of the spiral bound book turn so nicely, and it's got that shiny sleek feel.  No, not the only reason to buy a book, but I liked it so much I at least had to say something :).  

My nature is to be skeptical of things I don't think I need, and this was one of them.  I have extensive history in music and have lots of experience singing, playing, and even teaching music.  So, I didn't know if this book would be useful to me.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did use it.  

Being a mom of 4 children and always on the run, it is becoming more and more important to have things laid out for me.  I appreciated how easy it was to open the book to a song, read over the ideas, and choose which activities I wanted to use.  The prep work was next to zero, and there were ideas to use with each of my children-at THEIR level.

I especially loved the ideas that were specifically for Explorer.  When I just had one or two children, it was easy to take the time to come up with things they would enjoy.  But, now that I have 4 I am surprised at how easy it is to overlook Explorer in my planning.  To have ideas already there for me is wonderful.

Now, some of the ideas in the book are no brainers.  For example, pretend to drive a car when you sing Ridin' in the Car.  But, some were really great ideas.  One that sticks out to me is during a song called Stick Tune.  The idea given is to tap out the rhythm (lightly) on the belly of your baby.  Next, move to her feet.  Later, you would alternate between lightly tapping her and the floor.  Last, tap the floor and sticks.  This gives baby a chance to feel the rhythm, hear the rhythm (on the floor) and finally see the rhythm on the sticks.    Great idea!

And while I believe that you can certainly enjoy just the CD by itself, the book really helps you to turn listening to music into learning about music for your little ones.

Purchasing the CD and book and cd bundle will cost you $5.00 less then if you were to order them separately.  The combined cost is $39.95.  Music Together is also offering my readers an additional $2.00 discount on the bundle.  Use the code 'Schoolhouse' at checkout to receive your savings! 

We are one of 100 homeschooling families that tried out Music Together.  If you'd like to see what the other 99 thought of this product, checkout the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.

Thanks for stopping by!  God Bless!

Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a copy of Music Together Family Favorites and Songbook for Teachers in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I was not paid for my review.  

No comments: