We all have one thing we can agree on: music is awesome! It really is one of the only universal languages on this earth. A melody can be linked to a specific memory from many years ago. A tune can change your mood in an instant. A song can represent and define an entire moment or a portion of your life. Music is powerful.
Music can also be therapeutic and an educational tool, especially in children. My son Ronin has been in a group music class for over two years and we attend a group music class through community education. We either could have chosen music therapy, which is a one on one session, or a group music class. Either would have been beneficial for him. We chose to do a group music class with the benefit of inclusion for my son. You see my son has special needs so having the opportunity to be in a class with other children has proved to be the best for everyone.
My son has responded to music ever since he was a baby and even before he could pronounce the words, he would always try to sing to music. One of the first songs he really responded to was “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. I think he enjoyed that the word “mama” was in it often. What a connection to see at such a young age. I knew then that this boy needed more music in his life!
We actually started in group music class as an extension of his other therapies. We’ve heard about all the benefits of music and just how enjoyable it is for kids. They don’t even know they are working on skills while participating in class. Music class incorporates physical, occupational and speech therapy throughout the class. Dancing and body cues are extensions of physical therapy. Playing and manipulating instruments with both hands and crossing your body midline are extensions of occupational therapy. Repeating sounds and singing the words to songs are extensions of speech therapy. Basically, everything we have been doing in therapy for years is hidden in music class. Just like how we hide veggies in our kids’ favorite foods. They don’t notice anything different because they enjoy it!
Ronin never wants to miss a music class. It’s really a lot of fun for him. He loves the different kinds of music in the lessons, loves being part of a group and also loves his teacher. The classes are very hands-on and very personable. We start with a hello song with every child greeted by name. We sing songs in the lesson, instruments are brought out, fun props are used like a parachute or pom poms, and there is a free dance, a lullaby to slow down and then the goodbye song.
Each class is about 45 minutes and it goes by fast with all the different interactions that take place. Everything is only a song length so the kids pay attention and participate with the constant changing of things we are doing. Every week is different too, so we can’t wait to see what is happening at each lesson. Parents get involved too!
Over these past two years, I have noticed a tremendous amount of growth in Ronin. He listens, follows routine, speaks better, has an impeccable memory and is more sociable. His current favorite song is “Better Now” by Post Malone (he has older brothers). I can tell you for sure he is definitely “Better Now” and I can tribute a lot of that to music class and his love of music. He can pronounce the letter H really well, thanks to Naughty by Nature: “Hip Hop Hooray.” He even loves music in other languages, as he loves Korean artist Psy. (I think partly because Psy looks like and speaks in a different language like his Grandpa.)
We are actually sad that our time in music class is coming to the end. Ronin will be in Kindergarten next year. With our busy schedules & sports, he will no longer be able to attend. He will be sad but this class will always hold a dear place in our hearts. Our last class will definitely be bittersweet.
While it is an end of an era for music class for us, music will always be forever a part of our life. Music is definitely for EVERYONE and every ABILITY.