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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Music Together

One thing I learned about music from my oldest son is that just learning how to play the piano & drums does not make you musical. He took piano lessons for years and learned to play pretty good, but for the most part he played by himself and he played like he did a hurry. He had trouble keeping a steady tempo, and he also lacked rhythm. The girls have been using Music Together Family Favorites & I think Michael could have benefited from this years ago.

Music Together was founded by Kenneth Guilmartin, he had a vision where young children develop music skills at an early age, naturally and joyfully. Since people don't gather around the piano and sing together anymore children are growing up with very little live music-making. He wanted to support a child's spontaneous music play in daily life by learning to play with the music. This allows a child to develop musical ability through play, which is their mode of learning.
I received the Music Together Family Favorites CD and the Songbook for Teachers. The products from Music Together are recommended for children up to age 7. There have also been great results using it with special needs children or when used by music therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special education teachers, and speech pathologists. I used it with all three of my girls ages 7, 10, & 11 and they had a such a good time making music together.

The Music Together Family Favorites CD contains 19 best-loved songs from the 9 Music Together song collections. It contains a 32-page booklet with activity suggestions for every song. The introduction tells us how to make music with our small children from birth to age 6. They suggest starting out with just clapping to the songs and then moving on to the other activities, and instrument play. Some of the activities include using instruments, stuffed animals, child's name, drums, and even items from the kitchen.

The Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers is a 9X12" inch spiral bound book printed on glossy paper and is divided into 3 sections:

  • Opening Section ~ Talks about the Music Together approach for all children including special needs and their philosophy. There is a discussion of types of songs and activities as well as how to work with instruments and props. 
  • Middle Section ~ Is a collection of nineteen songs. Each song has the CD track number at the top of the page and starts with a note from Kenneth Guilmartin. Following each song there is several teacher pages with ideas and suggestions for each age level of students.
  • Final Section ~ Offers information about the Music Together program and how to get involved, a glossary, and a guitar reference chart. 
In the Songbook for Teachers there are 4 pages for each song. They all start with Kenneth Guilmartin telling us a little about the song or the instrument or method used. Kenneth also gives us three lists for each song.

  1. Activities ~ This list shows us what types of movements, and instruments that will be used.
  2. Music ~ Here we can see what key the song is in, the starting pitch, and what type of meter it is.
  3. Recording ~ We are told what instruments are used in the song recording.
There are several activities for each song. There are suggestions for small movements, large movements, infants, preschoolers, older children, special needs, some games, and phrase play. The sheet music is included with guitar chords, and some songs have a full page illustration.

I really like that the kids are introduced to a variety of music from folk songs, lullabies, Latin jam, jazz, Spanish, and more. The tunes are very catchy & the words are very easy to remember. We even learned a song in Spanish! I was very impressed with the activity suggestions for different age groups. I teach Sunday school and feel that what I have learned using this program can very easily be applied to church songs the little kids already know.

Amber (age 11) & Delaney (age 10) have just started playing in a local homeschool band. They both play piano, but this is the first time they have been in a group music class. Amber is very musical and isn't having any trouble keeping time, but Delaney is having a little trouble staying with everyone else. Working through the songs in the Family Favorites has really helped her to keep the beat with the band songs.

Even though this program is primarily for smaller children, Amber & Delaney both wanted to partake in them with Alaina. They liked the activities with the instruments the best. For most of the songs, Amber would play it on the piano along with the CD, while the other girls did the activities. There are several small instruments suggested to go along with this program, but we did not go out and buy any. We already had some little drums, and maracas, and for everything else we found something around the house. They have used chopsticks, bottles, and tissue boxes wrapped with rubber bands. My girls are having so much fun going through the house to find things that they can use to make music. They have most of the songs memorized already and have been singing them without the CD or piano and using whatever instrument they want. Now that we have been using this program for a while they started changing the words to some of them to fit in with whatever they are playing at the moment.

Music Together is a great way to get the whole family involved in making music regardless of prior musical ability.

The Music Together Family Favorites CD can be purchased for $14.95. The Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers is $29.95. You can save $5.00 if you purchase the CD & Songbook together for $39.95. If you purchase the combo and use the promotional code: Schoolhouse you will save another $2.00.

Music Together also offers music classes in the United States and around the world. They have a variety of instruments available as well as a few more CDs.

Previews for each song are available at Music Together and other reviews can be read at the Crew Blog
Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received Music Together free of charge to use with my kids in exchange for my honest review.

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