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Music Education for all Children

I know we already posted a blog for the month of May, but I couldn't help but post again.

As we finish off the year, I have thought back to a couple of the moments that have confirmed to me that an audiation-based approach to music learning is the answer to how to help children learn the language of music. There are alot of ways to teach music. Many of them are based on a goal of teaching sight reading as soon as possible. That is one way to teach. It is how I was taught, and it is how I taught for over 20 years.

Until I found a better way.

There is too much to go into right now, but here are just a few special teaching moments that have struck me.

*A 7 year old student with autism and delayed speech has been in class with his mom for only 3 weeks - today he requested the song Sad Little Puppy by opening our songbook book to it and howling ... he also suggested we sing hello to his headphones in our opening ritual song. His mom, who rides the bus for an hour every week to get to our classes, said she is so grateful to have found us. We are so glad they are with us as well!

*An 11 month old baby was brought by her mother, who was very concerned about her socialization. As expected, the baby was hesitant at her first class, however after class, mom reported that she sang all the way home. The last two weeks, she has become more and more comfortable. Today, she sang the resting tone on a coo after we had been singing in the key of D major. She also exhibited independent rhythm throughout class with waving arms. She is on her way to achieving early Basic Music Competence - being able to sing in tune and move accurately to the beat in the top and bottom parts of the body, something that can be achieved as early as 3 years old when enrolled in a participatory music class like Music Together from an early age - ideally as a newborn.

*A 9 year old Music Moves student, enrolled in her first year of music classes is now, at the end of the year, singing in tune and with confidence. She shared that she had found herself reading and singing the words instead of speaking them.

*A young woman of 15 years old with Pitts Hopkins syndrome has been coming to Mixed-Age classes for 2 years as well as doing one on one zoom lessons weekly. Her therapists are seeing a difference - she now anticipates endings of songs, reacts to familiar songs, claps and laughs and sings along with increased range and expression, and is more verbal than ever with more controlled physical movements. Her mom feels music has been invaluable for her daughter's growth.

*A 6 month old baby was enrolled in our one-semester Babies only class. After several weeks of classes, and following a song in b minor, the baby coo-ed a minor tonal pattern. (Singing a series of notes in the minor tonality - something we do in classes to teach musical concepts in context and play with them to help children identify and isolate specific rhythmic meters and tonal modes.)

*An 11 year old young woman started private studies several years ago, her first experience with music lessons. Her learning style would have been challenging for a traditional music teaching method, and yet, she came in with a book of her own compositions. In two years, she has learned to play and sing her pieces with joy and confidence and is learning the inner vocabulary to further express herself and listen to as well as create music with understanding.

*A 40-something-year-old music teacher always felt like she was missing something. She had been told often that she was a really good sight reader, but she couldn't improvise and struggled to think outside of the major, duple box of traditional Western music. She started teaching Music Together and, four years later, is finding that she is listening and understanding music differently. She does things with music now that she never dreamed possible.

These experiences have been life-changing for me. They have been life-changing for the families who have seen their effects.

And there is more than anecdotal evidence to support the things we are witnessing here at Dahl Studio. Research supports this method of teaching and the importance of music education.

"Then people ask you about ‘the Mozart effect,’ should I be playing Mozart to my fetus, should I be teaching violin to my child so he can have a better IQ. The truth is more interesting than the myth: Playing Mozart to your baby is not going to guarantee it a Nobel Prize, but taking your child to participatory music classes when they’re 6 months old actually will help them learn gestures and communications more quickly...

...what they felt they needed was a stronger focus on math and computer science to create more people to fill the vast amount of tech jobs in California ... so we’re fighting a distorted perception of values. If you want to have innovators for the future, you have to give full confidence to them at the earliest possible age, to make the neural connections and to find creativity. And that doesn’t come from doing math.”

In all of Nevada, there are only two centers that offer the audiation-based early-childhood music education program Music Together. One is Dahl Studio.

Music Together has been the pioneer of this research-based method since they introduced the first-ever early childhood music program for children under 3 years old in 1987 and today is still the forerunner in research and development in this area. (Though others have borrowed heavily from their groundbreaking programs.)

Dahl Studio is the only music studio in Nevada that takes that audiation-based methodology and applies it to every age and every stage and ability. From newborn to adult, you will find this same understanding, the same goals, and the same support. Music Education is for more than the 'talented' or the 'in-the-box' thinkers, it is a shared human birthright. EVERYONE is born musical.

Kerri Dahl


Dahl Studio

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