MUSIC CLASS TODAY is a new picture book from David Weinstone, the founder of the phenomenally popular Music for Aardvarks, the pioneer “kindie rock” program on the block, which features, fun, interactive music classes that parents will actually enjoy. (Fun fact: David is also a former punk rocker).
MUSIC CLASS TODAY is a fun, vibrant picture book that showcases the joy of music class through the eyes of a diverse set of wee folk (and some parents), including one boy who overcomes his shyness in order to join the fun. The illustrations pop with color and activity, and the words have a musical rhythm. The song that David has created to go along with the book is downloadable on Soundcloud or via THIS link.
I had a chance to interview David to learn more.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
So much is going on in all these classes for kids that have as much to do with social development as the class itself. I wanted to show all the fun activities that happen in a music class; the singing, egg shakers, drums, dancing around and such, but the real story, and inspiration for this book, is about how differently every child behaves in the class. Some are more sociable. Some are more in their own world. Some can’t sit still, and some are scared to be there at all. I chose to focus on a very shy child that stays by his mother’s side but is eventually overcome by the fun goings-on around him and joins in. Little everyday things like deciding to participate in a group activity cab be HUGE moments for young children and can bring parents to tears of joy!
Why is it important to encourage music in young kids?
It may sound cliché, but music truly is a universal language that transcends the spoken word. It provokes emotion and imagery in the youngest of children before they can even speak. Children have a natural love of music and what is important for us as parents is to expose them to different musical experiences. Taking them to concerts for instance, where they are not just hearing music, but seeing it played. Or, as in my music classes, participating in making music without “performance” expectations. The real value is simply the feeling of happiness and connection to the world they live in!
How do you make sure your music classes are fun for kids and adults?
Most importantly, you have to love being with them and they need to know it! In general, you have to balance repetition, which is important at their age, with their attention span for any given activity. So I keep things moving along. It’s also important to take cues from the children and be able to change direction on a dime. For example: If I start in on a lullaby but sense the kids are really full of energy at that moment, I will say “Everyone up! “ and do a song that involves dancing a silly dance or running around. I always tell my teachers that it is the children’s class, not the teacher’s performance. I also can’t stress enough how important it is that the teacher makes one on one personal connections with every single child in the class. Sitting down next to a child and saying something like “Your such a good drummer, can I play with you?” is so simple but very meaningful for the child. As for the adults, I always remind them that their participation is invaluable in modeling for their children that we aim for participation, not performance and that there is no right or wrong way to do anything. This puts them at ease and they usually join in and have a blast! It also doesn’t hurt that the parents absolutely love the songs. My songwriting style ranges from quirky, irreverent and even absurd to poignant, soft and tender and everything in between.
How can parents encourage music even if they aren't musicians themselves?
At my house, our basement is set up with all kinds of instruments. All my children play either guitar, drums or piano and we have free form jam sessions. But we also do musical things together that require no musical talent whatsoever. I’ll plug in my iPod and we laugh our faces off trying to out do each other in a goofy dance competition! Kids love dancing with their parents! You don’t have to be a musician to love music and share that love with your children.
In fact, I believe the love of music in itself is a form of musicianship.