Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Appreciation: Music Together

When it comes to music, I don't have much to fall back on.  I did play clarinet for several years in school, and I can still read a few notes, but I've lost most of it.  I never could sing in tune.  The schools never taught compulsory fine arts, so I don't have a lost of experience with various genres and musicians.  Beyond just playing various genres of music, I wasn't sure how to teach music, especially when my boys are still quite young.  Enter Music Together!

Music Together is a research-based, early childhood music development program.  It is designed for all children, from infancy through early elementary...and the adults who love and care for them!  It is designed to be developmentally appropriate and encourage young children to enjoy music and rhythmic experiences.

We were recently given the opportunity to try out the Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and the accompanying Family Favorites CD.  This program is perfect for small group settings such as preschools, day cares, early elementary music classes, church groups, homeschools and co-ops!

What is Their Philosophy?
  1. All children are musical
  2. All children can achieve basic music competence
  3. The participation and modeling of parents and other primary caregivers is essential to a child's musical growth
  4. This growth is best achieved in a playful, musically rich, and non-performance-oriented learning environment
What does that mean for me?  That my children can willingly and easily enjoy music, but it is important that I foster their love and enthusiasm through fun and engaging activities!

Using the Program
My first thought when opening the book was that it seemed overwhelming for a children's introduction to music.  However, once I dove in I realized it is not overwhelming, just wonderfully comprehensive.  The pamphlet included with the CD has a brief description of an activity or two you can do with each song, but the Songbook is much more informational!  It has a fantastic introduction to the history of the program, the philosophy, teaching principles, how to work with instruments and props, and even how to work with special needs children.  

The book has a full section dedicated to every song on the CD, with more than just the words and music.  There's a little information about the song itself, as well as very detailed information on how to adapt the particular song for different age groups, suggestions for instruments or movement activities, or how to explore the rhythm or lyrics differently over several sessions.

We started out by just listening to the songs together. I let the boys dance, stomp, sway, and "bum bum ba dum" along with the music. Now we do the structured activities once or twice a week, which I think would be similar to taking a class. We start with the Hello Song, and then I choose 2-3 other songs, depending on our activity level and interest for the day. We also listen to the music without doing any of the activities and just enjoy the music itself.

The great thing for parents is that these aren't your run-of-the-mill songs that you're already tired of singing repeatedly.  It's not "kiddie music" that will have your head spinning within a few minutes.  The songs are from different ethnic genres, are a unique way to introduce your children to different elements of music, and are actually kind of catchy for mom and dad too!

There are many instances where you can use rhythm instruments during the program, but that's one thing we don't actually we made some of our own.  This was a fun way to get the kids excited about the music before we even started.

We made the classic egg shakers, which were a big hit.

Hulk quickly realized he could turn a laundry tote over for some drumming and tapping too!

I also made small ribbon dancers after seeing how much Hulk enjoyed them during the music session in his new Sunday School class.  Iron Man enjoyed swaying them around too.

:::If you need more ideas for creating your own instruments and props, check out these homemade musical instruments or these homemade instruments.:::

What Did We Think?
The program is geared for children from birth up to about age 7 or 8, and while both of my boys enjoy the songs and activities, I've found that Hulk (young 3) is much more interested than Iron Man (almost 6).  I think this is definitely appropriate for the toddler and preschool crowd.  I also think Hulk just might be getting a nice set of rhythm instruments for Christmas to enhance this program even more!

I love the diversity of the music, and my kids love the music and the engaging activities.  The Caribbean Palo, Palo was a big hit with Iron Man because of the Spanish lyrics, since we've been studying Spanish.  John the Rabbit is nice because the boys can make hopping rabbits with their fingers; I don't know about your kids, but my boys love making shadow puppets!  Each song has something new and fun to offer, and is one more reason to love the program!

Interested?  Listen to Samples and read Reviews!
You can listen to samples of each song from this album (individual downloads are only $0.99!) or read reviews to get an idea of why parents and teachers love this program.

The Music Together Family Favorites Songbook for Teachers and album that we were fortunate enough to review are available individually or as a combo pack which for a discount, at only $39.95.  You can also use the special code "Schoolhouse" for an extra $2 savings.

My Recommendation
If you think it sounds pricey, consider the cost of enrolling each of your children in a music and movement class, and this is much more reasonable.  I have two children who are both enjoying this program in their own way, and with another on the way, I get to explore the program again at no additional cost utilizing the infant suggestions!  If this is within your budget, I think it's a wonderful investment for families with young children who want to explore music and spend quality time together.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of the Music Together Family Favorites program in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are based on our personal experiences and were not influenced in any way.  


  1. I was just looking for some inspiration to write my post on Music Together. Your review is excellent. I really like the way you set them up. Great job!

  2. This sounds like really great set of songs!