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Kindermusik in tune with child-parent bonding

SHERRY MAYS

Area youngsters are getting a musical head start with a program aimed at teaming them up with their parents.

Music For Me, led by Kindermusik teacher Rita Whitaker-Haun, is beginning its spring semester March 16 and Haun said the program promises to be enriching for child-parent bonding and child development.

“This class is about building relationships,” Haun said. “It’s important for parents to commit to the classes.”

A music teacher for more than 18 years, Haun said it is proven that music classes focused on children, infant to 4 years old, will make children smarter.

“It’s been proven,” she said. “The techniques used are geared toward (children in) this age group and their limited attention spans.”

Set to music, the program uses props ranging from scarves to drums, bells and wooden sticks. Children and accompanying parents use the instruments and props together, with the parent as the model.

“It doesn’t matter how fast children progress in class,” she said. “It is common to have children who are not outgoing in the class suddenly act out the movements at home.”

The one-half-hour classes move through two-minute intervals to help keep attention spans. The activities focus on big motor movements to help develop coordination and body awareness, expressive movement, drama and dance, and singing.

“Constant rhythms and steady beats help stimulate brain activity,” she said. “They help organize the brain.”

During the class children and parents pretend to be animals, chant songs, dance and sing.

“There is no expectation of performance,” Haun said. “It is a joyful class. It is all about the joy of music.”

Haun began teaching the classes in September of 1992 after discovering the Kindermusik approach to development with her son Christopher.

She said the cellist with the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra thought so highly of the program, Haun decided to enroll in training and become a Kindermusik teacher herself.

The spring class kicks off with a parent orientation on March 9 from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. at the Truckee Community Center. Haun suggests parents attend the orientation without children.

The 10-week class is scheduled on Mondays at either 8:30 to 9 or 9:10 to 9:40 a.m. and is limited to 12 children and their parents. Haun strongly recommends parents attend the classes with only one child.

“We like to keep the class one-on-one,” she said. “It gets too stressful if a parent is trying to split attention between children.”

She extends the class to pregnant mothers also, because she said it is also proven that unborn children can learn while in the womb.

The class costs $100, $75 payable to the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District and $25 payable to Haun for materials. The home packets consist of books, cassettes and scarves.

“This class isn’t just the half-hour each week,” she said. “Materials are taken home and simple exercises are performed regularly at home to increase development.”

Call TDRPD for information, 582-7720.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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