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Early Childhood Music

CYM’s Early Childhood Music program offers children from ages two to five a wonderful way to connect to other families, enjoy music together and begin learning this unique language. Research and experience indicate that the younger a child begins his or her musical study, the more aptitude for success he or she acquires. This heightened potential can enhance academic skills as well as musical abilities.

CYM’s Early Childhood Music classes act as a first step in a holistic music education. They are closely connected with the first steps of instrument study and music literacy in their design, focus and implementation. Each activity in the classroom has a purpose, whether it develops impulse control, critical listening skills, musical knowledge, or a passion for music. Many activities function on multiple levels of learning, stimulating the behavioral, physical, neurological, and expressive aspects of your child’s stage of development.

Early Childhood Music at CYM fosters musical understanding using the same process as learning a language. Class structure appeals to the child's natural desire to play, move, explore, and interact through movement and song. Activities have purpose and intention with goals but each activity is presented through a game, song, or movement so learning is natural rather than forced. Classes are precursors for further musical study as they provide the building blocks students will require in order to understand musical concepts.

The ECM program includes two sequential courses: TODDLERS and TWINKLERS.

Your commitment:
Both Toddlers and Twinklers meet weekly for eleven months of the year with breaks at holidays, and comprise:

  • A weekly 45-minute group class featuring American and World folk music to explore harmony and melody and introduce musical foundations and concepts.
  • Numerous recitals for ECM students to attend and observe other young musicians perform to provide a good context for choosing the next steps in music study.

What skills are introduced during Toddlers and Twinklers?

  • Focus and control of mind and body
  • Critical thinking and listening skills
  • Ensemble skills and following a leader
  • “Feeling” music by sensing rhythm and melody and responding with movement
  • Gross and fine motor skills
  • Early mastery of basic tonal and rhythm patterns

Toddlers

While your littlest one is not ready to reach for an instrument quite yet, their musical abilities will start to bloom within our Toddlers program– a weekly group class that sharpens your child’s perceptions and introduces the building blocks of music. In the Toddler Program, your child will echo the melodic and rhythmic patterns on a single syllable, such as “bah”; attempt to vocalize while playing or moving; demonstrate impulse control and spontaneously respond to music; listen to directions, sounds and peers with a still body and focused attention. Although there are no formal evaluations at this level, you will be able to note your child’s progress in this class. Children between the ages of 2 – 3 ½ share a 45-minute lesson with their parents and other families.

As a school, we have many entry points for children of various ages, but each successive step builds upon itself. There are milestones along the way, but not endings. The first major milestone for the youngest child is the transition from Toddlers to Twinklers. The biggest difference in these two classes is the independence required of each child. In Toddlers, grown-ups remain in the classroom and participate fully in order to help their child explore and share with other classmates. In Twinklers, the grown-ups remain for only a part of the class. This establishes an age-appropriate sense of independence. It furthers each student’s openness to sharing and creating without the immediate encouragement and safeguard of their grown-up. This milestone of independence is important in order to meet the expectations of instrument study.

Twinklers

Almost ready to begin their instrumental experience, Twinkler students develop incremental skill toward becoming musically adept. In the Twinkler Program, your child will show steady beat; move independently or collectively with appropriate balance and coordination; echo the melodic and rhythmic patterns with Solfege and Gordon rhythmic syllables; vocalize while playing and moving; imitate and discern the musical elements of focused listening examples. The parent is present for either the first or last fifteen minutes of class, depending on the individual instructor. The Twinkler Program is highly-recommended if you plan to enroll your child in the Classical Program. There are no formal evaluations at this level, but if you have any questions about how your child is progressing, you can request an evaluation.

Children between the ages of 3 ½ - 5 meet in a weekly 45-minute group class that provides enjoyable music skill acquisition practice and opportunities to socialize with other young students.

When will my child begin learning to play an instrument?

Early Childhood Music classes are designed to move your child on the path toward further musical study, and prepare him/her to begin playing an instrument beginning at age 4 and beyond. During Toddlers and Twinklers classes, children are encouraged to explore different instruments to discover which one they may prefer to play. While completing the Twinklers Program, students go through the Twinkler Transition period. During this time, parents and students are welcomed to choose an instrument– piano, violin, viola, cello, or guitar- to begin studying privately. With the help of your teacher, students also choose to join a group class within the American Legends Program or the Classical Program. Students may also choose to join CYM’s vocal program by entering the Little Voices group class.

The skills they have honed in ECM help to create and encourage an easy transition into instrument study and also provide a solid foundation in music literacy for the years to come.

When do we register for this program?

  • CYM holds open enrollment all year round!
  • Entry into group classes is highly encouraged at the start of each school year in September, or mid-year in February. However, integration into a group class at different points during the year can be achieved successfully. Parents work with our admissions staff to find the right fit for the student.
  • Entry into a private lesson is encouraged year-round. This may mean that a student joins CYM’s Solo Studies program until an appropriate entry point into group class becomes available. Parents work with our admissions staff to find the right fit for the student.

How do we register for this program?

  • Current class availability by CYM school location can be found here.
  • The online Toddler Trial Registration is located here.
  • The online Twinkler Trial Registration is located here.
  • After submitting a completed online registration, a member of our Admissions team will contact you to confirm your child’s schedule and supply welcome materials and an enrollment Eform.

FAQs about Early Instrumental Study

It is fantastic that you are eager and enthusiastic about your child’s musical studies! It is especially great to see young children showing a natural inclination toward music and the support of their caregivers in nurturing that spark. Families at CYM need guidance in choosing the right path, pace, and overall fit for their child’s musical journey. Here are a few FAQ’s for those interested in their child’s early beginning...

What is my commitment?

Both Toddlers and Twinklers meet weekly for eleven months of the year with breaks at holidays, and comprise:
  • A weekly 45-minute group class featuring American and World folk music to explore harmony and melody and introduce musical foundations and concepts.
  • Numerous recitals for ECM students to attend and observe other young musicians perform to provide a good context for choosing the next steps in music study.

My child is 2, 3, or 4– we really like a particular instrument! How can we start?

While there is no set starting age that we insist upon at CYM, our general practice is to see the students complete at least three semesters of our CYM Early Childhood Music (ECM) classes. This helps us to assess the student’s maturity and focus, which helps assists us in determining when the students are ready to begin private lessons.

Why is ECM important? Can’t we just take lessons already?

The activities in the Toddlers and Twinklers classes are specifically selected to develop certain cognitive musical skills, such as small and gross motor movement, keeping a steady beat, singing and matching pitch. The development of these skills will help segue into further, even more focused musical studies as the children grow older. One of the things we want to be very careful about is keeping pace with each student and meeting them where they are in terms of development and desire as opposed to “pushing” them too soon.

When do other children at CYM start?

The youngest CYM beginners are four or five years old. In some less common cases, students who have been ready have started just beyond three years old. The difference between a 2, 3, or 4 year old is quite vast in terms of their motor development and their capacity for abstract thought. Each child is unique; our goal is to meet your student where they are, so they continue to grow and develop to the best of their capacity while remaining enthusiastic about music. Developing a good teacher/student/family relationship is vital to meeting this goal.

We are prepared to start focusing on a particular instrument- I do not want my child to lose interest.

If you want your child to begin an instrument, the first step for them is to start listening as soon as possible! Obtain copies of the Suzuki instrumental recordings (especially Book 1) and/or other recordings of that particular instrument’s music. Ask your teacher or a CYM violin, viola, cello, guitar, piano, or voice teacher for recommended listening. Also, take them to see concerts! The more your child listens and is exposed to all of the elements of the instrument and the music they will study, the more it will begin to be part of their everyday language.

We’ve spent some time in Twinklers class. Is there any way we can start an instrument sooner rather than later?

There is a possibility to begin an introductory instrumental experience, tailored specifically for your child’s needs. Your teacher will create a detailed plan with you about what beginning lessons would entail, so you would know what to expect. Before your child would begin handling an instrument, your teacher will need to go through parent training with either a parent or caregiver, since you would need to become their designated practice partner at home.

Are there any good books for me to read?…

We would like to recommend a few books to you- Ability Development from Age Zero and Nurtured by Love, both by Shinichi Suzuki. This book will give you a general idea of the Suzuki philosophy and ideas of musical development in young children. Families who choose not to use the Suzuki method of instrumental training can benefit from the themes in these books! We also like The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Teaching from the Balance Point by Ed Kreitman. Our CYM community embraces many of these concepts that set the tone for all musical study at CYM.

Is the Toddlers program the right one for my child?

The Toddlers program is a good starting point if:
  • Your child is between the ages of 2 - 3 1/2 years.
  • Your child is showing an excited interest in music- whether at home, at childcare, or at a special program or event.
  • You want to engage your child in a structured music program that readies them for further musical study, but also provides an active and fun environment with children of the same age, interest, and experience level.
  • Weekly classes occur September-July, building on skills throughout the year.
  • Classes are kept to 5-7 students at each 45 minute session.
  • Full parent participation during class.
  • Curriculum and class materials available for purchase for use at home.
  • Toddlers class prepares your child for participation in the Twinklers class.

Is the Twinklers program the right one for my child?

The Twinklers program is a good starting point if:
  • Your child is between the ages of 3 1/2 and 5 years.
  • Your child is enthusiastic during activities like singing, clapping, and dancing. He or she notices patterns in the sounds of the world around them, and expresses themselves through song and motion.
  • You want to foster your child’s natural interest in sound and movement, and encourage him/her to actively listen, control movements, and recognize pitch.
  • You want to engage your child in a structured music program that readies them for further musical study, but also provides an active and fun environment with children of the same age, interest, and experience level.
  • Weekly classes occur September-July, building on skills throughout the year.
  • Classes are kept to 5-7 students at each 45 minute session.
  • Partial parent participation during class.
  • Curriculum and class materials available for purchase for use at home.
  • Twinklers class prepares your child for participation in the Classical Program and is highly recommended for the American Legends Program.