Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tots Clap, Tap Way through Music Class

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tots Clap, Tap Way through Music Class

Article excerpt

ALL IN ALL, it was not your average music class.

I say this, honestly, out of my own ignorance. It simply never occurred to me that the sounds of running and splashing water constituted music.

Matthew Goldsmith, 3, knew better. As he listened to a tape of water sounds, he was inspired to perform The Bathtub Dance.

The steps, largely of Matthew's own devising, included things like washing his tummy (OK, his shirt) and blinking the "water" out of his eyes. He displayed an exception joie de vivre in the area of splashing.

By the time he was done, you wanted to hand him a towel. But of course, Matthew was perfectly dry.

He was also, perhaps, a little bit more attuned to the music all around him. That's music many of us never hear. But Jan Fishman, who teaches the Kindermusik class at the JCCA West that Matthew attends with his mom, says kids can learn to hear it.

If they do, she says, a door will open. That doesn't mean that they'll turn into violin prodigies or Metropolitan Opera stars. But if they take up an instrument later on, or join a choir, they'll have a good foundation.

And even if they never study music, the early experience may help them enjoy listening more by enhancing their sensitivity to sounds of all sorts - to music, for example, that involves instruments more elaborate than the bathtub faucet.

Fishman, one of several Kindermusik teachers in the area, emphasizes that in a class where Matthew is one of the oldest students and the youngest are not even 2, it's important to maintain a good pace. The weekly class is short, too - just half an hour.

But from the moment the kids come into the quiet Chesterfield classroom and form a circle, sitting on their parents' laps, things move with astonishing smoothness. Maybe not everybody sings all the songs (though 2-year-old Lili Klainer, whose tiny body produces a stunningly clear, strong voice, knows the words to everything). But everybody does something: claps or taps, shakes jingle bells, rocks rhythmically on Mom's or Dad's back. You might expect a preschool music class to be noisy, but this one isn't - it's calm and, well, harmonious.

That's the idea, says Fishman, behind the internationally popular Kindermusik program. …

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