"Little Voices" and what we're all about
Thank you for being here! I am Genviéve Spitale, one of the music educators on staff at the Chorus of Westerly, and I run Little Voices, our birth to age 7 music program.
Little Voices is an early childhood music program comprised of classes by age and theme for tiny music makers. We sing, move, dance, and play to sweet, entertaining, age-appropriate music and musical stories, all the while nurturing little one's social and emotional development. In these early lessons, babies and children are fostering a culture of kindness, acceptance, and support for one another.
How do you support social and emotional development in music class?
Through song of course! Take the song "I am enough" by Miss Katie Sings. This echo songs teaches children that they are worthy of love, exactly as they are, in simple language and simple melody. Because of the repetitive nature of the song, children learn it quickly, parents can easily sing it with them at home, in the car, around the table, etc., and it's easy to teach to others. Parents and teachers can initiate conversations to children with older children about worth and acceptance straight from the lyrics of the song. "What does it mean to say I am enough?" "How are we different and the same?" "What are different ways we can make space for everyone?"
Is a virtual or in-person music class beneficial to my young child?
100% yes. The sound of the xylophone, percussion instruments, the strum of the guitar, their caretaker's voice in song, all those sounds are helping baby's brain develop. Baby brains are constantly firing new neural pathways for learning, and hearing rhythmic patterns and distinguishing between sounds helps them to better decipher language. You can find more information about the effects of early childhood music in regards to speech and language here.
How will my young child participate in a virtual music class?
For the littlest ones, it really is a class for the caregiver as much as the baby! Adults will help baby to experience the music by tapping the beat on their thighs, bouncing them up and down to the beat, singing along with the teacher, and enjoying music-making right alongside them.
For "bigger" little ones (2-4yo), an adult will want to be close by to help mute/unmute, and to participate alongside if your child needs it. Participation looks different on every child--classes are very engaging and would typically draw out each child's playful, happy, and attentive side, but the world on virtual schooling is very different. Because of this, I always tell caregivers that their child can participate as energetically or as conservatively as they would want to. Being there, hearing the songs, hearing their names in the songs is beneficial, and over time I find children usually open up to virtual lessons.
For the oldest kids in our Little Voices program (5-7yo), depending on how much virtual learning they've already experienced during the pandemic, they may be able to be completely independent in music class. Muting and un-muting on their own, dancing, singing, and participating right along. But just as I mentioned before, virtual learning is different, and sometimes their engagement doesn't present itself on the outside right away. Listening and watching, with little singing, dancing, and moving might just be their way of warming up to this teacher who is real, but strangely in the screen. There is still value in listening and warming up to a virtual teacher before jumping into active engagement. I, as their teacher, also do my best to be inclusive to conservative participators. Asking for an animal to incorporate into our song, asking where we should ride to next on our bicycle, asking what weather they see outside -- these are all parts of songs I regularly teach in my classes in which they can participate in, even if it's just deciding the lyrics or the direction in which the song goes.
Where can I get more information regarding dates and times for upcoming Little Voices music classes?
If you have any questions regarding our Little Voices early childhood music program, or any of the Chorus of Westerly child & adult education programs, please check out our website, chorusofwesterly.org, or shoot Genviéve an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks so much!