What exactly is Mighty Maestros?
This is a very common question for parents who are interested in continuing their child’s musical education, but may not understand exactly how this class works or what our class goals are.
The Mighty Maestros class is the perfect segue between our parent-child music and movement programs and your child’s future instrumental lessons. Or, if you are thinking you may not pursue music lessons in the immediate future, this class is designed to give young children a solid foundation in musical concepts that will be helpful in many areas of life…from simply singing along to the radio (on pitch) to being able to discern rhythmic patterns (which greatly impacts speech development too!).
But most importantly, our #1 goal is to make sure that the children in our program are having so much fun that they don’t even realize they’re learning!
What do you teach in the Mighty Maestros classes?
Each session of our Mighty Maestros program focuses on specific musical concepts, and we utilize songs, activities, musical games, and instruments to allow children to experience each concept prior to labeling them with the correct musical terms. It is important to note however, that all of the concepts that we teach are interwoven into each session, so students can join at anytime during the school year and not feel behind.
Here are some examples of what you can expect in each session:
Our primary goal for the fall session is to help our students understand beat (which stays steady throughout a song or rhyme), rhythm (which varies with the words of the song or rhyme), and tempo (how fast or slow the song or rhyme is). We use fun characters such as Benny Beat, Ricky Rhythm, and Tony Tempo to help children understand these and other musical concepts, and all of our characters have their own “theme songs” to help children easily recall them.
Now that children have a solid understanding of beat, rhythm, and tempo, we can begin exploring various note values and rhythmic patterns. We introduce a fun activity in which we stomp like dinosaurs, waddle like ducks, scurry like mice, etc., and each of these animals ultimately equates to certain note values. For example, the dinosaur becomes a whole note and the mouse becomes a 16th note. We’d never attempt to try to directly teach a young child about whole notes (which get 4 beats) and 16th notes (which get 1/4 of a beat), but when we introduce note values as animals instead, they naturally understand and can effortlessly create complex rhythmic patterns such as “scurry scurry scurry scurry waddle waddle.”
Once spring arrives, we are ready to focus on learning an array of musical terms. Throughout the session, we introduce terms such as allegro (fast), largo (slow), legato (smooth and connected), staccato (short and disconnected), piano (soft), and forte (loud). Again, it is vital that children experience each concept before trying to simply memorize new vocabulary terms. One example of this is how we approach forte and piano. The teacher holds a large star and a small star and explains that the large star indicates that we should use our big, loud voices, and the small star indicates that we should use our small, quiet voices. We sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” while the teacher alternates back and forth between the stars (and the children love it when we make the game extra tricky!). After the children have played this game several times, it’s easy to introduce the terms forte and piano because the children have a visual and auditory reference for these rather abstract musical concepts.
Summer is all about vocal exploration and pitch-matching. We start each class taking turns throwing a beach ball up in the air and letting it bounce down to the ground, all while following the movement of the ball with our voices. (So when we throw the ball into the air, we have our voices glide up and then our voices glide back down as the ball falls to the floor.) We have fun pitch-matching games such as our musical picnics and our musical roller coasters, in which we follow drawings of roller coaster tracks with our voices. Additionally, we utilize xylophones and other pitched instruments to explore high and low pitches throughout the session.
Does my child have to take all 4 sessions consecutively?
It is not necessary that children take each class consecutively, as we consistently review all topics that are covered in each session. However, consistency is very beneficial so it is recommended that children take all 4 sessions, regardless of whether they join the Mighty Maestros class in the fall, winter, spring, or summer.
Is there a CD or MP3 download that is included in the Mighty Maestros class?
Because the format of this class is significantly different from the younger parent-child classes (in which we move from song to song without stopping to discuss the musical concepts behind each selection), we do not have an accompanying CD for the Mighty Maestros class. However, if there are times in which we are using recorded songs to teach one of our musical concepts (such as “Jelly in the Bowl” which is a great song to teach legato and staccato), we will email parents an MP3 to download at home at no charge.
At what age should my child join the Mighty Maestros class?
You may have noticed that the Merry Maestros class can go up to 4 years old and the Mighty Maestros class starts at 3 1/2 years. This is not an accident! 😀 Because the Mighty Maestros class is child-only, we leave it up to the parent to decide if their child is ready at 3 1/2 for a child-only class. Often times, children prefer to have a caregiver with them in class until they are a little older, and that is perfectly fine! We do always recommend however that children under 4 who are brand new to our program take at least one session of Merry Maestros so that they are comfortable with the space, the songs, the teachers, etc., before taking a class on their own.
For your convenience, here is a link to the fall class schedule, and classes begin on Wednesday, September 11th. And remember, our #1 goal is to make sure that the children in our program are having so much fun that they don’t even realize they’re learning!