By Kristen Miller
DASSEL-COKATO, MN Music is a building block for all kinds of development, and learning is the philosophy behind the new Musikgarten classes now being offered to young children and parents in the Dassel-Cokato area.
Musikgarten is a music and movement class designed for parents, preschoolers, and even babies, to enjoy and learn music together, said certified Musikgarten instructor Elisabeth Schmieg of Dassel.
Schmieg decided to take a course after talking with her youth piano instructor, LeRene Soderberg, who said it would be nice to have more people teaching the younger kids, giving them a musical base.
Dassel Elementary music teacher Sarah Luhrs has also recently become a certified instructor of the early childhood music education program.
Luhrs has been teaching music for almost four years with first- through fourth graders, and she is excited to begin working with younger children, ages 3-5, this fall through the DC Community Education class, Cycle of the Seasons.
Schmieg will also be teaching Musikgarten classes through community education this fall Family Music for Toddlers, ages 18 months to 3.5 years, and Family Music for Babies, ages 0-18 months.
Musikgarten classes are research-based and are geared toward the developmental stages of the child, Luhrs explained.
Not only does the child learn basics in music theories, such as rhythm and tonal patterns, but it’s also geared for school readiness, teaching the child how to share, take turns, impulse control, and following directions, Luhr explained.
“It’s a very well-respected program for teaching music to young children,” said DC Community Education Program Coordinator Colleen Compton. It’s also great to offer a music class to younger ages, as well as having local instructors, Compton added.
Musikgarten first opened in Germany in 1994, with Dr. Lorna Heyge, a preschool music education teacher, and Audrey Sillick, a childhood education specialist.
Together, they authored curriculum based on their combined education and experience, as well as the latest research in childhood development.
The class for toddlers focuses on music and movement as an important aspect of learning balance and speech, and furthering both the child’s and parent’s musicality.
The class for preschoolers is more imaginative and language-focused, and the babies class is more about establishing a bond and attachment between the parent and baby through music.
“[Musikgarten] is about developing the whole child and having fun,” Luhrs said, noting that it’s not just for children who plan to take private lessons.
Not only are the classes musical building blocks for children who will someday become involved in musical instruction, but it also offers parents or caregivers one-on-one time to build a connection with their child.
“It’s really a fun class,” Schmieg said.
Those who participate are encouraged to go beyond the 30-45 minutes in instructional class time by taking home what they’ve learned. In addition to the class, a music packet is required to purchase and consists of a music CD, parent book, and instrument (packets vary for each class).
“It’s really delightful for the children to have their parents participate in the same activities . . . meeting the child at their level,” Luhrs said.
Schmieg taught her first Musikgarten course this summer, made up of mainly district school teachers and their children.
Seventh grade American history teacher Jessica Luebker took that class with her 3-year-old daughter, Lily, and 1-year-old son, Blake. She had no idea both of them would enjoy it as much as they did.
“We had a great time singing, dancing, and especially playing the instruments. Putting the instruments away and learning to share them was important as well,” Luebker said.
“I would recommend the class for all ages. It’s a great way to bond with your children and to introduce them to music,” Luebker said, adding that Lily knows most of the songs by heart, and Blake’s face would light up as soon as each class started.
For more information about Musikgarten, visit www.musikgarten.org.