I absolutely love getting to teach Listen & Learn classes at Music Therapy Connections. Each 4-week session looks a little different in terms of what Listen & Learn material is used and who the participants are.
However, I usually can count on there being a good mix of ages between 0-3 years old. I was shocked when I found out that this session included a class with participants all under the age of 1!
I definitely felt out of my comfort zone when that first class started. Babies are unable to give you the verbal feedback and interaction that a 3-year-old can, so the questions I usually ask throughout the class were a no-go. I found that we definitely flew through the material.
Now that I have concluded this session, I feel that I have a better handle on timing, interaction, and planning when it comes to classes with all babies! I have some more learning to do, but here is what I found beneficial during these classes.
I incorporated a lot of movement songs into the classes. I tried to keep it simple enough that the grown-ups could easily do the actions by manipulating their child’s body to do the movements. That first class, I ended up piling these songs on at the end. This seemed to make the babies and caregivers tired. Now I have learned to intersperse the movement songs throughout the class.
Anything and everything will end up in mouths at this age. It is important to use large instruments that won’t become a choking hazard. My favorite instrument song this session was “Play Your Drum With Me”. The caregivers helped their child sit up and play the drums. Their little hands playing the drums was amazing to watch.
Along with the Listen & Learn songs, I mixed in some familiar tunes that they may sing at home. Adding familiar songs is nice for both the children and the grown-ups. It confirms what they are doing at home and transfers it over to this class setting, and vice-versa.
Engaging with Parents and Caregivers
In my other Listen & Learn classes, I tend to focus most of my attention on the young participants. However, in a class with very young children, the adults have to be that much more involved. I have learned that having conversations with the grown-ups during the class is not a bad thing.
Talking about their day and how they can incorporate these songs at home helps build rapport and a relationship with them. This is something I am still working on, but I have seen a difference in the little changes I have made so far.
Teaching classes with such young participants can sometimes be challenging, especially when you are used to all the feedback the older children give you throughout the session. However, nothing beats the bright smiles on a sweet baby’s face when you are making music with them. It is definitely worth the challenge, and I hope you find these tips helpful when working with these young music makers!
Do you work with children under 1 year old? What are your favorite music activities to do with them?