WINONA LAKE — Music is one thing that can be enjoyed by all ages and can even elicit an emotional reaction. Kelli Schneider believes forming a close connection to music should be started as early as possible.
Schneider started Lake City Music Together, Winona Lake, in 2010 as a chance to use her love of music, teaching experience and musician experience to help form bonds between caregivers and children. Part of this passion grew from having her own son she wished to share music with. She came upon Music Together through a former colleague and found she actually enjoyed the music as much as a child would, but there were none nearby. After learning an intensive three day course was available just a short drive away in Goshen, Schneider’s mind was made up. She now teaches 45 minute sessions once a week, three times a day. There are four semesters or sessions per year and she enjoys watching people return each semester and seeing the progress the children makes between 0 to 5 years of age.
Schneider was also drawn to this particular teaching style because it contains a research based approach to learning and firmly believes every child can learn music, simply at their own pace. Like a great deal of learning, the formative elementary years tend to be the easiest in which to explore and experience these new achievements. It gives caregivers and children a safe place to try something new without judgment. In fact, parents or caregivers are encouraged to participate in the experience as well.
There is more to music than just singing and instruments. Schneider firmly believes every child is musically inclined, whether it be sucking a pacifier in time with the music, tapping fingers or toes or beating a pot or pan with a spoon. However, this learning experience helps caregivers to recognize musical abilities in children and shows them what to look for at the child’s age level. It also empowers the children to make music, no matter how unconventional the method may be. This early introduction to music helps to build a foundation for kids to find their singing voice or simply learn to keep rhythm. For Schneider it is all about creating “active music makers not passive listeners.”
Sharing this musical learning between caregiver and child also strengthens the bond they have with one another. The caregiver is allowed to set aside a dedicated time each week to interact with their child and connect intentionally. Many songs can even be personalized into routines or events the child experiences throughout the day.
Schneider stated research shows group music making such as this also helps a child develop empathy, confidence, creativity, patience and self-discipline early in life that can be carried on throughout. Learning rhythm at a young age also can give children better coordination and aid in their speech and reading development. Schneider mentioned some of her studies which state the same neural pathways developed while learning music are used for both literacy and mathematics as well. It also can aid in leading the child to make proper risk assessments and decisions on top of improving patience, self-control, concentration and perseverance.
Nonetheless, her primary goal with her teaching career is “to make a difference and give a lifelong sense of connection” between children and their caregivers.
For more information on Lake City Music Together, visit www.lakecitymusictogether.com.