The Winter term for Music Together Zurich started 11 January, running through the end of March 2016. With expanded offerings, there are now classes 5 days a week in 5 different locations: Erlenbach, Zurich-city, Zurich-Wiedikon, Kilchberg and new! Oerlikon.
We caught up with Heather Holden-Garcia who has joined the Music Together team recently. After over 20 years as an internationally accomplished classical flutist and enthusiastic educator, she decided it was time to add early childhood and family music education to her teaching certifications. She participated in the Music Together program with her daughter, taught by Music Together Zurich founder Cezanne Winter for 3 years, and says, “I was blown away by the wonderfully rich and thoughtful curriculum it offers. I am thrilled to be part of this Internationally renowned program and look forward to working with many of Zürich’s families in the future!”
Why did you decide to become a Music Together teacher?
The answer to this question has two parts. The first part is easy: I became a Music Together teacher after taking classes here in Zürich with my daughter for three years and saw how phenomenal the Music Together program and curriculum is.
The second part of the answer is more complicated. I am a professional flutist and have been an enthusiastic music educator my entire adult life. (In fact, I actually began to teach flute privately when I was still in High School). Even throughout a successful performing career, I always taught. Teaching is just a part of who I am. Before living in Switzerland, I was an artist in residence at the prestigious Diller-Quaile School of Music in New York City. Diller-Quaile has a thriving early childhood department and my teaching studio happened to be right next to one of the early childhood classrooms. For seven years I daily heard and saw children and parents enthusiastically attend their classes. I must admit, at that time, my focus was entirely on building my flute studio and teaching at the university/professional level. I didn’t quite understand the importance of early childhood music. I “got it” intellectually, but I didn’t feel it. Flash forward to becoming a parent, that all changed. I saw how positively the families in all of my Music Together classes were affected, how music was becoming a daily part of their lives’. It inspired me and I was convinced that I wanted to become certified to teach on the early childhood level. Just as I was coming to the conclusion that I hoped to make teaching Music Together a new phase in my teaching career, Cezanne Winter, the founder and director of Music Together Zürich, contacted me to see if I was interested. The timing was just perfect!
What can parents expect from a Music Together class?
Parents can expect to have fun! The first thing I tell my classes is that there are no expectations. Every single child takes in the music in his or her own way, in his or her own time. There is no “right” way to do something. Some children just sit and observe all that goes on, others participate more actively. Music Together’s classes are all mixed age; Child development researchers have found that grouping together children of varying ages fosters natural, family-style learning. Children—even babies!—are inspired and stimulated through interaction with peers of different ages: younger children watch and imitate older ones, and older children lead younger ones. The other thing I encourage the parents (or caregivers) to do is to try to let go and bring out their silly sides. Music is fun!
What’s the most exciting feedback you’ve received so far?
That’s easy! The most exciting feedback has been just watching the faces of my young students discovering they could do something new for the first time. It might be the recognition of a song they have been hearing at home on a Music Together CD, or the first time they discovered a new sound they just adore.
What are the benefits of surrounding young children with music?
Today, it’s common for us to only listen to music rather than create it ourselves. But actively making music is so important for children’s musical, AND overall development. Young children learn best through active exploration and live, meaningful interaction with the grownups they love. Music is a language. When learning to speak his/her mother tongue, a child has to hear the language spoken to him/her by caregivers in order to learn it. That is part of our natural instinct. Music is exactly the same. Study after study tells us that music is crucial to cognitive development and for greater overall success in all other subjects when children are school age.
How can parents incorporate music at home into everyday life?
For those parents who enjoy singing to their children, music is a pretty natural part of everyday life. For those who feel a bit nervous about their own musical abilities, who have sadly been told they are not musical (every human is musical!!!) or think they can’t sing, incorporating music at home into everyday life can feel overwhelming. I recommend the first and most simple thing is to start with a lullaby before bed. This is generally a special time of day when we want to do what we can to gently guide our children to a peaceful night’s sleep. Singing to them is a natural way of connecting and helping a child to feel safe and loved. A lullaby doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, my favourite lullaby for my daughter is simply singing “I love you, I love you so”. Once parents begin to feel more comfortable with singing, turn on some of your favorite music and dance, or make up silly songs for helping to get tasks accomplished. I will admit, getting out of the door in the morning can be a huge challenge in my house. But, making up a silly song for putting on shoes and a coat can get everyone giggling and more perhaps more importantly, cooperating!
Where in Zurich are Music Together classes taught?
Classes are taught in five different locations around Zürich: Zürich-City, Zürich-Wiedikon, Zürich-Oerlikon, Erlenbach and Kilchberg.
When not teaching, what’s your favorite spot in Zurich to spend time with your daughter & family?
When I am not teaching, I love to spend time with my daughter at one of the many fantastic playgrounds around Zürich, or taking a lazy walk along the Seefeldquai while she discovers all sorts of hidden nooks to create her own magical world.
Photos courtesy of Heather Holden-Garcia and Music Together Zurich