Friday, September 28, 2012

Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Review

"All children are musical. Therefore, all children can achieve basic music competence, which is defined as the ability to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm," Music Together philosophy. Yup kids definitely are...parents on the other hand. More can be read about their mission and philosophy on their website. 

Music Together is an early childhood music program for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, first and second graders, and the adults who love them. You may have heard of the Music Together classes that are offered in over 2,000 communities worldwide. Well what you may not know is that they a family favorite CD and songbook which can be adapted for homeschool family and homeschool group use.

A moms review:
This year we have been adding a lot more music into our homeschool days. My children are both very artistic in nature and enjoy music, dancing and drawing. Unfortunately because we don't have the available funds we have to do all of this from home...which would be fine except I am not musically inclined. It has been such a blessing to receive several music products this year to review and Music Together was one of those.

The first time we listened to the Music Together CD we sang, danced and played instruments. And we had a lot of fun. We didn't follow any of the songbook suggestions and we listened to the entire CD (19 songs). My thought was to expose the children to all the songs so we could begin to learn the words. I played the CD a couple more times the entire way through in the car (it's great for car rides) and at home while the kids were playing.

Then I went through the songbook and highlighted important details and the various activities I thought the kids would enjoy (just to make it easier to reference each time we had our music fun, see picture below). The songbook contains several sections which will be broken down further below as I go through how we used Music Together.

The first 15 pages of the book include:
-How to use the book
-Introduction to the Music Together philosophy
-Music Together Teaching Principles
-Types of Songs and Activities
-Working with Instruments and Props
-Music Together and Children with Special Needs

I gathered all the recommended instruments and props. We already had a music bin with various instruments, what we didn't have on hand we either made or improvised.

Instruments and props you can make or purchase to enhance your musical learning: 
-Egg Shakers (put some rice or beans in plastic eggs and wholla...decorate if desired)
-Rhythm Sticks (any type of sticks that you can clack together will work...wooden spoons work well)
-Train Whistle (we got ours at the Target dollar section)
-Harmonica (we picked ours up at Dollar Tree)
-Tambourines (Dollar Tree sells these too)
-Maracas (another Target dollar section find)
-Scarves (dug some out of my closet the kids really loved using these)
-Drums or Bongos (we made drums using oatmeal containers and then decorated them with paper, feathers, etc.)
-Other shaking instruments (you can make other types of shakers using paper plates and miscellaneous containers. For the paper plate shakers fold the paper plate in half and staple it together. Leave a little opening to put rice or beans in to. Then finish stapling. Decorate as desired. For the other shakers in the photo we used some plastic containers, spice and pill bottle containers work well. Fill with rice, beans or beads. Then decorate as desired we decorated our using tissue paper and glue).
-Zither (we made one of these using a container and large rubber bands, just place the rubberbands around the container over the opening and you have a fun strumming instrument)
-Props such as balls, parachutes, teddy bear, etc

My kids really liked the scarfs which are used for visible rhythm activities. They thought waving the scarves to the beat of the music was quite fun.

After we got familiar with the CD I began creating mini lessons. I play 7-8 songs including the Hello and Goodbye Song and we do the various recommended activities in the songbook. These mini concentrated lessons take us about 1/2 hr to complete and we do them a couple of times a week on our math days. Music on Math days makes learning Math so much easier.

The next 78 pages are the songs:
There are 19 songs in the Family Favorites CD and songbook that's over 40 minutes of fun. In the middle of the CD case is a 32-page mini booklet with fun music-making activity suggestions for every song great for use at home, in the car, or in the preschool classroom. But I highly recommend the Family Favorites Songbook which exposes you to even more ways to use the CD.

The songs include:
1) Hello Song
2) Biddy Biddy
3) Splishing and Splashing
4) Ridin' in the Car
5) Stick Tune
6) She Sells Sea Shells
7) Playin' in the Kitchen
8) Palo, Palo
9) John the Rabbit
10) Spin and Stop
11) Mississippi Cats
12) One Little Owl
13) Goin' for Coffee
14) Obwisana
15) I've Been Working on the Railroad
16) Dancing with Teddy
17) Allee Galloo
18) May All Children (there are 2 versions of this special song online which you can listen to and download for FREE)
19) Goodbye, So Long, Farewell

I really enjoyed the diversity of the music there were fast songs, slow songs, oldies but goody songs, songs in different languages, instrumental only songs and heartwarming lullaby songs.

Here is video of the kids singing, dancing and playing to 3 songs on the CD.

Each song in the songbook includes about 4 pages of "teacher or parent pages," broken down into the following sections:
-Introduction - this includes information about the songs and a  personal note from Ken Guilmartin. There is some great information in this section which really helps you understand how the song originated and the meaning behind the song. In this highlighted introduction there is also a breakdown of activities, music and recording.
-Song lyrics and sheet music.
-All ages and settings - this includes ideas and suggestions appropriate for all.
-Infants - activities designed to enhance infant's music experiences
-Preschoolers and older children - activities geared towards ages 3 and above - we found this section to be the one we used the most
-Children with special needs - adaptations designed specifically for music therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, special education teachers and speech-language therapists. I used this section as well even though I do not really have any special needs children. Rowyn does attend speech therapy once a week and is very stubborn. I decided to try the recommended activities for speech therapists when available. And guess what they worked he didn't even realize I had him practicing his trouble sounds during songs. For instance several of the songs like Biddy Biddy use vocable sounds, like doo, doot, doo, doot. So we would add a sound Rowyn has trouble with like "sp, "r," or "f".

Types of songs and activities:
There are 7 different types of songs and activities used throughout the songbook.

-Focus activity
-Instruments and props
-Lap song/dyad
-Large movement
-Ostinati, part singing, and rounds
-Partner song
-Sit 'n' sing
-Small movement
-Songbook play
-Songs without words
-Taps 'n' claps
-Verse variations

Because there are so many activities it was very easy to change things up whenever we listened to a song again. If you happen to run out of activities you can easily adapt the special needs or younger age group activities to fit your childs needs. There is even a FUN song game you can play on their website for FREE.

Example lessons:
Splishing and Splashing - For all ages and settings - have children sway to the beat, say the "I like to"  phrase in an easy conversational manner. Then have them make up appropriate movements for each "splishing and splashing" phrase. Suggestion for dishes phrase - move your hands as if holding a plate with one hand and washing with the other.

Ridin' in the Car - For all ages and settings - songbook illustration - hold up the picture and ask children to tell or sing about what they see. Sing the song lightly tapping the picture to the beat.

The final section of the songbook is the Reference Section:
This section is 11 pages and includes information about Music Together and how to become involved with its licensed applications. There is also a list of the Music Together song collections, glossary and guitar reference chart.

More About Music Together:
Music Together is committed to helping families, caregivers, and early childhood professionals rediscover the pleasure and educational value of informal music experiences. All our teachers have successfully completed Music Together’s training program. Music Together applies the latest research in early childhood music development to the program. A curriculum pioneer since 1987.

Music Together was founded with the goal of providing the highest quality music and movement experiences to as many young children as possible, involving their parents, primary caregivers and early childhood professionals in the educational process. Music Together is therefore dedicated to the thorough and professional support of Music Together licensees and teachers and their work with children and families. This support includes training, business mentoring, networking services, national and regional promotion, customer referrals, business technology, ongoing research and development, the production of audio, video and print materials, and the distribution of musical instruments and related products.

Music Together has won multiple awards and is offered in over 40 countries.

Wrap Up:

At first I was a little apprehensive about this program. It looked like a lot of information and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to use it as intended, being musically challenged and all. But after reading through the songbook and highlighting the key components and activities, I survived. We had fun as a family and learned about music. We will continue using the CD and songbook in our music lessons until the kids get bored or too old and then I will definitely be blessing another family with it. This is a valuable resource and great for all learning styles, genders and special needs. I think the Family Favorites CD and songbook is a good fit for families and groups with children 9 yrs and under, older children may find the songs a little below their level.

Gwyns review (6 yrs old):
I like the songs they are silly and fun. I like dancing with scarves, dancing with mommy and playing the instruments. I love music each week and cannot wait to do it again. It is fun to listen to it in the car too.

Links to follow:
-Music Together Website
-Music Together Facebook
-Music Together Blog

Where to buy:
The CD includes 19 of the best-loved Music Together songs. Samples of all of the songs can be found on the “Family Favorites” CD page.  The CD costs $14.95. Alternatively, you can download individual tracks for $.99 each or the entire album for $9.99.

The Songbook for Teachers contains 112 pages of music and teaching suggestions for each of the songs on the Family Favorites CD and costs $29.95.

The Music Together Family Favorites CD and Songbook Combo is available for a special price of $39.95 (a $5 discount).

And if you use the coupon code “Schoolhouse” at checkout on the Music Together online store, you can save an additional $2 off your purchase.

Click here for more Music Together reviews from the The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

*Disclaimer - As part of the TOS Review Crew I received a Music Together CD and Songbook Combo in return for my honest review. Please note that prices indicated in the post are subject to change. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are our own! Many of the links found on my side bars and in my blog posts are affiliate links. As a result, I might get paid money and I will most likely spend the money on homeschool supplies.

1 comment:

Stephanie (MomKaboodle) said...

We had done a Music Together program at my library, and the kids really loved it. I asked for the cd & teacher's book for a birthday a couple of years back, but I haven't taken them out in a while. We LOVED the instructor that taught at the library, so I remember putting the cd in and feeling a little sad that it was somebody else's voice singing the songs (haha, silly, right?).
I LOVE the suggestions for where you purchased inexpensive instruments or ones that you made. It's definitely time for us to take out our book & cd again, and apparently time for us to make some neat new instruments too. Thanks for the ideas, Kathy!

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