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Music brings toddlers, parents closer together (video)

By Carolina Astrain
July 20, 2013 at 2:20 a.m.
Updated July 21, 2013 at 2:21 a.m.

Victoria resident Veronica Vallejo-Cano holds her daughter, Lily Cano, 10 months, in the air at Pidder Patter in Victoria. Parents brought their children to sing and dance along for Musikgarten Viktoria.

Mason Tate clasped his hands over his head and buried himself between his mother's lap and floor.

He was tired and cranky, but by the end of the music class, the 3-year-old was smiling and holding hands with the rest of the group.

"Each week, they progress," said Elise Tate, Mason's mother. "It's never the same thing."

Musikgarten Viktoria is an early education music class designed for newborns and children ages 1-5.

Methodist Day School music teacher Tanya Wilkinson, 33, and Pidder Patter store owner Corri Urban teamed up last spring to offer parents another way to engage with their children through song.

"It's a low-pressure environment, where kids can play while learning," Wilkinson said. "Their brains light up with confident stimulation."

Each Musikgarten class starts off with an introduction song set to the rhythm of hand clapping and taps. The music education program, based out of North Carolina, focuses on language development, voice expression and emotional development.

And Wilkinson said it's not uncommon to see parents get frustrated or apologetic if their children aren't immediately responsive to each activity.

She said it's OK if your kid chooses to sit out and watch.

"They're probably just taking everything in and learning," the instructor said. "It's not always the outward behavior that shows what's going on inside the brain."

One of her students said she has started singing songs from class to help calm her son down while changing his diaper, Wilkinson said.

"We can do so many things as parents by just using our voices in an expressive way," Wilkinson said. "That's what a lot of the philosophy is about. You don't need a lot of toys or equipment, you just need to be in the room and experience those moments with your child."

A major component of the class requires some sort of guardian or family member to be present during the activities.

The instructor said she's seen a variation of grandparents, aunts and other family members attend classes with their little ones.

"It's been really neat getting to know so many wonderful families in the area," Wilkinson said. "Sometimes, it's almost as if we have entire cheer sections come in for just one kid."

And this fall, the music program has plans to collaborate with the Down Syndrome League of Victoria.

"We are working out details, but it looks like we are going to have a separate class and allow members to come when they can," Wilkinson said. "Hopefully, we'll get a good response from the group."

League member Stacy Murray, of Inez, took her 3-year-old son Brock Murray, who has Down syndrome, to a Musikgarten class in the spring and loved it.

"It was fantastic. I actually had all three of my kids in it," Murray said. "He sang all the the songs and did all the imitations."



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