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Music Together program aimed at children



Preschool Picassos and budding Yo-Yo Mas get ready.

Classes based on the internationally renowned Princeton University Music Together program are coming to Whistler, along with "discover art" programs.

Classes will start in February said Nancy Powell, who decided to start the programs after failing to find good music and art classes for her pre-schooler and toddler.

"In Toronto and we had access to both music and art as well as many other classes because Toronto is a big city," said Powell who moved to Whistler last May with husband Peter Ciceri, and daughters Cait and Anna, to focus on family and enjoy life in the mountains.

"My girls loved the programs. They thrived on it.

"I took the access we had to these programs for granted... so when we moved... I just assumed that we would be able to continue.

"But what I discovered last summer was that there was not the quantity of options in music and art for this age group in Whistler."

After a few frustrating efforts with some local programs Powell decided it was time to take action herself.

"I had experienced how it could work really well, and on the other side I have an MBA (degree) which enables me to take a concept and move it into action," said Powell.

She started interviewing music and art teachers and put together a curriculum based on her experience and the Music Together program.

"I went through a lot of these classes with my girls in other cities," said Powell, who worked overseas in the financial business world for many years before returning to Canada.

"I attended so many that I saw the different curriculums and learned what worked and what didn’t. But most importantly I saw how much joy Cait got out of the classes. She was so stimulated.

"I really wanted to bring this concept to Whistler so that my kids could have access to them but also so the community could have access to it.

"So many of the people I have met here are really bright, energetic, and educated and they want to create a broader community base, with more offerings for their kids.

"This is my small part that hopefully I can play to make things better for my children and also offer something that hopefully the community will find beneficial."

Powell and her teachers, including Bonnie Walsh who has been teaching music for 28 years, will travel to Oregon in the spring to learn more about the Music Together program. Following the course Powell will be licensed to run the Music Together program.

Originally offered to the public in 1987, the program pioneered the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement.

The Music Together approach develops every child's birthright of basic music competence by encouraging the actual experiencing of music, rather than the learning of concepts or information about music.

It began as an educational project of the Center for Music and Young Children and is now being taught internationally.

Music Together CD's, songbooks, and classroom techniques enjoy widespread use by teachers and families both directly and indirectly involved in Music Together.

Classes build on a child's natural enthusiasm for music and movement. They help provide children with basic musical skills needed to enjoy participation in school and social music activities, and to formally study an instrument.

Moreover, research has shown the development of musical skills significantly benefits a child's physical, emotional, and intellectual development.

Most children, said Powell, without good music development in early childhood cannot sing in tune or accurately express rhythm until they are age five or six, even though they have the potential to do this by age three or four.

Many still cannot at age eight or nine.

This has led researchers to believe the majority of five to eight-year-old children are developmentally delayed in music from two to five years.

Ten to 12 children will be in each of the classes Powell plans to offer, and the music program will also be offered in French.

If all the spots aren’t filled with locals Powell will offer the program, on a drop in basis, to tourists.

"I came here as a tourist for years and when I brought Cait here as a baby there was nothing for us to do," said Powell.

"She sat in our condo with a nanny for six hours while we skied and I felt guilty about it.

"So I think at some point I would like to offer it to tourists, but that is not the primary focus."

For more information call 604-902-0196 or e-mail Powell at nancypowell@klee-wyck.com .

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