I love going to conferences. No, really—I do! Apart from a break in my everyday routine, I love being able to share what Music Together centers around the country have done to advance the field of early childhood music and movement experiences through parent-child and preschool classes.
This past month, I traveled from coast-to-coast and attended some amazing presentations. I began in Harrisburg, PA, where I celebrated alongside parents, special education teachers and students, clinicians, and administrators at the 50th Anniversary of the Pennsylvania Council for Exceptional Children. I spoke with many people about the continuing need for advocacy and improvement of services for children and adults with special needs within all communities. It was truly inspiring to be in the presence of so many who work tirelessly to promote the right to quality of life for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.
The session I co-presented at PACEC was titled “The Importance of Music and Movement for Young Children with Special Needs.” It was designed to give the attendees an understanding of the many ways that Music Together benefits children with special needs. The take-home message for these teachers, parents, and therapists is this—music has many access points, and finding the ones that work with the children in your setting is not as difficult as you may think. Yes, having a high “silly quotient” is important in your approach, but so are flexibility and open-mindedness.
The week after I attended PACEC, I was off to San Diego, CA, to the American Music Therapy Association’s annual conference. Here I was with many colleagues who are well-acquainted with the long-standing relationship between Music Together and music therapy. Beyond being a pre-approved provider of CMTEs through the Certification Board for Music Therapists, Music Together’s founder Ken Guilmartin is a relative of Norman Goldberg, the first publisher of music-therapy texts.
But I digress…
At AMTA, I had the pleasure of presenting “Reunifying Families in Crisis through Music Therapy and Music Together.” This session was a description of a program offered by a Music Together–trained, board-certified music therapist who is a center director in NJ. Through a social service agency, she offers Music Together classes to families who have been legally separated due to abuse or neglect. Participants in the conference session really got a taste for how a Music Together parent-child class, facilitated by a board-certified music therapist, can provide the necessary “ingredients” for parent-child bonding, decreased stress, and increased musicality in both the adults and the children.
But two conferences in two weeks were not enough! I then flew to Dallas, TX, for the 24th Zero to Three National Training Institute. My co-presenter and I shared a session called “Innovative Applications of Music and Movement that Promote Positive Outcomes for Children and Families.” Despite the long title—or maybe because of it—the session was packed with preschool directors and teachers, early interventionists, and administrators. And, yes, they shook eggs, sang songs with us, and learned about a variety Music Together programs across the country that are being studied by researchers.
Needless to say, I am glad to be home. But I value my experience of the last month, which showed me how hungry people are for good, solid information about working with very young children and their families in a variety of non-traditional ways and settings. I know that Music Together has a place in this new dialogue between governments and community organizations, parents and teachers. Let’s all keep up the good work so that we can continue to further Music Together’s mission to provide the highest quality music and movement experiences to as many young children as possible.