Dancer & Parent Jackie Jacobs
How did you become involved with Music Together?
I was living in Brooklyn and a friend of mine was taking her daughter to Music Together classes. She told me about it, and I knew immediately that that was something I wanted to do with my son. He was eight months old and very responsive to everything in the class. After the second semester I began to think that I could teach the program, too. My son's teacher was a dancer, and we had a lot of things in common. I had a movement background, and I thought this would be really fun to teach. I went to a Music Together Teacher Training in New York in 1992. I was an assistant teacher in my son's class even before the training, and I enjoyed it immensely.
Why have you stayed with Music Together?
There are many aspects that are very rewarding for me. As a teacher it's very gratifying for me to teach a program that the children and that the parents will benefit greatly from. I believe that we're able to have an impact in terms of parents understanding and nurturing their child's development. I believe we have an impact on the parents' understanding of their child's learning style and that affects the child throughout life. I believe that we are instrumental in bringing the joy of music into their homes. This is an aspect of their lives—an area of activity with their children—that perhaps they didn't realize could bring so much enjoyment throughout life.
Can you describe your center and your teaching situation?
Our classes quickly became popular and we established a good reputation. We even made a profit the first year. Now we have ten locations throughout Fairfield and Litchfield counties and an exciting outreach project for hundreds of at-risk children in Bridgeport. We have nineteen teachers and serve over 1,200 students in both parent-child and preschool classes.
Why do you think the classes are so popular with parents?
I'd say that parents see and value the overall musical growth of their children and the quality of the experience they receive in class. Funders look at the evidence from research, and see that the children involved in the Music Together program made significantly greater gains in cognitive skills, language acquisition, and verbal fluency than children who did not participate in the program.
What do you see for yourself in the future for Music Together?
I am excited to be a part of Music Together's tradition of innovation. The depth of the research behind the curriculum sets Music Together apart from most other early childhood programs. As we experiment with new ideas, songs, and teaching materials, and assess the effectiveness in the student population, we are continuously advancing the field of early childhood music education, and that is very rewarding!
Because of our outreach project, Music Together is gaining increased recognition as the leader in the field of early childhood music education. We can be part of the solution to narrow the achievement gap in the US between children in poverty and those with higher socio-economic backgrounds. The educational community needs to value music-making as part of our birthright as human beings, and our work is generating dialogue about this issue on the governmental level.
Jackie Jacobs is a Music Together Center Director and In-School Provider in Fairfield County, Connecticut.