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Opera Singer Lizz Hodgin

How did you first become involved in Music Together?

I first heard about it from a friend who teaches Music Together. After I had my son, Daniel, she gave us a Music Together songbook and recording for Christmas in 1995. Before this, we enjoyed singing "Wheels on the Bus" and a few other familiar songs, but I was frustrated. Here I was an opera singer, a musician, and I didn't know what to do in music with my child. I started playing the songs for Daniel and he went wild, he loved it! He responded to the music more than anything else that the special education programs suggested. (Daniel was born with Down Syndrome.) Because Daniel's response to the music was so strong, it made me realize that this program was something special I wanted to do, and something I wanted to bring to my community. I came to Princeton in the summer of 1996 and took the training. I was inspired.

What particularly inspired you?

Ken—his enthusiasm, his energy, his vision. This inspired me then, and it still does whenever I think about those training sessions. I love his vision so much that I want to be true to it. I think he's right on in what is appropriate for young children. He has thought it through, and used the research and knows what's right.

What happened after you took the training and got licensed?

I came back to Santa Cruz and called everyone I knew who had kids and asked them to bring them over to my house for six weeks of free Music Together classes. I did this so I could practice, and I learned so much from these sessions. Then I also volunteered to teach Music Together in my son's preschool so I could get more experience. Then I started making flyers and took them to every festival and children's event in the area. I started classes in the fall of 1996 with thirty-five students.

Then what happened?

The program caught on. People loved it. In the fall of '97 I had 105 students, in winter of '98 275 students, and in the spring of '98 350 students. I hired two teachers. I marketed this and saw the results and felt the income. Now I have over 1,000 students. I am providing a service to the community. One father with a child in the program told me that I am a "community treasure," that whenever he describes the area to new people he always tells them about me and the Music Together classes. The program made such a difference in my child and in our family life together. I know it does the same for others in the community. Many families who start classes with me stay with the program for a long time and bring in many other families who find it valuable.

What was one of your favorite teaching moments?

The play-along is my favorite. I love it because I can play an instrument and sit and watch the families. I am so happy to be there, to experience so much joy, and see families experience joy together. My other favorite time is the lullaby. I love the magical moment, and I also love it when so many children fight to sit on my lap.

What would you advise a new person considering the program?

The most important thing for any teacher is the passion. They've got to love it, be enthusiastic, and bring joy with them. When I look for a new teacher, I look for someone who can put their heart and soul into what they're doing. I would also tell them that I love being in the program because it incorporates all I have to offer as a human being: my music ability, my love of children, my business acumen, and service to the community. In the past I've never had a job which was so satisfying. I am living an artistic life doing Music Together.

Lizz Hodgin is a Music Together Center Director and teacher in Santa Cruz and Los Gatos, California, as well as an opera singer and parent.

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