Colleen McGrath Lilley, former professional opera singer and Music Together In School provider, St. Petersburg, Florida
How did you become involved with Music Together In School?
I joined a conference call about the in-school curriculum and it seemed like there might be opportunity there. After the call, I began scheduling meetings and found a terrific match in a Montessori school right away. Later, I got a call from another small preschool and we've established a nice relationship. It is an experiential preschool that is very hands-on, very nurturing, and intentionally small. The families at that choose that school often move on to Montessori education or other "outside-the-box" learning environments.
Can you describe your Music Together classes in schools?
We are lucky to be able to offer Music Together at the Montessori school, essentially from birth through elementary school. There is a parent/child class for babies, a group for ones, twos, and then several mixed-age classes. We teach over 65 children in eight classes a week there now and will be expanding as the school grows. At the independent preschool where we offer Music Together, the environment is purposefully small and intimate, and we teach about 8 children.
What have you found rewarding about teaching or offering Music Together in a school setting?
It's a pleasure to be able to watch children develop and grow in their school environment. At the Montessori school, we've seen such development and progress over the years, and the benefits of the curriculum are showing more and more as the children grow with the program. The classroom teachers are wonderful and use the music curriculum to tie into the themes and subjects taught in class.
Did you have an 'a-ha!' moment or did anything surprise you?
I think I was most excited at how receptive and excited the teachers have been to work with me. I previously taught music in a few preschools, and the teachers didn't want to stay with me in the class—they wanted to take a break. But I find that the teachers are eager to participate in Music Together classes and really understand how important their own role is.