Patricia Parker, retired preschool teacher and Music Together In School provider, Napa, California
How did you become involved with Music Together In School?
After I retired from teaching preschool full time in 2010, the director asked me if I wanted to teach a weekly music class to the children. Since I love music and leading music and circle time was one of my strengths as a teacher, I decided that this would be a great way for me to continue to do what I loved. So each week, I created a different music and movement class containing all my favorite songs, movements, rhymes, and chants. When the preschool received a teacher-training pamphlet from Music Together, I decided it looked like a great opportunity and I attended the workshop. I was hooked! I convinced the director that this research-based curriculum was of the utmost quality. She liked the family materials and the variety of songs, and we began offering Music Together in Fall 2012.
Can you describe your teaching situation?
I teach three classes at one preschool, two classes at a church-based preschool, and one class at a family childcare, where we do music outside under a large porch awning surrounded by the garden, chickens, and rabbits.
Can you share one of your favorite stories about teaching Music Together in schools?
Oh, my goodness, only one?! During a class at the family childcare, we were doing "William Tell's Ride," and I said, "If you have a baby, put them on your lap for this next song." One little girl put her younger brother on her lap, and two other older children each took a younger child. My heart was warmed seeing the tenderness and caring shown by the older children to the younger. They loved the song! There is also a little boy in one of my classes who is about three and is not yet speaking. During the very first session, he began dancing with shakers while toning "b" sounds during the song "Bim Bam." It brought tears to the eyes of the owner of the school. "Wait until I tell his father what happened today," she said. "These are some of his first words." This is the magic of Music Together!
What have you found rewarding about teaching Music Together in a school setting?
It is rewarding to present a curriculum that children are eager to participate in and truly enjoy. The kids' excitement about Music Together keeps me happy and going strong. Once, when I did the song "The Tailor and the Mouse" the way it was presented on one of the website videos, I just broke out in laughter when I saw how much fun they were having! When I arrive at a school, the children always say, "It's music day. Yay! Can we sing 'No More Pie'? Let's do 'Jack-in-the-Box!" As the semester progresses, I love to see the changes as the children start matching tones and moving, first to their own rhythms and then to the beat of the music. It is so thrilling to hear a little 15-month-old sing out tones that match a song.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Since I only want to work part-time, I would like to teach at just one or two more schools. In terms of my teacher development, I'd like to go to Certification Level Two [Music Together's advanced teacher education program]. I love the songs and skills workshops for each new collection and go to as many of those as I can. I also find the videos of classes on the teacher website very useful, as well as the teacher social networking site, which has lots of new ideas for presentations of songs and movements.