An Interview with a Music Together Teacher
No matter where she is, Kate Battenfeld loves making music. But she is her happiest when she's jumping and wiggling with a roomful of babies, toddlers, and their parents in a Music Together class. Kate is a Certification Level II teacher at Joyful Jumping Music Together in Carlsbad, California, and has been teaching since 1999. She currently teaches mixed-age classes, as well as intergenerational classes. We recently caught up with Kate and asked her a few questions about her life as a Music Together teacher.
What do you like most about the Music Together mixed-age classes?
I love the fact that every class holds the promise of musical discovery, because every child learns in his or her own way. In every class I teach, there is always a sense of wonder and discovery that is truly exciting. It's so wonderful to hear a child sing the resting tone for the first time, or observe children marching around the circle right on the beat. And I love to point out these musical milestones to the parents. I never get tired of seeing the smiles on moms' and dads' faces when they realize what is happening.
Do you have any favorite stories from your time teaching Music Together?
Since I've been teaching for so many years, I am always thrilled when "graduates" come to visit a class with their younger siblings. Just recently, a parent brought her now seven-year-old daughter to visit a class with her little sister. I've known this family since the older daughter was a toddler, and they have been in many sessions with me. When she came to visit, she brought her violin and played "Dancing with Teddy." She was brimming with pride—it was a beautiful moment.
Do you have any favorite songs?
There are so many to choose from, and I really never get tired of any of them! Every time I teach a song collection, I discover new ways of presenting the songs, or I'm inspired to try a new idea that a parent or child suggests. And I also get new ideas from the Songs Workshops and the online videos for teachers. I am very fond of "John the Rabbit" because it's such a great kinesthetic experience, and it also offers so many opportunities for silliness and improvisation. I also love the songs from around the world, and in different languages. "Palo Palo" and other songs in Spanish have inspired me to learn the language through song!
Do you have any activity suggestions that families might try at home?
I encourage families to make music an integral part of their lives, whether they're at home, or at the grocery store, or in the car. So I suggest simple activities, such as getting out the pots and pans for a good old jam session, or picking out fruits and vegetables at the store while singing "Apples and Cherries," or making a long car ride more bearable by playing a game of "Can You Do This?" I just want families to see that making music is so much more rewarding and exciting than plugging into an MP3 player. Music is an active, creative outlet that stimulates the mind, body, and soul, and the more music we make, the better!