Class at Hampton Community Center will teach kids to carry a tune
You say you can't sing.
Perhaps you never learned how — as a child.
Rare is the tone-deaf person who truly can't match a pitch, according to Mary Lynne Bennett, a Hampton mother of three with a doctorate in music.
How one sings is “more of a learned habit,” Bennett said. “It's also people telling them they can't do it.”
Bennett, 41, a Duquesne University piano teacher, invites infants through 5-year-olds and their parents or caregivers to jump start their singing and rhythmic skills in Music Together classes.
Bennett will offer a 10-week series of 45-minute weekly classes beginning Jan. 9 at the Hampton Community Center.
Tuition is $150, plus $10 to register.
Certified teachers such as Bennett lead Music Together classes in 40 countries.
“You don't need any previous music background to participate,” Bennett said. “Music Together classes are not piano classes. They are early childhood music classes.”
Participants typically sit in a circle on the floor to mimic patterns of tones and rhythms, as they sing, move and play instruments such as drumsticks on metal bowls.
“We sing pretty much through the whole class,” Bennett said. “It's kind of a first experience with instruments.”
Bennett, also an organist at Nativity Lutheran Church in Hampton, recently demonstrated a Music Together class at the Hampton Community Center.
“It was a great class ... There's definitely a lot of movement,” said Betsy Pedicone, 30, of Middlesex Township, Butler County, who attended the demo class with son, Seth, 14 months.
Pedicone and Seth took their first Music Together course about four months ago at Lisa Rae Music Studios in Moon.
“He was just crawling then ... He was a little shy at first,” said Seth's mom. “By the end of the program, he was running around and clapping his hands and dancing.”
Pedicone now sings all the time to Seth and looks forward to taking more Music Together classes closer to home, in Hampton.
“I've heard how music helps them develop mentally, and it helps with speech,” said Pedicone, a stay-at-home mom. “I just think it's a good creative outlet for him to be able to run around.
“It's great to get him out with other kids.”
Adults also can learn a lot through Music Together classes, Bennett said.
“Music Together also is a chance for parents and caregivers to learn to sing with the kids and to learn how to make music a part of their everyday life,” Bennett said.
Composer Kenneth Guilmartin founded Music Together 26 years ago and developed the curriculum with Lili Levinowitz, a professor of music education at Rowan University in New Jersey.
“We're the pioneers in early-childhood music development,” said Julie Sansone, marketing manager for Music Together, based in Princeton, N.J.
Music Together classes promote parental involvement in a child's musical education.
Bennett said her own mother — retired Procter & Gamble researcher Nancy Allen who lives in Edgewood, Ky. — constantly sang to Bennett as a child. Bennett, also daughter of the late Robert Allen, became acquainted with Music Together through a relative.
“My mother's cousin is married to the founder of Music Together,” Bennett said. “I got a CD of theirs, and I just played it with my kids, and my kids just loved it. We sing the music all the time.”
Admission is free to Bennett's first two Music Together classes on Jan. 9 and 16 at the Hampton Community Center, 3103 McCully Road. For information, call 412-487-2313.
Music Together classes also are available through Karen Sloneker at Music Innovations in McCandless. For information, call 412-860-9254.
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.