The Community School of the Arts Choirs are now scheduling auditions for new members in the 2013-2014 ensembles for children in grades 3-12 who love to sing.
This article was featured in the September/October 2012 edition of The Gospel Evangel, a newsletter of the Mennonite Church’s Indiana-Michigan Conference.
by Debra Kauffman, Community School of the Arts Director
The preschool children of Step by Step Childcare Ministry in south Elkhart eagerly look forward to their Friday Music Together® classes. Elkhart resident Tracey Weirich, the GC Music Together teacher for the classes, is excited as well. Tracey says, “It is an honor and a privilege to teach these children who are so enthusiastic about music.”
An active ministry for more than a decade, Step by Step had its beginnings in Robert and Maria Crockett’s pastoral work at the House of Power. Currently, it is housed in the community rooms of Elkhart’s Washington Gardens public housing development and serves upwards of 60 neighbor- hood children each week. The Crocketts continue as program directors, working closely with a transition team that is helping continue the outreach to young children and their families.
When Maria Crockett wondered aloud about pro- viding music for these children, Kathryn Aschliman of the transition team approached me about the possibility. I was thrilled to hear of their interest, as I believe the right kind of music experience early in a child’s life can have a profound effect on that child’s development and disposition. Our church experience also tells us that singing touches our souls and strengthens our communities.
Music Together is research-based and uses playful song and movement to help children learn to sing in tune, keep a steady beat and gain confidence in music. Teachers in the program are well-trained facilitators who carefully plan activities that en- courage life skills such as group interaction and self-regulation, and help children develop positive creative and expressive outlets. Along with the edu- cational aspects of the experience, there is plenty of fun and laughter in the classes for all, including the adult teachers, parents and other volunteers who attend classes with the children.
At the end of the first week’s class with the oldest children, ages 4 and 5, the children sat quietly without moving after the final “Goodbye Song.” They weren’t ready for the time to end so Tracey led them in another song to help them transition to their next activity. As they gathered around their table in another part of the room, they spontaneously began to sing a folk song they had learned only a few minutes earlier in class. Tracey and I both note that the children are hungry for what we have to offer through Music Together, and it has been rewarding to see their response.
Maria is also pleased about the opportunity for music that has unfolded for Step by Step children. She hopes to see them continue their interest in music as they enter school and beyond. The classes are now planned weekly through December, and she is hopeful they can continue longer. Funding for Step by Step’s participation in the program this fall has been arranged by the transition team with partners College Mennonite Church and the Goshen College Music Center.
For more information about the Music Center’s Music Together® program for young children, please visit the Music Together® main page.
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