While there are now four separate class levels—Babies (birth through 8 months), Mixed Ages (birth through 5 years), and Rhythm Kids (4-5 years and K–2 grades)—the classic Music Together class is a mixed-age environment because research shows interaction between children of different ages and stages (as well as children and a variety of adults) is more beneficial to learning, growth, and development than grouping children in same-age classes and allows families with multiple young children to attend together.
In each Mixed Ages (Family) class we strive to create a musically rich, developmentally appropriate environment where the whole family can enjoy music and nurture skills at the level right for each child. Mixed-age classes provide a rich learning environment because children of different ages thrive when they interact with each other: the younger children are often fascinated by the older child, and the “big” children enjoy helping and sharing with the “little” ones, but the most important interaction is still between caregiver and child. Competition is reduced when the ages are mixed, creating a more relaxed class. This approach is based on research from music education, early childhood development, and family relationships, as well as our 20 years' experience in the field. This class develops Basic Music Competence (singing in tune and keeping a steady beat).
The Rhythm Kids curriculum is new to Valley Cat Music (we're joining the pilot for its final year this fall 2017). Please see the Rhythm Kids page for details!
All classes except the Adult Guitar class are 45 minutes long (guitar/uke is an hour). Each fall, winter, and spring session is ten weeks; summer sessions are five or six weeks; holiday session is three weeks.
Confirmation emails are sent once the class has met minimum enrollment. If the class has not met minimum enrollment, you will be notified of placement in your second choice.
Families are welcome to three make-up classes per semester, available at any location run by Valley Cat Music, space permitting. Make-ups cannot be carried over to future sessions and are non-transferrable.
You may cancel your enrollment and receive a refund less a $25 cancellation fee any time PRIOR to the start of the semester. No refunds after the first day of classes. Non-attendance does not constitute a cancellation.
We accept enrollment during the first three weeks of classes, but we do not prorate for classes missed due to late registration as long as there are classes available to attend as makeups for the missed classes.
Please click HERE to see the full drop-in policy! Thanks.
All parents are welcome to attend the Mixed Ages class at any time—no need to ask. Anyone can be the special caregiver who brings your child to class, too (nanny, grandparent, aunt/uncle, etc.). If you will be attending with more than two adults per family, especially if your class if full, please let your teacher know so we can prepare extra instruments or chairs. Whole-family music making is extremely valuable to your child's musical development, and we love it when more than one family member can join the fun.
For other visitors (e.g. out-of-town guests) who wish to drop in, please click HERE to see the full drop-in policy.
• The Babies class is restricted to babies under eight months only; however, a sibling who is ten years or older may attend with the baby and her/his caregiver.
• The Rhythm Kids Level One class is restricted to children 4 or 5 years old only (older siblings can change the dynamic and disrupt the pace of the younger children's learning needs). Infant siblings under 8 months may attend for free as non-participators.
• Rhythm Kids Level Two is for kids in kindergarten, first, and second grades; however, siblings who are older than 8 may visit upon instructor approval for a $20 drop-in fee.
A runny nose, a cough, or a fever constitutes illness. Please consider the other families in your class when your child exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms by keeping your child at home until the symptoms subside. Please use your allotted makeup days after a missed sick day.
Mouthing instruments: Please note that it is common for young children to get sick in any class they attend and that normally developing immune systems require germs in order to build barriers to illness. That said, Valley Cat Music sanitizes all instruments before each session and washes used instruments between classes, so please feel free to allow your baby/toddler to mouth whatever instrument s/he wishes to explore; it's a natural function in every child's development.
VACCINATION POLICY: Valley Cat Music supports your freedom to vaccinate according to your doctor's recommendation; however, as of April 1st, 2015, we strongly recommend vaccinating for measles, at least, as soon as possible. The only way to protect our youngest students is to ensure the older ones can't pass on serious diseases in class. Please talk to me if you have any concerns.
Picture-taking is reserved for the final class of the session and then only during the play-along; however, you may take pictures of your child before and after class any week (most teachers are happy to bring the gathering drum back out if you'd like). If you're taking pictures, you are no longer modeling participation for your child, and your hands aren't available for quick problem-solving, either. This policy includes grandparents and nannies! Save it for after class, please. Everyone is essential in the music-making process.
In addition, many parents are sensitive about posting their children's faces online, so if you happen to get an opportunity to snap a shot of your child, please cut out or blur any other children unless you have permission from their parents to post it -- or just don't post it online.
I think you know the answer to this: no cell phones in class. Just let it go for 45 minutes and allow yourself to focus on your child and yourself in music! If you would like to discuss an exception to this rule (you are a doctor on call or your partner is about to go into labor, etc.), please talk to me. If there is an emergency and you need to take a call during class, please step outside to take care of it. Thank you.
Valley Cat Music fully supports breastfeeding mothers, so feel free to nurse (or bottle-feed) your child in class, but please do not bring any other food or drink into classrooms. Most classroom spaces have strict no-food/drink rules, and some children have severe food allergies that can be triggered simply by the presence of certain foods in the room; plus, beverage containers (parents' coffee cup, bottled water, sippy cup, etc.) are simply not safe from being either knocked over or experimented with by curious hands and mouths! Better to save them for after class or step outside the classroom for a quick drink or snack if your child needs it during class.
Children are biologically wired to respond most to those with whom they have close bonds. So your fun role is to sing, dance, and be silly! Your active participation is the key to your children learning and growing musically. Support the creation of a music-only environment by not talking to your children or other adults during the 45 minutes (if you need to communicate, try singing it!). It is difficult for a young child to ignore adult conversation, so please wait until after class to socialize.
Refrain from giving verbal or manipulative directions, such as "Bang the drum” or holding your child's hand and hitting the drum for them; even suggesting a color for them to use can affect creativity. Children respond best by just seeing and hearing you doing (and enjoying) it yourself! Wandering toddlers are fine, but if you want your child to come back to you, avoid calling to him from across the room. If necessary, redirect your child physically back to you or the circle. Of course watch out for your child’s safety, but mostly your job is to relax and have fun!
Play class songs (via CD or MP3 download from Music Together Family Music Zone website or free Hello, Everybody! app) at home and in the car as often as possible, especially during the first few weeks of class. Make it available to your child to listen to while s/he is playing or before nap or bedtime. Use songbooks to help you remember the songs or to play along if you play an instrument. Try using the songbook at storytime instead of a regular book, and sing through the songs as you go along. Looking at the printed notes on the page will help children understand that music is something that can be read, like words. Familiarization with notation will help them when they are ready for more formal music instruction.