Music lovers of all ages will gather at Atwater's in Catonsville on Saturday, Sept. 21, to celebrate the United Nations' International Day of Peace.
According to the United Nations website, the day of peace was established in 1981, "as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples."
This year, Music Together of Catonsville is hosting a local celebration dedicated to uniting past, present and future students of the program to perform and record a rendition of "May All Children" — a song written by Music Together's founder Kenneth K. Guilmartin in 1986 to honor of United Nations Children's Fund's 40th anniversary.
"The program is basically a family music program because it's for ages birth through 5," Ann Quinn said of Music Together.
Quinn is the founder and director of the Catonsville branch of Music Together. She and music teacher Melissa Pound hold three 10-week sessions of classes at the Catonsville Community Clubhouse on St. Timothy's Lane during the year.
Leading up to the International Day of Peace, Music Together of Catonsville will host free demonstration classes at the clubhouse at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, Friday, Sept. 20, and Saturday, Sept. 21.
Quinn started the program 13 years ago when her son, Paul Ocone, was a 1-year-old. Quinn, co-owner of Ann and Steve's Music Store on Bloomsbury Avenue, thought Music Together offered a great opportunity for parents and children and wanted it for her son and daughter, Rose Ocone, now 9.
"I sang lullabies to my kids and everything, and it was definitely more fun doing it with other families," said Quinn, who has a background in classical clarinet performance..
"It's providing a really fun environment full of music," she said. "We have instruments, we have scarves, parachutes, everything like that to make it fun.
"In that, we're teaching all the elements of music, rhythm and tonality," she said.
Quinn said one of the most important parts of the program is that it requires caretakers to participate with their children, creating a bonding experience as well as a learning one.
"Kids that age really learn best from their parents and their family," she said. "Whoever is care taking is part of the class."
Parental involvement is what convinced Erina Hoos to join Music Together of Catonsville during its first year.
"Amylia was in her first class," Hoos said of her now 14-year-old daughter Amylia.
"At the time I had a young child, it was just Amylia at that time, [and I was] looking for some kind of enrichment activity for her, an activity that we could do together," Erina Hoos said.
"I've always been drawn to music, so it was a way to introduce music to her," she said. "It helps with math, it helps with language development, all the other benefits that are gained through taking a music class."
Hoos said her other children, Noah, now 10, and Julian, 8 , are alumni of the Music Together program. That early engagement has sparked a love of music in all three children, she said.
Hoos said her sons both sing and make music at home, and Amylia has developed a serious passion for performance.
"She goes to Carver [Center for Arts and Technology in Towson], and she's a voice major," Erina Hoos said.
"I think a lot of her excitement about music stems from the early involvement she had with Music Together," she said. "She sings with the Peabody Children's Chorus, she's taken on a voice major position, she's in a band, she plays guitar, she plays piano.
"She just really has a keen interest, a self-driven interest, in music," Hoos said. "And a lot of it starts from the foundation that she had with Music Together."
Hoos said she and all three of her children plan to attend the International Day of Peace celebration at Atwater's and she is excited to see other alumni at the event.
"We're expecting to reunite with old friends who we may run into from time to time or may not have seen in years," she said. "It'll be fun to see who shows up, especially with my daughter being in the original group."
Quinn said the event will start at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and, after spending some time catching up and eating cake, all the parents and students will gather to rehearse and record "May All Children" together.
She said the event will focus on the universal ideals of peace and will serve primarily as an opportunity to "reconnect and sing."
"Atwater's became such a community gathering spot so I thought it would be fun to have it here," Quinn said. "Everyone is invited who likes to sing."