MOUNT AIRY — As 2-year-old Jovie Heitfield shook her rattles, she seemed to be enjoying herself as only a child can. Her mother, Ashley, said her daughter loves attending programs at the Mount Airy Branch of the Carroll County Public Library, but Thursday morning's Kindermusik was a little different.
Not only does it encourage social interaction, it also introduces children to music at an early age.
"This is Jovie's first time at Kindermusik, and we'll definitely be coming back," Ashley said.
Jenny Lipetzky, the instructor of the program at the library, said the class is designed to impart a strong sense of rhythm and a love of music to children from birth to age 3.
Using a variety of simple musical instruments, dancing, singing and repetition, Lipetzky said, she helps children understand the sequencing of music, its multiple forms and sounds. It's so important for children to learn these while they are young, she said, so it becomes almost innate. If they are unable to gain a level of comprehension of rhythm by the time they are 3 years old, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to grasp it, she said.
"[Kindermusik] is all about beats, exploration, motor control and being comfortable with music," Lipetzky said. "There is so much intertwined."
Lipetzky said her love of music — she's taught piano for more than 20 years — and the desire to find something to do while her own children were in school gave her the idea to start teaching basic music skills to children. She decided to bring the Kindermusik program to the library.
The class began with Lipetzky using her hands to drum out a beat on the floor.
She encouraged the parents to follow along as well. The interaction of parents is key in convincing some of the children who are shy to become involved.
If the children don't want to participate, don't force them, Lipetzky said. They understand what's going on and will eventually want to take part. This also shows the children that participation and learning can be fun.
At first, just a few children were drumming. By the third time repeating the cadence, thanks to repetition, parent interaction and inevitable curiosity, almost all of them were pounding away.
"Learning [at this age] is all about having fun," Lipetzky said. "If their parents interact with them, children will be lifelong learners."
By the end of the class, almost every child was dancing, singing and using whatever instrument they could get their hands on. The instruments used in class were sticks they banged or rubbed together and rattles. Simple things, really, but they act as great learning tools, Lipetzky said.
"Instruments are a great way to teach cause and effect," she said. "In this age of technology, they can't understand why many things happen, but instruments they can understand."
The class benefits the children in other ways as well, she said. By working in large groups — the class had 23 children — they develop their socialization skills.
Kelly Tate, a mother who brought her two children to Kindermusik on Thursday, said her daughter Emerson, 2, is extremely shy, but the class helps break her out of her shell.
The repetition of instruction also helps develop inhibitory control. The children learn to follow directions and become more comfortable in group settings, which prepares them for school, Lipetzky said.
By moving from drumming to clapping to singing and then dancing, it enables them to quickly and easily transition between activities.
"It's all about repetition," Lipetzky said. "The more you do something, the more they understand. It's a great way of easing them into a classroom setting."
Hannah Cobb, a children's librarian, said everything a child does in Kindermusik also stimulates the different parts of their brain. By learning about music, playing instruments and singing, it has a synergistic effect on other core skills, particularly literacy.