Posted on May 11, 2017 by Tia Lalani

Program that seeks to inspire a love of music at a young age celebrates milestone birthday.

Submitted by Charlene Brown

Music with Children participants practice level three clapping, with rhythmic flash cards.

Music with Children, a much-loved program for young ones, operated by the Augustana Music Conservatory, celebrated 30 years in Camrose the afternoon of Sunday, April 30 in the Chapel of the Augustana Faith and Life Centre. The celebration coincided with the annual windup for the Music with Children program and included some special celebrations to honour this momentous occasion and longstanding achievement. In addition to presentations by the Music with Children classes, young pianists from the Keyboard Explorer program performed. Professor Ardelle Ries was on hand to talk about Zoltan Kodaly, whose pedagogy the program is based on, and to bring an invitation to participate in the 23rd International Kodaly Symposium taking place on our campus August 8 to 13, 2017. A special treat included vocal performances by Chantel Schultz, first-year vocal performance major at Augustana, and Colden Palo, incoming vocal performance major at Augustana. Both of these wonderful musicians are graduates of the Music with Children program and started taking classes at three years of age.

Charlene Brown, the current program teacher, gave a brief history of how it came to be. In 1987, at the request of professor James Neff, Milton Schlosser, who was at that time an assistant professor of music at Camrose Lutheran College, developed a proposal to begin an early childhood music education program, offered through the Conservatory. A strong impetus for the proposal was the recognition that children growing up in a rural setting were less likely to be exposed to a comprehensive form of music education, due to limited financial resources in the public school systems and difficulty of access to afterschool programming. In the proposal that professor Schlosser wrote, he quoted a key philosophy of none other than the great Tommy Banks: “programs are offered for younger children in order to begin early a process of musical discovery which should span their entire lives.”

Upon approval, a curriculum was purchased from Carmen Tellier of Alberta College and Katherine Skretting, the first teacher, was hired. Additional and subsequent teachers over the years include MJ Skretting, Judy Pearson Hafso, and current teacher, Charlene Brown, who has just concluded her 18th year with the program.

Music with Children is a program for three to seven-year-olds which allows students to discover music in a natural way through games, songs, rhymes, movement, and rhythm instruments, based on the philosophies of Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodaly. Children in the program develop a sense of singing in-tune, melodic skills, ensemble playing, and the reading and writing of melody and rhythm.

Each year, anywhere from 50 to 100 students participate in the program, establishing it as the flagship of the Music Conservatory. Often, entire families work their way through the program’s levels and then move on to further studies. Students who graduate from Music with Children more often than not, continue on with some form of private music instruction such as piano, guitar and violin, with the ultimate goal that music somehow is a part of and enriches their entire lives.


Photos courtesy of Megan Kumar.

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