It may not be as popular as St. Patrick’s Day, but the entire month of March is “Sing With Your Child” month.
To highlight the importance to early development of both music and child-adult interaction, the downtown Akron-Summit County Public Library played host to a special “Sing With Your Child” program on Tuesday morning in the Children’s Library.
The event was spearheaded by David Palomo, who runs Music Together Summit. The series of interactive 45-minute classes, based at centers in Hudson and Fairlawn, is “to help raise awareness about the value of early childhood music for young children’s development and to help give them a foundation to be lifelong music makers,” Palomo said shortly before the kids arrived.
When the dozen or so little ones and their adults — moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas and others — finally arrived in the small playroom, there were MTS veterans and a few new, shiny young faces that were ready to dance and sing, or at least move around and make noise.
Palomo got the kids settled (mostly), broke out his harmonica and sang/spoke a greeting song: “Hello everybody, so glad to see you.” While some kids were immediately engaged, a few amused themselves in other ways. One little girl walked over to a boy she didn’t know and gave him a big hug. The little boy was not impressed.
“It’s not going to happen like that too often,” Palomo joked, drawing smiles from the adults as the boy quietly pouted in his mother’s arms.
Palomo mixed recorded songs and his own extensive mental library of kid-friendly tunes, getting the kids singing and clapping to Trot and Old Joe. A toddler in a tiny Beatles T-shirt took center stage and happily wiggled and jiggled to a surprisingly bluesy recording of Hey Diddle Diddle.
“Again!” one of the kids shouted after most of the songs.
Between songs, Palomo explained to the adults how rhythm and cadence are intuitive to even the youngest humans.
“What the parents and the grown-ups see, how the children interact and what you see when they do music, is just really amazing,” Palomo said.
“I see young children being engaged in their motor skills at whatever level of their development. I see young children being engaged vocally, and as a former counselor I see children engaged emotionally … not only from the evocative quality of the music but then the emotional interaction with the parents, which I think is such a great thing for a family to help build that emotional foundation through music,” he said.
Akron Mayor (and grandpa) Don Plusquellic stopped by for a few minutes to talk about the importance of early childhood development, parent-child interaction and music’s ability to affect both the very young and the very old, and made an official city proclamation.
Despite the mayor’s deep, soothing voice, the kids seemed unimpressed.
“I’m used to people talking when I’m talking, and they’re usually adults,” Plusquellic joked.
There were a few more songs about owls that say “hoo!” monkeys that say “eeeh!” and a Spanish song encouraging the kids to “baila!” (dance). A’Shon Robinson, 2½, started running circles around his mom, Rochell Finney of Akron, as she sat on the floor trying to get him interested in singing monkeys.
“I try to bring him to every event that the library has. It’s good for him,” Finney said, holding her weeks-old infant as A’Shon loudly demanded her attention. “I don’t have him in day care so the next best thing is to bring him here for some activity. This was good, even though he was bouncing around everywhere.”
Kara Kudro of Cuyahoga Falls brought her two young children, Ignatius, 1, and Isaac, 3, to try something different from their usual story hour at home.
“It was really great. It gives me time with the kids, and I think music is always good for adults and kids,” Kudro said, noting that little Ignatius loves to dance and is already a fan of “the best hip-hop.”
To find out more about Music Together Summit and Sing With Your Child Month, go to http://musictogethersummit.com.
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3758.