Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A review: Toddle Tunes


My world revolves around three things: books, music and food. And I guess, since having a baby, now Daisy. But, the best part is that I get to incorporate Daisy into my three previous loves. Well, except food. She and I don’t see eye to eye just yet in the food department. She goes crazy for pureed squash and mashed avocado, while I prefer something with a bit more substance, like filet mignon and good red wine. But, as for music and books, well we both go wild for the two. I’ve mentioned before our little dance parties, and how much she loves to play (read: bang ) the piano.

It all started, you see, with our first visit to Toddle Tunes in Santa Monica. A passing stranger who oohed and ahhed over Daisy one hot early summer day informed me of this children’s music business: “It’s over the hill” he said, “but it’s worth it.” Any lingering disappointment I’d had about driving over the Sepulveda Pass vanished the minute we set foot inside the small studio, listened to our first live set, and banged away at the drum set.

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Here’s how it works: every week features a different type of music, from classic rock to classical, jazz to reggae, and the associated instruments are introduced. For example, two weeks ago was classic rock, hence the drum set, and the class is broken down into three segments. The first segment includes a set of music, two or three different songs with toys for the babies to play with: a stuffed horse, a rattle, a toy drum. The set includes a discussion of the songs and instruments, mostly for the parents, but also to expose the babies to the vocabulary associated with music, and I’m assuming that the children participate more in the discussion as they are older, but the babies, at least Daisy, just sits in rapture watching the teachers.

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The second segment, a shorter segment, includes dancing, in order to feel the beat of the music. Last week we waltzed, but mostly we just stomp our feet or clap to the rhythm of the music. The last segment is the crowning jewel of Toddle Tunes, what sets it apart from other music classes, the “real” instruments are then introduced to the babies. The teachers sit with the babies on their laps and have them feel the vibrations, palm the instrument, strum the strings, bang the keys and listen to the music. photo 21

The curriculum is always changing, we’ve been going for several months now and we’ve only had one type of music repeated, and honestly, in my opinion you can never have too much classical music. Plus, it seems to be Daisy’s favorite type. But, my favorite part of Toddle Tunes is that it’s exactly the type of place where I don’t ever need to pretend to be cool and blasé enough about anything, and I can totally clap and sing along and dance and bounce and act like a little moron because hey, it makes my kid smile. The whole 45 minute class is very hands on and the babies are exposed to lots of songs, movements, genres, and most of all instruments. Additionally, the classes are led by (what seems like) accomplished musicians who are interested in teaching, not just babysitters with guitars. 


Teacher Matthew, part co-owner with his lovely wife Lisa (who, I’ve never had the pleasure of actually meeting in person, but feel as if we’re best buds through the fact that she charges my MasterCard every 8 weeks), who turned out to be (and I’m sure he’ll want to put this on his business card, right next to his official title) The Man Who Had The Distinction of Teaching Daisy How To Clap. Teacher Matthew, you see, has the babies clap every week, during and after each song, that now Daisy is a clapping machine when any sort of music (or really noise) is around.

All the teachers, Teacher Matthew included, are so loving and adoring, and just, in general, rad with the babies. That, together with their tribute to John Lennon’s birthday with The Beatles week – pretty much cemented my desire to move next door to Toddle Tunes and start their marketing program. Tell me: is there anything more endearing seeing someone simultaneously teaching your baby all about the electric bass while paying tribute to the second best Beatle out there? Because I can only think of it being a better situation if they offered me a glass of wine too, and you know what, it’s probably not that appropriate at 1pm on a Thursday afternoon in a room full of babies.  IMG_0582

Music is fun. The songs they play include the classics, but they often put a whimsical, playful and light-hearted spin to them, and I think that makes them perfect. For example, during classic rock week, the teachers changed the lyrics to several of the songs to make them more age appropriate, plus it enhances creativity. It’s those types of subtle touches that put Toddle Tunes over the edge. That said, Daisy’s favorite part of Toddle Tunes is this: the bubbles. The class ends with a few minutes of the bubble machine, and again, Daisy just sits in wonder, afraid to touch them for fear of them popping.


Disclosure: I was not compensated for any Toddler Tunes classes, the opinions expressed in the review above are mine, and mine alone. As a company policy, the first class for any child is free.

1 comment:

Nadia H. Foster said...

Sara this is a GREAT article and as a fellow Toddle Tuner, I have to second everything you said about the program and classes. Miss N is 19 months old and we started about 9 months ago (wish it was even earlier!!) - I am not exaggerating when I say - Toddle Tunes has enhanced and been an amazing addition to our life!