Miss Julie grew up in a musical family and taught middle school music before getting involved with Music Together. She teaches in Burr Ridge, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, and Lombard for Wee Heart Music and Tiny Toes Music. Continue reading to learn more about Miss Julie!
Please tell me about your musical background.
My grandparents and mom were all musical, and my mom sings with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. I became a middle school music teacher, which I loved! I taught for seven years until my daughter was born, and in the process earned my master’s degree. Most middle and high schools require a lot of extra curricular time – choir, musical, etc. – and I didn’t feel like I could teach and be a new mom. It was hard to give up teaching – I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in being a teacher and a music teacher.
How did you get involved with Music Together?
When my daughter was about four months old, I signed us up for the babies class. I wanted to get out of the house and do something with her. It was one of the only things for such a young infant. I was curious how early childhood music worked. I was also skeptical about taking a music class through the park district. I decided to go with it, and I’m really glad I did. In the first minute of the first class, I realized it was a legit program and that it would be fun to teach. Being a parent in class got me hooked.
How do you balance being a Music Together teacher and a Music Together parent?
I try not to bring my children to my class – it is too hard to wear both hats at the same time. Sometimes I will bring my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter with me. I take my son to classes when my daughter is in school, and sometimes I take them both to a class.
Recently, I took them to one of Miss Rhonda’s classes, and I got a new perspective, as it was our first class since my son became mobile. As a teacher, I respond to kids and adults, and in my teacher brain, I see what they do or don’t like. I realized that day that the parents aren’t looking at me, they are looking at their child. The teacher is thinking about how the class is going, but the parent is thinking about what his or her kid is doing.
Why would you recommend Music Together?
I think it provides a really special, memorable way to interact with your little one. It also gives young parents an opportunity to be with other parents of young children and lets their kids see them interacting with other adults.
Every child is musical – every child has an aptitude for music. For a few people, that is at the Mozart level, and for others, it’s as simple as keeping a beat and singing and feeling comfortable enough to enjoy music forever.
“Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke
What are some ways in which parents can incorporate music into their daily lives?
I turn on Pandora in my house, so we always have music on, and it brings up new music for us. One of our favorites is a station based on Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s folksy and soothing, kind of like Norah Jones. It plays a lot of songs we know from Music Together that are performed by other artists.
Having a handful of play-along instruments also helps. You can just take them out and start playing. When kids get older, sometimes they will “play music class.” Jump in on those opportunities to play with them.
Lastly, community events are great– free concerts and children’s events. I’m taking my daughter to my middle school’s musical. A school musical is a great first play for a toddler – they’re cheap and informal but still good exposure.