Reflections on the first 25 years of The Music Class
It’s now 25 years since I created The Music Class, and with this milestone I figured it was a good time to reflect.
Twenty-five years ago I started The Music Class with one goal in mind: to create a music education program based on modern research designed to improve the music potential of young children. While teaching in middle & high schools, I observed that some of my students did not have the pitch and rhythm skills necessary to be able to easily learn an instrument and enjoy playing music. This led to the realization that if I wanted to have the greatest impact on a child’s music development, I needed focus on the first years of life when music aptitude is formed. (You can find a longer version of TMC’s origin story HERE.)
While the initial focus was all about enhancing music development, The Music Class has turned into something much broader: an amazing community of people brought together through music. Not only have I had the personal opportunity to work with amazing musicians and make lifelong friends through TMC, but many teachers and families have shared that the friendships they made in class have lasted years and even decades. In one case a couple that met teaching TMC in China got married!
Our community has grown in so many ways. Some of the first children in TMC have come back now as parents with their own children. This includes my daughter Raina! We’ve also had 2nd generation teachers - Ms. Doris’s son Elijah was a TMC teacher!
We’ve been able to reach so many children and families – from our first locations in Atlanta, we’ve expanded across the US, into Canada and Mexico, and all over the world. Children have sung “I’m So Happy” in China, Romania, South Korea, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, Japan, the UK, Spain, and India!
After spending my youth studying to perform on the trumpet, it’s been a hoot to find myself singing in front of audiences. (I’ve never considered myself a singer.) The musician in me has had great fun leading Music Class concerts. We’ve performed in music festivals and special events in Georgia, Colorado, New York, Mumbai, Guangzhou, and Beijing. And while creating those first 12 CDs with over 300 songs was a heavy lift, I’m now enjoying the recordings with my new grandson from a fresh perspective. We’re having fun together with the music, it’s a great activity, and l love knowing that each repetition will help nurture his music development.
So, have I achieved my goal? We’ve done several surveys of alumni over the years, and more than 95% of respondents said The Music Class had a positive effect on their child’s appreciation and enjoyment of music. Both music and dance teachers have told us repeatedly that children who have gone through The Music Class are better prepared and more likely to have success in their lessons. It’s terrific to see that many of our graduates who are now in their teens and 20s have made music and other related creative fields like dance, acting, and poetry a primary focus of their lives.
What’s been wonderful is seeing all of the additional benefits of TMC beyond music. To get a fresh look at how parents perceive The Music Class, I took all our reviews posted on Google and Yelp (almost 400) and put them in a word cloud generator. There were relatively few comments about our key educational concepts, like the importance of repeatedly listening to the music on our app or CDs, singing every day, starting music young, or the value of exposure to a variety of musical sounds and styles. Instead, some of the most popular words were “love”, “great”, “recommend”, “engaging”, “fun”, and “teacher” (along with the names of teachers.) It’s clear that the first things parents often think of regarding Music Class have to do with the incredible social bonding that happens in class – between them and their children, their teachers, and their classmates.
At the end of the day, the beauty of music is not just the music itself, but the experience of playing and enjoying music with others.
So, to my family and all the musicians, teachers, and colleagues who have been involved with The Music Class, thank you for helping to make this a very special place for so many families. For the children and adults who have attended class, your friendship, joy, and musical growth has made this a complete pleasure for me.
And what’s next? This year I started transferring some of the business over to Raina. She’ll be taking on a bigger role going forward, and I’m excited to see what she does with TMC in the future. I’ll keep teaching, leading our concerts, creating music, and working with our teachers around the world. I’m so very fortunate! I look forward to the next 25 years being as wonderful as the first 25.
See you next time in Music Class!