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Early Childhood
Jennifer Garr, Department Head

Newborn–8 years

Offerings at the Conservatory

The early childhood department specializes in bringing developmentally appropriate music instruction to children from birth to 8 years of age. Our department’s philosophy is to provide child-centered instruction while nurturing natural ability, curiosity, and love of music. For the fourth year, we are pleased to offer three family classes in partnership with Musikgarten, an internationally recognized music and movement curriculum. Children enrolled in Musikgarten classes experience a rich aural/auditory base of learning that prepares them for synthesizing musical elements as they mature. These classes invite children and families to sing, move, listen, and play in response to activities facilitated by our faculty. For older children, our child-independent classes offer a carefully sequenced and progressive curriculum that guides children’s music learning toward beginning instrumental study while fostering the love of music and the world around them.

Questions about early childhood offerings may be directed to Jennifer Garr at the main Conservatory office at 609-921-7104 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Registration for early childhood classes is for the full academic year (30 classes). Classes are offered at the main Princeton location on the campus of Westminster Choir College. New students will be accepted in Family Music for Babies, Family Music for Toddlers, Cycle of Seasons, Stepping Tones, and Musical Gateways through March 2017 at a pro-rated tuition. Class length is based upon minimum enrollment. Some classes may be offered with a smaller enrollment by reducing the class length. In this case, the tuition remains the same.

Early Childhood Music Classes

See below for class descriptions

Class Name Number of Classes
(per semester)
Class Length
(4-person minimum)
(per semester)
Materials Fee
(per year)
Family Music for Babies
Newborn—18 months
15 30 minutes $165 $75
Family Music for Toddlers
Age 16 months—3 years
15 45 minutes $250.50 $70
Musical Threes (2 mini-sessions)
Age 2½—3½
8 per mini-session 45 minutes $140 per mini-session N/C
Stepping Tones
Age 3½—4½
15 45 minutes $250.50 $60
Musical Gateways
Age 4½—6
15 60 minutes $300 $80
Musical Explorations
Grades 1—2
15 60 minutes $300 $45
  • Family Music for Babies
    Newborn–18 months (for children born 3/1/15 to 6/1/16)
    This class offers adults the opportunity to play with their babies in a musical setting, experiencing music and movement activities designed to delight the child and awaken his or her curiosity about music. Through singing, dancing, bouncing, and rocking, the child's music aptitude is being carefully nurtured, thus laying the foundation for beat awareness, vocal production, and aural discrimination. Activities also include finger plays, body awareness games, and instrument play. Materials fee includes 2 CDs, 2 parent booklets, and cloth bag with rhythm instrument.
  • Family Music for Toddlers
    Age 16 months–3 years (for children born 9/1/13 to 5/1/15)
    This class is designed to bring the joy of music and movement to toddlers and their caregivers. Activities include singing, dancing, focused listening, and simple instrument playing, thus creating an environment in which the child's music aptitude is nurtured and skills are developed. he class curriculum is on a two-year rotation, allowing families to attend for an additional year without a repeat of song material. Younger siblings below the minimum age of the class are allowed to attend free of charge with permission of the instructor. Materials fee includes 2 CDs, 2 parent booklets, and 4 rhythm instruments.
  • Musical Threes
    Age 2½–3½ (for children born 6/1/13 to 6/1/14)
    Come experience our newest class offering for the curious 3-year old! While this class is for children with an adult partner, a cooperative learning environment is designed for children to begin to discover musical independence with some adult support. Using musical stories and songs connected together by a theme, children and their caregivers will sing, dance, and play instruments in an engaging musical atmosphere. This class features two independent sessions of 8 classes each; sign up for one session or both!
    • Mini-Session #1 (8 classes beginning the week of January 23) is called "Carnival of the Animals" and explores the entire animal kingdom through song, instruments, and stories. Musical compositions reflecting the theme are also part of the weekly activities, including the wonderful pieces that comprise Camille Saint-Saens' "Carnival of the Animals." Class activities provide an active experience for the inquisitive child, and promote a developing sense of independence. Meets Thursdays 11-11:45 a.m. OR Saturdays 10:10-10:55 a.m.
    • Mini-Session #2 (8 classes beginning the week of March 27) is called "We All Go Traveling By" and explores transportation in all its forms. Children will "sail the seas" by creating sound poems with our large gathering drums, form musical trains with their bodies and instruments to reflect musical form, and "float away" in hot-air balloons as they explore different traveling movement ideas. All modes of transportation will be experienced through songs, chants, stories, instruments, and musical compositions. Meets Thursdays 11-11:45 a.m. OR Saturdays 10:10-10:55 a.m.
  • Stepping Tones
    Age 3½–4½ (for children born 3/1/12 to 3/1/13)
    This class presents various activities to foster children’s independent musical development. Children will combine movement with instruments and song to create simple ensembles and musical stories. Children’s literature is a key component, and classes incorporate folk songs and repertoire from the United States and other cultures. Each week the students are invited to bring an item from home relating to that week’s theme; these items are then incorporated into the day’s musical experiences. Books and music will be recommended for families to continue the weekly themes at home. Children attend the class on their own, with families returning for the last few minutes of each session to share in group music making. Materials fee includes a CD and two folk rhythm instruments.
  • Musical Gateways
    Age 4½–6
    Levels 1-2 (for children born 1/1/11 to 3/1/12)
    Levels 3-4 (returning students, or students entering first grade)
    This class is for children who enjoy making music but are waiting to begin traditional formal instruction. Through attention to the child’s singing voice, listening skills, and motor development, this class provides opportunities for students to make music in a creative setting while developing entry-level musical concepts and skills. Written by the Conservatory’s early childhood faculty, the curricula have been updated to reflect current philosophy and practice. Level 1: Stories and Song; Level 2: Music and You; Level 3: Global Music; Level 4: Music through Time. Materials fee for Levels 1-2 includes a tote bag, rhythm kit, book, and 2 CDs. Materials fee for Levels 3-4 includes a tote bag, book and CD, and an Appalachian dulcimer. Students complete two levels per academic year (15 classes per level). Levels 1-2 must be completed before entering Levels 3-4. New students may be admitted to Level 3-4 on approval from the department head; an additional fee of $60 covering materials from Levels 1-2 will be added.
  • Musical Explorations
    Grades 1–2
    In this group class children will learn musical skills and theory needed to play an instrument. Recorders and choir chimes are used to introduce beginning note reading. Each class includes singing, movement, folk dances, and speech/instrumental ensembles. Children will experience different musical genres from classical to jazz. While the approach and philosophy draw primarily on that of Carl Orff, other music education philosophies are evident throughout the program. This class is appropriate for children who love to make music in a group setting before moving on to private instruction. Materials fee includes a tote bag, rhythm kit, soprano recorder, and a book and CD.

Early Childhood Faculty

Kate Chen
Jennifer Garr
Susan Gaylord
Mary Elizabeth Latorre
Sarah Sensenig
Kathy Shanklin

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