Early Childhood Classes

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Early Childhood
Jennifer Garr, Department Head

Age 14 months–8 years

Offerings at the Conservatory

The early childhood department specializes in bringing developmentally appropriate music instruction to children from 14 months to 8 years of age. Our department’s philosophy is to provide child-centered instruction while nurturing natural ability, curiosity, and a love of music. Families enrolled in these classes will explore the world of music and the world of the child together with the support and guidance of our experienced faculty.

Our classes for child and caregiver (Musical Playground and Musical Threes) feature curriculum specifically developed by our early childhood faculty and are offered as 10-week mini-sessions beginning in September, January, and March. Register for 1, 2 or all 3 sessions.

Our child-independent classes (Stepping Tones, Musical Gateways, and Musical Explorations) are designed for the full academic year (fall and spring semester, 30 classes). However, new students will be accepted through March 2019 at a pro-rated tuition.

Demonstration classes will be held in Princeton on Saturday, September 7. Prospective families are encouraged to attend. 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].

Early Childhood Music Classes

See below for class descriptions

Class Name Number of Classes
(per session/semester)
Class Length
(4-person minimum)
(per session/semester)
Materials Fee
(per year)
Musical Playground
Age 14 months-2½ years
10 per mini-session 45 minutes $150 N/A
Musical Threes
Age 2½-3½
10 per mini-session 45 minutes $150 N/A
Stepping Tones
Age 3½—4½
15 per semester 45 minutes $265.50 $60
Musical Gateways
Age 4½—6
15 per semester 60 minutes $315 $80
Musical Explorations
Grades 1—2
15 per semester 60 minutes $315 $45
Musical Discoveries
Grades 1—2
15 per semester 60 minutes $315 $45

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.

  • Musical Playground
    Age 14 months–2½ years (for children born 1/1/16 to 7/1/17)

    This class is designed to invite young children to explore music in a playful setting. In each session, the child and adult caregiver sing, move, and play instruments in activities that incorporate nursery rhymes and folk songs, both familiar and new. Musical Playground encourages the whole family to enjoy making music at home. While the teacher uses a variety of new activities each week to incorporate musical concepts and basic skills, there is some repetition needed by children at this early age. Everyone attending is encouraged to participate freely in a wide range of musical-play activities.
  • Musical Threes
    Age 2½–3½
    (for children born 1/1/15 to 3/1/16)
    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. Activities include songs, chants and rhymes, listening games, echoing tonal and rhythmic patterns, and movement games, all centered around an over-arching theme for the session, nurturing the child's musical development while satisfying the child's need to learn in a holistic environment. Session themes can be found on the class schedule.
  • Stepping Tones
    Age 3½–4½
    (for children born 3/1/14 to 3/1/15)
    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 2 CDs recorded by the Early Childhood faculty, 2 songbooks, a tote bag, a music folder for all class handouts, and three folk rhythm instruments.
  • Musical Gateways
    Age 4½–6
    Levels 1-2
    (for children born 1/1/13 to 3/1/14)
    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: Music and You; Level 2: Orchestral Stories and Song; Level 3: Music Around the World; Level 4: Music through Time.  Materials fee for Levels 1-2 includes a tote bag, rhythm kit, book, 3 CDs with songbooks, and a set of resonator bells.  Materials fee for Levels 3-4 includes a tote bag, 2 CDs with accompanying books, 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. Barred instruments 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, and a book and CD.
  • Musical Discoveries
    Grades 1–2

    Specifically designed for students who have completed both years of the Musical Gateways program, this group class will review and expand upon the musical skills and theory introduced in previous early childhood classes.  Ensemble skills and beginning note reading are introduced through choir chimes and learning to play the recorder.  The skills developed in this class make Music Discoveries a perfect complement to private study.

Early Childhood Faculty
Jennifer Garr Susan Gaylord