When it comes to infant and toddler music classes in New York City… there are countless, but speak with most any in-the-know parent and they’ll likely tell you that Little Maestros stands out from the pack.
This isn’t just your next door neighbour Joe singing Raffi songs with a guitar. Little Maestros has a well planned out curriculum that not only teaches babies new songs and skills, but teaches parents skills that they can use at home to help enrich their children’s developing minds and bodies. Plus, Konner has come up with a ton of original songs.
Keep reading for our chat with mompreneur Marni Konner, the force behind Little Maestros.
Momtastic: Do you find that all babies love music?
Marni Konner: Ever since Little Maestros began in 2002, we have seen many different responses to music from babies. There are the children who sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed in apparent awe and amazement and wonder and bewilderment during class. There are kids who squeal and clap in apparent delight and there are those who are listening and absorbing in a focused gaze. The little maestros also feed off what the adults show they’re experiencing so if an adult is smiling and dancing away, the trickle-down-effect or message to their child is a positive “music is fun”.
Momtastic: Are there benefits to having music in the background when children are doing other things like eating or playing or does that encourage over-stimulation/needing distractions?
Marni Konner: There have been plenty of people throughout the last twenty years I’ve been running Little Maestros who have told me the only way to get their child to stay still on the changing table is to play our music on Spotify or that they sing our songs while their child is eating or bathing. One local family photographer says she doesn’t even have kids but she knows all of the Little Maestros songs because she sings them at her shoots to get the kids to smile! Of course everyone is different and some kids may show they are more focused on certain tasks sans background music (some adults work out to the Rocky soundtrack and meditate in silence) – there is a time and a place for everything!
Momtastic: Should parents focus on child-specific music only?
Marni Konner: At Little Maestros, we introduce all different genres of music, all different styles and tempos and artists from all over the world and from long ago until present. Kids love to hear us rock out and also happily dance in their adult’s arms when our movement activity is set to Chopin’s Minute Waltz. We incorporate kids’ songs, of course, but also expose them to treasured music the adults will relate to and groove to, as well.
Momtastic: What are the benefits of music classes for babies and when do you suggest starting them?
Marni Konner: There are countless studies about the benefits of music even in-utero. Music is one of the first things you can introduce your newborn to. A baby music class is important on so many levels – socialization (for adults, too!), for baby-grownup bonding (bouncing, rocking, swaying, humming, shaking scarves, making memories), for learning through music (at Little Maestros we sing about shapes, numbers, colours, animal sounds, sign language…). People generally start coming to Little Maestros classes when their kids are three months old.
Momtastic: What are some things parents should look for when picking which music class to opt for, for their babies?
Marni Konner: We are proud that our curriculum is early-childhood educator-approved and that we maintain a safe environment (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic). I think it’s important to have a class with a consistent format and structure and a variety of enrichment activities like language development, a musical story time, puppet shows with a special message and original songs.
Momtastic: Are there any products you suggest parents get to have interactive music time at home?
Marni Konner: Egg shakers or maracas are good starters. Caged bells and scarves are also fun to shake and play with. Kids love to tap on a bongo drum or a xylophone.