Amanda Karioth Thompson Council on Culture & Arts
When imagining an ensemble of musicians, rarely do babbling babies and teetering toddlers come to mind. But the Little Ditties early learning music class is where many of our community’s youngest music lovers get their start.
Led by Michelle Pellito, the class is comprised of students aged 4 and under. They are, of course, accompanied by parents or caregivers who also join in on the fun.
“Sometimes it’s easy to forget to sit down with your child and be in the moment. These classes help with that and they help with the bonding experience,” said Pellito.
With two little ones of her own, Pellito understands how much parents have on their plates. As a music therapist with her own private practice, she also understands that music is an important part of health and wellness, regardless of age.
Through her business Capital City Music Therapy, she offers both therapeutic and educational services to individuals and groups representing a wide variety of populations. Pellito is quick to point out that there is a difference between music therapy and music education.
“Music therapy is always led by a board-certified music therapist. We work with clients to first do an assessment and then build out a treatment plan to help them reach what we call non-musical goals. That could be improving communication, behavior, things like that. It’s about addressing things outside of music for music’s sake. Our classes are a little bit different in that they’re designed to help kids work on age appropriate activities and reach developmental milestones,” she explained.
The class moves at a brisk pace as Pellito changes the focus every few minutes to sustain engagement. A wide variety of colorful, small-scale instruments are available for children and parents to choose from and there are several opportunities for them to sing along with Pellito as she plays the guitar.
“The parents can take some of these ideas home and use them to sit and play with their child and enjoy being a parent. A lot of learning is happening through that kind of play,” said Pellito.
Abby Peters can attest to that. As a local pediatrician and a mom, she knows that “anything arts related brings out the creative side in kids that we may not know is there until an activity like this.” Her son, Luke, is 19 months old and her daughter, Caroline, is 3 years old. They both respond to the class with glee.
“My daughter is quite shy and reserved but during this class she sings at the top of her lungs and dances away. I love seeing them shine and seeing their personalities come out. This class is one of the highlights of our week and we look forward to it,” said Peters.
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