Teacher's Blog

Victoria Salmeri
By Theresa Wozunk on September 06, 2012

Teaching Music Together since 2004

When I decided to become a Music Together teacher, I knew I would love my job, but I didn’t anticipate the wonderful weekly reminders of just how powerful music can be. There are so many examples, but most recently I sat in awe of a 2 ½ year old child, who was singing each and every word with pride and confidence, and even starting the next phrase for us when I paused for too long. This is the same little boy who was especially shy and inconsolable when he started to attend my class a little over a year ago. I get a ringside seat to this type of development on a regular basis. How lucky am I?

Then I get to witness the parent’s or caregiver’s reaction to these moments, and it is magical. I have such gratitude for my good fortune in being able to teach these classes.

Other Instruments Played:

My voice is my most important instrument, but I can play guitar, ukulele, keyboard or strumstick. I wrote my first song, “I Hate Peas,” at the age of 5. My nephews say I bake the best cookies they’ve ever tasted.

If you could be a member of anyone's band (alive or dead), who would you want to play with?

The Beatles.

Who inspired you to become a musician?

Family.

What is your favorite MT song to teach and why?  

Any song that inspires everyone to get up and dance in celebration. Hine Ma Tov is a good example, and it has great meaning, as well.
Seung-Hee Han
By Theresa Wozunk on July 31, 2012

Seung-Hee Han (teaching MT since 2002)

MT Center Director – Kids Music Together in Queens (Woodside and Jackson Heights)


I have been a Music Together teacher since 2002, when I moved to NYC from Boston after school. The best part of being a Music Together teacher is that I bump into parents/children on the street even after 5-6 years of classes and I hear about how much they love singing, learning an instrument, and that they always make music at home. I am a vocalist/composer with a master's degree in Jazz Voice from New England Conservatory, lead a jazz quintet and perform around the city. Though having taught Music Together for over 10 years and also directing a center in Queens (Kids Music Together) for over 7 years, I still learn music everyday. When it comes to music, there is no end.

Visit Seung-Hee's website to find out more and hear her music: www.seung-hee.com

Jennifer Hopkins
By Theresa Wozunk on July 10, 2012

Jennifer Hopkins

Teaching MT since 2002. 

It had been a year or two since I had left my life as a professional dancer and musical theatre performer. I was heading out with a friend and our babies to a “free music class” we had heard about, and then out for coffee. The “free music class” turned out to be a Music Together demo class, and my three-month-old daughter reacted so enthusiastically (flailing about and hyperventilating) to the teacher’s singing and finger play that I signed up immediately afterward. From then on, I never missed a semester with her or my next two babies. We found the program so easy to absorb that the songs became part of our every day life. I spent so much time talking with the teacher after class that eventually she suggested I take the music together training course and start teaching a class of my own.

Teaching Music Together has been a rewarding creative challenge for me. As a dancer, I find I often approach the program from a rhythmic point of view. The interesting time signatures, tempos and cultural music offered in the song collections are a continual source of ideas and inspiration. So are the students’ own musical and dancing instincts. I love to observe and support toddlers’ free style dance, and incorporate their own “cool moves” into class. I am so pleased to be a Music Together teacher, because I feel that the no pressure, fun structure of the classes, and the rich, varied material, will encourage a new generation of natural, self confident dancers and musicians.

 

Extraordinary Talents: 

-Acoustic guitar

-Salsa dancing on the one

-Gardening for butterflies (check out my website-www.brooklynbutterflyproject.org)

 

If you could be a member of anyone's band (alive or dead), who would you want to play with?

Nine Inch Nails

 

Who inspired you to become a musician?

My mom and dad swing dancing in the kitchen, and the local rock&roll bands that used to practice in our basement.

 

What is your favorite MT song to teach and why?

The Little Bells of Westminster, because of all the different parts. The class can sound like a choir!

Jeanine LaBarbera
By Theresa Wozunk on July 03, 2012

Jeanine LaBarbera – teaching MT since 2001

When I first got wind of Music Together, I'd never heard of anything like it. I was so excited, and couldn't wait to see a class. When I did, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a teacher. What an awesome way to create community & inspire self expression through play with music! Over the years, it's been so rewarding to witness the impact this program has on the most crucial years of a child's development, stimulating all kinds of learning. I look forward every day to meet the eager smiling faces of beautiful babies waiting to make Music Together.

"Extraordinary Talents" 

I play guitar... I love cooking... I can do the Moonwalk, and sing in a Munchkin voice :)

If you could be a member of anyone's band (alive or dead), who would you want to play with?

Stevie Wonder

Who inspired you to become a musician?

My parents' love for music is what inspired me to sing. They enjoyed singing along to music all the time! But when I saw a 10yr old little girl (like me) sing & act in the movie, "Annie", I said to myself, "I can do that." That summer I started performing in musical theater.

What is your favorite MT song to teach and why?

Hmmn... there are so many fun songs. But I think one of my favorite parts of class is getting the children's suggestions for animals when we do my version of "I'm Hiding" every week. They're so excited to share their ideas, and they make the funniest & most adorable impersonations.

 

What our families have to say about Jeanine:

“Our son Dean has so much fun at Music Together with Jeanine. She's fantastic! – Melinda Wenner Moyer

 

Check out Jeanine’s original music here: www.jeaninetruly.com

Melissa Stylianou
By Theresa Wozunk on June 22, 2012

Melissa Stylianou - Teaching since 2007

 

In 2007 I had just moved to Brooklyn from Toronto, was a singing jazz by night and babysitting by day, and I met up with two other jazz singers who also taught Music Together classes:  Abigail Riccards and fellow MTPS teacher Seunghee Han. They both encouraged me to check it out and after watching a class, I jumped into the program at the first chance.  For almost 5 years, I have been continually challenged and deeply rewarded by my experiences teaching this musically rich and thoughtfully conceived program, supported in my journey as a teacher by my colleagues/friends and by the families who come to class.  

 

There are things that happen in every class that inspire me and leave me thankful to be working within an environment that "gets" both music and children.  It’s the best moment in each semester when I can look around the class and recognize that we have created a music-making community - a circle of learners of all ages content to let go of how music is "supposed" to sound, and throw themselves into the moment.  I wish I'd had Music Together as a child (asymmetric meters and tunes in odd tonalities would be way easier for me in my other life as a jazz singer!), but I'm glad my mother instilled in me the same message that MT does: that music-making is for everyone.

 Extraordinary Talents/Abilities/Hobbies

I play the baritone ukelele, guitar, piano and recorder and I love to eat, cook and sing with my talented husband, pianist Jamie Reynolds.

Questions for Melissa:

If you could be a member of anyone's band (alive or dead), who would you want to play with?

Louis Armstrong

 

Who inspired you to become a musician?

My mother

 

What’s your favorite MT song to teach and why?

It’s a tie between Playin’ in the Kitchen (jazzy groove and fun harmonies) and Mr. Rabbit (I like to get everyone hoppin’ and role-playing in this one).

What her families have to say about Melissa:

 

“In our house, it's ‘Melissa class’ and the ‘Melissa cd's’ or ‘sing me a Melissa song!’ Clearly we love Melissa... and the entire MT family!” -Sarah Bibeau Hutchens

 For more about Melissa and her music go to: www.melissastylianou.com

 

 

 

Dan Vonnegut
By Theresa Wozunk on June 15, 2012

Dan Vonnegut, teaching Music Together since 2008

Before I became a Music Together teacher I was a freelance musician playing gigs till the wee hours of the morning and touring the country in vans with various bands.  Once I started a family (my wife and I are the parents of two), I knew I wanted to be closer and more available to my wife and children.   As a Music Together teacher I am able to achieve musical satisfaction with a community of people who live in my town and I don't have to wait till the night to get my music fix plus it is just a short bicycle ride away for me!! 

One of the many great things about teaching Music Together is the opportunity for improvisation.  I always get real joy when a class is open to spontaneous creation and trying different melodies and rhythms.  Watching the children react physically through movement and beginning to sing is an enriching experience for everyone!   I love to feed off the kids ideas and encourage the class to be in the moment.  

*Dan is also a Music Together Center Director and serves the neighborhoods of
Greenwich village, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens 

Extraordinary Talents/Hobbies

I play drum set, percussion, guitar, banjo, fiddle, piano and mandolin and enjoy the fine coffee of cafe Grumpy and Micro brews from Bierkraft.

Questions for Dan:

If you could be in anyone’s band (alive or dead):

-The Grateful Dead

Who inspired you to make music?

-My family inspired me to become a musician

What’s your favorite Music Together song to teach and why?

-My favorite MT song to teach is Biddy Biddy.  It is really easy to teach the class and rhythmically and melodically fun to explore with a group of active kids and adults.

What Our Families Say About Dan:

Here's to Dan, for giving our Will a huge repertoire of fun songs and creative ways of enjoying them. We love the rounds and syncopations and deconstructions -- they make music entertaining for all age groups. At home, tunes like Little Liza Jane, Lukey's Boat, Trot Old Joe, Hey Diddle Diddle, the Bells of Westminster, and My "Bunny" Lies Over the Ocean are sung again and again. And they're all referred to as "Dan's Songs." Thanks, buddy. - Mike Woodsworth, father of Will in Dan's Sunday class