Two-year-old Nicholas LaVoie doesn’t realize that the music he loves to dance to with his new friends is helping him develop both the right and left sides of his brain.
His mom, Tina, knows exposing kids to music can help them reach their milestones and was happy to have an opportunity for her son to mingle with 7 other toddlers during the Parent/Child Developmental Music Class, conducted weekly by music therapist Janice Pylinski, in the Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center.
“Nicholas was born 2 months premature, has a feeding tube and a microdepletion syndrome, so we spend every week, Monday through Thursday, doing therapies at the hospital,” said Tina. “This class has been a wonderful opportunity for him to have some fun and engage with other kids his age, some typical peers and others with special needs.”
The 10-week session is offered to both typical toddlers and those with special needs who are 19-36 months. Another session caters to babies who are 6-18 months.
“Music is important to development because it stimulates both parts of the brain – the math center and the creative center,” said Pylinski. “Music has a rhythmic component which activates the brain’s math center and the harmonic component of music engages the emotional part of the brain.”
Brittany Duvall’s 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, has Down syndrome and wears hearing aids due to conductive hearing loss in both ears. Akron Children’s Hospital audiologist Kathryn Freeland suggested the class at a recent appointment.
“For us, the music is a bonus,” said Brittany. “It is the opportunity for interaction with typical peers that is key for Audrey, watching how they respond to music, following directions.”
The classes are free thanks to a grant from Sam’s Fans, a nonprofit organization in Columbus that provides music and art therapy to hospitalized children.
“We try to structure the classes the same each week,” said Pylinski. “We always include a hello song, a song that increases body awareness, an opportunity to interact with instruments, a movement activity, a rhythm activity, a social component for bonding and then end with a goodbye activity.”
Jessica Gamble of Akron says her 18-month-old daughter Elisabeth enjoys the sessions.
“I would definitely recommend the classes to other parents,” said Jessica. “Elisabeth has a lot of fun. She’s learning. And she gets to be around other kids around her age.”
For more information about the Parent/Child Developmental Music Classes, please contact 330-543-4909.