The TCU Music Prep program helps children develop their sensory skills, while student teaching assistants gain hands-on experience for their future careers.
The music lessons teach children up to seven years old how to stay in tune and keep a steady beat, Jennifer DeSantis, music coordinator for the program said. At the same time, the teaching assistants observed classroom management and learned how to interact with parents.
The teaching assistants for the program include majors in music in performance, early childhood education, special education and music education, DeSantis said, but anyone could be hired as long as they could sing in tune and felt comfortable working with children.
“I’m learning a lot watching the teachers, how they do transitions and how they lead the group and also watching how the children and parents respond like they would in a classroom setting,” Mary Baze, a junior special education major, said.
Baze said she took a class called Children, Creativity and the Fine Arts where she met DeSantis. She asked Baze at the end of the semester if she would be interested in being a teaching assistant for TCU Music Prep.
“I love watching the connection between family and child,” Baze said.
The classes involve several different songs coordinated with simple movements and lyrics that the children and their parents do together, DeSantis said.
Aleksandra Ozuliova said she and her daughter, Milla, have been attending the class for the past three weeks and they enjoyed the combination of song and movement.
“I went to music school and [Milla] loves singing and dancing,” Ozuliova said, “We need music.”
Those involved in TCU Music Prep believed every child was born musical, DeSantis said. Babies learn music at exactly the same time they learn speech, and the earlier they begin developing their musical skills, the better.
The 16-week-long classes are either 30 or 45 minutes long and include two music CDs, a songbook and a rhythm instrument.
TCU Music Prep has been around since the 1970s. This year about 300 students are enrolled in the early childhood classes and about 700 are enrolled total, DeSantis said.