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Program of Note

CSUN therapist will share technique of engaging toddlers in world of music.


With music training, or even appreciation, so scarce in public schools these days, parents find themselves in a bind when they hear news reports that music instruction, the earlier the better, seems to sharpen kids' overall learning ability. But this Saturday, parents with toddlers ages 18 months to 3 years can provide a little bit of music appreciation and experience for their youngsters.

At the Barnes & Noble in Northridge from 10 to 11 a.m., Judy Nelson, associate director of the Music Therapy Clinic at Cal State Northridge, will conduct a free, hourlong sample session of a children's music program called Kindermusik that is offered at CSUN.

The CSUN sessions are modeled after a children's music education effort begun in Germany--thus the spelling of the name--during the 1960s and later introduced to U.S. kids.

Saturday's session at Barnes & Noble will be for toddlers, but the CSUN program takes kids up to 7. The regular CSUN sessions are also about an hour long and, like the Saturday event, require that a parent or caregiver attend and participate. The full course at CSUN meets once a week for 15 weeks and costs about $150 for tuition and materials. For further information, call (818) 609-0941.

At the initial session, Nelson said, "The little kids see a teddy bear sitting in my lap [as] we begin the singing and rhythmic movement." This, she said, encourages the children to want to come and sit near her.

Formerly the director of music therapy at Orthopedic Hospital in Los Angeles, Nelson believes giving children a positive musical experience early on "fosters a love of music throughout life."

About 3,000 teachers in 20 countries are involved in the Kindermusik program. In addition to the sessions offered by Nelson and her colleagues at CSUN, Kindermusik instruction is available elsewhere in the Valley at sites in Agoura Hills, Winnetka, Sherman Oaks, Burbank, Woodland Hills, Granada Hills, Reseda and Van Nuys.

Nelson relishes her role of introducing the very young to music and unhesitatingly promotes early, professional, age-appropriate music education for kids--wherever a family chooses to get it.

One reason for her attitude is her lengthy experience with music education as it relates to psychology. Before her CSUN and Orthopedic Hospital assignments, she was a music therapist at the Psychiatric Institute of Century City Hospital as well as the Camarillo State Hospital & Developmental Center.

She's full of tales about music as a means of revealing traits and talents--accurately and early.

Very little kids seem quite able to grasp the idea of staying on pitch while singing and sticking to various rhythmic patterns. "I had a 2-year-old matching every pitch and singing intervals--and his father couldn't do it," Nelson said.


"Music for Youth," a free Kindermusik workshop for children, 18 months to preschool age; Saturday, 10-11 a.m., Barnes & Noble Bookstore, 8800 Tampa Ave., Northridge. Call (818) 773-0821.

Kindermusik--For a Kindermusik site in your neighborhood, call (800) 628-5687.

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