They’re growing With Music

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Beth Heutmaker gathers the group around in a small circle.

Tuesday, July 13, 1999

Beth Heutmaker gathers the group around in a small circle.

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&uot;Mr. Marty, will you come out and play with us?&uot; she asks.

Out of the case comes her Martin guitar, and a few chords later, the group is singing, &uot;Hello, everybody. It’s music time!&uot;

It’s a weekly ritual for the music therapist, who comes to the Albert Lea Community Child Care Center and a few in-home daycares in Albert Lea to conduct &uot;Growing With Music&uot; classes.

Growing With Music’s objective is to encourage and develop the young child’s natural creativity and interest in music while responding to their individual needs. Its goal is to develop the child’s socialization, communication, motor and academic skills through the use of appropriate vocalization, movement, instrumental activity, and to support an early childhood curriculum.

Growing With Music was started in 1983 by Cathy Heuckendorf as a class at a New Horizons Daycare in the Twin Cities. Within two years, the name was in place and she’d expanded to other sites.

Today, the program is in 160 daycares in the state, as well as a few sites in Wisconsin.

Heuckendorf said she’d originally wanted to work in a school district with special needs children, but she got out of school at a time when music therapists not only needed a therapy degree, but an education degree as well. Hence, she started work with children in a daycare setting.

She said the music therapy field was founded after World War II using psychiatric principles. Music therapists also work in the areas of wellness, birthing and hospice. The Growing With Music therapists are either registered or board-certified.

In addition to the daycares in Albert Lea, Heutmaker works at studio locations in Rochester and also at a battered women’s shelter in Rochester.

Growing With Music has been in Albert Lea since the fall of 1991. In this case, the wife of the high school band director, a music therapist, had been working for Growing With Music in another location but didn’t want to quit when she moved to Albert Lea, Heuckendorf said. Most of the time, however, Growing With Music comes to a daycare after requests from parents.

&uot;We tell facilities we’re not here to replace anything they’re doing,&uot; she said. &uot;If we can help give them a little edge, that’s great.&uot;

Heuckendorf cites studies which suggest a connection between listening to classical music and improved social interaction, as well as academic and language skills.

&uot;Music has always been a strong motivator with children,&uot; Heuckendorf said. &uot;How else would they learn their ABCs without the melody?&uot;

Children are welcome in the classes at an early age.

&uot;We say if they can walk they are old enough to be there,&uot; Heutmaker said.