Music Appreciation on a Budget

Last year, my little family spent one hot, glorious summer in Manhattan. While my husband was at work, my son and I spent our days at the park with all the nannies and their charges, eye-shopping through bustling SoHo (where I probably only ever saw one other baby, and for good reason), and chasing down the best cheap eats that NYC had to offer me (picture me walking around Times Square, baby strapped to my chest, trying to maneuver through the aggressive throngs of tourists as I shoved forkfuls of Junior's devil food cheesecake down my throat, oh my goodness I can still taste that monster).

Anyway, one day, I met another mom with a daughter about my son's age, and she recommended a music class that her daughter had joined and loved.  Seeing as how my son loved music, it sounded like a great idea until I called the company and found out that they charged an arm and a leg for a measly 12 week session (45 minutes per class). It was Manhattan after all, and rent wasn't cheap. So I did the next best thing and checked out a free "sample class," and took mental notes. Yes, my son had a lot of fun at the free sample class and I would have loved to continue sending him, but again, I could have bought a used car for the price of the class so here's what I suggest instead for those of you who also haven't won the lottery yet, and need to tighten your belts in this flourishing economy:

1. Buy a couple CDs of children's music (or rent them at your local library)
:: If you are not familiar with children's music, or could use some more ideas, click here, or if you believe in the wisdom of crowds, then click here for some suggestions.

2. Purchase or make a handful of music-makers 
:: Here are some of my son's favorites:

Hohner 5 Piece Toddler Music Band

Hohner Kids Single 5" High Cage Bell, Assorted Colors

Hohner Kids Clearly Colorful Translucent Harmonica, Assorted Colors

Hohner Plastic Kazoo

3. Invite some of your children's friends over for a music playdate

4. Put out the music-makers and play the CDs

5. Encourage free-form dancing, bouncing, headbanging, shaking of musicmakers, and other forms of music-induced merriment. I recommend keeping the stage diving and mosh pitting to a minimum though.

6. For extra credit, learn the lyrics of the songs, make-up some hand motions (or find some on youtube), and teach them to the kids

7. And if you want to be out of this world awesome and can play an instrument, give the kids a live performance as you encourage them to sing and dance along.

Rinse and repeat as often as desired and voila, you just saved a few benjamins. Now go buy yourself something nice.

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