Sing, dance, play, learn

Published 9:06 pm Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ribbon dance: Group instructors Kyeisha Hassell and Alex Dane lead preschoolers in a ribbon dance during the Music & Me class Thursday at the Taylor Bend YMCA. During the four-week class, the children will learn about music topics like rhythm and beat as well as practice other skills, such as hand-eye coordination.

The Taylor Bend YMCA now has a musical group. Sure, they are a little inexperienced, but they have practices every week — as long as mommy drives them.

Every Thursday, a group of preschoolers and toddlers meet at the Y to get their groove on in the Music & Me class.

The second session of the class started Thursday and will continue until Aug. 25. The first session was offered last month.


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Group leader Kyeisha Hassell said the program started when youth and teen director Jessica Rubio wanted to get together a music class for 18-month-old to 5-year-old children.

Hassell stepped up and offered to lead the class because she knows how much music can mean to a child.

“I have a daughter who loves music,” she said. “I thought it would be fun.”

Divided up by age, the kids get to shake maracas, beat drums and sing while learning about musical topics, including rhythm and beat.

The 30-minute classes start at 8:30 a.m. with the toddler class, during which parents can stick around with their child. Then, at 9:15 and 10 a.m., preschoolers come in for their turn.

The toddlers and preschoolers learn about music by singing, dancing and playing instruments in the class, but Hassell said she also tries to integrate other lessons that combine music with hand-eye coordination.

For the lesson, the children are given beanbags and listen to a song that instructs them to put the beanbag on different parts of their bodies.

The children hurriedly place the beanbag on the foot, hand, back and other places to keep up with the song. All the while, they are learning coordination, Hassell said.

When the kids arrive, Hassell and volunteer Alex Dane get their energy up the minute they walk in by wearing bells on their wrists and encouraging the children to pick up instruments when they come in.

The class warms up with a rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” to get the kids enthused and excited about the music.

Dane said keeping the energy up is essential when working with younger kids, so you don’t lose their interest.

“You have to be into it, too,” he said. “Otherwise, the kids won’t be into it.”

Hassell agreed it’s important to keep the kids involved in the music and let them have a good time.

“You have to keep them motivated and driven, and you have to keep them having fun,” she said. “If you keep them sitting, they won’t behave.”

Hassell said in order to keep the kids from going stir-crazy, they stand for the whole class and she allows them to wander if they want.

“The first day is always the hardest,” she said. “At the first class, the kids are kind of unsure, but by the last class, they get it.”

Additional sessions will be announced by the YMCA. Visit its website at