Music Together Tri-Valley, an early childhood music program based on family and teacher interactions, is now posting online videos during the shelter-at-home order because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Our whole business model was based on in-person interaction" said Rowena Morgan, owner of licensed Music Together sites in Dublin, Pleasanton and San Ramon.
"We sing and dance and make music as a group,” Morgan said. “Children see not only their parents, but many other adults as music models on a weekly basis. Parents are encouraged to sing and improvise and have fun and support each other and each other’s children.”
But the pandemic brought that to a halt, just as a new 10-week spring course was set to begin. And with rent and other overhead to pay, "never have I built a completely new business model so fast,” Morgan said. “What was unthinkable just 6 weeks ago is now a viable business.”
With the support of the parent company, Music Together, in Princeton, New Jersey, Morgan and other licensees developed a plan for online classes.
Music Together Tri-Valley is now posting a dozen 20-minute videos a week, two from each of its six teachers, that include singing and dancing, along with craft ideas and information about the role of music in early childhood education. The videos can be paused or played as often as desired.
"Families are actually getting way more music time and exposure than they used to get with just one 45-minute class a week," Morgan noted.
"While our classes and videos are designed to be parent/child interactive, parents can also be confident that if they need to leave their children in front of a screen to get something done, their children will be getting a solid experience,” Morgan said. “Screen time is not what it used to be; it's a child's new social playtime.”
The videos are only available to parents who have enrolled in the Music Together program.
"While we are currently only at 20% of our usual enrollment, I am at least able to keep the business up and running and some familiarity and music learning going for our youngest ones affected by this." Morgan said. "I am also extremely grateful to the teachers who have had to pivot and re-design their usual in-person music making and dancing for a video environment.”
Because of the pandemic, "a young child's schedule has been completely up-ended too,” she added, “and the comfort of seeing their familiar teachers singing songs they know and love is fascinating and comforting to them.”
The Music Together program, which is now in more than 40 countries, is designed for parents of newborns through 5-year-olds. Morgan opened her first site, in Pleasanton, in 1998, with 500 families enrolled at the Dublin, Pleasanton, and San Ramon locations at the beginning of 2020.