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Family Favorites I and II Review by Cindy West

Music Together Family Resources
Music Together, LLC
66 Witherspoon St.
Princeton, NJ 08542

My preschooler and I had the pleasure to review several resources from Music Together. We love music in our home and enjoyed learning several songs that were new to us through the Family Favorites, Family Favorites 2, and Lullabies CDs.

Music Together is an early childhood music education program that has been offering classes for parents and children ages birth to six since 1987. They also offer CDs and songbooks for parents to use in their homes. For each song on the CD, simple ideas are included to help you implement musical lessons with your little ones. These ideas include such things as adding rhythm instruments, movements that can go along with the songs, picking out very simple harmonies, and creating your own verses to sing.

Some of the songs included on the CDs are originals, while some of them are not. However, there are very few "typical" children's songs included. In other words, the songs that are not originals aren't likely to be songs you and your children have already heard hundreds of times. Many of them are old folk songs or traditional verses from other cultures. Out of the 19 songs on each CD, there is an amazing amount of variation in the style of music. I believe I heard songs from just about every genre--jazz, classical, spiritual, Native American, Latin American, African, and more.

All of the songs are fairly simple and very easy to learn. Since they are meant to encourage youngsters to sing, dance and participate, it's important that the songs aren't overly complex. In fact, several of the songs don't even have words, but only repeat phrases like "dee da dum" or "hey ya na" over and over. This is purposeful for the intent of helping your child learn rhythms and movements.

The Family Favorites CD has a Songbook for Teachers that can be purchased to go along with it. It includes a detailed introduction to the program and why music is an important addition to a young child's life. It teaches you how to incorporate finger plays, instruments, large and small motor movements, partners, and play into your music time. There are also many suggestions for including children with special needs and how meaningful music time can be for these children. For each song on the CD, the book provides sheet music, guitar charts, and several teaching tips for using the song with individual children and groups of children. For a parent in a homeschool setting, the sheet music and guitar charts might be beneficial, but the song suggestions that are already included with the CD seem to be enough in my opinion.

The price for the CDs is very fair at just under $15.00 each. You have to keep in mind, though, that they are meant specifically for young children and don't tend to appeal those older than kindergarten. But your little ones are sure to love the catchy words and interesting rhythms. This means mom and dad had better be ready to sing and dance too!

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010