ELMHURST – Lisa Griffith, director of Music Together of Oak Brook and Elmhurst, started the local music program after a Music Together director reached out to her.
Though she initially hesitated, Griffith observed some music classes and changed her mind.
"I got hooked," she said. "And what I really got hooked on was the fact that it's such high quality and the way that the classes are structured is developmentally appropriate and really facilitates bonding with parents and caregivers. The kids are so excited ... because they get to have this wonderful 45-minute time once a week where the parents are just focusing on them and focusing on making music with them."
Griffith, a voice teacher, has a master's degree in opera performance from Northwestern University. Following her training as a Music Together teacher in 1997, she immediately started offering classes in Elmhurst and Oak Brook.
Music Together of Oak Brook and Elmhurst celebrated its 20th anniversary in May, and about 1,700 families in the area have participated in the program.
The international organization of Music Together, which has been around since 1987, is a research-based early childhood music class for children 6 years old and younger and their parents or caregivers, Griffith said.
The program is designed to give children "a rich diet of music" to help their minds develop musically, and parents learn how to facilitate their children's music development, she said.
"Not everybody is necessarily destined to become a professional musician. That's not our focus or our goal at Music Together," Griffith said. "But what we want for people to understand is that all people are musical. It's an important part of life."
She said part of the program's mission is to empower parents to feel confident that through exposing their children to music – even if the parents themselves don't have "perfect" music skills – they are giving them a disposition to be musical.
Griffith added some parents have mentioned to her that certain songs their children learned through Music Together helped them overcome hard times or adjust to preschool.
Emily Landreth, now 19, and her brother Aidan, now 16, both were involved in Music Together programs when they were toddlers, said their mom, Lisa.
Lisa said the music was fun to sing to and had catchy tunes, and Music Together instilled a love of music in her children, who both still play instruments.
"I just think it's a great program both for kids and parents. The music is so enjoyable as opposed to some of the baby songs and toddler songs," Lisa said.
More than a decade later, she still remembers the tunes of some of the songs, which include folk music, and she still has the music books.
Emily, a musical theater major at Northwestern University, partly credits her skills in music theory and ability to "pick out chords easily" to her involvement in Music Together.
"I think music is so powerful," she said.
Music Together has Elmhurst classes at Luscombe Music, 122 W. Vallette St., Elmhurst. To learn more about Music Together of Oak Brook and Elmhurst, visit musictogetheroakbrookelmhurst.com.