Music builds familial bonds during newborn family music classes in Lakewood Ranch.
Music teacher Kristin Collins softly strummed her harp as 4-month-old Camila Zorrilla laid on her back and smiled.
Zorrilla turned toward the harp and reached out in an attempt to touch the strings.
“This is the most engaged I’ve seen a baby with the harp,” Collins told Zorrilla’s mother, Denisse Florian.
Florian and Zorrilla participated in Collins’ newborn family music class, held for the first time at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center Sept. 11.
“The classes are a great way to expose infants to help them develop their motor skills and stimulate their brains,” Florian said. "It's a great way to interact with your baby in a different setting aside from home ... and interact with other moms and babies.”
Florian also participates in the medical center’s Little Nippers, a support group for new parents, which is where she found out about the newborn family music classes.
Newborn family music classes are a part of the Musikgarten Program, which believes music and movement helps with a child's development. Collins and her mentor, Bobbi Morgan, host musikgarten classes for different age groups at the Music Compound in Sarasota.
Collins had a demonstration of the classes during a Little Nippers meeting, which she had attended when her now 1-year-old daughter Quinly was a baby. She decided “it would be awesome to have a place closer to home” on top of classes at the Music Compound in Sarasota.
“A lot of people don’t start music lessons with their children until they’re fully immunized just because they’re scared to take their babies around germs and stuff like that,” Collins said. “I figured if we offered it for the younger babies here at the hospital, maybe people would get their children involved in music even earlier than say 3 or 4 months in because it’s really never too early to start.”
Collins will also have family music classes at Summerfield Park starting Oct. 5. Anyone interested can participate in a free trial class on Sept. 28.
Although Florian and her daughter live in Sarasota, Florian travels to Lakewood Ranch for the music classes every Wednesday because both Zorrilla and Florian’s 2-year-old son Nicolas Zorrilla were born at the hospital.
Newborn family music classes have children and parents or guardians singing and playing to different songs.
Music consists of energetic songs used with actual instruments rather than synthesized music, she said.
“It’s cultural, traditional songs,” Collins said. “Not songs made with the intent of teaching a specific thing like counting.”
Throughout the classes, children learn rhythm patterns, pitches, patience, how to take turns and about different instruments such as the harp and ukulele, which all help with developing language and mathematical skills, vocabulary and more.
“It all goes together without the child realizing they’re learning all this stuff,” Collins said. “They’re just having fun.”
Families can drop in for $12 per class, which runs about 30 minutes. Collins will host a class at 10:15 a.m. every Wednesday during the fall at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” Collins said. “When I first started doing the music lessons with my daughter, it was just a way to get out of the house. It has evolved into so much more than that because we enjoyed it so much as a family. I just felt like everyone needed to have that experience because these years fly by.”
Sarasota resident Erica Cristea said the classes were the first opportunity for her 1-year-old daughter, Lillian, to socialize with children her own age. Cristea said she’s noticed her daughter has become more confident since starting the classes.
“She likes to dance at home,” she said. “She sings songs at home. She’s able to play with others well.”
Sarasota resident Deirdre Ingrati said her 2-year-old daughter Ava has improved her vocabulary and her “all-around social skills” since joining the classes. Ava is also listening better, sharing and waiting her turn, Ingrati said.
Sarasota resident Katie Cianfaglione participated in the baby and toddler classes as a chance to bond with her 17-month-old daughter Camille.
“(Camille) definitely looks forward to coming,” Cianfaglione said. “A lot of the songs are the same like the welcome and the goodbye song, so if I just sing to her about it, she’ll know we’re going to come.”