Hingham educator brings interactive musical play to children and their families
By Jennifer H. McInerney
Two mornings a week at the Hingham Community Center, it’s Family Music Time! Babies and toddlers reach into their own little bag of instruments and props to pull out egg shakers, rhythm sticks, handheld bells, and colorful scarves and ribbons in preparation for each new song.
Longtime music educator Jana Kahn, who previously taught at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, leads her classes through rousing renditions of family favorites and traditional tunes, such as “Old MacDonald” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” The little ones jump to their feet for the “Hokey Pokey,” enthusiastically thrusting their arms to and fro, and shaking them all about.
“We play a lot of traditional and familiar songs that the parents already know, and they’ll sing along with the children, which helps them learn and makes it fun for everyone,” says Kahn, also a Hingham resident.
All of the Family Music Time songs and activities are interactive, designed to encourage participation and creative play among infants and toddlers, ages 0 to 5. During “Old MacDonald,” the children imitate the movements and “moo” sounds of a cow and, in turn, flap their bent arms and quack like ducklings. The tapping, rattling and jingling of the percussion instruments echo throughout the spacious community room, which provides ample room to spread out and dance around.
“When they’re introduced at a young age, it lays the foundation for music in their lives,” Kahn observes. “It’s uplifting being around music and my hope is that the experience that begins here continues at home.”
She believes strongly in the notion of allowing children to express themselves freely through singing, dancing, and any other movement that music inspires in them—whether that means simply sitting and clapping their hands or jumping up and down and playing with every instrument in their bags at the same time. “I start with the foundation that all children are musical and music is for everyone.”
Kahn initially launched Family Music Time in response to the pandemic, offering online and outdoor classes to families seeking creative outlets for their children. She continues to teach private family and small-group classes, as well as sessions at the Hingham and Cohasset Community Centers and special events at Weir River Farm.
For additional information about Family Music Time, visit familymusictime.org.