N.H. singer to offer music lesson to babies

November 15, 2001|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW ENGLAND SONGWRITER and folk singer Ann Rachel says the tiniest of tots can benefit from music in ways their parents never dreamed possible, and she'll prove it this month in Severna Park.

Rachel will bring her miniature musicale, "Your Baby Needs Music," to the area at 7 p.m. Nov. 29, when she appears for a half-hour session at the Severna Park branch library on McKinsey Road.

"Your Baby Needs Music" is based on "Listen Like Learn," a program developed in the 1960s by Canadian educator Barbara Cass-Beggs. People came to Cass-Beggs with younger and younger children and asked her to teach them, says Rachel. She incorporated several proven methods of teaching music and ultimately designed two sections, one for infants and toddlers and one that reaches to school age.

The two women met in Israel. Rachel was so impressed with the results achieved with very young children by Cass-Beggs, who is now 82, that she became her student and has taught the senior educator's methods for 15 years.

Rachel describes the program as a holistic approach with the potential to develop a child "mentally, physically, intellectually, aesthetically, emotionally and socially."

Weekly classes that she teaches in Milford, N.H., where she now lives, are geared to babies from birth to 2 years old. Usually parents bring a child who is several months old, but Rachel says she's watched babies as young as 9 weeks respond to musical sound and movement.

In her classes, children begin by following with their eyes simple instruments like bells, sticks and tambourines. Rachel says that she can see them develop week after week. In a short time, they're able to grab onto a bell and make it ring.

When the children are held closely and sung to, they watch the movement of the singer's lips and often touch the lips. This helps them learn to speak, she says. She adds that some children will actually sing before they speak.

Class activities are kept simple, each with a song and props like scarves, hoops and sponges. "We sing fast and slow, loud and soft, high, low and middle sounds," Rachel explains. "While learning to jump, walk, run, turn in circles and take turns, the babies are learning social manners."

To make the program work for their children, parents don't need any special skills, Rachel says.

"You don't have to be a musician," she says. "You just have to love working with children and music."

Seating for the library session is limited. For information, call 410-222-6290 or visit Rachel's Web site at www.annrachel.com.

Teacher of the year

For only the second time in its 25-year history, the Severna Park Optimist Club honored an educator at its annual Youth Awards Banquet Tuesday night. The club voted unanimously to name Severn School English instructor Jackie Baugh as its "teacher of the year."

"This award is long overdue," says Jim Hubbard, Optimist Club treasurer and past president of Optimist International. He praised Baugh's support of club efforts to promote the welfare of the community's young people.

Along with 30 high school students from Greater Severna Park, Baugh, a Millersville resident, was honored for her dedication to students both in and out of the classroom during ceremonies at the Michael's Eighth Avenue banquet.

In addition to being a member of the English department faculty at Severn, Baugh coaches the upper school's oratorical society.

"During my 12 years at Severn, my students have always participated in the Optimist Club's oratorical and essay contests," says Baugh.

A teacher for 32 years, Baugh was director of forensics at the University of Maryland. She also taught at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, Howard University in Washington, Northeastern University and Emerson College in Boston, Marshall University in West Virginia and Prince George's Community College, and she currently teaches freshman English two evenings a week at Anne Arundel Community College.

Severn students who enter the Optimists' oratorical contests often fare well in competition. Baugh urges her fellow upper school English teachers at Severn to encourage their students to participate in the essay contests.

"After winning these contests," says Hubbard, "a number of her students have gone on to win statewide awards, which brings a good deal of recognition to our club."

Recognized at the youth banquet were: Shelby Addison, Meaghan Leister and Matthew Menefee from Archbishop Spalding High School, Donna Balog from Annapolis Area Christian School, Helen Bradbury from St. Mary's, and Kathryn Fitzgerald, Ryan Frantz, Whitney Gratrix, Kathryn Helms, Clayton McCarl and Gregory Price from Severn.

From Severna Park High were: Josh Bennett, Megan Boyd, Lucy Cloughley, Hannah Ficker, Erin Fitzgerald, Megan Freienmuth and Marti Hause. Also, Ryan Hoffmaster, Alison Leiby, Melissa Lutz, Marissa Morris-Jones, Megan Moser, Ben Pellicani and Kate Petty. Also, Rebecca Slacum, Meredith Snyder, Michelle Swartz, Brian Walker and Alex White.

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