|▲ Hello Music Together / CEO Lee Su-sung|
Highly acclaimed for music education for infants and children, Music Together Princeton Lab School US is running around 2,000 international offices.
Lee Su-sung, CEO of Hello Music Together, lived in the US for 9 years and registered the business as the Korean branch of the company. He opened office in Seoul and Daegu in 2007 and started to spread this global level music education programs in earnest.
"At Hello Music Together Korea, teachers with license obtained from the US headquarters are providing sophisticated music education in English with official teaching materials. What makes Music Together different is that it covers as far as music therapy alongside performance and language competency" explains Lee.
Around 10 of children and parents seat in circle in a room. There is no desks and books but the teacher plays the piano and sings along the Hello Song. Then the children from babies to aged 5 instinctively response to the rhythm and melody and react with certain movements like shaking head or clapping hands. Some of them strums the tambourine and some shake egg shakers. Parents are part of this and some are more active than their children.
The teacher plays the role as a teacher and as an actor at the same time during this 45 minute session. The teacher sings continuously and mimics children's movement with exaggerated facial expressions and actions to amuse children.
"It is very important for the teacher to observe how children react whether it is a sound or movement. The 45 minute session is free yet intensive as a class takes place once a week and all processes are done in English. In other words, Music Together focuses on the natural flow of each session rather than a set curriculum to just kill the time. So communication and interaction plays the core in this program."
Music Together is consisted of 9 genres of music instrument collections and one collection is designed for 3 months. Around 200 folk songs from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia are used alongside dance, chant, storytelling, game and listening to music. Children are naturally exposed to a variety of music, language and culture and they can grow creativity and ability of cognition. It is notable arirang is one of the songs.
"Babies learn from feeling their mother's heart beat, breathing and hands. They can easily sing children's songs even when they become adults because they learned from their mother since baby."
Music Together is very popular among mothers in Cheongdam-dong and Hannam-dong in Seoul as well as expats living in Korea. Music Together has been running music therapy sessions for disabled, mothers with postpartum depression and senior citizens and offering programs to English kindergartens and nurseries.
"I suffered from postpartum depression when I lived in the US. I came to know about Music Together through one of my acquaintances and it not only helped me a lot to overcome the depression but I also found excellence of its educational contents."
Obtaining license from the headquarters in the US is costly and limited so CEO Lee currently is working on localizing the programs that meet the needs and wants of Korean environment. She is expecting to see a programs combined with music therapy next year when things go as planned.
"Hello Kidos will be released in English next year and it will help development of Korean children's songs to be used as English music therapy. I'm also working on my own methods for music therapy as well as art therapy that can contribute to children's music and art education."
Meanwhile, Lee is serving as an adjunct professor in the Child & Youth Guidance Department at Taegu Science University.
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