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Sarah Sanders Petersen, Deseret News
Toddler music classes are offered at Brigham Young University. Music education students volunteer their time Saturday mornings to learn about the importance of teaching music to young children.

Susan Kenney and the BYU School of Music believe that you're never too young to enjoy music.

Kenney, along with her teaching assistant, run music classes for toddlers ages 2, 3 and 4 years old. The classes are held every Saturday morning and are organized as a place of creativity. With drums, a cello, a tuba and more, children have the opportunity to be introduced to instruments they may not be exposed to any other way.

"Our focus has always been on providing an environment where children are free to explore," Kenney said. "We set the teacher up as someone who sets the environment, observes and interacts rather than giving instruction. We interact with them but we don't tell them how to do things."

Kenney said over the years she has seen the positive effect music classes continually have on the toddlers — always in their own ways.

"One of my favorite stories was about a little boy who came and everything in his life was all about guns," she said. "Batons became guns, anything that resembled a gun turned into one. But his mother told me at the end of the year, just with tears in her eyes, she said: 'All of our guns at home have become batons.' So something changed."

They truly believe that the background or personality of the child doesn't matter, Kenney said. The classes are set up so each child will be able to interact how they personally choose.

"Some children will stay at one thing several weeks and others come in and they are just all over the place — a minute here, a minute there," Kenney said. "All of those things are things we observe because we watch and see how children make sense out of their environment."

The music education department also uses the program to involve student volunteers. Certain classes in the music major require students to participate in the toddler music classes. Students participate in teaching, as well as observing how the children interact with music.

"That's our reason for existence — to serve our music education majors," Kenney said. "We also use it for research to observe our children and their musical behaviors."

Parents who are interested in having their child join should contact Kenney at susan_kenney@byu.edu.

Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor.