Early in her life, Kathleen Haley was positively influenced by some of her first music teachers. She developed a passion for playing music, which later led to teaching it.
"I had terrific band directors in middle and high school and a wonderful private flute teacher in high school," Haley said. "They were all really demanding teachers, but they showed that they enjoyed what they were doing."
That stuck with her.
"My first job out of college was as a band director at James Madison University in Virginia," she said.
After four years, Haley left the position, which she said was "overwhelming," and pursued other professional interests.
"I went on to earn my masters and doctorate, then I taught college for a while," she said.
But she never strayed far from her musical roots.
"After my first child was born, I wanted to do something part-time, so I went back to being a band director," she said.
Being away from the classroom taught Haley a few things.
"When I came back to it, I was much more mature and better able to handle things with the kids. Overall, I found I was a much better teacher," she said.
Today, Kathleen Haley still enjoys teaching music -- just to much younger students.
Haley teaches Musikgarten classes at the Children's Musical Theatre Ensemble in Martinez. The classes are for children up to 8 years old and involve singing songs, movement and exploring instruments.
"MusikGarten is very sequential. It's also very aural, and in the beginning classes there is a lot of listening and not so much looking at musical notation," she said.
"We want the kids to have fun, and we also hope the parents are learning things, because they will have a big repertoire of songs to use at home."
Danielle Givens attends the Cycle of Seasons class with her 3-year-old son, John, and says it is both fun and educational.
"I was looking for a fun way to stimulate learning, and I thought music would be a great way to do that," Givens said.
This is John's third class within the program, and Danielle said she can definitely see how her son is benefitting from the classes.
"Next year, John will attend pre-school, and he's getting a great informal introduction to being given instructions and being expected to follow them," she said.
But they're having fun, too.
"I like the class, because I get to do this with him. I can participate and get silly too. It's great parent-child bonding time," Givens said.
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