Spotlight: Hoff-Barthelson Music School

Hi everyone!

My quest to cover all the music classes in Westchester continues. This time I’m at the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale. Unlike many programs, this one has a dedicated campus that hosts students from three months old to adults. I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the magic of a Hoff-Barthelson Early Childhood Music Class. The class I attended was called Tunes for Twos, and it meets once a week for 40 minutes. The instructor leads the class on the autoharp, piano, and various other instruments. When I arrived, my expectation was that it would be similar to most of the other music classes I’ve been to, (how different could it be teaching music to two year olds, right?), but I was blown away by their finely structured program.

Want to experience it for yourself? Come to their Early Childhood Music Classes Open House on Friday, June 9, from 10am to 12pm. There will be a free demo class at 10:30. Click here for more info.


Photo by Steven Schnur

Photo by Steven Schnur


With an emphasis on classroom structure, this music program is a great training ground for your child to learn about listening to and performing music. The kids are taught to stay seated during singing time, to get up during dance time, and how and when to play instruments during instrument time. I even heard them singing along to songs, something I almost never experience in a toddler class.

The focus on disciplined learning reminded me of a ballet class or a martial arts lesson, where the rules are built in to the class structure and doesn’t feel like “discipline” at all. I loved that this program could prep my child to enjoy music like an adult (sitting, listening, participating when needed, and letting loose when it’s time to let loose). That’s not to say that kids weren’t being silly and having loads of fun. Everyone was having a great time singing, playing, running, and spending time with their parents and one another.

The songs in the program include more of the simple nursery rhymes than other music programs, but the advantage is that the little ones can easily learn them and sing along. During the class I attended the children sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; the alphabet song; a riff on Humpty Dumpty; Rain, Rain Go Away; as well as various other songs that aren’t part of the typical toddler cannon.

My favorite part of class was when each student got the chance to perform a solo. They would face the class, sing a short song (with the teacher as backup vocals and on piano), then get to run around the room by themselves—a precursor to a dance routine. The rest of the kids then join in a lap around the room before everyone sits down and it’s the next student’s turn. I loved the idea that kids can get a chance to try out performing for a crowd at such a young age. What better way to gauge your LO’s interest in being the next Beyoncé? The toddlers’ attitudes varied from super-shy to let-me-sing-again! This solo practice helps them get used to being in front of the class in preschool and beyond.

The teacher sings all her instructions, and I myself almost didn’t catch the promptings that were hidden in song. The kids didn’t miss a word, though, and it was cute to witness how they had learned to listen closely to the music and find meaning in it, even if that meaning is just to put the drums back in the bin.

Despite all the learning going on, there was still time for lots of good silly fun with musical purpose. Putting scarves on our heads and blowing them off, wiggling animal finger puppets and singing the accompanying barnyard sounds, getting bounced on laps to the beat were just some of the games that were played.

Photo by Steven Schnur

Photo by Steven Schnur

Hoff-Barthelson offers programs in Early Childhood Music and Movement for children ages three months to Kindergarten. Classes are Parent/Child for the younger set, with drop off classes available at three years old. The instruments get more sophisticated over time to prepare kids for lessons at a later age. The school offers group violin classes for children as young as three, and recorder and flute group classes starting at kindergarten.

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, come to the Early Childhood Music Classes Open House on Friday, June 9, from 10am to 12pm. There will be a free demo class at 10:30. Click here for more info.

That's it for this week! As always, check our website for events and weekly library programs

See you next time!