The youngest students at St. Mark Center started their school day on Nov. 30, 2018 by moving to the music performed by Violinist Abigail Walden from the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.

There was so much excitement as the students, 10 months to 15 months old, huddled around to see the violin up close and pluck the strings. Students listened closely to learn what sound each string made as Walden strummed them one by one.

St. Mark students swayed as Walden played. She performed nursery songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Wheels on the Bus as the students sang and developed their own instrumental repetitions by rattling their percussion shakers. Walden also included a few holiday carols.

Walden began playing violin when she was four years old. She said her mom was a violin teacher and introduced her to music when she was a baby, which encouraged early childhood development.

“Feelings and emotions are portrayed through music, so it’s a great way to promote social and emotional development,” Walden said. “Music also promotes the use of body movement as a way to interact with the music and with one another.”

Research shows that exposure to music early on in a child’s life can help expand vocabulary, develop pattern recognition, and contribute to reading and math readiness. Check out this article from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for ideas on how you can incorporate musical activities at home.

St. Mark Center is always looking for unique opportunities for our students to experience art in multiple formats. We are grateful to the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, an all-volunteer orchestra with the mission to bring high quality, free concerts to the local community. Today’s performance and other interactive art programs are supported by funding from Jackson County COMBAT Prevention Grant.