Sing and Swing celebrates 10 years
Heights residents Jennifer Woda and Rachel Bernstein attended a Music Together training in 2008 that changed their lives. Inspired by the research-based, developmentally appropriate approach to music education, the classically trained musicians decided to host classes. As educators and friends, they were excited to bring this program to Cleveland.
Thus was born Sing and Swing, a licensed Music Together provider. Classes help families bond through thoughtfully designed music and yoga curricula geared toward young children. Woda and Bernstein have made it their mission to make the program accessible to as many families as possible via numerous class locations and by establishing a Full Circle Scholarship Fund to help families who need financial assistance. Classes are inclusive of all personality styles and behavioral needs. All of the classes are infused with movement, singing and joy. “It’s everything I love,” said Woda. “It’s singing. It’s children. It’s teaching.”
Bernstein explained why her passion for Music Together has endured: “Families who participate often find that, in addition to fostering their children’s music development, they are able to connect with others in a shared music-making community. We feel that in today’s busy, tech-focused world this type of interpersonal connection is vital for both children and adults.”
Woda stressed that everyone can be musical, even adults who feel self-conscious about singing. Often it is through a wish for their child that parents become willing to try something new, themselves. “I personally have grown from Jenny’s teaching,” said Beth Kuritzky of University Heights. During classes, Kuritzky found herself encouraged to improvise and to be proud of her own voice while encouraging her daughter. “Sing out loud, even if you don’t know the words or it feels silly or strange," she urged, "because you may gain a different perspective on who you are and who your kids are, too.”
Sing and Swing was founded on the premise that all children have the right to experience the world through music. Woda pointed out that when making music with a trusted grown-up, kids build perseverance and resiliency. “All children can achieve basic musical competency,” said Woda. Musical competency means singing in tune, keeping a steady beat, and moving rhythmically to the music. This can happen for all children if they are exposed to a variety of music, if musical experimentation is accompanied by a bonded caregiver, and if they are actively music-making, not passively music-consuming.
In addition to other locations in Northeast Ohio, classes are offered weekly in Cleveland Heights at Disciples Christian Church (3363 Mayfield Road), Mondays at 9:45 a.m., Thursdays at 6:15 p.m., and Fridays at 1 p.m. Upcoming free demo classes are scheduled for June 11, at 9:45 a.m., at the church, and June 22, at 10:30 a.m., at the Noble Neighborhood Branch of Heights Libraries. Because she has a deep affection for her own neighborhood, Woda offers quarterly free demos at the library.
Woda and Bernstein are both longstanding Cleveland Heights residents who have dedicated their careers to increasing access to the arts for all community members. Through their vision and commitment, they have created an evidence-based program that infuses families with joy and strength through music. With an anchor in Cleveland Heights, Sing and Swing helps families connect and helps young children grow through music and movement.
Visit www.singandswingneo.org to locate a class, schedule a birthday party, or to make a donation to the scholarship fund.
Mostly a mom, Shari Nacson, LISW-S, is a freelance editor, child development specialist, and nonprofit consultant who makes her home in Cleveland Heights. More than anything, Nacson is inspired by kids and adults who build connection through kindness.