Although it will take a few years before its proteges can break into the club scene (let alone be allowed into one), a Brooklyn music education believes the potential for musical genius exists in even the youngest students.
Alternative music educator and performance artist Natalie Elizabeth Weiss's Baby DJ School is teaching the art of mixing to babies and their caretakers. Weiss’s fresh take on old school sing-alongs aims to engage tots as well as their parent or babysitter.
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Weiss knows how boring most early childhood music education can be for the adults. “If a parent is sick of singing ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ over and over, the baby can sense that,” Weiss said. “If a parent is engaged and fascinated, it shows the baby how fun it can be to learn.”
A self-taught DJ who spins all over New York, Weiss realized the potential for her idea when showing off her equipment to a friend’s young son. “In a matter of moments, I had him mixing tracks and putting effects on songs, and the look in his eyes was amazing,” Weiss said. Since modern babies are inundated with a constant stream of pop music at home, on TV and in stores, Weiss is not surprised that they are more drawn to dance hits than rattles.
Students at Baby DJ School, ages 0-3, work alongside their accompanying adult on equipment provided by Weiss. The eight-week class began Sept. 18 at Cool Pony Crown Heights, a hybrid music venue and vintage clothes and record store. Late sign-ups are eligible for discounts on the $200 course.
While Weiss has made a name for herself in music education – her previous course offerings have been featured in the New York Times – she knows that most lessons take place outside the classroom. Parents can help babies connect with music at home by linking the sounds to other senses. They can tap the beat into their baby’s skin for tactile reinforcement, or repeat a certain motion to go with a certain part of a song – like wiggling each time they hear the flute.
Weiss insists Baby DJ School won’t go over her pupils’ tiny heads: Studies show that babies can distinguish musical structures, and this creates new pathways in the brain. “The idea that you need to dumb things down because babies don’t know what’s going on is just not the case,” Weiss said. “Parents will be enchanted by what their baby is unlocking.”
For more information on Brooklyn Baby DJ School, go to www.natalieelizabethweiss.com.