Delivering a weekly dose of joy online

Benjamin, 6, participates in Settlement Music School’s online Children’s Music Workshop class (Photo courtesy of his mom, Eileen).

Fridays were very special days for Benjamin this spring.

This spunky six year old, who will be starting kindergarten this fall, was enrolled in Settlement Music School’s online Children’s Music Workshop class with faculty member Krysta Fogel on Fridays.

“Every day he would wake up and say, ‘Is it Friday? Is it Friday?’” his mom, Eileen, said. “It was something he really looked forward to. He just loved it.”

For this smart and curious kid, having something that kept him engaged and entertained was essential while at home with his two-year-old sister these past few months.

“We have tried to keep everything as normal as possible,” Eileen said. “We just try to keep the days fun for them.”

Fun for Benjamin usually involves a good challenge. Over the past few months, he completed one glow-in-the-dark puzzle so many times that he started flipping all of the 500 pieces over, picture side down, and putting the puzzle back together without the visual elements. He can also sit at the piano and play around on the keys until he can echo the tune in his head. Name a Christmas song and he will probably set out to learn it.

In hopes of building on these musical skills, Eileen had begun searching for in-person music classes for Benjamin before the pandemic began. When Settlement called to say that spots were available in Krysta’s early childhood education class online, she jumped at the opportunity.

“Krysta made Benjamin feel really important,” she said, adding that she effectively engaged the students in musical concepts and allowed them to tap into their creativity by building instruments out of everyday items at home.

“Oh, I loved the instruments,” Benjamin said. “Sometimes I used a marker or a crayon or a drum. Oh, or a popsicle stick! A basket for drums and two lids for symbols.” Benjamin was so eager to talk about his instruments that he gathered them together during the phone call for this story and gave us a mini performance to showcase his new skills.

Eileen said the online aspect of Benjamin’s class was easy. Most of the virtual learning that Benjamin had been doing for preschool required her to facilitate by unmuting his microphone and assisting him along the way. She says that wasn’t the case with Settlement.

“I felt like I was actually dropping him off at class, even though I was right next to him,” she said. “Ms. Krysta interacted directly with Benjamin, so it took a lot of the pressure off of the parents.”

Benjamin will soon be enrolled in online individual lessons at Settlement this fall but the first step will be choosing the perfect instrument. He is still trying to weigh his options.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m just so excited to start.”

And one thing he is most looking forward to with online lessons?

“We don’t ever have to worry about being late, because we don’t have to drive!”

If you have not yet registered for Settlement’s fall session, we hope you will consider calling your branch to enroll today!