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Music Together in the Valley classes are almost all dedicated to sing-alongs designed to get kids excited about singing.

Her business is creating harmony in the home

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Clarice Auluck-Wilson grew up in a house filled with music. Both her parents played the piano, and family members gathered regularly to sing. It's just the way things worked.

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Auluck-Wilson has stayed active in music in the years since. She sang in choirs and performed opera in college. She taught violin lessons. But she knows the kind of atmosphere that helped form her interest in music is harder and harder to come by. And she thinks that's a shame.

That's why Auluck-Wilson is so excited about Music Together in the Valley, a national company that holds classes to get get parents and children singing together. Auluck-Wilson has been involved with the company for eight years, and she's bringing the classes to Farmington's Grand Hall Studio starting with free demonstration classes Sept. 9, 12 and 16.

Auluck-Wilson believes classes like the ones she offers are increasingly important in a world where people are more likely to turn on a CD player than pick up an instrument or tune up their voice. In one generation, she said, there has been a 20 percent drop in the number of fifth graders who are able to sing in tune.

Auluck-Wilson thinks that's a shame.

"(Singing) is kind of a birthright, as much as it is to walk and talk," Auluck-Wilson said. "It's something that gives us joy."

For kids, learning to sing in tune is like learning another language. The earlier they start, the better their chances to pick it up.

"The window of opportunity is until about the time kids are six," Auluck-Wilson said. "From 6 to 9 it's still very possible to learn to sing in tune with some effort. By about 9, that window starts to close."

Music Together in the Valley is for kids from birth to 5 years old. The classes focus almost entirely on singing. Kids and their parents sing together. From time to time, teachers break out shaker eggs or rhythm sticks so kids can play along. But Auluck-Wilson calls those moments the chocolate-chip cookies to the healthy vegetables offered in the rest of the class. They get kids' attention, but Auluck-Wilson said if kids are focusing on making noise with instruments they're not really paying attention to the music.

"The meaty stuff is what we do when we don't have instruments in our hands," she said. "There's a beautiful flow to the class."

Families take home a CD of music from the class, and Auluck-Wilson said it doesn't take long before the kids want more. At home, they ask to hear the music on the stereo.

Parents are sometimes a little more reluctant when it comes to singing in class, but parental participation is important, Auluck-Wilson said. "I'm very persuasive about getting parents to sing," she said. "I say, 'If this is just the Clarice show, it's not that interesting.' At this age, what do they want to be like? They want to be like their parents."

Auluck-Wilson runs one of three Music Together centers in Minnesota. Based in Stillwater, she covers the east metro and is currently expanding to the south. In addition to the free demonstration classes she will offer a 10-week fall session starting the week of Sept. 26. Classes meet for 45 minutes per week.

Registration is required for the free demonstration classes. For more information, visit musictogetherclasses.com or call 651-439-4219.

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Nathan Hansen
Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.
(651) 460-6606
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