By Cheryl Conway
There is a new music program that opened up in New Jersey that will get little ones dancing, singing and thinking.
Located in the Mondo building in Summit, Songs For Seeds is taking registration for its fall session. The business grew out of its parent company Apple Seeds in Manhattan, N.Y.
Songs For Seeds began at its NJ location in June with 30 kids signed up for the summer session. With seeds already planted, the music program is blossoming and attracting even more young participants eager to take part.
“You have to see it,” says Debbie Martin of Morristown, franchise owner of Songs For Seeds in Summit. “What makes us stand out” is the “kind of engagement. We encourage the children eye to eye. The babies are listening to rhythm, music and beat.”
Martin describes Songs For Seeds as “really innovative and highly engaging program for kids. A well-structured and happy music class. We have a three piece band. Real guitar, real drum, real keyboard. Three professionally trained musicians” who lead the classes focusing on different themes in each class.
Designed for babies through preschool, Songs For Seeds offers two different 45 minute classes. One session is for newborn babies through twelve months; the other session is for those twelve months through age five or six.
“Children are taught preschool music and magic and motion,” says Martin. “We teach rhythm and lyrics.” Songs vary from traditional nursery rhymes to popular songs.
The program consists of seven sessions with classes meeting once a week. Curriculum is designed by professionals in education. The unique sections encompass a variety of aspects of early childhood learning such as shapes, colors, numbers, animals, sounds from other cultures and magic.
Studies show that young kids who are exposed to music have an increased ability to learn, socialize, perform better in kindergarten and in school, explains Martin.
The program is unique as live musicians introduce youngsters to different instruments from different countries, coupled with rhythms and sounds.
“You don’t get that anywhere else,” says Martin.
The musicians interact with the kids which helps build their self-esteem and confidence.
“They encourage them to participate, in a very gentile encouraging way,” with the magic, the play, dance party, art murals, bubbles, animal wheel, color wheel, she describes.
Martin, who has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master’s in business, “decided to follow my life’s dream of owning my own business,” she says. “I wanted to own a business that makes a difference. Music is like the soul for people.”
Music affects the temper, moods, “calms people down,” and can essentially be the “background for learning. It’s such a positive experience. We care for the kids. They enjoy it, they grow, they learn,” she says.
Martin’s goal is to branch out and open another location in N.J. as well as a class for those children with special needs. Songs For Seeds is a franchise business with multiple locations throughout the nation.
“We now have 12 locations operating from Summit to Seattle, and six more set to open,” says Alison Qualter-Berna of Manhattan, co-owner of Songs For Seeds and Apple Seeds.
“Our philosophy, also at our parent company, Apple Seeds, which we founded 10 years ago, is that children learn through play,” says Qualter-Berna. “We believe that if you give the kids the tools and build their confidence, learning is not only exponential, it’s fun. It’s very interactive. We are not presenting to them, we are working with them.”
A native of Short Hills who attended Millburn High School, Qualter-Berna, a mother of three including two twins, founded Apple Seeds with another mother of twins, Allison Schlanger, when the pair realized the challenges of working mothers.
“It was very frustrating to go to music classes with twins,” says Qualter-Berna. “We couldn’t fit twin strollers in the elevator. We both had jobs, the struggle of being a working mother.”
The two were inspired “to start a place you can go, doors open automatically, everyone knew your name, on ground floor, you can spend the day there. There was such a need in our community; there was nothing simple and easy to bring everyone together.”
With their husband’s support, they opened Apple Seeds in March 2017- an all in one indoor play-space for children newborn to five years old, with 100 classes a week, with three locations in NY.
“We quickly realized we wanted more of a music program,” says Qualter-Berna, thus bloomed Songs For Seeds in Jan. 2009, and spread to a dozen locations. The next one is opening in Hoboken.
“This is innovation,” says Martin, adding that Songs For Seeds was named ‘Best Kids’ Music Class’ by “New York Magazine,” and ‘Most Magical Music Class’ by “Red Tricycle.”
Songs For Seeds is offering a free trial class, an early bird discount of 20 percent off as well as an additional 10 percent off for those who present this article.
For more information, check out the schedule of classes or sign up, go to www.songsforseeds.com/nj/summit; or call Martin at 973-906-8188.
For franchise opportunities and more locations, visit songsforseeds.com.