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BIG HIT: LITTLE MAESTROS

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by Jean Marie Strauss

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The news on the street — among parents, at least — is that Little Maestros is the hottest new class on the Upper East Side for the 3-and-under crowd. “Bach to rock, and everything in between," is how program director and new mom Marni Rubinstein describes her successful music classes for infants and toddlers. After launching her first two classes last September, the program has since expanded to 30 classes. Match that, Wall Street! Rubinstein worked for a decade in the marketing end of the music business, for Atlantic Records, before the combination of her love of music and the birth of her daughter, Sammi, led her to create Little Maestros. Currently located in a landmark Hungarian church on East 69th Street, Little Maestros will soon be offered on the Upper West Side, at the Jewish Community Center at 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. A June opening is planned. Each 45-minute class has three music educators: a vocalist, pianist and guitarist. A music therapy professor designs each class and consistently upgrades the activities. Although the teachers are well rehearsed and there is some structure, Rubinstein's goal is to offer a down-to-earth, comfortable and convivial atmosphere. All classes are age-appropriate and begin with a personalized “Hello” song. After that, however, just about anything goes. Every class is different and reggae, rock, nursery rhymes, classical music, and Broadway show tunes are each likely to be represented. Opera singers, flutists and cellists frequently make guest appearances. There is even a tap dancer who brings elastic slip-on tap shoes for everyone. A huge “gathering drum” brings the participants together for some communal drumming. Listening exercises, parachute activities, mini-musicals, songs in foreign languages, puppets, and tunes about colors and animal sounds may all be part of the experience. Little Maestros aims to make the transitions between activities smooth; each class ends with a “Goodbye” song and the signature “bubble music”. Sugar-based bubbles and original music fill the air. “Everyone leaves in the best mood,” Rubinstein says. Every session includes a CD for at-home listening and sing-a-longs. Fifty percent of the program’s repertoire is original music by Rubinstein and teacher/composers Enid Levine and Nick Levy. A “Little Maestros” DVD is in production and Los Angeles will soon have a franchise. With such an incredible and inspiring response, Rubinstein says, “We are jumping out of our skin with excitement!” While there are classes throughout the day, Little Maestros also accommodates the working parent with evening classes. Often, both parents attend these sessions. “Little Maestros to Go” has recently been added, in which playgroups can “order in” a class. Birthday parties for children ages 1-6 are also available, and can be customized to suit the age and interests of the child.

Info: Where: East 69th Street, between First and Second Avenues When: Times vary; call for details How much: $299 per session (12 classes); birthday parties start at $250 For more info: (212) 396-3977

 


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