All of our teachers are passionate about music and the development of children.
They create a fun, informal, social setting that spurs engagement and supports each child's musical development.
My name is Michael Showalter and I’m a parent of two children, Stephen and Maggie. Our family has lived on Capitol Hill for 10 years and love the neighborhood feel of our section of Washington DC.
I studied music in college and enjoyed participating in many musical groups in the Washington area over the past 15 years including Cantate Chamber Singers, The Washington Bach Consort, and The Palestrina Choir of Washington as well as participating in many of the fine church choirs in our area.
Becoming a father changes one’s life dramatically, but music has remained important to me and I hope I can make it an important part of the lives of my children. As I searched for musical opportunities for my children I began to realize that the majority of children’s music seldom offered any diversity of rhythm or tonality. Then I discovered the Music Together® program. I immediately realized that this music offered a richer experience yet capsulated in songs that young children enjoy as well as parents with no formal musical training.
All children love to sing. Music Together ® takes a child’s playful interest and offers the parent a way to support that. I’ve seen it in the expression of my own children which is why I decided to learn more about the program and eventually decided to begin teaching classes.
I grew up playing the piano and clarinet and studying dance, and I have a lifelong love of Broadway musicals. Everybody in my family sang and loved music, though most of them had little or no formal training. What I wanted most, though, was to be a journalist, so I went to the University of Missouri, earned a journalism degree and went to work for The Associated Press. I still work there part-time.
Before having my daughter, I was the AP’s national education writer, a beat that really sparked an interest in early childhood education. I was recognized for my work in 2009 by the Education Writers Association. Then my daughter and I discovered Music Together classes, and I was hooked. I loved watching my daughter’s language bloom and enjoyed seeing her really discover music. But more than that, I treasured the opportunity to just let go and sing my heart out and be silly with her and with the other families in class.
That’s what I hope I bring to Music Together as a teacher — the idea that a parent doesn’t need lots of special training to be an enthusiastic participant, to show children that anyone can sing and dance and enjoy music. Parents are their children’s most important teachers!
My formal music training began with piano and trumpet lessons in elementary school. When I was 15, I fell in love with the bass guitar, and it has been my primary instrument ever since. I have played with a number of bands over the years, spanning a wide range of musical genres, and my recordings and compositions have been heard in films and on the radio. I have given private lessons to children and adults in guitar, ukelele, bass, songwriting, and music theory. Throughout the semester, I will be bringing in a variety of musical instruments, including guitar, ukelele, banjo, and my brand new ukelele bass.
I majored in languages and linguistics at Georgetown University, where I also took a number of music theory courses and sang in one of the school’s choirs as part of a course on choral literature. Upon graduating, I moved to New York City, where I worked primarily in film and television production and development. In 2009, I moved back to DC, to Capitol Hill, where I currently live with my wife and two children, Eliza (3) and Ben (1).
For a long time now, I have been fascinated by how people of all ages learn and perceive music and language. I believe that the methods and song collections employed by Music Together hold uniquely powerful tools for enriching our children’s musical development. When I took the Music Together training last year, I had no intention of teaching it. Rather I was interested in learning about the program’s methods and philosophy so that I could apply them to Eliza and Ben’s musical development. Libby asked me to help teach a demo fundraiser for our daughters’ pre-school, and I was instantly hooked. I look forward to working with you and your children and to having lots of fun in the classroom.
A native of Alexandria, Virginia, I was fortunate to be involved in outstanding music programs early on which inspired me to study music. I earned a BM in Piano Performance, with a minor in Voice, and a MM in Piano Pedagogy. It has been my joy to serve as a private piano instructor to students in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, and is in part what peaked my interest in expanding my role as a teacher to include shaping the musical development of very young children.
In 2013, I was inspired to become a Music Together teacher, and it is truly my most rewarding experience as a teacher to be able to provide ways for children and their families to play with and learn the language of music while using the rich and varied selections found in the Music Together song collections.
I like to use my voice, as well as keyboard and guitar to provide a live music element in each class. I am delighted to be able to engage children in musical play and nurture their interest and enjoyment of music. As a mother of two teens, I have enjoyed seeing and hearing their unfolding expression and enjoyment of music, and am gratified to have played a key role in the various stages of their musical development. As a Music Together teacher, t love being the guide for children and their families during these first steps along the journey of their music development.
Dwight Washington is a professional musician, producer, and composer. He specializes in the alto saxophone, though is proficient in other instruments including the clarinet, piano, tuba, and guitar. Originally from Prince George’s County, MD, Dwight’s experience spans over 10 years, including the skills and training he received as a music performance student at Morgan State University.
I remember exactly when my singing career began — right after losing the solo spot in Handel’s Messiah to another fifth-grader. That was when I knew how much I loved to make music, to sing, to be part of an ensemble, to experience the sheer joy of tuneful sound all around me. From that defining and humbling moment, I went on to perform, alone and in a company, in as wide a variety of genres as I could — choral, music theater, opera, jazz, funk, rock ’n’ roll, folk and country. All this time, music education has been of vital importance to me. After moving in short order from Brooklyn to Santa Cruz and then to Miami, I welcomed the first of my two daughters. It was not long at all before I began teaching family classes. I loved it — the give and take, the sense of discovery on the kids’ faces, the sheer joy in the room. It also happened to be a pretty much perfect way for me to continue doing what I loved while spending time with my newborn (talk about early music exposure!). Our family embarked on a new level of musical engagement. I got to see both girls master new musical elements and delve even more deeply into the possibilities of musical creation and improvisation. And since the Music Together collection was playing so often in the house and in the car, we all (Dad, too!) could sing together. One big, happy, singing family!
I wanted to discover more about this dynamic and rewarding program and was impressed to learn about the many years of deep research that lies behind the Music Together curriculum, and the theory of parent engagement and education. And I was fascinated to discover the painstaking process by which songs are constructed so that kids are drawn to singing them. This summer I completed my teacher training, and I could not be more excited to combine my experience with this new knowledge, and to share Music Together with my new community.
Melba Black was raised by music-loving parents in Richmond, Virginia, and has fond memories of sitting in the corner at her mom’s weeknight chorale rehearsals and singing her dad’s favorite hymns with him at the piano. Melba began her “formal” music instruction in a Wee Sing program for preschoolers which culminated in a public performance on Or6 xylophones and launched a lifelong relationship with instrumental music.
An accomplished musician, Melba seemed to collect instruments (and to her parents’ dismay, music lessons) studying piano, clarinet, and classical guitar until she graduated from high school.
Melba explored musical arrangement and excelled as a solo ringer in school bell choirs, and as a high school senior, she was awarded an American Guild of Organists’ (Richmond Chapter) scholarship to study pipe organ. She is an Echols Scholar alumna of the University of Virginia.
Today, Melba lives in Kingman Park on Capitol Hill. She studies accordion with Frank Busso Jr., is a member of the American Accordionists’ Association, and plays with the Busso Showband, Festival Orchestra and other accordion ensembles.
Fascinated by the connection between music and language acquisition, Melba was introduced to Music Together by her godchildren, George and Leland, and counts music mornings among her most meaningful activities with them. Now, she looks forward to sharing new (and super fun) Music Together experiences with you and your little ones