Little ones move to the sound in library program

Fog locked the Ellsworth Public Library in a sea of gray, but the library’s Riverview Room felt sunny as some 20 children aged 10 months to six years danced and sang together on the gloomy summer morning.

Music therapist Carla Tanguay, founder of Modulations Therapies, led the little learners through sing-along songs and storytime during the 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Reading Rocks Family Music Group held on Tuesday mornings.

The day’s theme was animals. Dozens of tiny feet stomped on the ground pretending to be elephants. Meows filled the air as the children acted like cats.

“When kids are really little, sound is their most important sense. They don’t experience music and movement as two different things,” the music therapist said. “They hear music and they want to move to it. It’s a full body experience, so giving them that opportunity is really beneficial.”

Tanguay, who has more than 15 years of experience in clinical music therapy, said the class is a music appreciation group, and she utilizes her music therapy skills to enhance the experience.

“We’re using music to teach kids about things other than music such as following directions, waiting your turn, social skills and early literacy skills,” she said.

Twenty two-month-old Caleb Walton of Ellsworth enjoys interacting with other children during one of the library’s many free activities for all ages.

Tanguay passed out shakers, bells and wooden block instruments to the kids. They took turns playing them when told.

“That’s them learning, ‘If I hear a sound, it represents something,’” she explained. “And that’s early literacy, kids starting to learn that one thing represents something else.”

After a series of interactive songs, Tanguay pulled the picture book “The Animal Boogie” by Debbie Harter out of her bag.

“This story is special because it’s a song, so we’re going to sing it,” she told the group. She and the children sang the story together. Some of the youngest toddlers wandered up to the book held in the air to gaze at the colorful drawings of monkeys, bears and snakes.

The music therapist finished the session with a song that had the youngsters bustling around like bees and flapping their arms like birds. The buzz in the room was palpable as the boys and girls laughed through the song.

As the song concluded, Tanguay’s singing voice slowed and softened. Like magic, the children responded to her change in tone. By the end of the song, all were quietly sitting on the floor.

“We know that different tempos and accompaniments of music can affect how much energy somebody feels like they have,” she explained. “I’ll use the music to match the energy of the kids, and then I’ll slow the music down and make it simpler and simpler, and if you do it that way, they’ll follow you and get relaxed.”

The Reading Rocks Family Music Group ended on Aug. 14.

When Tanguay isn’t there singing, the library offers a traditional story time for ages 2 to 5 at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. In addition, there is lap-time session for ages 0 to 24 months at 10 a.m. on Fridays when babies and toddlers can sing songs and hear stories. A story time also is held at 6:30 p.m. for children of all ages.

The Ellsworth Public Library is located at 20 State St. For more info, call 667-6363.