I am a big fan of the early childhood program HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters) because it goes into the home and works with parents who then teach lessons to their children.  It’s a win-win for both.

The oldest such program in Alabama is in Montgomery.  Laura Collins has done a super job running this effort in cooperation with the Montgomery County school system for years.

Here is a great story by Hazel Scott of the Alabama State University media relations office about a partnership between ASU and HIPPY and the impact it is making.

Alabama State University has always been known for its outstanding teacher education program and one of its faculty members is setting ‘education to music’ in order to help local students in the Montgomery Public School system.

Dr. Michael Zelenak, assistant professor of music education at Alabama State University, is passionate about the benefits of music and especially loves sharing it with children and their families.

That passion is the reason Zelenak packs his bag every Thursday afternoon and drives to the Montgomery Public Schools to provide music appreciation classes to children in the HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Pre-School Youngsters) program.

The 3 to 5 year-olds, who fondly call Zelenak “Dr. Z,” listen to various types of music, sing, clap, dance, and play handheld instruments.

“I use children’s songs to teach the students their alphabet letters, to count numbers, and basic concepts such as stop/go, high/low and long/short. I use patriotic songs for marching and moving to a steady beat,” Zelenak said. “Traditional classical music provides a background for drawing activities. Finally, I use pop music to motivate the students; their favorite song is Uptown Funk by Bruno Marz.”
Zelenak said music can soothe the soul, but it also has the power to meet the educational objectives of students.

“Music is the most important class in a child’s school experience. All of the other subject areas are contained in music lessons. Students learn to read, learn to count, learn about other cultures, and we learn about ourselves,” Zelenak said.

Zelenak hopes the preschoolers cultivate a continued interest in a craft he helped them discover.

“I hope that the children become lifelong music lovers,” Zelenak said.
Zelenak has a Ph.D. in music education from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.  The HIPPY music program is funded through a donation from the Truman Hobbs Jr. Foundation.