Longtime Ketchum resident and children's choir director Mary Poppen is shifting gears somewhat as she readies a large space for her new childcare center called The Music Garden. Located in the Gateway building in Ketchum, the center will have separate rooms dedicated to teaching children through music. There was an open house at the center last week.
"Music is the universal language that should be a part of every person's daily experience," she said. Poppen said studies show that young children exposed to music do better with spatial reasoning, cognitive brain development, patterning and social interaction.
"I did a lot of training in California in music and development. You use more parts of the brain with music so it stimulates growth and creates more places for synapses to fire."
Much of the gear Poppen acquired for commodious The Music Garden came from Grandma Judy's daycare center, south of Ketchum, which recently closed. Besides Poppen, the other teacher is Julie Waitz, an experienced kindergarten teacher from Phoenix. Nancy Harakay, who runs the Children's After School Theater program, will offer a KinderCAST class as well as a musical theater class taught with Poppen. There will be after-school piano and guitar classes, too.
For 20 years, Poppen has directed the Sun Valley Children's Choir, which perform at various events in the valley, especially over the holidays. She taught music for 20 years at The Community School in Sun Valley and is the musical director at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church. She was also in a local rock band called the Heaters, for eight years.
"I've been involved with kids forever but I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, Jacqueline, who is two and a half, and this was a way to do it. Music is such a great activity in this town. But it needs to happen on a daily basis. One of goals is to educate parents about what a benefit music is for their child's ability to learn."
For more information on classes, call 726-5499.