Celebrating a decade of MIMkids classes

As we close in on the end of 2022, we are looking ahead to a remarkable milestone for one of our MIMkids programs: the 10th anniversary of Mini Music Makers. Launched February 4, 2013, Mini Music Makers provides early childhood music and movement courses that are globally focused and inspired by the museum’s diverse Geographic Galleries. The program introduces children 5 years old and younger to a variety of musical cultures in creative and engaging ways while helping them develop motor, pre-language, and musical skills through singing, dancing, and instrument playing.

Katherine Palmer, DMA, MIM’s curator of education, has been an integral part of Mini Music Makers since its beginning. Palmer started developing the Mini Music Makers classes as an intern in 2013, and they have become one of MIM’s most popular offerings. What began as just three classes on one day has since expanded to eight classes on three days throughout the week and includes options for children ages 0 to 18 months, 18 months to 3 years, and 3 to 5 years, as well as mixed ages.

Participants explore how scarves move.

Since February 2013, enrollment in Mini Music Makers classes has surpassed 20,000 children.

“Over the years, the Mini Music Makers curriculum has grown to incorporate an even wider variety of instruments and music making types, thanks to the great resources we have here at MIM,” Palmer says. “For example, we’re able to give young children a hands-on introduction to Balinese gamelan instruments during our Asia unit. I affectionally refer to these classes as ‘Baby Gam Jams,’ and it’s one of my favorite activities. Providing a different musical soundscape is a great way for children and their families to explore music making.”

Following the launch of Mini Music Makers, Palmer developed programs for older kids: Musical Adventures, for children ages 6–10, in fall 2013; and Junior Museum Guides, for 6th–12th graders, in fall 2014. 

“We wanted to provide sequential educational programming and create a way for kids to grow up with MIM and at MIM,” Palmer says. “MIMkids classes have turned into a family experience, with many younger siblings attending Mini Music Makers. It’s fun to see older siblings come back to experience classes with their younger brothers and sisters.”

Young children develop their own rhythms using drums during class.

For MIM volunteer team member Jessica Funkhouser, Mini Music Makers has become a family affair. Four of her grandchildren have attended the classes since 2017.

“I have learned a lot about early childhood development while volunteering for Mini Music Makers and attending with the grands,” Funkhouser says. “It is fun to see the children learning to follow directions, enthusiastically playing along with other children and, as they get older, making choices about playing fast or slow and loud or soft. It is great fun for the children and caregivers!”

Young children develop motor skills and make music with egg shakers.

As Mini Music Makers and the MIMkids programs have grown over the decade, MIM’s education department has added talented team members and dedicated volunteers to help educate and inspire the next generation of music lovers.

“There’s so much richness in making music with young children,” Palmer says. “It’s been an honor to do so for the past 10 years.”

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