Growing up behind the counter of her father’s Florida music shop, Katie Hathcock says melody runs deep in the gene pool of her family.

As a young child, Hathcock learned violin, drums and guitar and, in later years, played Irish and Folk music with community groups in Tallahassee, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama.

She married a musician whose dad was also a musician. But after taking an unrelated career path, music just wasn’t as important. “After college, I moved away from my musical upbringing,” she explains. “It’s been brewing in my subconscious for a while that I wanted to do something to honor this background I have.”

And so she will.

Hathcock begins Music For Aardvarks (and Other Mammals,) a weekly children’s music class, in January in Fondren. She’ll host two demo classes Tuesday, December 9 at Butterfly Yoga.

Created in 1997 in Brooklyn, New York by rock composer/musician and father of 3, David Weinstone, Music for Aardvarks’ classes are based around Weinstone’s original and relevant songs, rhythms, and chants.

“We went to Joe (Murphy’s) Aardvarks class at First Congo (a multi-denominational church in Cooper-Young in Memphis) and we were hooked,” Hathcock says. “We had just moved to Memphis and someone said we should try it. We went for six years straight.”

When Hathcock’s husband’s job brought them to Jackson in June, she saw a need. “We moved here and it seemed like a chance to do something new,” she says, leaving a career in marketing and public relations. “There was nothing like (Aardvarks) here and I saw an opportunity.”

Though each semester’s content is determined by Hathcock, each child receives a CD of songs that will be the basis for the weekly sessions. “We dance around and it moves fast,” Hathcock explains. “I’ll sing the ‘Hello’ song, get out the shakers, play guitar and some things are sung acapella. We keep their attention, wear them out and send them home!”

Images courtesy of Katie Hathcock

Images courtesy of Katie Hathcock

Children from six months to five years attend the classes along with their parents, grandparents or caregivers. Families, Hathcock says, come in all shapes and sizes. The original music appeals to kids and parents. She notes, “We wouldn’t have done it for six years (in Memphis) if it wasn’t fun for us, too.”

Classes are accessible, even for those parents who don’t feel musically inclined or for kids who have trouble focusing. “You don’t need to have rhythm or be able to carry a tune,” Hathcock laughs. “Kids don’t have to sit still or even pay attention, really. The goal is to have fun, be a little silly, and make music together.”

Hathcock says Music for Aardvarks teaches musical basics like rhythm and tone, but there’s more to it than that. “It’s also about sharing and interacting with other kids,” she points out. “When it’s time to put the shakers away, we sing ‘bye, bye shakers.’ Normally, kids would put up a fuss about it but when you sing the song, of course…they all put them away! There’s no fuss because there’s always something else coming.”

“We all know the benefits of exposing kids to music,” Hathcock says. “Their little brains just soak it up. And I’ve noticed that with my own kids.” Her 3 year-old has his own miniature acoustic guitar that he strums, imitating Aardvarks sessions, and her six year-old is asking to take piano and violin lessons.

“For me…and for the kids, I’m excited. I want to do what Joe has done in Memphis and what David did before him in New York City, to share this great experience.”

Music For Aardvarks runs in ten week semesters, beginning January 13. The cost is $175 per kid and siblings are each only $100 more. For more details, class dates and to register, visit jacksonaardvarks.com.

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