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White Plains Teacher Makes Music Sing For Young

Eileen Oddo, co-founder of Musical Munchkins in Westchester, sees a real value of music for young children. Working with preschoolers for nearly 30 years, Oddo says studies prove that music, when introduced early, increases the operational functionality of the brain.

“There is a general openness to music,” she said. “Scientists have definitive proof that the size of the corpus callosum connecting the right and left hemispheres of the brain increases.”

Oddo, with a background in music and education, worked hard to find a way to make music understandable for even her youngest children.

“There are certain music parameters that remain stable and are the same from a one year old walking the beat all the way to a piano performer playing very complex works,” Oddo said, describing how she developed her curriculum. “When a two year old taps a beat that same perimeter is operating in someone that is playing a Beethoven sonata.”

Oddo’s Musical Munchkins curriculum provides the basic skills of beat sense, rhythm and pitch. Students build on the basics as they grow, enjoying singing, dancing and instrument play. They learn how to take turns, share and play music together.

“I understood what the skills were at the beginning level of playing an instrument,” she said. “I kept moving it back and moving it back until preschoolers could understand it.”

Musical Munchkins currently has eight locations throughout Westchester. If a teacher moves, Oddo often lets them take Munchkins with them, sharing music in upstate New York and New Jersey for example.

Music runs in the family, according to Oddo. She is married to musical director and conductor John Oddo, who has worked with everyone from Rosemary Clooney to Debbie Boone. Her children, Timothy and Annie, both play instruments.

“People are driven to do music, not just because it makes them smarter, but because they can't envision their lives without this beauty and this power,” she said. “It is a way we express ourselves. We do it because we love it.”

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