“It’s music for babies,” said resident and pianist Marc Trachtenberg, founder and creator of Rock-a-Baby. “We get to play rock and roll like we’re in a band and interact with kids. It’s cool.”
Through the educational exploration of rock, pop, blues, traditional, and classical music by singing songs, interactive play, rhythmic repetition, instruments and dancing, Rock-a-Baby fosters a love of music for children.
With live music in a group setting, it incorporates melodic recognition, as well as hand and body movement, to help stimulate infant and toddler development.
But, Rock-a-Baby isn’t just for youngsters. In fact, parents of children who take the class on Thursday evenings at Bellani Maternity at 1276 Bald Hill Road enjoy it, as well.
“They just love this and I love it also because it has adult entertainment,” Warwick resident and Sherman Elementary School teacher, Stacey Bastia, said of her son Cooper, 3, and 3-month-old daughter Lawson. “The first class we came to they used the song ‘[Smells Like] Teen Spirit’ by Nirvana to teach the children about hygiene. We listen to the CD in the car and he knows all the songs.”
Bastia and her children said it was their second class as they jingled bells and sang along with the music. Last Thursday, which focused on the theme, “School,” marked the first class 18-month-old Olivia Grady ever experienced.
“It’s great to see her smiling and having fun with music,” said Olivia’s mother, Lauren Grady of Coventry.
Ava Palys, who will soon be turning 2, couldn’t get enough singing and dancing. Her mother, Lora Palys, of Western Coventry, was thrilled.
“It’s great because she gets to interact with other kids and music is an important part of child development,” she said. “She was singing Rock-a-Baby all during nap time today instead of napping because she knew she was coming here.”
Rebecca and Scott Brownberg of Providence take the class with their son, Brandon. They, too, said it rocks.
“He has a lot of fun, I have a lot of fun and we love the music,” Scott said. “He’s figuring out the beat of songs and then singing along.”
Bellani owner Kelly Guertin has been offering weekly Rock-a-Baby classes at her store for more than two years. She said the classes are open to the public and are best for children aged 5 months to 5 years.
“We really wanted something that was modern and that the parents would enjoy, too,” she said. “You don’t find a lot of music programs that are engaging for the whole family.”
Each week, a different theme is explored with the help of whimsical puppets, Melody, Harmony and Rhythm, which are played by Trachtenberg, along with his friends, singer Nicole Calkins and guitarist Benny Tilchin. Themes include learning the alphabet, numbers and animals, for example.
“I think it’s really nice to expose children to music in a group setting and also with their parents so they can enjoy it together,” said Tilchin, who plays guitar in a local band, The Mighty Mighty Good Boys. “This is great because we play nine or 10 classes a week and it’s good music and good practice.”
With a B.S. in Music Education from New York University and more than 15 years experience as a professional songwriter, entertainer and educator, Trachtenberg founded Rock-a-Baby in 2007 in New York’s Upper West Side. A few years later, he brought it to Providence’s Jewish Community Center and then to Bellani, who offers eight-week sessions for $152.
Spring classes began on March 5 and run through April 23. If parents haven’t signed up and want to, they can do so for a prorated cost and can register at rock-a-baby.net. Families that are not familiar with the program are invited to drop in for a class by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Classes are available each Thursday from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.; 10:45 to 11:30 a.m.; 4:30 to 5:15 p.m.; and 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Additionally, Bellani has other classes such as Baby Yoga on Monday; art, science and dance on Tuesday; art and gym on Wednesday; dance and music on Friday; and breast feeding classes on Saturdays.
“There’s something for everyone,” said Guertin.
Bellani also hosts birthday parties, concert performances and community events. Further, it sells toys and other items for children.
“Not only do they have all these great classes, they have products you can’t find anywhere else,” said Rebecca Brownberg. “And you’re supporting a local business. They are the ones that call you when a special order comes in. You just feel good about coming to places like this.”
Moreover, Bellani is a member of LetsBuyLocal.org, a grassroots community-building initiative started in November by local business owners Dr. Timothy Hudyncia and Lea Knepley. The group often hosts “Cash Mobs,” or gatherings in which people meet at various locations, collectively go to a small, independently owned business and spend $20 each, all at the same time. According to Hudyncia, each person spending $20 could mean the difference in meeting payroll for the business that week.
“It’s really about supporting other local businesses and it’s a way for people to socialize,” said Guertin. “Shopping locally allows you to run into all your neighbors. You meet new people and have fun.”
For more information about Bellani Maternity, visit bellanimaternity.com and check out its Facebook page at facebook.com/bellanimaternity. To learn more about Rock-a-Baby, visit rock-a-baby.net.
To take part in the next “Cash Mob,” visit the LetsBuyLocal.org Facebook page or call Hudyncia at 401-862-8616.