The children’s eyes dance with merriment as she sings in her melodic voice welcoming them to a musical experience of engagement and learning.
“I very much believe in music education for young children,” said Kelly Balmaceda, founder and director of mini MAESTROS.
After the birth of her first son, Balmaceda, a professional singer, decided to create the program.
“Mini MAESTROS is a music program for toddlers and infants,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda’s husband, Armell, is in the U.S. Coast Guard and when the family relocated to Indiana, Balmaceda opened mini Maestros in West Lafayette in 2014.
Reaching out to other mothers of toddlers and infants through social media, Balmaceda soon registered full classes. Balmaceda said parents found mini Maestros to be “educational and stimulating.”
“Moms loved it,” said Balmaceda, who has two young sons. “It is something fun to do.”
When Balmaceda’s husband was transferred to Elizabeth City six months ago, Balmaceda decided to bring mini Maestros to the area.
When choosing a location, Balmaceda decided on a space at The Photography Co. on Poindexter Street.
“I wanted to support our local downtown,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda said her fall classes were popular with local families.
“I sold out of the weekly morning class in two hours.”
Parents and caregivers attend the classes with the children.
“Every class begins with a welcome song,” said Balmaceda.
With her guitar, Balmaceda sings a song commencing the lesson. The parents and children sing along with the soprano singer while sitting on the floor. Balmaceda explains that the class is not stationary and the children stand up, move around and complete gestures in harmony with the music.
“One of the things that is unique is that it is live music,” said Balmaceda. “I play the guitar and sing non-stop.”
“It is a musical workout,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda said she plans each session concentrating on themes like colors, holidays and seasons.
“We read one or two stories that correspond with the theme,” said Balmaceda.
She introduces the melodic scale and musical terminology to the young participants. Sign language is also incorporated into each lesson.
Balmaceda’s students have the opportunity to use musical instruments. The triangle, woodblocks, maracas, bells, castanets, tambourines and rhythm sticks are among the instruments that are played by the mini MAESTROS class participants.
With students from six months to four years old, Balmaceda said her youngest students will learn how to hold instruments.
Balmaceda said she “changes things up constantly” to keep students engaged.
“I created a curriculum for my busy one-year-old,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda said it is rewarding to see the growth of her students and witness a shy student “breakout of their shell.”
“Music has the ability to do that,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda offers her classes on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. at The Photography Co. studio space.
Balmaceda said she is also looking forward to offering mini Maestros classes once a week at Blackwell Preschool starting in February.
Originally from Maryland, Balmaceda said she knew she wanted to be singer since she was a young girl.
“My first leading role was Dorothy in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ in a fifth-grade school play,” said Balmaceda.
Balmaceda earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Mass. and a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. Balmaceda is the founder of the Sparkling City Light Opera and co-founder of the CANTARE Workshop. She was a teaching artist with The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City and Boston Lyric Opera, and she served on the voice faculty at Georgia Southern University and Saint Joseph’s College.
Balmaceda’s resume and list of performance credits can be found at http://www.kellybalmaceda.com/about.html.
Balmaceda enjoys teaching her young students and sharing her passion for music.
“I love music,” said Balmaceda. “I am overjoyed to see them making music together.”
“It is incredibly gratifying.”
For more information about mini MAESTROS, visit http://www.minimaestrosmusic.com/.