“Got music?” asks Carol Cesena’s T-shirt. She certainly does and wants to share that passion with young children. She does that at Musical Children, the music instruction program she has operated for 10 years in Scripps Ranch.

With a degree in music from San Diego State University, Carol is music personified. She taught piano for 10 years, and in the summer taught neighborhood children singing, instruments, movement, and conducting in her home. Parents wanted her to do it all the time.

Music is always with her, even in her attire. If it is visible–earrings with musical notes, a dress with music staffs, a shirt with a musical theme–someone will always remark, “You must love music,” they start to talk about music, and then she suddenly has a new friend. Friends are easy to come by for the pretty, personable Carol. She has acquired many through her work here and at the early childhood music conferences she attends around the country.

Looking for a way to reach more young children, she investigated six early childhood instructional programs, took the best elements from them, and chose The Music Class program to follow for Musical Children. Students range in age from 0-4 and meet for 45-minute sessions. “The window of opportunity for learning is 0-5,” says Carol.

Children have so much fun in class, they might not notice they are learning something. Bright colors greet them everywhere, movement is encouraged, and the sounds they make with egg shakers, rhythm sticks, castanets, jingle bells, maracas, triangles, tambourines, gathering drums, tone blocks, and rain shakers transport them to a music wonderland. As they sit on the floor in a circle and grasp the giant colored band, they learn to recognize movement and how to follow instruction.

“Children internalize rhythm through three senses–seeing, hearing, and feeling, the last being the most important,” according to Carol. They sing, dance, and learn more about music through Carol’s extensive collection of books, copies of which she has donated to the Scripps Ranch Library. An avid collector of all kinds of books, she considers them an important tool in learning music. After hearing them read in class, the children can go to the library and read them with their parents. They have homework too: listening to their CDs and singing songs from their songbooks.

Posters on the studio walls proclaim Carol’s joyous philosophy: Music Engages the Entire Brain; Dancing Gives Babies Rhythm; Singing as a Teaching Tool; Preschoolers Develop Language and Motor Skills by Experimenting with Music; Music Makes Us More Sensitive and Better People, Music Rewires the Brain; and, Singing, Dancing, and Playing Simple Instruments Can Boost Your Child’s Confidence.

Carol holds classes Monday through Saturday mornings and some evenings for the convenience of working parents. She also puts on musical birthday parties, donating the proceeds from the parties to further the cause of music for children. Beneficiaries include the Scripps Ranch Library, San Diego Children’s Choir, Marshall Middle School, Scripps Ranch High School, and the Community Council for Music in the Schools, which lends instruments to low-income students. “The community has been so good to me, I want to give something back,” Carol says.

Carol has been a resident of Scripps Ranch for 33 years, and met her husband of 28 years, Rudy, on the tennis courts at the Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club. “We make a good team!” she declares enthusiastically. “He does all my computer work.”

Carol loves the musical life that surrounds her and the happiness she feels seeing all her beautiful little students. She confesses that when she is on vacation, she misses the children.

Elinor Reiss