Over two dozen preschoolers and their moms packed the Dimmick Memorial Library for a very special story hour featuring Music Together with Rachel.

The theme was music at the Wednesday morning Feb. 29-Leap Year Day-session of the Dimmick Memorial Library Story Hour. It began with three stories on a musical them read by Amanda Bombico, a volunteer reader and a regular mom at the story hour.

The special guest, Rachel DeMicco, had the children and their parents sit in a circle and she began with the Music Together signature Welcome Song, "Hello everybody, so glad to see you…"

Then she shifted into songs, some requiring movement, some using rhythm sticks, one using and large diameter rope made of strips of colored material that everyone in the circle held as a bridle reign to accompany a horse-themed song.

Finally, DeMicco opened her tote of instruments-drums, egg shakers, tambourines, rattles and bells-"things that are developmentally appropriate for kids to play with in that age range," DeMicco said.

"The window for early musical development is from birth through nine years," she explained. "If you don't expose children to music then, it may be more difficult to learn an instrument without that early exposure. Music helps the brain organize things. Playing music and musical instruments stimulates both hemispheres of the brain."

"It's important that children actively be involved in music at an early age, not just passively listening to it but using the instruments to understand rhythm, to understand patterns, to understand creative play, and how to make their own music."

DeMicco teaches Music Together with Rachel at a storefront she is renting, Jim Thorpe Arts in Motion, 434 Center Street in Jim Thorpe.

Over a year ago, DeMicco, a a native of Jim Thorpe and a theater major graduate from DeSales University, was looking for a program to introduce her then three-year-old son Julius to music. She was interested in activities that involved music and movement, were fun, and involved the family. She read about Music Together in a parenting magazine. Unfortunately, the program was not available in Carbon County.

"I looked on their national web site, got to know the program, the values, and the mission of the program, and realized that I could teach it," she said.

She had always wanted a theatrical career, having acting in community theater at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, and after graduation moving to New York City, holding a day job while pounding the pavement looking for auditions. After a year of finding neither fame nor fortune, DeMicco "realized I wanted to settle down and raise a family."

She married, and in time had her first child, Julius. "I was home with Julius, and I wanted to learn more about Music Together," she said. "I wanted to get him into a program to introduce him to music and movement. I wasn't ready to send him to dance class, tumble time, karate or gymnastics."

She enrolled to become a certified Music Together instructor and Center Director. She studied at their heir national headquarters, the Center for Music and Young Children in Princeton, N.J., where she was trained by Lili Levinowitz Ph. D. a co-author of the program, and became a registered instructor and a licensed Center director.

Music Together is for families with young children that are looking for an enrichment program that they can bring all their kids to. "If they have a two-year-old and a newborn, or a five-year-old and an a three-year-old, this is something they can do together as a family," she said.

Classes held at the JTAIM are composed of up to 12 children from any combination of families and their parents or caregivers. "Families with children who have special needs are welcome to come," said DeMicco, who has an autistic brother. Because the program is developmentally based, children who are older than five, but are developmentally younger, are encouraged to attend.

Rachel suggested the children move their hands in a stirring motions, and asked, "What are you making?"

One child replies, "A cake."

DeMicco suggests pea porridge and begins a song, " Peas porridge hot. Peas porridge cold. Peas porridge in a pot nine days old."

Soon, with the story hour coming to an end, Demicco led the group in the Good Bye song, "Good bye to the mommies, Goodbye to the instruments. Goodbye, so long, farewell."