About Us

Sandcastle Music Together's History  

Directed by mother - daughter team of Susan Shaberman and Nicole McKenzie, Sandcastle Music Together offered its first classes in the summer of 2002.

Co-director Nicole McKenzie was looking for a way to meet other new moms after returning to her hometown of Santa Barbara with her husband and first child. "I wasn't looking for a music class in particular. In fact, as a professional violinist and violin teacher, I thought it was useless to try teaching music to anyone under the age of seven," she says. That soon changed, however, when she discovered the Music Together® program. "I had met another violinist while playing in an orchestra concert in Santa Ynez, and she was talking about these classes she taught. She showed me a booklet outlining the research behind Music Together and explaining what and how young children can learn in music class. That booklet got me really excited about Music Together! The research supporting the program as well as the musicianship made Music Together far superior to the music class I had tried with my baby. I asked her where I could take the class and was told I would have to start my own center because there wasn't one in Santa Barbara. I hadn't bargained for that, but I really wanted my daughter to have Music Together, so I looked into it, and the rest is history!" 

While Nicole was enthusiastic and confident about teaching music classes, running a business was another story completely. "When Nicole was describing this fantastic program and was wishing she knew how to run a business, I stepped in with a confident 'We could do this together!'" Since that time our classes have grown and so have we.  I discovered there was more to running a business than I realized and have learned a lot over the years. The Music Together program has turned out to be even more wonderful than I initially thought. The emphasis on bringing music into the family home is something that really resonates with me. At home, creativity and playfulness can really come out, and that's how the children make truly deep connections to all the things we are teaching. I enjoy teaching, and watching the children grow in class.

The Music Together program has been very supportive, helping us continue to grow with professional development and overseeing our center for excellence of quality. 


Watch short video about Sandcastle Music Together:



Music Together recognizes that all children are musical and that every child needs a stimulating, supportive music environment to achieve basic competence in the wonderful human capacity for music making. Music Together encourages family participation in spontaneous musical activity in the context of daily life. 

Basic Principles of the Music Together Philosophy

I. All children are musical. 

II. Therefore, all children can achieve basic music competence, which we have defined as the ability to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm.

III.The participation and modeling of parents and caregivers, regardless of their musical ability, is essential to a child's musical growth. 

IV. This growth is best achieved in a playful, developmentally appropriate, non-performance-oriented learning environment that is musically rich yet immediately accessible to the child's-and the adult's-participation. 


Research-based Program 

What does it mean when we say that Music Together is a "research based" program? In addition to employing the research of others, we do three types of research on an ongoing basis: basic research, action research, and applied research. All of these sources continually inform Music Together's creative work on program content, varied applications of the program, and teacher training. 

Early Childhood Music Education in the New Millennium by Ken Guilmartin

The Importance of Music in Early Childhood by Lili M. Levinowitz, Ph.D.

Music Together as a Research-based Program by Susan Hoffman

Research Findings on the Music Together ® Preschool Program Model by Lili M. Levinowitz, Ph.D.

Interview with early childhood music development expert Susan Darrow: