BUY TOONING UP

DEVELOPER JOAN GALANTI ON WHY TOON IN?

I started piano lessons at age four. It was a perfect time to begin: Curiosity and fun came first. Then came ballet, voice and art lessons. Total immersion was part of my childhood in New York City. We went to Young People's Concerts at the Philharmonic, conducted by the great Leonard Bernstein, and Nutcracker performances by the New York City Ballet. We soaked up the work of the great masters at the Metropolitan Museum.

Not surprisingly, my professional life has been a rainbow of diverse influences leading to the proverbial "pot of gold": a way for children to learn real music skills at a time in their lives when they are most creative and receptive. After two years of painting and design at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, I graduated cum laude from American University in Washington D.C. with a dual major in music and art. I went on to postgraduate study at Mannes College of Music in New York; more design classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology; and animation training under Don Duga of Disney fame at the School of Visual Arts.

LEARNING AND CREATING

What kept me going during the long years of education was the opportunity to use what I was learning in the real world. It is a core value of TOON IN: Enjoy, create and reap the rewards as you learn. As a student in Washington D.C. I sang with the Army-Navy band and did solo oratorio work at the National Cathedral. While at Mannes I performed operatic roles with small companies in New York. I taught voice to aspiring young singers and started writing songs that children could sing. I was also designing books and printed gifts for a New York performing arts publisher. During my stint at FIT, I manufactured a line of toddler's clothing and accompanied weekly voice lessons for my husband, tenor Nino Galanti, with the legendary Franco Corelli.

TOONING UP AND THE WINDOW TO HIGHER LEARNING

Young children can learn foundational music skills and become lifetime music lovers, if you catch them at the right time in the right way. Ages 3 to 8 are ideal. It is well documented that music is an open door to creative thinking, as well as listening and communication skills. It lays the groundwork for math and spatial relations needed for higher education. Ear training prepares the brain for speaking languages. In countries where music is part of the early learning package students excel academically too. But it's important to start while youngsters are open and unselfconscious. That door closes quickly in a child's life these days.

I CREATED IT BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND IT

I made TOON IN because I couldn't find a computer program for young children that really taught them music. TOON IN is the first that builds skills in ways they instinctively learn: by playing, imitation, trial and error, repetition and rewards. Moreover, I wanted to create a system which required no adult supervision after the first session, so parents and teachers could have a break.

Finally, as a vocal coach and teacher, I am delighted to show off some talented young students playing characters on the TOON IN Sound Track.