Spotlighted by rays of morning sunshine flooding through the windows, children from newborns to 6 years old snatched colorful maracas and tambourines from a chest filled with musical instruments Thursday morning.
For 45 minutes, attendees of the debut music education classes from Songs for Seeds in Darien bopped along to upbeat tunes performed by a live, three-piece band. It was the first time many of the children and their caretakers had attended a Songs for Seeds class, but it took just a few minutes for most to find their groove.
“It looks like everyone is really enjoying it,” Songs for Seeds franchise owner Courtney Fischer-Karasin said, observing the class from the back of the room.
Fischer-Karasin, a former MTV production manager, delved into small-business ownership last year with the hope of establishing a children-centric venture that encourages them to learn creatively. After learning about Songs for Seeds, a New York City-based company, she and her husband decided to pursue a franchise in Greenwich. She launched the franchise last fall, hosting the classes inside Action Arts School on Sound Beach Avenue.
A successful few semesters pushed her to keep growing, she said.
“Originally when we opened in Greenwich, we had our sights set on opening multiple locations,” she said. “We felt like we had such a wonderful reception in Greenwich, so it’s time to expand.”
Fischer-Karasin considered locations as far as Westport but ultimately opted to open a few communities away from Greenwich. “Darien felt like a good, comfortable next fit — it’s a wonderful community,” she said. “Every time I went to Darien I thought, ‘I just love it here,’ and it all fell into place.”
The classes take place in The First Congregational Church of Darien. For its demo week, which began Wednesday, Fischer-Karasin offered free classes, with the opportunity to sign up for the upcoming fall semester.
Over the last year, one of Fischer-Karasin’s favorite aspects of the Songs for Seeds class model — the live band — has proven to be one of the biggest challenges, she said. Several of her original band members have departed for other professional opportunities, but Fischer-Karasin said that has highlighted the merit of Songs for Seeds’ class curriculum.
“After having some musicians shuffle in and out, that’s where the programming really speaks for itself,” she said. “Each week, children come for the experience and it doesn’t matter as much who’s leading the class so long as it’s someone who connects with the kids.”
Some of the newer band members include budding singer and songwriter Ava Heatley, found behind the keyboard during classes, along with band leader and guitarist Matt Terzian.
“Opening a new business is always scary,” Fischer-Karasin said. “I still get nerves about making sure we can reach out to the right audience and get the same reception as in Greenwich, but I have more excitement than nerves. I love stepping in the first day to see new people enjoying the program.”
The fall semester of Songs for Seeds classes in Darien runs from Sept. 13 through Nov. 30 and includes class options on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
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