April Harkanson from Philly Community Baby Music is a woman of many talents. April is a music teacher, a postpartum doula, a music therapist, and a musician! She hosts music classes at Little Moon + Arrow a couple of times every month. Her classes are a safe and open environment for little ones to explore the wonders of music. April sings and plays the acoustic guitar mesmerizing kids with her beautiful voice, bubbles, and play silks. We absolutely adore April and her refreshing energy. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to learn more about April!
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day... every day is different! I run music classes at various schools in the city with children ages 1-5 as well as my own baby music groups. I am the music director at a church in Fishtown where I can be found practicing the pipe organ and leading a wonderful community choir. I do have a morning ritual, yoga before the sun rises and then a cup of coffee. And I try to be outside as much as possible, especially to hike in the magical Wissahickon.
How did you start teaching music classes for children, specifically baby music classes? // Why did you decide to teach music classes?
I studied music throughout high school and college, vocal performance at CAPA and a degree in music therapy from Temple U. Six years ago I took a part-time position running baby music classes at a facility downtown. A few families from these classes asked me to start my own so I rented a studio in Graduate Hospital and Fishtown. The classes grew through word of mouth and here I am. I never expected to still be Ms. April the 'baby music teacher' :-)
What is your favorite band or type of music?
I'll try to keep this answer short, ha!
I've always loved Big Band and music from the 1940s, I grew up listening to the Philly AM station 950 WPEN. Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, The Andrews Sisters, the list goes on and on.
Gillian Welch is my all-time favorite singer, my favorite album of hers is Time (The Revelator).
Right now I am listening to Sarah Vaughan, Big Thief, Julie Byrne, Townes Van Zandt, Michael Nau, Wire, Carole King, and Tammy Wynette.
On my piano, Erik Satie Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes.
Where in Philadelphia do you teach besides Little Moon + Arrow?
I run music classes at two schools, Bookworms, and My Bright Beginnings. For my baby and toddler community classes, I've been fortunate to have access to fantastic spaces throughout the years. Right now I can be found at Amrita Yoga in Fishtown and Little Moon & Arrow. I am looking forward to starting a class in Graduate Hospital in the new year!
What is your favorite part about teaching Philly Community Baby music classes?
Bringing the community together! I feel so fortunate to be able to create and nourish a safe, warm environment for humans of all ages to express and connect through music. Our heartbeats, we have a rhythm within each of us. In our society, coming together to sing and drum and move to a beat is not a common practice. But it should be! To express, release, emote, connect, to be heard as well as to listen. As we get older, it is easy to forget what it is like to be a child, to let go and freely express. They are our greatest teachers, I am so grateful for the time I spend with these little humans!
Tell us more about your Doula practice?
I started as a postpartum doula in 2014, a mama from one of my music classes asked me if I would be interested in taking on this role after baby #2 arrived. I had no idea what was in store for me in this supportive role! It was a beautiful and eye-opening experience, I knew I wanted to continue down the doula path. I took a BAI postpartum training and continued working with families. I decided I wanted to pursue birth support two years later and found a program I can't talk about enough. Maternity Care Coalition is an organization that works to improve the health and well-being of pregnant women & parenting families. A community doula training is held each year and I was fortunate to be accepted into the DONA training. I've supported 3 women so far and look forward to holding space for many more!
What inspires you? Who influences you?
My mom, her name is Flo and I cannot imagine what my Life would look like without her. Her Life is amazing, I wish I could write a book! She opened up her home to my pregnant teenage mother and decided to adopt me when my birth mom could no longer care for me. Long story short, Flo was a nun for 33 years, taught 1st grade for 58 years, has been a mother for 34 years and is still going strong at 88 years of age. I live with her now, she can no longer be on her own, and am constantly reminded of how fortunate it is to be alive. To breathe, to be able to make my own choices, to have opportunity because this strong, extremely independent and selfless woman loved me. The Circle of Life!