Meet the Teachers of Music and Movement of Newton

Our teachers come from all sorts of backgrounds, but they’re united by a common passion: Sharing the joy of music with children and families in and around Newton.

All teachers have successfully completed the live Music Together® Teacher Training, which is built on research in early childhood and music development. Our Canta y Baila Conmigo® teachers are trained by Maddie Welch herself. We keep our skills fresh through workshops every semester and advanced trainings offered by Music Together Worldwide. 

We love to take each other's classes and we sub for each other when necessary. Demo classes are sometimes team-taught by two or even three teachers. It's a great chance for us to make music together with each other. . . which is what we love best!

Julia Priest, Director

Julia Priest has been teaching Music Together and directing this organization in Newton since 2001. She came to early childhood music and movement teaching through her own son's toddler years when she discovered that the Music Together curriculum was richer and more satisfying than any other mommy-and-me class she could find.  She has degrees from Yale, Boston University, and Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, including a Masters of Music and a Masters of Science; she also holds certifications in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Orff Schulwerk, and Music Together Teaching Mastery, Level II. She trained in the HealthRhythms(R) protocol for therapeutic drumming in 2017 with its founder, Christine Stevens! In class she plays guitar, recorder, or drum; voice is her primary instrument. As Julia keeps on improving her Spanish language proficiency, she also periodically subs for Canta y Baila Conmigo classes. For fun, Julia knits baby hats and dances Lindy Hop, Blues, Argentine Tango, Salsa, or any other social dance that presents itself. Just ask, she'll teach you to knit or drag you out dancing too.

Julia's review of recent research on how babies hear and remember even before birth!.

Read more articles and handouts by Julia.

Visit Julia's personal website for a list of other performances and jam sessions which are unrelated to Music and Movement of Newton.

Maddie Welch, CyBC Creator

Maddie Welch plays guitar and piano and sings gorgeously. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Maddie is completely fluent in both Spanish and English. After graduating from Princeton University, Maddie received her Masters in Bilingual Education from Boston University in 1998 and embarked on a career as a bilingual educator at the elementary and early childhood levels. She has always infused her classroom teaching with her passion for the performing arts, from leading school-wide preschool sing-alongs to using drama for teaching content-area to bilingual 3rd graders. Maddie first fell in love with the Music Together curriculum when she brought her daughter to class in 2003. She trained and became a registered Music Together teacher in 2008. When she is not teaching, Maddie is busy raising two musical, bilingual children and working on the latest production of Needham Community Theatre.

Maddie teaches both regular Mixed Age Music together and also Canta y Baila Conmigo / Sing and Dance With Me: Spanish Musical Culture, for which Maddie wrote the curriculum and recorded the CD. This class is ideal for families with a Spanish-speaking parent or nanny, or raising a child bilingually. This class is also priceless for those who want to give their family's beginner Spanish-learning career a jumpstart.

What families say: "Maddie was fantastic! She made the party a very special event for us! All of the kids had a blast, especially Olivia! We were so thankful to have Maddie there to lead our song & dance!" "It is fun to see around 14 children age 18 months completely absorbed, jumping around for 45 minutes."

A.B., Comparative Literature, Princeton University.
M.Ed., Bilingual Education, Boston University.
Certification, Commonweath of Massachusetts, Elementary (1-6); Early Childhood (PrK-2); Transitional Bilingual Education; English as a Second Language (PreK-9).

Barbara De Freitas

California-born Barbara de Freitas grew up in Rio de Janeiro with her Brazilian family. Music has always been part of her life: singing in the school choir and spending long afternoons sitting at the piano with her grandfather. She started her music studies at Antonio Adolfo Music School in Rio, taking guitar and voice lessons. Her love of music led her to the USA in 2000 where she formally started her studies at the Santa Barbara College. In 2004 Barbara relocated to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music, earning her Bachelor’s in 2007. During her years in Boston she has been a vocalist in an acoustic ensemble playing Brazilian music around New England, including rhythms like Bossa Nova and Samba. Barbara has also taught voice and basic keyboard lessons to children. In her free time she loves to be involved in athletic activities such as long runs by the Charles, spinning rides, yoga, and dancing, but also singing and relaxing along with good friends.

"I would describe my teaching style as fun, caring, and flexible, with attention to the ever-changing needs of children and their families. I encourage participants to express their feelings in the form of music and movement. I believe that in a classroom we are all learning together as we share our experiences: children, parents, caregivers, and teachers, too. I began my music career as a singer. As a Music Together teacher I am able to sing and share my love for music with children every day and watch them expand their creativity, social skills, sense of self, sense of time and space, and even their intuition. Teaching early childhood music is a delight!"

Barbara De Freitas and Julia Priest

Both Julia and Barbara are highly experienced Music Together teachers--who love teaching together! We've always observed and provided feedback to each other as part of our professional development. This semester, co-teaching means that as we share our lesson-planning behind the scenes, we are building the protocols for Outdoors and Zoom in our surprising new 2020 world. Co-teaching also means being available to sub for each other in case of sudden quarantines or other unanticipated family events. It also means that we provide you with as much continuity as we can, and we drop you an email or a text when we need to switch teacher. Your child is going to love BOTH teachers!