From Restaurant: Impossible to making music possible, Jill Littman is starting a new music class for little ones in Wayne.
Jill Littman is used to dealing with quick turnarounds.
As co-executive producer of the hit Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network, which gives a complete turnaround of a failing restaurant in two days, working to bring Songs for Seeds — an interactive 45-minute weekly music class for infants to 6 year olds — to the Philadelphia area in just about four months was nothing out of the ordinary.
Littman has been working with Allison Schlanger, whom Littman has known since they went to a Jewish camp, Kinder Ring in New York, when they were 12 years old, to franchise Songs for Seeds.
Songs for Seeds is a franchise program from Apple Seeds — which operates play spaces for families with little children and includes cooking, science and dance classes among many others — which is based in New York. Schlanger, her husband and another couple started the company.
“They started to franchise this business, and we’ve been talking about it for years,” Littman said. “Last year, [Schlanger] said to me, ‘No pressure at all, but it’s time for us to expand to Pennsylvania. And if you want to do it, we want you to do it.’ All of a sudden it was the perfect timing. I felt ready to be a business owner.”
Having just wrapped the 13th season of Restaurant: Impossible — her fifth season in her position — the timing was right.
She found the home for Songs for Seeds at Club LaMaison in Wayne and, after an auditioning process, she put together the three-piece band that runs the class, which will begin May 9.
Her new role won’t take away time from her job, which she said is chaotic what with the short timing, but she loves it.
“It is stressful but I love the chaos of it,” she said. “Working for this show in particular feels good. We help people try to make their lives better and career better.
“Whether we actually do that …” she laughed.
Those running the restaurants on the show, hosted by Robert Irvine, are given $10,000 to turn their failing establishment into a success in just two days.
“We’ve shot more than 150 episodes, which is amazing, and even at the very end I’m in the room and looking at these places — it’s surprising to me every single time that we get it done,” she said.
Since the production company is located outside of Philadelphia, she still has time to spend with her family in Malvern when she isn’t traveling for the show.
Her family has had a large impact on bringing Songs for Seeds to the area as her own home is already “wildly musical.”
Her 13-year-old son plays music with hopes of being in a band and her stepdaughter, Gina Costanzo, appeared on the last season of The Voice on Blake Shelton’s team. She helped Littman with auditioning the band members for the class, which includes local musicians who went to the University of the Arts and West Chester University.
“It became clear to me that this is something that made sense for me and my family,” Littman said.
She is excited to be able to bring the program to the area because she believes in its mission and the learning opportunity for children.
“It does take into account the early education principles. It’s nice to get the kids learning and expose them to music,” she said. “It’s really about having the kids be part of the band instead of the band being the band — everybody’s allowed to be in the band. They’re allowed to touch the instruments and wander around.”
Watching a child muster the courage to go up to the microphone and say something in front of everyone for the first time is something special, Littman said.
“It’s something they’ve never experienced before,” she added. “To see all that, it’s amazing.”
The fun extends to the parents, too, as the class is pretty much an interactive concert. Littman said they will enjoy it as well while they are there with their kids.
This program is unique because of the band, she said, which also will be available for birthdays and events.
For the class, the band will perform some songs that are written specifically for the Songs for Seeds program — it just spent a week in New York City, where the company is headquartered, to learn the music — and there will be a few songs parents recognize.
“You can’t help but get roped into the songs,” Littman said. “I wake up now with the songs in my head.”
The children will learn about shapes and colors through the songs and even “travel” to different countries each week and learn different music. They use magic tricks and other interactive activities to accompany the music.
There are nine different segments that work well together but also can stand on their own, Littman said. The kids will learn songs that signify it’s time to clean up or it’s time to fly to Honduras or wherever they go that week.
“I believe in what they’re doing so much that I felt so passionate about bringing it here,” she said. “They take a lot of philosophies from early education and music. [The kids] don’t have to dance or walk — they don’t have to do anything to be able to sit and learn from music.”
For its first week, there will be free classes and giveaways to introduce the community to the program, Littman said.
“I am looking forward to bringing this awesome, amazing program to this area,” she said. “We deserve it. There’s nothing like it here, I wish my kids had something like this. It’s going to be exciting. This area is going to embrace it.”
The class schedule and other information is listed online at www.songsforseeds.com/wayne.
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