Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

A place to refresh your love of music, your wonder in children, and your peace in parenting well.

Tuesday, December 21

And they brought forth gifts...

One of the BEST things about Christmas is shopping.  I know that is shocking to some of you, but to me it's completely true!  I love going to the mall and various stores in the weeks before Christmas.  I love it so much I've been there practically everyday in the last week.

It always surprises me a little when people ask, "are you done your shopping yet?", and it's only the middle of December.  I'm NEVER done until Christmas Eve.  There is always one more stocking stuffer, one more decorative item that I'm imagining I'm needing.  And I'm at peace with that.  It's not that I think Christmas is a big commercial endeavour, it's just that the more I think about it, the more that comes to mind that I think people will like.

I do have the double blessing of having a husband who also loves to shop.  There have been Christmases where I've been busy with baking, or something to that effect, and sent Greg out to pick up something - and he becomes a man with a mission.  In fact, that is true during the year, too.  If I ever discover I need something - a new kitchen gadget, a fan, a light of some sort, my husband is all over finding one at an awesome price.  You're a little bit jealous of that aren't you?  (big smile and wink)

So tonight we went out shopping for some of our last gifts - we had three to buy.  And that's check, check, and check.  Three for three.

Now for the waiting.  I hate the waiting.  When I buy something for someone I want to give it to them right away.  My daughter is going to be THRILLED!  My sons already basically know what they are getting.  My husband - well, I think I may need to look again for him.  As we were shopping tonight he wandered by the gift I got him and said innocently enough that he thought it looked "too girly" for his taste.    What to do?  It would look really good on him...well, there are still two shopping days left.  Three if I have Christmas Eve morning, too.  I know...I'm a little crazy.

But beyond the malls and the gift buying, I want to say a big thank you for the gift received.  More than the gift cards, the boxes of tea, the ornaments and other tokens of love- what truly speaks to my heart is the kind words you have offered of inspiration received or fond memories we've made together.  To have touched your heart in some way is a gift beyond measure.  So, thank you all.  Thank you for coming to Kindermusik, thank you for sharing your stories.  Thank you for giving me a small piece of your heart as I have given you mine.

Merry Christmas, dear friends!

Sunday, December 12

Christmas gifts you can't buy

 A few posts ago, I was mentioning my propensity for wanting things to go according to "my plan".  Well, yesterday was headed in just that direction.  I was going to have my Saturday Christmas parties with Kindermusik, then head home and do a bunch of Christmas shopping with my daughter in the afternoon, who had a day off from dance classes.  But when I came home, I discovered that my husband and daughter had gone to the mall for their own date.  Guess I forgot to fill everyone else in on my direction for the day.

So there I was with a whole afternoon - and not a plan in sight.  My first thought was to spend the time doing some clean-up...but that thought quickly went away (smile).  Who wants to spend newly found free time doing housework?  While I was eating some left-overs for lunch, I remembered my 19 year old son with his nose in the books, preparing for finals in a week.  Hmmmm....I remembered being in university and needing some study breaks.....so I went downstairs and asked him if he wanted to walk the dog with me.    And so began a wonderful afternoon with my first-born.

We put on our boots/shoes and scarves (OK, I put on a scarf, he didn't), jackets and gloves and walked in the snow.  We talked about university, we talked about daily stuff and ordinary life.  As we were nearing the house, I said that it had been ages since we had played "Scrabble" together - and he was up for it.  So I made some hot drinks and we spent a while playing our game.  No one else in the family plays "Scrabble" with me, but Evan likes to.  Funny thing is, we don't even keep score.  We just like seeing what words we can make.

After that we finished decorating the Christmas tree downstairs that had been sitting half decorated since last weekend.  The upstairs one had been done, but the boxes were still everywhere downstairs, and the tree looked sadly neglected.  So we hung the last few decorations and talked about the ornament collections.

Saturday, the 11th will go down as one of my favourite days of Christmas this year.  A day I had thought I would spend looking in the mall for gifts for others turned out to be one of the best gifts of all for me.

Saturday, December 4

Christmas is coming...

I have a snowman with changeable numbered blocks sitting on my fireplace mantle telling me that there are 20 days left until Christmas...just this afternoon I changed the numbers on it from 24 days.  Seems I'm not keeping up with how quickly the season is moving along.

My husband and I had the opportunity to go out to a completely worthy Christmas event tonight, and yet we passed.  With so much to do I didn't want to feel rushed in one of my favourite events of the season - decorating the Christmas tree.  Part of me dreads it, quite honestly.  The work is daunting.  All the boxes and tissue paper.  All the taking down of regular pictures and decor, and finding spaces for them in the vacated Christmas boxes.  That part I could live without.

But the part where I get to take out my tree ornaments is such a happy, reminiscing time.  I know there are lots of you who relate to that.  You know the stunning trees in the malls and public places have their charm, but they hold nothing on MY tree (actually I need two trees now with all the ornaments I've collected and my kids have collected over the years).  My tree holds the story of my blessings in life.

I always put the favourite ones up first - giving them the places of most notice.  And it takes me a long time to get them all up, mostly because of the sentiment behind them.  My precious moments Nativity always goes in the front towards the top.

Then my Mary Englebreit collection of ornaments...my feel happy, brightly coloured inspirational ones.

 There are the student gift ornaments that I have started attaching labels to so I remember each precious student as I set them out.  Ornaments from friends.  Ornaments from grandparents now gone.

And ornaments that remind me of Christmas 2006 when my Dad passed away so suddenly 6 days before Christmas.   Seems hardly possible that this will be my 5th Christmas without him.   As I look through my collection of ornaments, my heart is filled with gratitude for the people in my life.  Friends that share my joy and pain.  Family that have made my life full of hope and love.

I wouldn't miss an evening like this for anything.  Even as I sit writing this amidst the boxes and chaos and anticipate tomorrow's clean-up... I'm knowing that the looking back moment of tonight is a necessary, soul-filling tradition I wouldn't want to miss.

I guess the downstairs tree is going to have to wait until tomorrow, though.  My Handel's Messiah CD is done (another tree decorating tradition for me) and it's late.  Time to blow out the candles and just rest.

Friday, December 3

Come, play WITH me

Parents + children + opportunity = optimal learning together

It warms my heart to see children and their parents involved in musical exploration together.  In "Our Time" classes, children eagerly watch to see what others are doing and engage in imitative play.  That's why I often mention that children will more readily engage in the the activity when they see that their parents are also participating.  They are collecting ideas from which to draw on for their future imaginative play.  

When you are young, everything is a "Watch me" moment.  Parents taking time to play with their children in activities that they find enjoyable are moments that are tucked away in a child's heart as meaningful and affirming.  Confidence is built as children learn and are affirmed in their new skills, and pride in a task accomplished adds to a sense of well-being

And, of course, it is just plain FUN to make music together with others!

Monday, November 29

Feel happy, down-home music

The last few weeks in the second year of Kindermusik for the Young Child (semester three) we have been taking a look at the Appalachian Mountain region of the United States and discovering how they make music with everyday kinds of objects like a saw, a washboard, or a couple of spoons.  They also use fiddles, banjos, guitars, and such, but they are very resourceful in their instrumentation shall we say.

I want to share with you a link to a fantastic musician named David Holt.  Found these on Youtube.  Have a look and enjoy.

David Holt and the washboard

David Holt and the banjo

And then just for the fun of it, have a look at this great performance of playing your hands

Hambone kneeslap

Gather the family around and let them try!

Tuesday, November 23

You've got a friend in me

I'm just going to come out and say it - as much as I love the curriculum that I teach - there is something I like even more.  When I wake up in the morning and am getting ready to teach, it's not the lesson I'm so thrilled about.  It's the opportunity to meet with the families that I've known for years, or the ones that I'm just getting to know this semester.  The people are the best part.  I get energy from being around people.  Not everyone is like that.  I've done testing and found out that people with an extroverted personality actually get more energy for life from their interactions with others.

That being said, I read recently that if you want to have your child develop a lifetime love of music, encourage the social aspect of music making with dance, group instrument playing and singing.  We've certainly witnessed that in our little studio.  For many Kindermusik families, one of the best parts about being involved in a musical endeavour is the opportunity to bond with others.  As people come together to learn about music and put those new found skills to use in community jam sessions, we are able to feel the energy in the room and communicate with each other on a new level of connectedness.

I want your children (and you too, parents) to feel at home in the class.  I want friendships to be made, conversation shared, and music enjoyed!  It's why we have a little bonding/play time at the beginning of class, and dance together and share our own stories of life.  In the long run, it's a happy, connected child that wants to keep coming back to learn more another day.  

Thursday, November 18

Living in the moment

 I know I'm not alone in this, but I generally have a plan about how I expect a day, a class, an opportunity to go.

You'd think I'd know better by now, but my plan doesn't usually anticipate people not buying into my plan. (sigh)

One mom came in looking rather exhausted today, saying that it's been a looong couple of weeks with a child who is gaining a stronger sense of what she does and doesn't want to do.  Another mom was asking me if I had any suggestions on how to get her child to focus more in class and be less silly during our "organized" activities.  Clearly, this whole idea of wanting things to go a certain way is pretty universal.

As we began the opening "Hello" song, I knew pretty quickly that we had some challenges ahead as the parents were participatory, but the children clearly had other things in mind.  Their own agenda wasn't "bad", just different than mine.   Sometimes I find a little sweet spot in class and have the students in full attention, and other times it is a quest to find the zone of engagement.

You may call it "cheating" - but I call it "creative direction".  When you add a high value item to the mix, everything can change on a dime.  In this case, the introduction of food as a learning tool.  With a cookie "on the table", if you will, suddenly the children were fully involved.  From that moment on (about 1/2 way through class) the whole dynamic changed.  The children were dancing with scarves, using instruments in relevant ways, and open to learning, rocking, sharing, and being in community with all of us.

I'm sure there isn't a child who was there this morning who gave things a second thought, however.  They aren't blogging or reminiscing.  Children live in the moment - good or bad - and then they move on.

Today was a lovely turn of events.  Not every day will be great.  Not every day will be a challenge.  Each moment is just there.  Live.  Learn.  And move on.

Roll the dough, roll the dough, roll the dough flat

Those of you who have been Our Time classes this  semester have heard that little chant over and over.  Did you know that repetition of phrases and predictability of text helps your child become a better reader and story teller?

In addition to repetition, it is a wonderful thing to spice things up from the predictable with new surprises.  We've been enjoying some homemade gingerbread cookies with our "Cookies" story this week.  It was a perfect opportunity to reinforce to the children the sequence of events described in our story by bringing in real cookies.

Some moms were wondering about the recipe as their children were happily consuming the "hands-on" story prop.

Here it is as I made it for class:

Gingerbread Cookies

1/3 cup butter                                   2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup brown sugar                           1 tsp each of salt, cloves & cinnamon
1 1/2 cups molasses                         1 1/2 tsp. ginger
2/3 cup cold water                           1/4 tsp each of allspice & nutmeg                                      
1 tsp. vanilla                                  

Mix all these together then add 6 - 7 cups of flour.   Just enough for the dough to hold together and not be too sticky for rolling out.   For the ones in class this week I used two cups of whole wheat flour  and about 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour.  You'll need a little flour when rolling out the dough and cutting the shapes out.

For the little bears we had in class, I baked for 5 minutes at 350˚

Of course you can add some decorations if you like, but they're soft and delicious without the extra sugar.

Makes about 9 dozen of those little bears we had in class.  Bigger cookies?  Try 7 minutes bake time.

Friday, November 12

The Gift of Music

It's that time of year where I start in with looking at Christmas music.  It's the 12th of November and I've already been singing and playing it for a couple of weeks already.  As I was playing the piano tonight choosing new Christmas piano books for my students next week, I came across a couple of pieces from The Nutcracker Suite...and as music so often does, it evoked wonderful family memories.

One Christmas when my 3 kids were little we all went to see the ballet and it was the beginning of a fascination with the musical score for my boys, and a passion for dance for my daughter.  (She is 15 and still has hours of ballet class a week.)  We watched the beautiful dances, saw the growing Christmas tree, bought the souvenir ornaments, and now listen to the score every Christmas.  I've been to see it probably 5 times.  Every time I see it, though, I experience it a little differently as every artist and director has a different interpretation to share.

I have often said that music is so much more than what you do with your fingers.  Music is meant to elicit emotion.  When I watch the beauty unfold before me with the ballerinas on their toes or the male dancers passionately leaping, it stirs something inside of me.  It calls out to the longing for beauty inside my heart, and the strong emotion of desiring strength.  Music speaks to who we are as people and connects us together with shared stories.  

Offering your children the gift of musical literacy is offering them the gift of sharing of themselves, but also the gift of understanding the heart of others.  Doesn't that sound like the greatest gift of all?


Wednesday, November 10

Who has seen the wind?

Music is, by nature, an auditory experience. Living in a very visually oriented world, however, makes music a venture into the less familiar.

One of the ways of helping children make sense of musical concepts is to incorporate other art forms, such as drawing. When we draw rain drops as dots on a page singing

"pitter patter pitter patter - I can hear the rain"

the small dots help with understanding about short staccato sounds.
Similarly, when we draw the wind while singing

"woooo woooo - I can hear the wind"

the long, colourful arches help children understand about the long legato lines of music.
These marks on the page are the beginning writings of your resident composer! Who knew?

Milk and Cookies - yummy in my tummy!

Few flavours in life can compare to the taste of homemade cookies! This is a prized cookie recipe I received years ago. It has become not only our family favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the favourite of our friends and family around North America.

The mixing and measuring, scooping and tasting will delight your little one into regular culinary adventure together with you. Try it with your little baker at home this week - your taste buds will thank you!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine 1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar

Cream these together with electric mixer and then add

2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla

Mix the eggs in with mixer until light then add

1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour 2 cups large flake oatmeal 2 cups chocolate chips

Mix until combined, then drop by rounded spoonful (your choice - big or small) onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350° for 8 minutes for small, 10 for large. They will be slightly golden when done.

Secret tip: When they come out of the oven, drop the pan on the counter to flatten. Do not over bake as they are NOT the same when not soft. ENJOY!!

Friday, October 29

My Favourite Thing

Just mentioning the words "The Sound of Music" brings a smile to so many faces. I sat down last night to watch the Oprah special of the reunion of the original cast and was just enjoying a great hour of memories. Like many of you, I'm sure I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've watched that show!

Today as I was talking about it with friends, we smiled as we agreed with Oprah's comment about how we've all imagined ourselves spinning in the open fields of Austria as Julie Andrews does in the opening scenes...

"The hills are alive - with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years..."

Funny but I could sit here and type out all the words without even checking a score, I've sung them so many times. Even now a big smile is on my face as I mentally think through the words and imagine the movie scenes.

I think I was about 6 when I saw it in the movie theatre with my mom for the first time. I watched it as a teenager on TV, sang the songs in music festivals, watched it every Christmas for years, and have watched it with my children all snuggled up in our pyjamas on the couch.

And there are so many favourite scenes (Maria singing "I have confidence", the stormy "Favorite things" dance, the scene in the gazebo with Maria and the Captain where they have just gotten engaged and she sings "somewhere in my youth or childhood - I must have done something good..." and they kiss. Aaahhh. So lovely.) Watching that movie just wants a person to have a musical family, true?

I am openly sentimental about this show. Guilty. But what surprised me last night is that as I was watching it, all three of my kids stopped and watched it, too. Musical memories...they are long lasting. And when they are formed with the sweet spot of family connection, they remain a golden moment of joy for a lifetime!

Tuesday, October 26

Drink lots of tea and stop talking

By all accounts this should be a lovely day. Fresh snow on the ground...my dog sleeping on the couch while I make a chocolate birthday cake for my son. All is quiet in the home and it feels like I should have a fire on. It's the middle of the afternoon, though, and I still have my pyjamas on - it's a day to be still and not teach. Yes, it's back to my semi-annual laryngitis.

In the words of Eeyore..."oh bother".

I would so much rather be back at my happy place (that's code for the classroom), but in the spirit of not sharing whatever it is I'm fighting...I'll keep myself sequestered.

Hope to see you all soon!

Monday, October 18

Getting Smarter Day by Day

One child and two rhythm sticks can equal a great big bunch of improv! Especially when you have an excited cheering section, ready to encourage with modelling and expansion we call "scaffolding". Scaffolding happens when mom or dad observes what the child is already doing and encourages them to try those actions in expanded ways. For example, if your child likes to wiggle the sticks, you could suggest wiggling them as the "rabbit ears" or "kitty whiskers" that we've seen happen in class.

Or how about tickling your feet with them, or mom's feet, for that matter!

Hiding them in your pants is over-the-top funny when you are two! The more options, the better, really. Creativity is a learned concept. As we model out-of-the-box options for our children in pretend play, they are starting to gather ideas from which to draw on later. Stimulating new learning pathways in one area of interest actually makes physical connections in their brain, making new creative endeavors next time easier and faster. Even if the new creative option has nothing to do with the previous project.

Creativity is a skill that is built up through opportunity and practise. So if you don't have rhythm sticks at home, get out a couple of spoons to play along with your Kindermusik CD's.

And bring your new wild and crazy ideas to class to share with the rest of us!

Saturday, October 9

Counting blessings

On Thanksgiving weekend, it seems appropriate to think of

things we are thankful for.

Without making it an exhaustive list, here are a few of mine...

and in no particular order : )

lilies - my favorite flower

warm fall weather

my dog sleeping by my side

children who tap my back during music play-along

dinner ready when I come home

a handy husband

extra hugs at the end of class

watching my daughter do ballet

friends who call

homemade pictures for the class bulletin board

pumpkin pie and real whipped cream

walks at night with my son

piano music
a job I LOVE and find SO meaningful

Kindermusik families who have become friends


God, who loves us all

Want to take the first step of starting your own list?

Sunday, October 3

So Happy Together

Let's talk about bonding through music. My son, Colson, has a friend, Kent, who also really enjoys music. They have known each other for a lot of years and share a lot of interests. Making music is one of them. Above is a picture of the two of them at a band event last year where they got to enjoy some craziness together on the keyboard. (Colson is in the blue sweater)

Today was my turn. Not only do I teach music Monday to Saturday, but I'm involved in music at my church, too. On weeks when I'm not singing in the choir, I help out on the synthesizer - usually once a month. Got a call from one of our music pastors at church this past week asking if I'd play synth while Colson was on piano.


It was so amazing to be playing together this morning with my son and some other fantastically talented musicians! The drummer this morning asked me while we were rehearsing if it was kind of like being Wayne Gretzky and his Dad on the ice...big smile...

Happy, happy day.

When we do our circle dances at Kindermusik,
or play instruments together,
or sing out the children's names during our Hello songs,
not only are we nurturing musical skills,
we are developing a musical community
where people feel like they belong
and are part of something bigger than ourselves.

A place to belong and matter. No wonder we like to hug at the end of class.

Friday, October 1

What's the big deal about "steady beat"?

We spend a lot of time in class playing with the steady beat.

We dance to it,
pat to it,
clap our hands to it,
step to it,
rock to it,
wave to it,
speak it,
sing it,
and we get out instruments and think of creative ways to play along to it.

It is one of the most foundational aspects of making music. Being able to keep a steady beat allows a person to play in ensemble with others and interpret music as it was intended.

Every baby is born with an awareness of steady beat (thanks to mom's heartbeat), but it takes some exposure and being able to practise it, to be able to keep a steady beat with, and without, an external sound source. A stong sense of steady beat helps your child co-ordinate their movements. As your baby internalizes the steady beat you will see it evidenced in their co-ordinated movements of rocking, patting, even walking.

Additionally, as your baby grows into toddlerhood, a growing sense of steady beat helps with co-ordinating movements with timing, such as bouncing and catching a ball. Beyond even the physical movements, steady beat helps with your child's communication as they learn the rhythm of language. Speaking in smooth cadence is a key factor in effective communication. Tests have shown, too, that children with steady beat internalization are better readers and more successfull in math skills.

So as you are tapping your rhythm sticks this week, remember that your modelling is going a loooong way today. Your child is building bridges to stronger communication skills, strengthening eye-hand co-ordination, increasing their sense of group belongingness, and ...having FUN!

Thursday, September 23

Something I did right...

You do know that in addition to being your child's Kindermusik teacher, I am a mom of 3 children...but not so little anymore (sigh...)

I remember my first born (Evan) going off to his first day of Kindergarten and discovering that he had a different teacher than we had interviewed with at the spring preview. (She turned out to be the woman who has inspired much of my classroom style, by the way. Here's a shout out to Mrs Lerbekmo!)

I remember going to the first parent/teacher interview of my second born (Colson) and saying "Don't you just LOVE him?" (and they did!)

I was just talking with a friend of mine the other day about dropping our last born daughters off to grade one and having a celebratory breakfast that day (big smile).

They do grow up so fast. Now Evan is in second year university. Colson is in grade 12, and my baby, Olivia (or "Liv", as I call her) is in grade 10. When your kids are little and you are trying to imagine what their lives are going to look like when they are older, part of you just hopes that you are making the right decisions now,when they are younger...
no regrets...and wondering if that's even possible.

I'm sure it's no surprise that my 3 grew up in a musical home. We have always played lots of music, danced at home, sang in the van, gone to concerts, and promoted music lessons. No...promoted is not the right word...enforced is probably better. They all started out with a lot of enthusiasm, but the spark did dwindle for piano practise over time.

One of my favorite things to talk about in class is how music training is beneficial for your child. Reasons too many to go into here, but I will say that I determined as a young mother that I was not going to have my children regretting a decision to quit music lessons. Quitting was "off the table" of discussion.

All 3 of my kids play the piano - and play really well. They have all taken a different course of training, but all read music, all can play multiple styles, and all have a different reason to play. One of the best moments of anyday is when I hear my children playing the piano for pleasure, or preparing for a school concert or church function. They have gotten past the hurdle of "I don't want to practise!!" and the complaints of "none of my friends has to take lessons, why do I?!!"

There were lots of nights of helping them practise...years of listening to songs we had heard many times before. Managing the hours of practise that happened nightly by having a piano upstairs and a keyboard downstairs so that more than one could practise at a time. But there were also proud moments at recitals, and whispered encouragements at night of how amazing I thought they sounded.

Now they have opportunities that many others don't...and they love what music has done for them! They all moved on to playing instruments in the band (french horn, trumpet, bass clarinet) and have all done extensive extra-curricular music, as well. And all that being their choice and joy.

Moms get a lot of bad press. Moms get blamed for a lot. But tonight...this mom is taking some credit for doing the music thing right.

Tuesday, September 14

Special moments come unexpectedly

Those of you who know me know how my heart is knitted to the lives of those I teach. I literally wake up every day with a smile on my face waiting to see the special people I call MY Kindermusik students. We sing, we dance, we love...

Today, at the end of our class when children were coming in for hugs, I was in for a special treat...

"X" was coming in for a hug....and then another hug....when he stopped and pointed to my earrings and said "candy". ("X" is at the stage where he has things to say, but the words are still not said in a way that everyone understands right away. Mom was across our seated circle and providing some interpretation.)

So we had a little conversation about how they were "pretty", but not candy. And as he stood there and touched them, I said words like "pretty, gentle, nice".

Then out came the gift....he took his little pointer finger and touched the bottom of my neck and said "nice teacher". (Mom offered the interpretation). I was touched and I've carried it in my heart all day.

The joy of knowing that we bring kindness and "niceness" to others' lives...priceless!

Saturday, September 11

A sweet reward!

Whoosshhhhhhhh. Filling a tub to the very top, although not exactly environmentally friendly, is a sweet, sweet experience. All the stresses of the day... all the tensions carried in my shoulders... all get washed away in the slow soak of a just-about-too-hot bath. Admin. week is done. One giant smile!

It's not just our kids who need to learn to relax like we do in our Village and Our Time classes. Moms and Dads do, too. And Kindermusik teachers...

Ready to pour your own spa experience?

Wednesday, September 1

And so it begins, again

The paint is on, the carpet is in, the posters are up, the instruments are sorted and cleaned. All we need is the music on and the children to arrive. I hope you're all as excited as I am to start next week.

There are a few of you who like to call in at the last minute - don't miss out!! Research shows that children involved in childhood music education develop better co-ordination, better math skills, better organization, better diligence, better expressive language, better self-esteem....shall I go on?

Here we go...

You know you're going to LOVE it! Imagine - getting new CD's to enjoy (aren't your others now already known by heart (smile)...and connecting with your familiar and not-yet-known friends! Can hardly wait to see you all!!!

Sunday, August 29

The Rhythm of Life

I know it has been way too long since my last post...but there is a reason. We had a family vacation planned. So for the last couple of weeks I have been enjoying the laid back "Aloha" spirit in Kaua'i and Maui.

Those of you who have been know, like I do now, that Hawaii has a different feel to it than other places. People aren't in a hurry. They are pleasant, and polite, and accommodating. The trade winds blow ever so wonderfully, and the surf rolls onto the beach in a consistent rhythm. It was a GREAT holiday!

As I was lying down one evening watching the local tourist channel about places to go and restaurants to eat in, I found myself falling asleep listening to the gentle Hawaiian music that accompanied the info. The music had been everywhere we had been, in the background, but definitely adding to the relaxed feel of the islands.

So what does all this have to do with music classes? It struck me the other day that it was much like a Kindermusik class in that when you are there, you get to enjoy the great energy and activity - both lively in some sections, and relaxing in others. But your children are making associations with the activity and the music they hear. When they hear the quiet rocking music we hear when snuggling with the "stuffies", their minds can remember the relaxation their bodies and minds felt in class,when later driving in the van, or in the comforts of home. Or they will recall the feeling of connectedness of the community dances we do. It is no coincidence that your child asks to hear the Kindermusik CD's again and again, as they are taken away to a very happy memory when hearing it.

In fact, I think I'd like to listen to some Hawiian music right now...
And follow that up with looking at the pictures we took of the enchanting Kaua'i chickens who wandered around everywhere!

Tuesday, August 3

Books - a little bit of perfect

I'm kind of bad for buying books thinking that "I should read that" and then put them on my bed-side table where they sit with about 6 other books that I try to read at the same time. I'm not kidding. In fact, 6 is probably an underestimation. There's probably 8 - 10 there right now. Two I've read but still have there because I think that if they are still there, I'll still be thinking about them. And then there are 2 or 3 that I'm actively reading, and a few more on hold for vacation reading.

As you can imagine, bookstores are some of my favorite stores. And my favorite section - my go-to-first section - the kids' books section. I love looking through the stacks of kids books - reminding myself of favorites I've shared with my own kids, or ones I remember from childhood. Or looking for new ones to share with the classes.

The colors of "Chickachicka Boomboom" grab me every time.
The lyrical lines of Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever" are music for the heart.
The spoken, hushed tones of Margaret Wise Brown's "Goodnight Moon", are relaxing as they slowly roll off your lips.
Who can forget the rhythm of Sandra Boynton's "Moo, Baa, LaLaLa", or the imaginative wonder of "The Velveteen Rabbit", by Marjorie Williams Bianco?

When I was putting a book away in the bookcase the otherday, I noticed a book I had found on the bookshelves of a clearance area one year when my son was very young - "Teddy Bear Tears". My son had a tender heart for all "stuffies" and seriously had a bed covered in them. When we read "Teddy Bear Tears" together that first time, you could tell that he totally related to the little boy in the story who had to have each of his four special teddy friends sleep right up close to his head so that they would not feel lonely at night. We read that book sooo many times together, and every time we read it we had special "stuffies" right there with us.

Books create a space where people can step into another person's world, only to see themselves more clearly. They give people an opportunity to give words to feelings that they never knew how to express. They let imaginations grow. They give parents and children an awe-filled, laugh-out-loud, snuggled-up-close, sleepy-eyed, perfect...moment.

What's your favorite children's book?

Thursday, July 29

What's on your ipod?

So the other day I was trying to update my ipod listings with some new items from our family library. Those of you who know me, know that things technical are not my strong suit, so I was asking my son, Colson, for help. Well...in two seconds he was showing me how to download files from his listings and put them into mine.

The first couple of times I was pretty slow and cautious, but as is inevitably the case, the more times I did things, the more cavalier I became. With one quick click, before I knew it my husband's entire ipod list was now downloaded onto my ipod library, including doubling up on some things that we both already had. ARGHH. Some of you more techno-savvy people may know a quicker way around this, but I spent the better part of an hour going through and deleting from my list what I didn't want staying. Let's just say that Willie and Waylon didn't make the cut :)

So my husband was commenting on what stayed on the list last night ("You have the Beach Boys on your list?!") and it got me to thinking. The more time you spend with people, the more their characteristics rub off on you, including music preferences.

Maybe my love of piano music comes from hearing it everyday of my life growing up in a piano teacher's home.

Maybe my husband's love for the Canadian Tenors is partly due to his wife's love of "classical voice".

Maybe my son's love for jazz music comes from a family heritage of loving the Canadian Brass, and from his connections with a fantastic music program/band teacher.

Or sometimes it's just shared musical experiences that make for lifetime bonding moments:

To this day when I hear the opening lines of "The New World Symphony" by Dvorak it reminds me of my dad telling me at the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra one evening that it was his favorite symphony.

Or when I hear "Surfin' USA" I think of my son, Colson, on stage at his latest band concert at Hawrelak Park doing a beach boys imitation complete with costumes and choreography (big heart swells!)

So when you are at home listening to your favorite Kindermusik CD's, make sure you are taking the opportunity every once in a while to be interactive with your children while they are on...

get up and dance along

do the fingerplays

open the books and have a snuggle

You are making memories....and musical memories have real staying power.

Tuesday, July 27

Welcome to the new Kindermusik classroom!

Welcome everyone to the new blog! Thought it was appropriate to introduce all of you to the new site by way of showing you some of the changes happening in the place of clapping and cheering, hugging and singing - aka the Kindermusik classroom. Since a picture is worth a thousand words here are some for your viewing pleasure...

Those big kids are mine, and yes, it was a family project for us! Still some left to do - but it's such a BIG change from the white walls and gold/brown flooring. Having the WHOLE room carpetted makes it seem like a bigger space, so we can dance more freely! The hidden bonus is that the underpad will help cushion those inevitable tumbles. Can't wait to see you all here...