Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Saturday, January 29

Glockenspiels as elevator music?

Across the board, one of the best parts about a Kindermusik class is using new instruments.  Children LOVE when I get out an instrument that has never, or rarely been explored  Sometimes the delay happens because we wait until a child is older.  Sometimes we wait for a particular concept to be addressed.

Lately, in Imagine That "Cities" class we have been talking about glissando.  As is typically the case, we introduce through play and imagination.  While the "elevator" - aka the purple mat magically transformed into a high rise elevator - goes up and down we use our voices to slide up and down.  Then, out comes the glockenspiel where we can slide our mallet up and down the keys, introducing our new musical word.

It's amazing to watch 3 and 4 year old children not only engage so enthusiastically in the pretend play, but to sing vocal glides and test out new techniques  on an instrument they thought they could only tap.

Not only are we learning new skills, we are enlarging the creative learning center of your child's brain through the development of new neural connections.  Creativity born through one activity means more creative capacity for future endeavors, as well.  So one day you may find your child writing their own musical compositions, or designing actual high rise buildings.

Sunday, January 23

Sharing stories, merging hearts

This morning I was talking to one of my best friends in the world and she asked if I was going to be posting again today.  Must admit that it's always with mixed feelings that I hear such questions.  On the one hand I am happy to know that people are actually reading what I'm writing.  On the other, it feels a little pressured to say something meaningful.  I told her that I'd give her a shout-out in my blog (smile).  So to Shannon, here's your mention (and picture because people are going to wonder who you are!)
I do enjoy blogging and sharing my heart with you all.  It's part of who I am to be passing on the twenty-five cents of information that I have accumulated along life's path.  In fact, words have always held a high regard for me.  I love a well-crafted sentence. 

Just yesterday I was reading a book where  two mothers had just met and discovered they each had the challenge of raising a special needs child.  There was this amazing sentence that grabbed my attention:

" We stared at each other for a moment, in silence, as our hearts twisted together like vines."  (from "Dancing with Max, p. 151  Emily Colson, Zondervan publishing, 2010) 

There's a great word picture if ever there was one : )

So what does all this have to do with parenting well, music and such?  I got to thinking about how almost all of what I know has been passed on to me from others.  My parents, teachers,  friends, authors.  It has been their willingness to be open about their lives and experiences that has brought learning and richness to my life.  

You have a story to tell, too, and I love to hear about your journey.  When friends meet over a cup of coffee, or in a Kindermusik classroom, wonderful things can happen.  Shared stories become rich resources for parenting ideas.  Understanding ears become pathways to hope.  Laughter becomes glue that binds lives together.  Songs become the vehicle of love.  And hearts "twist together like vines".

It can feel scary to be vulnerable and talk about your challenges, your life, but if you bring your open heart to class, your willingness to offer your story may be just the answer someone is looking for!

And Shannon, you know my heart is knit to yours.  Thanks for being there for me always!

Saturday, January 15

Why Kindermusik for babies and toddlers?

One of the most common questions I get when I tell people that I teach Kindermusik is "what can a baby do in a music class?"  Followed up by "why would a baby need music classes?"

So this blog is devoted to answering that question.  Truthfully, some moms come to class with their baby to engage in a social connection with other moms.  That is a very important side-benefit, but not the real reason I offer classes for babies.  

It actually starts with the premise that babies and young children are seeking to learn primarily through sensory experiences.  You have probably noticed how babies put everything in their mouths.  The reason they do that is that the mouth has a very high number of nerve endings per square inch, making it a highly sensitive region - capable of taking in a great deal of information about how something feels.  They really aren't interested in "eating" everything (smile).  

Babies will hold on to instruments and objects, feeling their texture, smelling their fragrance, finding the taste.  They want to know what happens when they move their arms - and discover the sensation of moving beads inside various shakers.  They begin to understand that their movement brings pleasure.

The key to all of this is that adding music to the discovery process opens up the brain to new areas of memory.  Studies and testing have shown that only music provides total brain stimulation.  While there is an auditory center, a visual center, and language area, imaging done  while people listen to music shows that the entire brain is activated and stimulated when music is involved.

Kindermusik classes offer layers of learning by hearing the music, experiencing the social connectedness of the same songs through dance and group play, playing instruments to the same music, having a parent sing the songs, and doing various finger plays and motions to the same songs and rhymes.  The repetition of activity in similar ways and creative options provides optimal learning and assimilation of material.

Addtionally, parents are equipped with new ideas through class attendance.  Kindermusik teachers provide valuable information regarding child development and age appropriate learning schemes.  Children discover social skills, musical skills, and cognitive skills on a developmental plane.  Having that knowledge helps parents target their child's learning in a more appropriate way.

Whether it is stimulating the vestibular system through blanket rocking, or providing visual development through tracking coloured scarves during object play, Kindermusik classes offer growing children and their parents the opportunity to create neural connections in the growing brain.  Did you know that your child's brain is physically growing until he or she is approximately 3 years old?  The early years are critical in developing the neural connections that will serve them throughout their lifetime.  Besides the complete fun of making music as a family, early childhood music classes are an investment in your child's learning potential.

Equally important is the notion that all learning takes place in an emotionally charged environment.  The positive associations to music of various styles that take place in a Kindermusik classroom and a Kindermusik family home are invaluable.  

The testimony of thousands of families worldwide is that Kindermusik provides an environment where long term learning occurs because of the excellent curriculum, the care and attention of qualified teachers, and the primary support of families who want to make music an integral part of life.

Sunday, January 9

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

If there is one word that describes the typical family these days, it's "busy".   We're busy learning,  working, cleaning, playing, helping others, cooking, eating, meeting friends, running errands, shopping, driving...and the list goes on...and on.  We are a culture distracted with getting everything done.  I read just the other day that the one thing that has been sacrificed along the way is sleep.   
Children, however, let us know pretty quickly when they are in sleep deficit.  They get irritable, they fuss, they get on their siblings' nerves.  That being said, I remember being a novice mother and being oblivious to the signs in front of me.   I was getting annoyed at my 4 year old boy who wouldn't hurry up and eat.   Saying a chiding remark about not taking so long to eat,  I turned around for literally under a minute to some sort of task.  When I looked back to check on his progress, my poor son had his head resting on the table and was sound asleep.  And I felt like I had failed motherhood.  Ironically, it was a time in my life when with 3 small children at home, I was the one running on too little sleep.
I took a picture and left it on my fridge for years.  To remind me to be more patient and read the signs.

That was years ago, but I notice that my energy stores still start to run dry when I'm not getting the sleep I need.  I get frustrated more quickly, my mind is more forgetful, I'm definitely hungrier.  So my goal is to get to bed sooner each day.  I don't want to call it a "New Year's Resolution", because that has an almost built-in expectation of eventual failure.  I prefer to think of it as a gift.  A gift not just to me, but a gift to those around me.

Sunday, January 2

Welcome back!

Tomorrow I get to see you again!  Or at least some of you.  With all the Christmas/New Year celebrations it seems like just the other day we were all together...like no time has passed.

But if activities completed says anything, a lot of time has gone by.  I've really enjoyed having lots of time to cook for my family, visiting with friends and family, spending time with my grown up kids, and making lots of music.  I even got a lot of basement clutter sorted through, making way for a bedroom and bathroom development this year.  While there is still a little debris laying around (after all, with all the keep-or-toss decisions and Value Village drop-offs, it's an enormous task), my husband and I got the lion's share done.

But tomorrow the face-to-face, finish-off-semester-1-or-3 happens.  Sometimes when I'm at home feeling like I'm getting bogged down in the organizational aspect of the music lessons, it is the promise of bringing the joy to people that keeps me focussed.  So can't wait to see you all.   Truly.

And for all of you waiting for Our Time, Village, Imagine That, or Family Time classes, our return to classes is in just a couple of weeks.  Are you smiling as big as I am?