Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Wednesday, February 23

When dogs wake up in the morning

When dogs wake up in the morning they always say "Good Day".
Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff - That is what they say.
In my house, "ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff" really means "where's my breakfast?"

That aside, one of the big benefits of encouraging your child to sing along to animal sound songs is an increase of vocalization.  Many children who are delayed in speech happily try animal sounds as a starting point.  But beyond the remedial aspect, animal sound imitation is an excellent opportunity to explore the many ways of using the voice in expressive and unique ways.

As children move past the toddler stage into the preschool years, children LOVE being challenged with the silliness of mixing up animal sounds.  For example, you could sing "when dogs wake up in the morning they always say 'Good Day'....meow, meow, meow, meow."  You can be sure they will catch your mistake and be the eager teacher.

Of course, dogs say more than "ruff".  You may want to do an investigation and find out how to say animal sounds in other languages.  Did you know that in French dogs say "ouah", or that in German dogs say "wau, wau" or Italian dogs say "arf, arf"?

How about getting out 3 or 4 stuffed animals today and having a United Nations bark-a-long, encouraging dogs from around the world to come to the home grown choir?  Not into dogs?  Find out what a cat says in Spanish.

I'll start you out by sending you to senselist.com.

Friday, February 18

Patterns and predictability

Have you ever noticed how when we read a story, the events always happen in the same sequence?  We are teaching our children about how to tell a story by the predictability of the events.  For example, the bluebird song in "Animal Serenade" is always first - and the mouse page always has us "peeping" through our fingers.  It's important to the reader or listener to have events told in a cohesive, and logical way so that the story is fully understood.

Additionally, telling a story to your children in a predictable way now, will help them develop essay skills when they are older.  And using your hands to tell a story to a young child, helps engage them with another sensation, increasing their attention and retention.  

Monday, February 14

The man behind the scenes

Ever hear of the woman behind the man?  You know, the one who helps out so that everything looks smooth for the work life?   Today I want to mention the man behind the woman who brings  Kindermusik to your family.

Why today more than other days?  Valentine's Day is the day I said "Yes" and became officially engaged.  And this year it's 25 years that I've been wearing this ring.  Maybe you've seen our picture together in the classroom, but in case you haven't, here is the man that brings joy to my heart.  As much as I'm an upfront person, he is a behind the scenes guy.  If ever there is a job to be done, he's the guy that will be there for me.  Or anyone else, for that matter.  A friend of ours said just hours ago, "whenever I see Greg driving up, I always get the feeling that everything is going to be alright."

When I wanted to start up the Kindermusik business, he encouraged me to go for it.  When I made the move from teaching at home to teaching in a rented facility, he was the one who helped make the space work.  He is hands on help for moving, ripping out carpet, painting walls, hanging hooks.  Our magnificently transformed classroom is thanks to him!

There are a thousand ways I have come to love this man over the years.  A thousand ways to be proud of him.  So to my amazing husband, Greg...Thank you!  I could never have done this without you.  And I'd still choose you.

Saturday, February 12

Happy share the love day!

Tomorrow we are having the extended family over for a family dinner.  It's a great time to get out the heart shaped dishes, the red table cloth and white plates and just fuss it up all for the sake of celebrating the love of family!

In the busyness of life it's easy to let things slip by, but family time is REALLY important.  And it's fun to make a big deal out of certain days.

But as fun as all the hearts and chocolate is, it's the everyday life that matters so much more.  The daily servings of looking after each other, homemade chocolate chip cookies, or filling up your spouse's gas tank.  It's the snuggling up with a favorite children's book, or putting on a movie and making popcorn to eat together.  It's developing a library of favorite songs - you know, the ones you laugh at, or dance to, or smile about secret meanings.

By now your family has a few Kindermusik songs on that list.  The family rocking time with the stuffies is meant to provide families with intentional time to connect physically and emotionally, using the power of music.  The lap bounces provide some emotional connection through humour and fun.  And the dances serve to join us together as a whole classroom.  As the  children get older and participate in Kindermusik more independently, the music at home provides a connection point for doing projects together.  Making an instrument together to bring to class, or practising note names together using smarties for note circles provide opportunities for parents to build into their child's life and learning.

So celebrate your family this Valentine's Day!  You've got a lot of memories to look back on already!

Tuesday, February 8

A song in their heart

Walking up the big spiral staircase to class the other day I heard the happy sounds of a little girl singing all the way up.  Dad was waiting at the top and ready to participate in class with her.  What a happy way to start the day!
Another mother was telling me about her 19 month old daughter singing "Ru ruque" (one of our beloved songs from the Fiddle Dee Dee children's book, "Animal Serenade") at home.  I later found a video of it on that mom's blog - SO sweet!

While playing instruments in class during Family Jam I was leaning over a 15 month old girl while reaching for an instrument and heard her humming away.  

And then as we were singing "Bow wow wow, whose dog art thou?" while passing around Rover (our classroom stuffed dog), I saw one of our youngest boys singing in perfect rhythm.  It was too loud in the class with all of us singing to hear his voice specifically, but I could see his lips forming the actual syllables.

Those are just a few examples of what I have been witness to this past week or two.  Just know that sharing our songs in Kindermusik is a great step towards a lifetime love of music.  When music is a regular and normal part of your family life, children grow up to be lifetime lovers of music.

Case in point, this afternoon while I'm blogging this, my 19 year old son who is supposedly studying in his room can be heard singing.  He has no idea we can hear him through the vents in the house, but it warms my heart to be listening in.  And my daughter found a DVD of "Mama Mia" while dusting the living room just now and suddenly broke out into song.  

If your child is not yet singing out loud in class, don't panic.  There are ways to encourage it.

Keep playing your Kindermusik CD's and sing along yourself!
Your enthusiasm for music will be "catchy" and rub off on your children.
Watch and see if when you do Kindermusik at home your children are singing along there. Some children are shy about singing in front of others, but they'll happily sing at home.
Make singing games - start with a familiar song, then change a few lyrics to make it a sillier version!

Your voice is your instrument that you carry with you wherever you go.  Encourage your child's mastery!  Clap, cheer, sing along.  And have you heard me mention that singing releases endorphins, those feel good hormones?    It's true! 

Sunday, February 6

Advancing Skills

The last couple of posts have been about the younger crowd in Kindermusik.  But Kindermusik is more than just for the very youngest.  Some families start Kindermusik when the children are babies - and then keep coming throughout the full 7 year curriculum.   The benefits of this are many, including being able to participate in music in an unself-conscious way.   They become as familiar with music making as they are with breathing.  Very young children typically approach the arts with abandon, but they become self-conscious about it as they age from lack of reinforcing encouragement.  When not used, they lose their natural music making self.

Yesterday, we had a beautiful example of musical advancement in our Kindermusik classroom.  In Family Time classes we have multiple ages represented, all the way from Village age to Young Child.  In this past class we were exploring some singing concepts and I quickly explained to the parents that we were going to try some "call and response".  In vernacular terms it is "echoing".  First I would sing a few notes and then the families would sing back whatever I sang.

So I sang my 4 notes to an easy lyric (ie. "tap, tap, tap your toes"), and without missing a beat, one of my "Young Child" students who had come to his sister's Family Time class, sang out "tap, tap, tap your toes." He sang in perfect pitch matching, he sang out confidently, and led the other adults in boldly making music.  It kind of took us all by surprise.  Even the parents efforts paled in comparison.

In my heart I was beaming!  Here was living proof that Kindermusik makes a difference.  Not only has this boy developed musical confidence, he was leading the way for others!  Awesome!!

Wednesday, February 2

One more time

I have favorite songs that no matter how many times I hear them, they make me smile.
I have favorite movies that I watch again and again.
I have books that I have read over and over.

Doing the same things can be a reassuring, restoring, reinforcing event.  There is a comfortable place in our brains that loves the replay of pleasurable experiences.  It makes us happy to know what to expect and to relive the moment.  

That's why in Kindermusik classes we repeat activities.  We use the bells to play along to "The Tailor and the Mouse".   We use the scarves to sweep up and sing "The Broom Man",  or we play the "Lucy Locket" game - week one, week two, and again on week three. 

Repetition helps to solidify learning, but it also helps people to feel at ease and comfortable.  So when we do our activites in a similar way from week to week, know that your child is getting the advantage of fully exploring ideas and concepts, and coming to feel that Kindermusik is as comfortable as a favorite blanket.

But there is also room for variation.  You'll notice that as we tap along to "Old Joe Clark" in Fiddle Dee Dee that there is a different way of tapping each week.  We expand the activity to include more ways to tap the sticks, and then we put the sticks in a hidden space and use our hands to clap along the steady beat.    Or another example would be that in Young Child classes, we explore  new ways of writing down music, using note circles on paper staff charts, the floor staff, and the flannel note chart - the variety helps to ensure that the concept is received through at least one of the modes of presentation.

Why not take your home instrument this week and play along to a recording on your home CD?   Then, ask your child how you could do it differently next time.

Or take time for yourself, make a big bowl of popcorn and watch your favorite movie again.  Sounds inviting, doesn't it?  After all, haven't you seen "Cars" or "Cinderella" just about 3 times past enough : )