Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Saturday, April 30

Looking ahead to the next great thing

Party week is always a much anticipated event.  We do our favourite Kindermusik activities and we share in some party food and fun together.  Of course there are stamps and hugs, and talk of what is coming up in the next short while.

As I was telling the children that we need to be sure to "smile our best smiles"and wave our "friendly waving hands" because it will be a few weeks until we see each other again, Thomas, one of our Imagine That children, excitedly interjected,

"See you at the next CD!"

How great is that, to mark out time by the coming of a new CD?!!

"We love Razupazu Toto"

Thursday, April 28

Mexican Hat Dance

Monday was the celebration day for our senior Kindermusik students.  The lessons have been wrapped up.  We just had a day to do our favourite things and have some musical fun with our classmates - and, of course, share in some party food.

Before the parents came in the students had a chance to do the Mexican Hat Dance together and I took the opportunity to record it so the parents could see.  The first one is the 4 o'clock class.  You may notice that I forgot to put the sombrero in the middle for the first one : )   The second is the 5:15 class.  We had a few students missing, sadly, but here is the joy expressed by those present!

Friday, April 22

Insuring musical success - part two

Last time I posted I mentioned that parental involvement is very important in the long term love of music for children.   I also promised an expansion on the information - specifically the key component to having your child enjoy making music for a lifetime.

The most important aspect - not the only important aspect - but the most important is to make sure that your children visit their music lessons regularly.  In Kindermusik it means doing the home activities together each week.  As children move away from Kindermusik to private lessons, the practise becomes even more important than it was in Kindermusik for the Young Child.

In private music lessons, it is making sure that they practise...ideally 5 or 6 days a week.  While it would be excellent if children didn't need prompting or supervision to practise, the reality is most students, left to their own monitoring, won't practise enough to be effective.  That's where a parent's help comes in.  Making out a schedule of practise is the best way to go as it alleviates the need for daily discussions about whether it's a practise day or not.

Why is it essential?  At first, concepts in a music class can be understood intellectually quite quickly.  But in a short amount of time, concepts prove too challenging for fingers to do adequately without repetition.  The repetition of doing a moderate amount over several days solidifies muscle memory, making passages easier to master.  Although students may resist the discipline of daily practsie, ultimately it becomes its own reward as students progress at a satisfying rate, being able to play music that is both engaging and culturally relevant. Students who don't practise sufficiently get bored with having the same songs assigned for several weeks, and feel frustrated in music classes when others are moving ahead without them.

I do know a thing or two about students who don't like practising...I was one.  

Yes...I was a student who knew every trick in the book for pretending to practise when I wasn't.
I complained  about practising.
I asked to quit my piano lessons more times than I can remember.

Oh, don't get me wrong.  I alway loved music.  I just hated practising.
I loved being able to play.  The two concepts can co-exist.

So why did I stay in piano lessons?  One easy answer.

My mother wouldn't let me quit.  She tells me she saw talent that she didn't want me to waste.
And where would I be now if she would have let me?
I probably wouldn't know any of you.
Talk about a mother having an impact on the future!

Friday, April 15

Musical Insurance

It often starts with an email or a phone call.  A parent says they notice that their child is very musical and wants to have them in Kindermusik to encourage the development of their skills.  And so begins the journey.

There is a reason that Kindermusik asks parents to be involved in the music learning environment.  It is so much more than crowd control.  Very young children take their clues from their parents about how to respond to music.  If mom is enthusiastic about using the instruments, the child is more apt to be experimental.  If mom enters in with the dancing, the child will dance with more abandon.  If Dad helps with the home projects, the together time translates into "music activities are important and worth my time."

As your child finishes Kindermusik for the Young Child™ and moves on to private music lessons there is one thing that will insure your child's success:

a parent's involvement.

But how do you stay involved as your child gets older?

*Take them to live music. *Encourage them to join the choir, or Orff ensembles in elementary school.  *Offer private music lessons - piano, violin, guitar, voice, flute,  anything they are interested in.  *Go to their recitals and school concerts.  *Listen to them practise and tell them sincerely how much you love to hear them play.  *If you have a music background, offer to play a duet with them.  *Encourage them to join the band in Junior High School - **and find a school that has a fantastic band teacher!  *Play music in your home.  *Sing out loud.   *Give them opportunities to make music with others in extra-curricular venues such as church or after school bands.

If parental involvement is the biggest factor in insuring long-term musical enjoyment, what is the most important thing a parent can do?  That's a topic for next time.  Can you guess?

Sunday, April 10

Living the music

Easter musical passion play.  The preparations began weeks ago for me, but are in the final stages this week.

This is truly going to be one of the busiest, yet strangely best weeks (make that 10 days) of the year for me.  Part of me has an elevated heart rate while on a quiet Sunday night I anticipate the organizational feat it will be to live it, but part of me revels in the prospect.

As much as I love passing on the passion torch for music through music lessons, I also love being involved in the performing process.  I LOVE working with talented musicians in pulling together a performance.  Being right on stage and being surrounded by sound so loud you can't even hear your own voice is a consuming wave of adrenaline rush.  I'm certain I've lost some hearing capacity over the years because of my love of listening to music way too loudly.  I like to feel the vibrations and be completely immersed...kinda weird for a mother of teenagers, I know.  But we all have our quirks.

This past weekend I was enjoying another live music event - "Tosca" - at the opera.   The staging was great, the symphony was beautiful, the singing was amazing.  But I felt a little disconnected as the seats were too far away to feel like I was really living it.  Plus with having to check the Engish translations projected overhead all the time, it was like slipping in and out of the story.  Not complaining...just wishing it was  closer.

I'm a front row girl.  I like to be right up where the action is, taking it all in as if I were actually in the event...on stage...in the story...in the moment.  I like to see the actors facial expressions, the nuanced movements, the longings inferred.  The arts are so much more than getting the notes right - it's about connecting with the audience through shared emotion and experience.  And it's so much easier to do when you are right up front.

Come live the moment with me next weekend - April 16 - 19 at Millwoods Assembly 
                                                                                                    (23 Ave & 66 St.)
Come early and sit right up front where the action is.
Immerse yourself in the story and emotion.
Feel the music and the passion.
You'll have a night to remember.

Wednesday, April 6

Musical feet

Brains are a wonderfully curious thing.  We feed them information and they combine it in all kinds of new and creative, unexpected ways.

In class we often teach feet to dance and tap the beat.  But I didn't know that feet can have connections to reading music, too!

I got an email yesterday from a Kindermusik Mom, Melanie,  who has been bringing her girls to class since they were just months old.  In her own words, "I don't think we have missed a semester.  Kindermusik is a constant in our activity schedule, an integral part of our daily interaction."  

Melanie's daughter, Estelle, is in the Kindermusik for the Young Child classes where we have been teaching the students about reading music on the musical staff.  For those of you without a music background, the staff is a set of five lines and four spaces that the black music notes are placed on.  As she was going about her daily life at home, Estelle had been looking at her feet and remarked,

"Hey, Mama!  My feet are just like a staff chart.  There are 5 lines (toes) and 4 spaces (in between)."

To all you moms who share your stories with me of your home kitchen dances, spontaneous car ride sing-a-longs, or grocery store saves with Kindermusik songs - please don't ever stop.  Your reflections about how Kindermusik is being integrated into everyday family moments makes my day!  Hope this one helped you smile, too!