Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Sunday, August 28

Kindermusik makes parenting easier

We've all been there.
"So much to do.  How am I ever going to get it all done."
A to-do list a mile long, and meanwhile, your child is wanting you
 to play with
to watch
to read to
to be there for
or her.

What's a parent to do?

Where do you go when your ideas are running short?
There are people who have done this before.  Millions.  But how do you know where to go to get the ideas?  I don't want "Google".  I want tried and true, face-to-face answers.

Kindermusik classes are just the place.  Not only do you hear advice from the expert developers of our curriculum, but parents who have been where you are at also attend the classes and know lots of ways to help.  Parents helping parents is a great place for ideas on how to make dinner and entertain a small child at the same time.  Or how to fold laundry while your two year old is wanting your attention, too.

But what I've heard more times than I can count is that Kindermusik has saved the day on long car trips, in doctor's offices, in grocery store line-ups, calming a crying infant, and even helping "owies" feel better.  The familiar songs and rhymes, the happy memories associated with our classes, and the parent-child bonding moments created have cemented wonderful neural connections in the brain of so many, many children.  Connections that when activated send messages of "this is amazingly awesome stuff - be happy".  And a happy, peaceful child is the sweet spot of any parenting experience.  The place where you look at your child and go "Ahhhhhh - life is good".

Kindermusik activities done in class become Kindermusik activities that can happen at home.  Maybe you remember getting out the laundry baskets in a Village class and scooting your baby around the floor while singing "Riding in a buggy baby mine, baby mine..." .   Your laundry day could have spontaneous buggy rides at home, with delighted squeals on the part of your child echoing in the background.

Or maybe your to-do list involves driving on a long car trip.  You could dig out the "On the Road" CD from summer camp this year and try several of the activities that the "Fluglehorn family" tried on their road trip.

If you have some cooking to do, you could get out your "Cookies" book and remind your child about how food is made, before tying on a tea towel apron and letting them help.  With the positive associations of these beloved Kindermusik activities, you are sure to have some very eager participants, and your role as "teacher of small children" becomes a breeze.  Who knew?  Parents of Kindermusik students do!!

Monday, August 22

25 years!

On our Alaska Cruise at the Hubbard Glacier
August 23, 1986.  1:00 pm.  
White dress.  White tuxedo.  Friends and family.  I choose you...
First apartment.  First vacations.  First child.  First house.
More years.  More children.
Money challenges.  Job changes.  School changes.  
Friends change.  Extended family changes.  Even some health challenges.

And we are more in love than ever.  

In the words of that infamous song you wrote for me...
"We go together like peas in a pod
Corn on the cob,
Cheese and apple pie.
Dirt bikes and trails,
Boats and their sails
Til the planes fall from the sky."   (Don't know about that last line, but it is what it is...)

Love to you always.  I still choose you.

Better Together

Meeting new friends.
Connecting with friends already made.
Shared passion.

These are the things of our weekly classes, but most currently, the Kindermusik Conference.  While I'm busy getting ready for the upcoming schedule of classes, I like to take some time in the summer to connect with my Kindermusik colleagues.  This year the conference was in Calgary (yeah....just a short drive!!) and I was able to see what's up and coming, meet some great Kindermusik support people/teachers, and spend some time encouraging the new educators.

Got some new ideas for class that I can't wait to share with you all.  Afterall, Kindermusik isn't about me learning stuff - it's about sharing our knowledge and musical experience together.  Me with you. You with me.  And Kindermusik home office sharing thier experience and expertise with us all!  We are better together.  We've all got something to contribute.

That's you, too!!  Did you know that the energy and enthusiasm you bring to the class is a boost for us all?  The energy of friendship, connecting with our children, and making music together is a powerful force.  Can't wait to make the magic happen all over again : )

Saturday, August 13

Patterns, Predictability, and the Power of Surprise

While on holidays this summer I was browsing in a bookstore (one of my favourite time indulgences) and came across a book called, How We Decide.  A curious title to a book that I have found enormously interesting.  Have I mentioned that my degree is actually in psychology and that I have always been fascinated with how the brain works?

I was particularly struck by a chapter talking about how patterns are so important to our brain's development.  Children love to have things repeated, and repeated some more .  Their growing brains thrive on the dopamine release when the events they come to expect happen in a certain way.

Have you ever noticed how we do some activities just the same in Kindermusik each week?  The hello and goodbye songs are an obvious example.  But we always get to use instruments, we always sing, we always have a story during "Our Time", and many more.

Patterns make children happy.  Knowing what to expect and having things happen in that way not only helps children know what to expect and feel at ease, it's also how they mark time.  Physiologically speaking, the meeting of those expectations through the fulfillment of predicted events releases the feel good hormone, dopamine, which is why having a schedule for children makes them feel happy.  For example, children usually dash over to the "ball bin" as soon as they come to class because the balls are fun, but also because they are almost always available at arrival time.   Or another example would be how children start looking for the "stuffies" once we are done the story in  Our Time, because rocking the stuffies always follows the story time.  On the flip side, one very disappointed little girl started softly crying one day when at the conclusion of a class she realized that we had left out the story that day to accomodate having more time for our class party at the end.  Things were not as she expected, and she missed that one element.

But the brain also enjoys a good surprise, the author, Jonah Lehrer, points out.  When things don't happen as expected it causes the brain to go into an "alert" mode, drawing extra attention to what is going on.  That's why we tweek activities from week to week.  While one week we may sing a song while clapping our hands, the next we may sing the song while bouncing on Mom's lap, or marching around the room, or adding "train whistle" sound effects.  All the added nuances add to the brain's ability to sort through information and form a network for future experiences.  Patterns are solidified through repetition, but enhanced through small changes that make us pay extra attention to the new information.

All that to say, when you come to Kindermusik classes, not only are you encouraging a musical education, you are also encouraging your child's understanding of an organized world, and furthering their ability to successfully predict and adapt to events.   And another reason to add to the list of why Kindermusik is good value for your money.  It's music lessons and a great way to enhance your child's brain growth, understanding of patterns, and ability to pay attention to detail!

Sunday, August 7

Rising to the challenge

A couple of months ago,  I had a conversation with my daughter about finishing off her requirements for her Grade 8 piano exam.  She had done the actual playing of songs and technique back in January, but she still had the theory (written component) to do.  Her initial response was that it wasn't that important and she'd do it in the fall (translation:  maybe we could just post-pone that indefinitely), but cirucumstances arose, and it was decided that she should do the exam in August.

Needless to say, doing pages and pages of theory work in July was not her favorite thing to do.  But yesterday when she wrote her exam and felt confident in her answers it was a great opportunity to remind her that she had achieved a great thing.  Being able to say that she had finished grade 12 equivalency in musical accomplishment while having just finished grade 10 in school is something she should be proud of.  It was a great teachable moment, reminding her that on the way to getting something we really want, there are often elements that we would rather by-pass.

You're nodding your head in agreement, I can tell.

Hmmm....so many examples from real life...

I love having a clean bathroom, but it's a chore to clean that tub.
I love feeling more energetic, but the workout sweat I could live without.
I love having kids that are musically talented, but it was a BIG time commitment to have them practise regularly, sometimes having to sacrifice time and money, too.

When I look at the examples I see so many emotions - fear, dread, disappointment at opportunities missed while pursuing our goals.
But there is also pride, and joy, and self-confidence.

Children have so much to learn:  Choosing their own clothes to wear.  Brushing their own teeth.  Learning to tie shoe laces.  Cutting their own food.  Riding a two-wheeled bicycle.  Making their own bed.  Learning to play an instrument.  Solving a difficult math problem.  Taking the bus by themselves for the first time.   Learning to use a new computer program.  All opportunities to grow self-confidence and feel pride in who they are becoming!

Kids may complain...OK,  they probably will complain...but in the end...(down the road, maybe a few years from now) they will be so thankful that Mom or Dad took the time to teach them how, coach them through the challenging emotions, and cheer on their success!

 And in our house,  cheering on success often involves a trip to Dairy Queen : )

Tuesday, August 2

The Top Ten

So right off the top I am going to tell you that there is a guest on the blog today.  My friend, Analiisa Reichlin, has one of the largest Kindermusik studios in the world and has a GREAT blog on her website.  I subscribe to it, read it, and am often inspired myself by it.  The other day I was reading her post and was so impressed by it, I asked her permission to post it on my blog.  She was happy to share!  Maybe you would like to subscribe to her blog as well - she, and her other educators have a lot of great information, inspiration, and mom-to-mom stuff to share.
The link is   www.studio3music.com/blog
It’s August, and like moms everywhere, I’m starting to plan my kids’ schedules for the school year. It can be a tough balance between activities and family. The hours between after school and bedtime (homework, playing, reading together, practice, chores) are important to me. This is my rule when I think about filling them – when my children are grown, will they remember all the stuff they did, or the experiences of being a family?  Are they going to pattern their own family life after time spent together or apart? After all, they’ll learn how to be a mom or a dad by watching my husband and I be a mom and dad.
My kids have youth group/club one night a week. I think two additional activities is enough here in the elementary years. (Every family is different. 3 works for us. Your number may be 1 or 5. Just keep in mind the end goal – time with you for learning, love and fun!) We always do a sport/physical activity (they choose), and music.
Most people don’t need an explanation about why sports are good, but why music? When kids enter elementary school, sports are usually stepped up, and music abandoned. I love this collection of the top ten reasons to keep up music throughout the school years:
1. In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems. – Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.
2Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills. – Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.
3. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background. – Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.
4. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased. – “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.
5First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction. – K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.
6. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change. – Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.
7. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculum reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group. – Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.
8Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives. – “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.
9. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels. – The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.
10College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness. – Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.
-posted by Miss Analiisa, who is a proud momma of a flutist, violinst, and soon to be Kindermusik Young Child student!