Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Sunday, September 25

Seeing with our ears

We hear things all around us.  As I'm writing this our birds are fluttering in the background, my family is engaged in conversation, and the wi-fi printer is spitting out my son's college paper.  But I'm not really listening to any of it.  Just because I know it's happening, doesn't mean I'm really tuning in to it.  In fact, I have an uncanny ability to tune out things I don't want to hear in order to hear other things of greater importance to me.  Hearing is NOT listening.

We spend quite a bit of time in Kindermusik over the years developing a child's ability to intentionally listen to things.  In "Our Time" we offer the sounds of running water, for example.  Labelling it, listening to it on the stereo, and imitating it as we tell the story of "Pete and PJ".  

In "Imagine That", we listening to various songs told in conjunction with a playground story featuring "Josh and Katie", so that when we hear the melodies in a song medley, we can picture in our minds what to do with our bodies based on the associations we made with the story earlier.

In "Kindermusik for the Young Child" this past week, we spent a few minutes lying down and closing our eyes, and "watching" a story play out in our minds as a very talented musical story teller told us the story of the "Cumberland Mountain Bear Chase" using only his voice and his banjo.

In our very visually oriented world this can prove to be a huge challenge - staying engaged for several minutes with no pictures, only words.  But by settting up the story with telling the children to listen for how he makes the banjo sound like a swarm of mosquitos, and to listen for how he uses the banjo to make us feel like we are on the bear chase ourselves, the children were held in rapt attention the whole time.

In fact, by the end of the story, children were tapping their feet up and down during the chase - they were "living" the story, too!  Truly listening has it's benefits...an enhanced imagination, for one

Sunday, September 18

Living life on the positive side

There are moments in a person's life when a tiny gift has a profound impact.
When I first started teaching Kindermusik I received a bookmark with two columns of words.
One side had a list of personality characteristics.
The other side had a way of restating those same words with a different slant.

For example

Others might use the word....              Kindermusik community might say....

anxious                                               cautious, concerned
chatterbox                                           communicative
hyper-sensitive                                    responsive
intense                                                focused
non-participatory                                  observer
silly                                                     joyful
unpredictable                                       flexible

Reading through the list I started to notice how easy it was to go to the first list, but how much better the second list made me feel about my interactions with people.  It started a journey of trying to be careful in how I was interpretting situations and people's responses.

I discovered that my responses typically have more to do with my own state of mind than anything else.  If my world is going well and I'm feeling relaxed and great, it's easier to assume that others are on the same wave length.  If I'm emotionally on edge and irritated, my natural reaction is to assume that others are trying to irritate me.

For example, if I have asked one of my family to vaccuum the living room and hours later it is still not done, my first inclination is to be annoyed and assume that they are ignoring my request.  I go to that because my least favourite job in the house-keeping world is vaccuuming and I would tend to do just that - put it off.   But it could just as easily be that they either forgot or were busy doing homework.

Ignoring me?  -  My response - annoyed, irritated, mad
Forgot? -  My response - remind them
Busy with homework? - My response - ask them if another time would work better for them

I know I sometimes feel entitled to my first response, the one that assumes that things should run as I see them happening in my ideal world...but I have found that the choice that produces the best relationships is the one that assumes the best in and for people.  

This summer I met up with a friend of mine whose son had just a few days earlier broken his arm, putting him out of commission for so many summer activities.  As she was telling me about all the  complications that could arise from the fracture, I looked at her and said, "but it could just as easily NOT turn out to be any of those things, and heal up just fine."  And then I looked at this young man (18 years old) and said, "Besides, now that you have a plate in your wrist you can be a superhero - you know...you're reinforced now."  At first he looked at me kind of strangely, and then he started to smile. Then his mother said, "You know, you are the most positive person I know."

It's all how you choose to look at things!

Friday, September 9

How's a mother to know?

Don't you sometimes wish you had a stethoscope and one of those things that doctors use to look in patient's ears?   The trips I could have saved myself if I had been able to know the things that only doctors are privvy to.

We take temperatures, watch the clock for how long it's been since last medicating, apply bandages, wash off wounds....all the basics, but when it all comes down to the wire and our child isn't feeling well, we want some advice from someone more in the know than us.

Can't tell you the number of times I've been to the doctor's office when my kids were younger, quite concerned that they had been sick such a LONG time, only to be told that it's just a cold and nothing can be done but wait it out.  But then on the other hand, I've also been in the position where all of a sudden one of my children is holding their ear and is feverish, then going to the doctor and being told I should have been there days ago as the ear drum looks terrible!  Apparently my son was asymptomatic until his ear was ready to pop - so weird, and strangely perplexing.

Monday, September 5

Twas the night before...

Twas the night before classes, and what do I do?
Facebook and Blogger and read lesson notes, too.

I know that students going back to school is on everyone's mind, but teachers go back, too.  Tonight I'm finding that waiting for great things to begin can create a nervous excitement that is distracting to the rest of life.

I should clean a bathroom.   I should wash a floor.  Yet, I divert to my ways to connect with people - even indirectly, like email, facebook, blogging.

But tonight is about feeling ready for tomorrow.  Making sure the ipod is synced.  Making sure I remember the songs I've sung dozens of times.  Making sure that this week's class leaves you wanting more!

The posters are up, the instruments cleaned, the lesson notes checked.

Hope you are excited, too!  Good things are coming...