Welcome to my Kindermusik space...

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

Saturday, December 22

Baking and belonging

Beautiful day today.  Christmas-y.
Grey skies, but the snow is falling.
Freezing outside.  Warm by the oven.
Gifts wrapped under the tree (this hardly ever happens for me before Christmas Eve)
Candles burning.
Dishes washed.
Dog sleeping on the couch wishing she could go out for a walk in the -20° weather.
Preparation lists are made and ready to be checked off.

Last night I was contemplating (OK, think/complaining) about how much of the Christmas preparation is Mom's job.  Shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking, decorating.  But then in a flash of recollection I remembered several blogs I had read this past week on the beauty of "normal" and how, so often, just being with our family is such a forgotten blessing.  Attitude check.  So very happy to be able to do THIS.

Got me to thinking about 6 Christmases ago when my Dad was so suddenly taken from this world and how glad the family was to have each other around the Christmas Day table even though we all were still in shock about Dad being "home for Christmas".  I think about that each year around this time.  That the real gift is having people you love, who love you back.  Belonging to another.  Being someone's daughter.  Someone's friend.  Someone's mother.  Someone's someone special.  All the rest is just tokens of that.  Reminders of the real thing.

Like many families, ours has some that won't be there for Christmas.  My Dad.  My grandparents.
But we will remember them through shared memories.  For me and many in my family we have food memories.  Music memories.  Holiday memories.

Going to my grandparent's house and making a giant puzzle over the course of several days.  Aunts and uncles putting in a few pieces here and there.  My grandma putting in a few more.  Children scrambling to find one to press in.  (Do you remember the sweet feeling of pushing a piece in and having it just fit?)  And always there were grandma's buns.  No one could make them like her.  She didn't even use a written recipe she had made them so many times.   As a teenager, I thought that someone had to learn to make "Grandma's buns" because one day she won't be around to make them and the recipe will be lost forever.  So I went over one day and she talked me through the procedure, and I wrote it down.

Well, today as I was making "Grandma's buns" for the umpteenth time, I did a mental flash forward to tomorrow when we gather around my extended family's table in Spruce Grove and how we will all remember Grandma as we pass around the bread basket.  And how we will remember my maternal grandmother as we pass the "corn pudding".

And I will forever think of my son Colson when I make the "candy cane cookies" - his request every year!  My daughter always wants sugar cookies.   And my son Evan wanting the gingerbread cookies from the recipe I got from his Kindergarten teacher on the first day he went to school.

My Mom always brings the Krem (a Swedish dessert from dried fruit and served with whipped cream and chopped walnuts, and a marachino cherry on top if you prefer).

There will be a turkey.  Tons of mashed potatoes for my nieces who will make mountains and pour in a lake of gravy.  But there will be a gathering of hearts.  Amidst the table talk and passing of pickles and laughing over how we serve up pickled herring that so few people take, we will hold our family collection of memories with those around the table and those who are watching from heaven.   We will hug and laugh and pass out presents, and be glad to belong to each other.

The food is just a token to remind us of that.  Maybe that's why we call it our comfort food.
Comfort and Joy to you this Christmas!
And love.

Sunday, December 16

More of what you really want

I'd like to start by saying that Christmas is one of my favourite times of year!
The decorations
The food
The happy feeling you get by sharing a greeting of "Merry Christmas" to friends and strangers alike
The shows
The candles

But one thing has been escaping me the last few Christmases.

The quiet moments of reflection
The settled evenings by the fire
The just being together with the people I love without an agenda of program or presents

So a few weeks ago, I had an idea.  Instead of trying to juggle my daily agenda to be able to squeeze in one more important "to do" item, I was going to daily try to do one thing less than I would have otherwise done.  I am forever struggling with wanting to do "just one more thing".  

Look at one more store
Wipe off one more counter
Put away a few more papers
Pick up a few more things at the grocery store
Put in one more load of laundry before I leave
Send out one more email
Make one more batch of cookies

Sometimes the "one more thing" would end up meaning that I'd lost the big picture and didn't have time for what I most wanted - the quiet moment with a book, a song, or a friend.  In my attempts to make my environment suitable for having a perfect moment, I would miss out on what I was creating the mood for - the main event of peace and a full heart.

Well as the saying goes, if you want things to turn out differently you have to start by doing things differently.  So I made the decision to let my mind make the list of the things I "needed" to do, and then take one thing off.  My first reaction was panic - like the world as I knew it was going to be in disarray and I wouldn't be able to shut off my sense of disappointment with not accomplishing my list.

But as it turns out, doing one thing less has led to a greater sense of joy and peace.  I've had a bit of tongue-in-cheek laughter over just "lowering your standards" if things start getting beyond your ability to control, but the truth is that sometimes my standards got in the way of my heart's true satisfaction.  No amount of fresh cookies or striving for a perfectly clean home ever made my heart feel content like spending an evening with my husband, or putting my feet up and curling up with a good book, or having a fire in the fireplace with a cup of tea in my hand while listneing to my kids playing the piano.  Or just reading the Christmas cards that come to our home from friends and family far and near and taking the time to send a note back.

So many good things call for my attention each day.  So many things I thought I'd like to have done.  But choosing to do one thing less has helped me to feel like I actually have done more of what matters.     Seems so simple.

Sunday, November 25

The many benefits of early childhood music

Each week I prepare classes for your child to enjoy!  There is a plan.  There is fun!  But beyond the fun aspect, have you ever wondered to yourself, "what is my child getting out of Kindermusik?"

That is a question I could explore at length, but here are a few of the most foundational benefits of Kindermusik - and in particular, staying in Kindermusik over the long term:

Children exposed to GREAT music learn to appreciate the finer aspects of complex sounds, engaging both the analytical mind and creative areas of the brain.

One of the strongest pulls of music is towards the universal connectedness it gives us.  People all around the world make music, love music, and bond over engaging in it together.  Some dance to it, some sing along with it, some listen to it, and some pick up an instrument and make music.  It can be enjoyed individually or as a group, but ultimately it is a gift of self-expression from one person to another.  Music gives people a voice for things sometimes too difficult to say.

Kindermusik classes help your child develop a sense of self control.  Our "Stop hands", are an excellent way of empowering our children to do something different "right now".  Being in control of our physical movements is self-rewarding to young children.

Learning to be reflective on the needs of those around us is a social skill that serves not only the individual, but our sense of community and belongingness.  Taking turns, watching that we are "being kind to our neighbours" are concepts best learned in context with other people.  For example, sometimes it is our turn to play an instrument, sometimes we need to let others have a turn.  Experiencing the rewards of turn taking is a great benefit of group classes.  In more advanced classes, children learn how when they listen to the parts other children are playing and blend their own voicing with others' , wonderful harmonies happen!

Finger plays are an excellent way of strengthening fine motor skills.  Fine motor skills are necessary for learning to use a pencil to write, typing out essays for school work,  buttoning up shirts, and tying shoe laces.

Moving our bodies throughout the space in the room provides vestibular stimulation.  Not only do we crave movement, our bodies use movement to help our brains sort through the other stimulation that comes to our brain every moment of the day.  Moving in a rocking, swaying, expressive way provides visual stimulation, a creative outlet, comfort, and relaxation.  And the pretend play of rocking our stuffies engages their sense of nurturing, too!

Kindermusik classes are not only fun, but they are also age-appropriate in their approach to laying a STRONG foundation of musical literacy.  Keeping a steady beat to an external sound source, feeling the difference between short and long sounds, being responsive in various degrees of volume, and eventually being able to read not only rhythm patterns, but pitch as well are all elements of music making that are necessary for the more complex aspects of playing in bands or ensembles later in life.  Even if your child does not grow up to be a professional musician, he or she will have enough skills to enhance their life experience through a deeper appreciation of how music is made and it's relevance to celebrations and self-expression.

With all these benefits (and so many more that reasonable space does not allow) music lessons have always been an essential part of my children's education.  I hope yours, too!  There is not a single activity out there that provides as much for your child's overall development as a person as music does - a bold statement, but true!

Sunday, November 18

Who are you?

When I brought my first-born home from the hospital it was a warm May morning.  I remember the sense of joy and fear mixed together, thinking, "what on earth am I doing?  I don't know what to do with a baby?  What if he is crying and I don't know what to do?  How do I find out what he needs?"

Living through a few months of colic and trying to figure out how to calm an evening-fussy boy was a challenge - but we learned a little of who he was and what would bring him relief.  But there were pleasant surprises, too.  In the days of trying to baby-proof the house, if we told him ONCE not to touch something - that was all he needed.  Never touched it again!!  Challenges and gifts wrapped up together in one little boy

Then baby number two came and I wondered how I would manage with 2 young ones.  What if they are both needing me at the same time?  What if I don't ever get to sleep again?  What if son number two doesn't listen like son number one? (And he didn't.)

In time, we figured that out, too.  I figured that our second son was an early morning person, while our first son was geared to more evening time activity and sleeping in til much later.  We also found out that our second son was much more naturally outgoing.  Each child completely different.

Our daughter came a couple of years later, and we discovered her personality was (not shockingly) different from her brothers.  She loved to talk.  She loved fashion.  She loved to play in the toilet (she is completely horrified at that now, by the way)!  Parenting our little girl was both a joy and a new learning experience.

Even though my husband and I are the same people we always are, we have developed a different relationship with each of our children.  Each person brings a set of attributes to the developing relationship, and all those factors merge together to create a unique personal connection - a connection that  changes over time, depending on the growth of each person.  All that to say, as we parent our children, we can expect that our best relationship will come with each child as we ackowledge that they are growing and maturing, and need something different from us over the years.  And they need us to lead the way to better connection by carefully watching to see what and where their hearts are headed.

The same is true with teaching.  Finding a child's natural curiosity and learning style and teaching to that will bring out learning moments that are unique.
Some children are very tentative and having the familiar security of having a parent there is a constant source of strength and reassurance.
Other children like to explore and have freedom to move out on their own, knowing that Mom and Dad will be there when they need them.
Some children like to learn while on the move.
Some like to stay focussed with quiet, organized activities.
Each style is fine.  Just different and important to that child.

When you are in the classroom, or in your home, or out in the bigger world of your community, make it your mission to find out who your child is.  Your relationship with your child will be greatly enhanced not only by finding out who they are and what is important to them, but also how your natural style can be adapted to create a stronger connection with them.  Is that a tall order?  Sometimes.  But being connected with your child is worth the leadership effort that it is!

Friday, October 26

Bringing Calm to Chaos

8 children.  One teacher.  8 stories to hear at once.  One pair of ears to listen.  16 busy feet eager to move and explore and 1 teacher with a lesson plan.  Sometimes that lesson plan is challenged and stretched with an excited and distracted bunch of learners..

Laughing, giggling.  Wiggling and whispering.  Talking and conspiring.  Hiding and sneaking away.  What's a teacher to do?  As much fun as we have in class, sometimes children have an agenda all their own and the challenge to bring back the attention is on.

A secret that I learned several years ago has worked for me as a mother and as a teacher, and it's the complete opposite of what so many instinctively go to.

Getting louder escalates the noise and commotion.  Becoming quieter brings a more peaceful and attentive focus to class.

Using a quieter, more breathy toned voice makes those around you feel more relaxed.  Speaking more quietly draws those around you to listen more attentively, instead of competing with you with more noise.  And looking directly into the eyes of those you are trying to get attention from is a magical force that says, "I see you, and your attention matters to me".

Parents, teachers, and leaders set the tone for those they are setting to direct and inspire.  If you want a peaceful and attentive child/following, start with setting the right atmosphere with a calm and quiet demeanor yourself.

Sunday, September 23

Dealing with the drama

It's Kindermusik class and time to begin.  You are still coming up the stairs when you hear the "Hello" song being sung.   "Ahhh....we are LATE again!  I wish my son would just hurry up and get in the car when I need him to."

or how about this one....

"It's the 3rd Kindermusik class of the semester and my daughter is still not sitting still during the story time....she goes right up and stands in front of the book so no one else can see.   Why won't she sit on her bum like all the other kids?"

and then there's....

"My son refuses to go get the instruments in the middle of class.  I always have to get them myself.   What is the problem?"

Does this one sound familiar?

"My daughter starts acting up the minute I walk into the class for parent sharing time!!   I certainly hope she's not like this when I'm not here!!"  

This past week I have had conversations with several parents about these and other situations.  It's hard being a parent, knowing what to do when your hopes for what you want to see happen don't match up with your child's challenges.   My experience as a mother tells me that we all want the best for our children, and yet they aren't always in the same zone of wanting what we want for them - or seeing the need for it, for that matter.   What's a parent to do?

While it is important to have goals for your children, it's also important to recognize that your children come with a different set of gifts, strengths, and challenges than you.  Additionally, they are also very young and haven't yet mastered, of course, the social scene of considering others' needs.

Coming to class and having the opportunity to explore these skills through repeated exposure is the best way to reinforce those lessons.  They won't be perfect.  They will want to respond to their impulses.  But through patient reinforcement of the concepts we hope to nurture, they will make progress in time.

Just last week I saw a child who normally is VERY busy in class settle into a quieter routine about 20 minutes into class and then stay in that zone for the rest of the class.  Modelling for several weeks brought about change in time.  Still a work in progress.

And then there was a conversation with a mother whose daughter last year would not leave her side, get instruments from the middle, or give me eye contact.  This year she dances, gets instruments, helps bring things back, and even comes up after class and gives me a hug!  Huge progress!!

One thing we ALL need to remember is that each child is on a growth journey.  Your child, in all likelihood, will have challenges that your don't see in other children.  Or maybe you are reading this and are in that sweet spot of having your child love every moment of class and not really exhibitting anything you'd like to change just now.   Please be patient as other families move through their moments of transition.   I know you all remember what it's like to feel at your end of ideas, strength, and patience.  Rather than wishing the challenges away, celebrate the successes as you see them and offer parents your unconditional support.  One day you'll need it, too!

We are moving together to create a more caring, expressive, and community-oriented childhood while we foster our LOVE of making music!  One day, one class at a time.

Wednesday, August 22

Who's memories?

Had an interesting conversation at supper tonight.  My husband was commenting on how a work associate of his was going to the hospital with his wife the next morning, and their child was going to be born!  They were placing wagers on whether the husband was going to make it without passing out. Men can be a little less sentimental about the process than women at times.

With our two grown sons sitting at the table with us, Greg and I started reminiscing about our own delivery days...how when our first baby came, we didn't call ANYONE for about 3 hours after he was born, wanting to just savour the intimacy of our own intoxicatingly wonderful moment with our baby!

I'm a mixture of horrified (I would feel just as disappointed as our parents did, I'm sure, if that were to happen to me as a grandparent one day) and still strangely happy that we had our time together as just the 3 of us!  Of course, Evan, our son, remembers none of this - it has become a memory for Greg and I to share alone.

Then we talked about how different each child is from the other.  How our daughter curled her index finger around her nose when she would suck her thumb, how our sons each had their must-have blanket.  And none of our kids remember any of it.

The things we remember as parents of our children's early years become just stories to them.  Pictures help to fill in the gaps, but in some ways these stories we tell them in their grown up years are about a person they no longer know.  As grown-ups we remember those little people, but the little people have moved on and have been replaced by new, more grown-up  people that we learn to forge new relationships with.  How we relate to our children as toddlers is COMPLETELY different than the way we relate with them as elementary children or teenagers.  Parents learning to let go of the childhood ways is a challenge for they hold a beauty never to be had again.  The smell of a newborn head.  The cuddles with bedtime stories.  The holding of hands as you walk through the park.  All those come to an end one day.

But they are replaced with conversations about issues and important heart sharing.  Watching my children grow and take on adult responsibilites and be contributors to the welfare of others has been soul stirring and affirming.  But the letting go...every once in a while I miss those little ones who used to sit on my lap and fall asleep in my bed.

I will be the story teller.  The one who tells my now grown children about the little ones I once knew.
And they smile as they hear the love in my voice, and their inner child feels it, too.

Thursday, July 26

Little eyes are watching

I remember one evening years ago when my kids were much younger.  We had some company over and it was typical for the kids to be playing downstairs while we adults were upstairs having adult conversations.  I don't remember exactly what we were talking about, but I do remember hearing something very quiet in the hallway, and discovering that one of my sons had tiptoed upstairs and was listening in on what we were talking about.  I'm sure it wasn't horrifyingly awkward, but I do remember thinking that I hope we weren't saying anything that we didn't want him to hear.  Little ears are listening.

My daughter has taken to watching very closely what I eat.  I've transitioned to much healthier eating habits and typically eat things that some of my other family members are not adventurous enough to try, except for my daughter.  It's not unusual for her to ask me if something is OK for her to eat based on certain nutritional guidelines.  Little eyes are watching.

There are times in class when we are choosing scarves to use.  Of course, so many of the girls go for pink or purple right away.  And several of the boys are partial to blue or green.  But I find it interesting that when I take a yellow scarf, several of the class suddenly have a new favorite color.  Little hearts want to stay connected.

No matter what we do as parents or teachers, little eyes and ears are watching.  For better or worse.  Of course we already know this.  We just forget how big of an impact it really is.  Not only do they hear and see what is going on, they process the emotion of situations, too.  When there are tensions and stressors in mom's life, the children pick up on it and often manifest attention getting behaviours.  But conversely, when mom is calm in the midst of a stressful situation, her demanor can calm the uneasiness of her children, transferring her peace and confidence to them.

Parents have such an immense responsibility.  Not only do we provide for all the physical and emotional  needs of our children, but we are also their primary teachers - "on duty" every minute of every day.  And it goes WAY beyond the formal explanations we offer.  The "students" pick up on all kinds of unintentional subtleties.  For example, if you approach an upcoming event with lots of enthusiasm, chances are your children will pick up the same anticipation.  Or more specifically, if you come to Kindermusik classes with a smile on your face, ready to sing and dance and have lots of fun with our little community of like-minded families, your children will sense the good times to be had and join in far more readily.

I know this to be true.  All 3 of my children are very musical.  Talents have been encouraged over the years, but it all started with us singing and dancing in our living room, learning how fun it is to be musical together.  Then by watching their mom be consistently involved in making music with others over the years, both professionally and in other circumstances, they "caught" the music bug and now it's theirs for keeps.

Now my eyes get to watch them ;)

Sunday, July 22

Waiting for Inspiration

I don't know if it's been writer's block or if it is just a symptom of being busy (read distracted), but when I discovered about a month ago that it had been a month since I last posted I started to panic.  And in typical fashion, my anxiety about having no fresh ideas to post made me feel even more blocked.

Funny what a cycle of counterproductivity that is.

Looking for inspiration I thought about reading.  I read a few things and got an idea or two, but then forgot to write them down - and they were gone.  Reading others blogs I felt inspired by their writings, but then felt like a thief writing on the same topics.

Meeting with friends, weeding my long overgrown garden, working my way through long-overdue piles of papers, making lists, and cleaning bathrooms....all had their place on my to-do list, each getting checked off while I waited for inspiration.

And then "Revelation".  I had been having a conversation with one of my now grown children about getting some things done around the house, to which strains of "but I don't feel like it" could be heard in response.  My standard answer to "I don't feel like it" has always been - "well, that's irrelevant.  Don't ask yourself if you want to do it.  Just do."  Starting is, as they say, half the battle.

Last night I took another passing glance at the hall closets and thought, "I'll just see if some of this extra clutter fits in one of the new storage bins I bought..." and it led to a couple of hours of sorting, rearranging, wiping down, dusting off, and then - a closet as a thing of beauty.  The first step, and the rest followed suit.

I'm always glad after the fact that I got the things done that just needed doing.  But before-hand it wasn't really a "can't-wait-to-do-that"kind of excitement brewing.

One of the things we can pass on to our children is that lesson in maturity.  Doing what needs to be done regardless of our feelings about it.  Head over heart.  Or perhaps sometimes auto-pilot over whim?  And before you know it, what needs to be done is done, and our feelings about the event morph into sweet satisfaction.

And don't you know, another blog is written, by just starting :)

Wednesday, May 2

What's in momma's purse?

The other day at a wrap-up party for one of our youngest classes, we were sharing in some snacks together.  Snacks can be a challenge for young families, making sure things are of a non-choking size, but particularily in "buffet" type situations like we have for our parties.  Some selections are difficult for small hands and small mouths to manage.

Carla, a very resourceful mother, showed me a new trick that in all my mothering years and years teaching Kindermusik had never seen before.  She travels with scissors.  When it was time to have the snacks, she takes out her handy pair of scissors and proceeds to cut up her daughter's food to just the right size!  No knife, no fork needed.  The scissors do it all.  Then she wipes them off and puts them back in the purse for the next time.


Have any handy tips you'd like to pass on?

Thursday, April 19

Why making music fun is so important

Smiling faces.  Eager stories.  Favourite actions to songs.  Moving our bodies to music.  Playing instruments in ensemble together.  Meeting with friends.  Rocking and moving with stuffy friends.  Connecting with family members through dance and physical touch.  It's quite a list of elements to a typical Kindermusik class.  It's part of why families tell me on a weekly basis that the moment they mention it's a Kindermusik class day, that their child beams with delight!!  

The other day a mother came to class with this story - her 18 month old son had been quite fussy that morning, and Mom had tried in vain to find the solution to his distress.  But when she mentioned that they could go to Kindermusik, he instantly stopped, and indicated with a smile on his face that he did want to go.  Can't tell you how many stories I've heard of children driving to Kindermusik and starting to call out "Kindermusik!!" as soon as they see our building.  

Kids LOVE their Kindermusik class and it's really important that they do!   All learning takes place in an emotionally charged environment.  That's why laughter, commraderie, and pleasure are all associated with excellent learning environments.  It's why being a teacher who cares and listens is better able to encourage better results from the students.  Positive feelings toward a teacher, a class, a topic provide an open heart and mind to receiving information.

I love the opportunity to create a fun and fresh, age appropriate learning environment for children each week.  For a brief time, the teacher and the classroom are the message of music.  And Kindermusik is the music that matters to your child because they associate strong feelings of belonging, fun, and creativity with the songs that we do in class.  There will be LOTS of time in the future to have a more disciplined approach, learning scales, technique, and such.  But for these early years, the most important aspect of developing a life long love of music is to keep it fun and the activity age relevant.

Summer camp provides the opportunity to keep up with alll the things we love doing, with the added attraction of a coordinated craft and snack.  Just today when the Imagine That class was able to do a small art project, I was noticing that the children LOVE to learn through the various art mediums, and they LOVE a coordinated craft activity.  They are always eager to test out their creativity, exploring with various mediums.

Keep the learning coming.  Keep music making a daily occurrence!  Keep feeding their inner strength with the joy of successful, age appropriate songs, games, rhymes, and activities. Keep growing their young brains through the only activity available that stimulates the ENTIRE brain at once!  And keep it fun!

Friday, March 16

Family music making

Having grandparents come visit the Kindermusik classroom is a regular and happy experience!  There is no greater cheerleader than a grandparent coming to encourage each growing musician!  I think that the  classroom becomes more celebratory in any grandparent visiting day because of the joy in their hearts that they carry with them for each accomplishment!  

This particular day we were privileged to have a 4 generation class.  Both grandparents and great grandma were there for these girls' class, joining right in with the songs and rhymes and whole body movements!  Even great grandma got in on the fun using shakers to play along.  Music is about community!  Music is about joy!  Music is meant to be shared!  

Monday, March 12

Music as a game changer

The most recent issue of "Today's Parent" magazine has an article touting the benefits of music for your child.  While just a few short years ago parents were jumping on the bandwagon of having their children experience the "Mozart Effect", as it turns out, it isn't so much the listening to music that changes your child's learning potential, intellect, or even brain structure.*

What has the biggest effect on children is their interaction with the music!

This is just exactly what we at Kindermusik have been saying all these years.  You can play music for children as background music, but it isn't going to have nearly the same effect for them as when you get out instruments and play along, move your body to the rhythms, rock to the steady beat, or use your own voice to sing along.  In Kindermusik classes we help families to make music in class, so that the familiar activities become home favourites, as well.  It is just the process of taking it beyond the CD player to the bodies and voices that solidifies the learning, actually changing the brain's structure.

Each activity you do, each class you attend, each semester you enroll in, each home activity that you do together is building a bigger and better learning outcome for your child by combining sensory and motor elements!  All that with a smile on your and your child's faces - now that is AWESOME!!

*  If you would like to read more, please find the article on-line at http://www.todaysparent.com/activities/can-music-make-your-child-smarter

Friday, March 2

Starry, starry night

Home made paper stars are just the thing to add a little "pizzazz" to a treasured song and story.  Love adding a craft to our already engaging Imagine That classes :)

Of course, a music class wouldn't be complete without adding "Twinkle twinkle Little Star", but we expanded that standard with other elements, too!  As we twinkled our stars above, we listened to the hushed expression of the children's classic story, "Goodnight Moon", then danced our stars into the night to the magical sounds of "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy", now transformed into our "starry dance".  

Oh, the joy of paper and pretend!

Sunday, January 22

Your story

Whenever I start a new semester there are parents who are bringing their children for the first time.  Like any first time experience, they come with hopes but perhaps some reservations as to how their child will adjust to the class.

Just this last week I heard, again, from parents who had come for the first time.  One parent excitedly told me after the end of class time that she was completely surprised when her daughter came up for a hug, as she doesn't even hug her grandparents.

Another parent commented on how settled and "into" the class her son was because he usually just runs around.

These are comments that I keep in my heart as awards from a tough audience;  after all, if kids are not into what you are doing, they will let you know!  I LOVE helping families to love music through social connectedness, movement, and play.  Not just because it is fun to do - more importantly, because music has the power to transform a person's outlook and life expression.  Music can calm an agitated heart, bring energy to a just-waking body, translate deep emotion without even using words, and help a celebratory moment soar to greater heights.

The "moments" are not just for the new families, though.  This week I also had a mom tell me that her daughter delightedly exclaimed "KINDERMUSIK!!" when they pulled up in the parking lot, upon returning after a semester away.   And just this morning at church another returning Mom told me that she had waited til the morning of class to tell her son that they were going to Kindermusik that morning, and although he usually drags to get ready to go anywhere, he couldn't get out the door fast enough to get to class - wanting to leave at 7:30 am!

Moms, can I ask you to share your Kindermusik experiences with me?!  In February we are going to have an "I LOVE KINDERMUSIK" week where we have special things happen.  I'd love to be able to post some of your "moments".  You can post them on my Kindermusik Stepping Stones facebook page. You can send them to me via email at kmsteppingstones@shaw.ca, or leave them as a comment on this blog.  Share your joy!  Encourage the newcomers with your success stories.  Smile at the stories you read that are similar to your own.

Here are some suggestions -
What is your favourite Kindermusik curriculum book?
Does your child have a Kindermusik instrument stash that they use for "Family Jam"?
Has your child latched on to a particular lullaby from the rocking with the stuffies time?
Has your child felt so proud showing grandma and grandpa their new instrument and displaying their skills?

Share one sentence!  Or share a few!  Share a humourous moment, or a quietly touching one.  Share an observation.  Share a learned skill.  Share a parenting tip you've learned from Kindermusik or from a class parent contact.  Your story is one click away from making someone's day!  I know it will make mine!

Share with Our Kindermusik family - we all are better together!

Sunday, January 8

Finding inspiration

It always seems like such a wonderful dream, to come home after a day of teaching or shopping or running errands and have dinner then sit by a crackling fire with a great book and have time to read.  My mind is getting a little restless even as i write that - thinking that I should've done that today.

The trouble is there is always a list.

You know the one.  The to do list.  The list that says "Do me now!!!"
On mine is
making meals
picking up stuff left by others in the family
work-related administrative stuff
tidying a bathroom
grocery shopping
solving kids' dilemmas
dealing with the mountain of daily paper that comes to our home
...endless, really.

Most of it is non-negotiable, at least to a point.  When I settle in to read, my hands find 6 things to put away on the way to the couch.  But when I set aside the demands and make time for inspiration - what a sweet, sweet moment to be savoured.

Read two books over the holidays.  One by a newly found again, but long-lost friend from university days.  Another by an author whom I have read several times - Brennan Manning.  Both left me feeling like I had taken a breath of inspiration.  One took me on an adventure.  The other on a journey inward.

I love being inspired!  Love filling up my heart with love and wisdom and and hope and life-lessons.  The daily tasks, the giving part of life, seem so much lighter when the heart is full.

Sometimes I take the fast track to inspiration, though.
Watched some amazing youtube videos over the holidays.  Videos that had me with wet cheeks, videos that had my heart in my throat with their beauty.

And then there were moments of inspiration through live music!  Heart-melting, courage-building, awe-inspiring moments of "this-is-how-life-was-meant-to-be".  I walk away from such moments feeling like my heart is so full I couldn't keep the energy and love in if I tried!

I really do need to make MORE time for inspiration!  Makes me a better teacher.  Makes me a better Mom.  You too?

Tuesday, January 3

New Year's Goals: Children loving music!!

It's the New Year and many people start thinking about what goals they have for the year.  You know, the usual
- I need to get in shape
- I need to organize the basement
- I want to take a course
- I want to ...
But so many times people have a list of things they want to see happen, and don't have a plan for seeing it through.

I was at my hair stylist's house this afternoon getting my 5 week cut, when in wandered her 9 year old daughter.  Kayle had been in Kindermusik since she was 5 weeks old, and I recently heard from her piano teacher what a pleasure it is to have her in piano lessons.  She is naturally very musical, but the lessons over the years have helped to elevate her natural gifting to an even more established talent.

A few minutes later, one of her other daughters, the youngest at 4 years old wandered in to use a nearby washroom...singing her way in, and then through the entire washroom visit.  As I could hear her in the adjacent room, I commented to her mom about how remarkably in pitch she stays.  A great auditory memory, indeed.

The mom, Corinne, has had her girls involved in music lessons since they were VERY young and it remains a big priority for their family.  There are always lots of things on the go, like most families, but music making always remains on the list.

I was sharing with a new-to-Kindermusik  mom on the phone the other day that although Kindermusik is a well researched and developed by experts program, the fundamental reason why so many families stay over the years, is that it makes making music a pleasure.  Fun in the classroom, fun on the road, fun at home.  And I hear that from families almost everyday!

Moving to great rhythms.
Using instruments to play along in ensembles.
Using our voices to sing what's in our hearts.
Developing a sense of belonging to a community of other musically minded families.
It's all part of what we do every week!  And one moment at a time we are helping your child to know music, to feel music, and to LOVE music!

On your list of goals this year, why not commit to the process of encouraging a lifelong love of music in your children by coming to Kindermusik classes again this semester? Never been?  No time like the present to come be a part of it!  The first class preview is FREE!