The BEST Way to Teach Music to Babies

Kindermusik University - Teach Music To Babies

Babies are exposed to sounds during pregnancy. At birth, their sense of hearing is completely developed and their brains are programmed to find patterns, making their first year the best time to start exposing babies to music. Kindermusik’s curricula makes it fun and easy to teach music to babies and young children, and has the best educational activities for babies.

Steady beat is the foundation of all music (and language)! Babies first experience steady beat in the womb–listening to their mother’s heartbeat and feeling the rhythm of her steps. Kindermusik activities are carefully designed for a child to experience steady beat using multiple senses:

Continue reading “The BEST Way to Teach Music to Babies”

“Summer Slide”: What You Should Know

child on slide in summer

Water slide, playground slide, Slip N Slide…nothing more perfectly conjures the feeling of summer fun and freedom. The smiles, the giggles, the breeze whipping through wild hair…

But for some parents, summer slide invokes less positive feelings. That’s because the term refers to the dreaded loss of school-based learning that occurs from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next. The phenomenon has led to calls for year-round schooling and intensive summer educational programs to combat the effects of this particular (and decidedly less delightful) slide.

But before we get all hot and bothered, let’s take a look at the facts.

Continue reading ““Summer Slide”: What You Should Know”

More Recess, Even More Focus

recess play

Things are happening at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Forthworth, Texas. They are happening on the playground and in the classrooms, and believe it or not, they are connected. Recently, the school tripled the amount of recess time the students received and the results have been amazing. We have talked about the importance of play on this blog in the past. It looks like Eagle Mountain has discovered play’s importance in practice.

Continue reading “More Recess, Even More Focus”

Book Review – Fidget Wisely

Fidget Wisely

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Fidget Wisely: 10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness Skills to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still by Kirsten May Keach MA, MFT is available at your favorite local bookstore or online in both digital and paperback editions.


 

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A Wonderful Resource…

Does your child fidget? Perhaps he has a hard time sitting in one place. Let’s face it…we’ve all been there to one degree or another. Kirsten May Keach, a licensed family therapist has written the perfect book to help us help our kids develop mindfulness skills into their day to day lives. In the book’s introduction, Keach tells us the genesis of Fidget Wisely:

I had the privilege of working as a therapist in an elementary school. I very quickly had a full caseload of kids. Children were coming to my office frustrated and anxious… The conversations with teachers and administrators went something like this: “He/she is a smart kid with lots of potential but…he just doesn’t listen” or “She won’t sit still”… The conversations with parents began in a similar way… I call this the “He/she is a great kid, but…story.”

The story began to permeate my days. I was my job to identify and dissolve the “but” standing in the way of these kids and their success. What I found was that for the most part, these kids had poor emotional regulation skills. This means that they had difficulty managing their feelings and emotions.

I began to teach kids emotional regulation skills through mindfulness and yoga activities. I integrated the skills I learned living in a Thai Buddhist Monastery into my work as a therapist. I made all these skills kid-friendly.

The kids loved learning mindfulness skills. To my surprise, they caught on like wildfire.

– Kirsten May Keach, Fidget Wisely

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Unsure What Mindfulness Is? Keach Has you Covered

Before diving into the meat of the book, Keach provides the reader with a very clear definition of what mindfulness is. How can we help our kids attain this skill and state of being if we don’t know what it is? Put simply, mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding experience.”

She elaborates in plain terms, of course. You’ll have to buy the book to learn more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Simple Flow, Easily Digested

Keach has organized her book into very easily followed instructions so that even the mindfulness newbie can take valuable information. She provides several craft activities, with detailed instructions, followed by information on how that craft can be used to help a child center themselves and find that elusive mindfulness. The first craft is a glitter jar, Keach’s version of a snow globe. Here, we create an object with the sole purpose to be touched, shaken, fidgeted with – but with the end game of providing a point of focus for the child.

Each section is formatted in a way that makes executing the craft or activity simple. For crafts, she provides a supply list and clear steps. There is also always a set of rules, that are both practical and humorous.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Book review
Keach’s instructions for a rice box. Remember, don’t eat the rice!

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Physical Activities

Keach provides many wonderful activities throughout the book, from breathing exercises to basic yoga poses for kids. Tips for teachers, information on set-up, and specific instructions are provided. This compact, affordable book provides several poses that are useful for children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Book Review
Kirsten May Keach, MA MFT

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Fast Read, Helpful Content

We’re all busy people. This resource – a pragmatic and activity driven approach to helping kids develop mindfulness skills is quickly read and packs a great deal in a small package. Take a look, you won’t be disappointed. Oh! And if you are a kindleunlimited™ member, it’s free![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Children’s Book Review: Music Is…

Children's Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With its bright, colorful cover, Music Is…, wonderful board book, grabs your attention even before you even open it and read it. In many ways, it is a simple book with very few words on each page, but it is a wonderful teaching book – the perfect at-home library complement to the concepts children are learning and the musical styles they are being exposed to in Kindermusik class.

Each two-page spread is a contrast, which is perfect because young children learn best in contrasts. So just like Kindermusik introduces contrasting musical concepts and styles in class, Music Is… introduces contrasting concepts, moods, and styles, one concept per page, making it easy for young children to begin to grasp and for older children and adults to enjoy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is lo-fi and high-fi[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It teaches concepts such as…

music is quiet
music is LOUD

music is sad
music is happy

music is lo-fi
music is hi-fi
a capella
instrumental
acoustic
electric

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The really lovely thing is that as the book is teaching music concepts, it is also developing a basic music vocabulary for parents and children alike.  As the story unfolds, it is delightful to see children of all ethnic backgrounds making music and also playing with music.  There are instruments and music makers on every page.

It’s an entertaining read-aloud for younger children and an engaging conversation starter for older children.  For the sake of the non-musical adult, there’s even a basic glossary of musical terms on the very last page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is one music is many[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The simple story line is enhanced by whimsical and interesting illustrations that explain what music is and explore how music makes us feel. It’s the kind of fun, feel-good story book you don’t mind reading over and over again…which is a good thing since it’s sure to become a family favorite![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At the end, the author brings it all together in this profoundly beautiful conclusion:

music is old
music is new
music is for everyone
music is for you

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music Is… by author Brandon Stosuy and illustrator Amy Martin can be found at your favorite local book seller or online in both physical and digital formats.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, has been a happy advocate for the benefits of music for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Everyone Can Sing

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A recent article, written by Northwestern music education professor, Steven M. Demorest, over at The Conversation, an “independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public,” explored the idea of musical talent.

The most telling fact, one that I have been aware of for most of my career as a choral conductor, is that adults who consider themselves unmusical were often told that they couldn’t sing as children. Prof. Demorest relates part of the story of Sing, an Oscar-winning short film from Hungary about a girl named Zsófi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Sing tells the story of young Zsófi, who joins a renowned children’s choir at her elementary school where “everyone is welcome.”

Soon after joining, Zsófi is told by her teacher Erika not to sing, but only mouth the words. On the face of it, she accepts her teacher’s request stoically. But later in the movie, her anguish and pain become obvious, when she reluctantly tells her best friend what happened.

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Dr. Steven Demorest
Dr. Steven Demorest

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Our culture has become obsessed with the idea of “talent.” The concept that making music is reserved for the revered few is promoted by shows like America’s Got Talent and The Voice. I don’t want to take away from the entertainment value of these shows – the people that perform on them are certainly gifted. But the reality is this: every child is born a natural musician. They sing and dance and make music from the very beginning. They are surrounded by music – so – they respond by mimicking what they hear. If this inherent ability is fostered the benefits are life-changing.[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Dr. Steven Demorest, Northwestern University”]”…indeed every child has musical ability that can be developed into a satisfying and lifelong relationship with music.”[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Negative feedback can come from many different places, especially peers. Sadly, it can also come from music educators and even parents. This has a lasting effect on self-esteem and the desire to make music, especially singing. Singing is an intensely personal activity. It’s just you – no external instrument. You can’t put the instrument down and ignore it. You carry it with you. When the singing voice is disparaged, it is very difficult to not allowed that disparagement have an impact on the entire self.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Combating the “Talent Mindset” with the “Growth Mindset”

Carol Dweck, psychologist, author, and professor, researches why and how people succeed. Here’s the main point of “Growth Mindset”:

Students who view their success as a result of hard work will persevere through challenges, while students who believe their success lies with some innate ability – like “talent” – are more likely to give up.

Watch Dr. Dweck’s TEDTalk below.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/226460812″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]sing[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

So what can we do to get kids on board the train destined for a lifelong connection with music? The most important thing we can do is getting them started early. This is one of the reasons Kindermusik classes are open to newborn infants. To be surrounded by music from birth helps set the tone for that lifelong connection. As the child grows, immersed in musical experiences coupled with positive support of their musical activity from parents and educators, their confidence in music making will grow as well – and the host of social, emotional, and cognitive benefits music provides will be part of their life’s journey.

Dr. Demorest tells us that perhaps the most important impact on a child’s desire to continue to make music is having an example of music making in the home.

…if you are a parent, you could sing the music you loved growing up and not worry about how good you sound. Having an adult in the home committed to music and singing without shame may be the most powerful influence on a child. You could sing with your kids from the time they are little, sing with the radio, sing in the car or sing at the dinner table.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]sing[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Along with Dr. Demorest, I find the Hungarian title of Sing very telling. It’s Mindenki, which is Hungarian for…Everybody. It’s perfect, isn’t it? I firmly believe that music is for everybody, especially singing. And when you sing with others you are more likely to have empathy for them, to listen to them when they share their ideas. You become part of a community.

I always tell my students that the main reason we have a singing voice is to give it away to others. That’s certainly true, but for young children, the singing voice allows them to express their joy in a way words alone cannot. It can heal the spirit and free the mind.

Start ’em young and keep ’em singing. They’ll thank you for it later.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1500653314338{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Kindermusik Reviews: The Beginning of Life

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Beginning of Life is beautifully composed, feature-length documentary written and directed by Brazilian film maker Estela Renner. Traveling across the globe, from her native Brazil, Kenya, China, and a host of other locales, Renner takes the viewer on a rich journey into the world of the developing child. [/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The Official Trailer for The Beginning of Life

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHqUMqvL1RQ”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Renner and her crew interview researchers, educators, parents, grandparents, and children from a diverse background, culturally and economically. Most challenge the long standing idea that children are born as a blank slate – the tabula rosa. Dr. Alison Gopnik of the University of California turns the table on this notion:

One of the things that we know is that babies are the best learning machines in the universe. Even philosophers and psychologists and psychiatrists thought that babies were irrational; they were egocentric; they were amoral; they didn’t understand cause and effect; they couldn’t take the perspective of another person. And in the past 30 years our science has taught us that everything is exactly the opposite. Instead of thinking of them as blank slates, really their the best scientists and the best learners that we know of…

– Alison Gonik, PhD

Current work in the field of child development tells us children are born with a natural proclivity for research. They form what are best described as experiments to test the world around them. How will physical objects respond when dropped? If I do it again will the same result occur? How will my parent respond? They build understanding of their surroundings through constant collection and processing of data.

Renner stitches together images of children exploring their world through every sense. Sights, sounds, textures all become fodder for “guesses or hypotheses” about how everything around them works.[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Alison Gopnik, PhD”]We often say toddlers have trouble paying attention. What we really mean is they have trouble not paying attention. [/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

A child enjoys playing with a piece of cloth in the wind.
A child enjoys playing with a piece of cloth in the wind.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As you watch this documentary, one can’t help but notice the diversity of the subjects of all types. Renner certainly spent a good deal of time in her home country, but she also made a very successful effort to include underrepresented populations and viewpoints from several cultures. The world somehow seems smaller after watching this film and we learn that the desire to compassionately care for children knows no borders.

One of the most touching segments involves a set of grandparents in China who help raise their granddaughter while her parents work. The grandfather sings to the little one in Mandarin as she leans against her grandmother. Pedro Lima’s score artfully accompanies his song. The grandfather states:

The happiest moment of my day is when my granddaughter calls me grandpa when she wakes up. And when we eat together and she asks me to hold her and to eat on my lap.

This plays into the expressed notion that it does indeed take a village to raise a child. One researcher tells us that children are raised by individuals, not institutions. It is the interactions children have with the people around them that help shape who they are and how they, in turn, interact with their world. The things that have the greatest impact cost nothing. Words…talking to babies, to toddlers…literally help the brain develop and helps them increase their understanding of life, and words are free.

beginning of life
Grandpa sings to his granddaughter.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Beginning of Life delivers its message – the importance of investing time in nurturing a child in the all-important initial years – with solid science and skillful direction, resulting in an elegant film, abundant in scientific information easily understood. As you bounce from English to French to Portuguese to Italian to Hindi to Spanish, it’s difficult to not draw a comparison to what it must be like for that infant taking in unknown sounds and working to understand what they mean. Is it possible this was intentional? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Regardless, it does remind us that no one country, no one culture has a monopoly on honest interest in seeing our most important resource cherished, loved, and provided for. We are truly in this together, and the opportunity this film affords all who watch it is a tremendous one. The opportunity to hear from Chinese grandparents and Kenyan orphanage workers and Indian children is invaluable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Renner deftly weaves interviews with respected researchers, scientists, and even Raffi Cavoukian, the beloved Egyptian-born, Canadian children’s entertainer, with parents, grandparents, and the children themselves. The film holds the viewer’s attention with beautiful visuals and wonderful information that may change the way society looks at the importance of these early years. When we spend time with our children as they enter our world, when we make it easier for families to take time off from work to be part of the initial acts of the play of life, everybody wins. Raffi said it best:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”Raffi”]”When you pay attention to the beginning of a story, you can change the whole story.”[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Beginning of Life is currently streaming on Netflix and can also be watched on Youtube for $1.99. Do yourself a favor: grab some popcorn and your favorite beverage, set aside an hour and a half, and watch this documentary. You’ll be glad you did.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Changing Lives with Music: Stephen Oliverson

Oliverson

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Dr. Stephen Oliverson is principal of Provost Elementary in Provo, Utah. In 2014, Provost was named a National Title I Distinguished School, one of only 59 schools nationwide to receive this honor. What was Dr. Oliverson’s secret to this success? The answer (which is no surprise to us): music. The instructional day was rearranged so that every student at Provost received musical enrichment.  This led to increased proficiency in math, science, and reading, long with a host of other benefits.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In Oliverson’s interview with the Provo Daily Herald, he shared his secret for academic success:

“We do a couple of things that are really unique to our school. That is our involvement in the arts. Exposing children deeply in the arts has academic payoffs in literacy and math.

Every student at our school knows how to play the piano, violin, flute and guitar. The whole fourth grade takes violin lessons four days a week, all year long. We expose students to other instruments in fifth and sixth grade after they have that strong string base.”

Daily Herald, February, 2014

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In his presentation at the 2015 National Title I Conference, Oliverson detailed the benefits of a curriculum rich in musical instruction.

  • Flourishes artistic and personal expression
  • Promotes motor task competency
  • Linked to greater likelihood of graduation
  • Sharpens cognitive function
  • Develops superior reading ability
  • Enhances social skills
  • It makes your GPA better
  • Improves emotional outlook
  • Protective against dementia
  • Significant predictor of of higher IQ in early adulthood

Stephen Oliverson and Lauri Driggs, 2014 Title I Conference Presentation

 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Beyond his successes as a principal, Oliverson and his family are accomplised musical performers in their own right. He plays the piano and composes, and all of his children play violin. Moon Light is the name of the family’s musical group; they perform across the country. Here they are performing an original composition (written by Dr. Oliverson and his daughter, Aubree) tiled Spartacus. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/nuOk51atkWY”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Growing Up in Kindermusik

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When I became licensed to teach Kindermusik way back in 1994, I never imagined what the next twenty-something years would hold for me…or the hundreds of children and families I’ve been privileged to hold in my heart all this time.

Twenty plus years means that many of those babies I had in my lap are now all grown up, and I’m even starting to see a few come back around to teach for me or to bring their own tiny baby to his first class.  I still run into those Kindermusik moms who are always so eager to thank me and to proudly tell me that so-and-so went on to study music, or is playing with a music group, or still sits down at the piano to play.

So many of these Kindermusik kids not only went all the way through our Kindermusik program, but stayed on at our music school to take music lessons.  And every single one of those parents and kids all recall with great fondness and warmth just how important Kindermusik was to them in those early years.

So what exactly does it mean to “grow up in Kindermusik”?  Here’s a bit of perspective from my own years as a Kindermusik mom, a Kindermusik educator, and Director of Piano Central Studios.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Theresa Case
Theresa Case works her magic with a young musician (yes, friends – Kindermusik Educators are magicians!)

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Growing up in Kindermusik means…

  • Being allowed to gently unfold and blossom at their own pace, thus deepening their love of music and ensuring that love would stay in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
  • Reveling in a nurturing environment where each individual was lovingly encouraged to be themselves, to play and be curious and creative, and along the way, to discover for themselves just how much they could come to love making music.
  • Finding a place to belong, to linger in the delights of childhood, and to savor moments that will never be forgotten.
  • Asking for music to continue to be a part of their lives even after Kindermusik, by continuing on with music lessons.
  • Pursuing music as a career or maintaining their musical skills as a beloved hobby.
  • Forever having a story, a memory, or a song to share from being in Kindermusik class and enjoying Kindermusik together at home throughout the week.
  • Gratefully acknowledging parents who recognized the power of music not only to shape their children developmentally, socially, and cognitively, but also to nurture their souls and give them great joy the rest of their lives.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My experience has held true over and over and over again. Growing up in Kindermusik is one of the best ways a parent – and a Kindermusik teacher – can let a child grow up.


 

Shared by Theresa Case, Director of Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]