As the first big snowstorm of the season rolled into Washington, D.C., so did well over 10,000 people, who came to learn, collaborate, and network at the largest early childhood education conference in the world. Educators, advocates, and other members of the early childhood service community filled the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from November 13-17, 2018, for NAEYC’s 2018 Annual Conference.
Among the throng was a small cadre of Kindermusik employee owners, there to spread knowledge about the importance of music and movement in the lives of children. Earlier that week, they had demonstrated their characteristic dedication (and herculean strength!) by loading up an SUV with trade show materials, driving to D.C. from our corporate headquarters in North Carolina, and man-handling a massive pallet of goods onto the expo floor to set up our famously cheerful purple booth. The next four days were busy ones spent attending sessions, manning the booth, and meeting fellow professionals in the field.
Kindermusik Presents to a Full House
For Music Curriculum Designer Deanna Bucci, it was an especially eventful week. Deanna was chosen by conference organizers to lead an hour-and-a-half workshop entitled “The Other 3 R’s: Routine, Rhythm, and Relaxation: Using Music Rituals to Create Calm.” Her session was so full that people had to be turned away, and Kindermusik President and CEO Scott Kinsey could be heard worrying about fire hazards. Those lucky enough to be in attendance were rapt, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
Today, we’ll hear from Deanna about how it felt to be the moderator in a (packed!) room of such willing learners.
Q: What do you think made you especially qualified to lead this session?
A: To lead this kind of session, and do it successfully, I think one needs a combination of substantial experience and knowledge on the topic, as well as an understanding of the experience and needs of those in attendance. Over the last 10 years, I’ve collected an array of experiences in education—from working in a daycare and as a substitute teacher, to teaching elementary General Music for 8 years, to leading various professional development workshops and district initiatives for fellow educators…and now being a Kindermusik Educator and curriculum designer! The focus of this session allowed me to combine my knowledge of music education, various early childhood settings, and professional development training to provide educators with valuable techniques and musical resources they could immediately put into practice.
Q: What do you know in your mind and feel in your heart about the importance of music in the life of a child?
A: Music has this incredible power to connect and soothe people. You see it being used in the background of movies, commercials, and even sermons and speeches, because it conveys emotions better than simple words or actions can. Not only do musical experiences literally boost brain chemicals and hormones that make you feel happy (like endorphins and dopamine), but when children experience music in a group they learn how to connect and bond with others. The social and emotional experiences a young child has, even as an infant, affect how their brain develops. In short, my mind and heart tell me that music is extremely important to children because it truly strengthens their minds and hearts!
Q: What did you feel best about during your session?
A: I was so grateful for the level of engagement of the participants throughout the entire session. The room was packed with people, some sitting on the floor between tables and others lining the walls! Despite the crowding, everyone still got up to dance and move around with me. I also admired their willingness to sing and share ideas with other attendees they had never met before. Their engagement and energy made me hopeful that they not only enjoyed themselves, but that they found the activities useful.
Q: You have a gorgeous singing voice. Should people worry that they need a similar level of vocal talent when they sing with their children?
A: Thank you for that sweet compliment! But no, they should not worry. I’ll share with you three statements that I also shared during my session: First, everyone has the ability to sing. Like anything else, the more you practice the skill the better and more confident you will become in using it. Second, you are judging yourself harder than anyone else is—and the children you work with probably think you’re amazing. Third, and most importantly, when you sing with a child, you are adding immeasurable value to that child’s life, so embrace whatever level of ability you have…and just have fun!
Q: What’s the next topic you’d love to talk about with early childhood professionals?
A: Honestly, your last question makes me want to lead a workshop on how to lead music activities as a non-musician! There are so many educators who refrain from singing or making music simply because of a lack of self-confidence or an understanding of how to use music to develop other skills. I would love the opportunity to be a voice of encouragement and support for these educators and help arm them with a simple “bag of musical tricks” that would inspire them to use music daily in their classrooms.
Q: In addition to your curriculum development work, you are also trained and licensed as a Kindermusik educator. Can you tell us about what that means and what makes it special enough that you want to work TWO jobs?
A: I left the public-school setting and became a curriculum designer for Kindermusik International because I wanted to be able to work with and positively influence more educators and families around the world. In order to do this to the best of my ability, I know I must also continue to learn and grow as an educator, and teaching Kindermusik classes provides me the best insight into creating developmentally appropriate Kindermusik products. I am also a music educator at my core and sharing the joy and benefits of music firsthand with children and their families is something that I will always immensely enjoy.
Q: What would you say to someone who is considering becoming a Kindermusik educator and opening a studio?
A: If you’re looking for a rewarding and meaningful career, then do it! What I love most about Kindermusik is that the focus of learning is on whole-child development through music and movement. Our educators are trained in early-childhood development as well as music education, and we seek to educate the families as much as we educate the children. Kindermusik is so much more than just singing, dancing, and playing instruments. It can truly change lives!
To learn more about Kindermusik’s classes and find a class near you, visit kindermusik.com.