School’s Out Soon! Make Some Musical Moments!

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Summer is here in the Northern Hemisphere! Here are some suggestions on how to keep those little ones busy and how to make the time you spend together meaningful.


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1. Read Together

There’s a strong connection between the skills required for reading books and reading music, and you can enhance both reading literacy and music literacy by reading with your child. It’s a great way to sneak in some calming snuggle time too!

2. Take a Listening Walk

Listening is a huge part of music and music appreciation. And there’s nothing like a listening walk to captivate your child’s imagination, hone their listening skills, and develop an appreciation for the world around us. By the way, we highly recommend the book for children by Paul Showers called The Listening Walk.

3. Turn on Some Gentle Music and Blow Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is one of the cheapest forms of childhood entertainment, and you can even sneak in some music appreciation benefit by playing some classical music during the activity. We suggest selections by J.S. Bach or Mozart. By the way, a bubble wand with more than one hole is the secret to a better bubble-blowing experience.

4. Color to Music with Sidewalk Chalk

Want a no-mess activity that also gets your child’s creative juices flowing? Give your child some sidewalk chalk and offer the canvas of your driveway. Add a variety of music for fresh inspiration and enjoy watching your little artist go to work.

5. Use Painter’s Tape to Create Roads and Movement Pathways

Hum along as you drive small cars around tape-defined roads or dance and move around paths marked by painter’s tape. The fun will be in deciding where to put the tape down, and the learning comes as you sing and label with movement words.

6. Use a Hula Hoop as a Prop for Dancing

Hula hoops are great for helping children develop spatial awareness and refine large motor skills. The joy comes in exploring all the different ways to dance with, around, and through the hoop!

7. Make a Homemade Instrument… or Two!

Here are ideas for a oatmeal bongoscardboard guitar, simple shakers, homemade maracas, and castanets.

bongos

8. Start your Own Marching Band

Grab your homemade instrument, turn on some marching music, and have a parade through the house… and back around again!

 

9. Play a Musical Alphabet Chairs Game.

This is a fun educational twist on a classic childhood game that combines moving, listening to music, stopping on cue, and identifying letters of the alphabet. Perfect for when it’s too hot or yucky to be outside!

10. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching!

Put on some homemade ankle bells and dance, dance, dance! This is a great activity for indoors or outdoors. You can even help your child experiment with different kinds of music for all kinds of creative movement ideas.

Need more? How about joining us for a class this summer! It’s a great time to try something new. You’ll make new connections and your little one will have a blast! Find a class nearby.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Sing and Dance that Stress Away

Music and movement stress

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Stress. We all deal with it from time to time….and friends, so do our kids. Don’t forget – we have a lifetime of experience in managing stress – and even then we can have a hard time with it. Our kids deal with stress, too…and they are stress novices. It’s up to us to help them develop the skills and methods to cope with stress in their young lives. As it turns out, and this is in no way by accident, music and movement, the very things at which we are experts, are fantastic ways to alleviate stress. Science lights the way. Let’s check it out!


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You Can’t Protect Them from Stress – But You Can Help Them Manage It

It’s going to happen. We want to be the shield that blocks out every negative thing in the world for our kids – but this is an emotional response. We hate to see them struggle. Remember, you aren’t always going to be there. So providing tools to manage stress when it crops up is incredibly important.

Encourage your child to name the stressor out loud – to label it. When you take time to listen, listen to understand rather than to respond. A child will sense that how they are feeling is important to you and will be more likely to share those feelings. The very fact that you are listening will have a positive effect on the child’s stress level.

But what about movement and music? How does that impact stress levels?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Dance Lowers Cortisol Levels and Increases Endorphins

Here’s the science: dancing actually lowers levels of cortisol in the body. While cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, does many other things for us, it is associated with stress. High stress leads to high levels of cortisol which can lead to reduced immune system function. So…dancing can reduce the presence of cortisol in the system that otherwise might negatively impact your ability to fight off a cold or fight infection.

Dancing also causes the body to produce endorphins, which basically run interference with pain receptors and cause feelings of euphoria, reducing both physical and emotional pain. It’s our body’s way of self-regulating. Kids can get their own body on their side in dealing with stress levels – literally by dancing the stress away (or at the very least reducing its negative effects).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Sing and Dance that Stress Away
Kindermusik kids movin’ and groovin’!

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Dancing with Others = Added Benefits

Guess what? When you dance, it feels good. When you dance with others, the benefits increase. The University of Oxford recently conducted a study about dancing in groups verses dancing alone. The results were quite interesting:

So when the volunteers were taught the same dance moves and heard the same songs as the others, their movements synchronized on the dance floor. Now, afterwards, these volunteers were able to withstand significantly more pain. Their threshold for pain increased.

By contrast, the volunteers who heard different songs or were taught different dance moves to the same music didn’t synchronize their movements. These volunteers experienced either no change in their pain perception or an increase in their pain perception. They actually felt more pain than they did before…

As a social species, being part of a group has survival value. Evolution also may have adapted the brain to experience a sense of reward when we did things with and for other people. Dancing together, especially in the synchrony, can signal that you are actually simpatico with lots of other people. The researchers think this is why so many cultures have synchronized dancing and why it might have health benefits.

NPR: Steve Inskeep’s Interview with social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam

So – when you dance with a group – to the same music, these benefits really show themselves. Another study from West Chester University of Pennsylvania has shown that dance and music programs significantly lower cortisol levels in children from low-income families and “alleviate the impact of poverty on children’s physiological functioning.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

And How Does Music Fit In?

As it turns out – singing and dancing are twins. They are both art forms that are temporal, meaning they unfold and reveal their beauty over time. They are dynamic. They change. They engage the entire body and mind. They both require conscious control over the breath. The breath must be purposeful to have enough fuel to do the task at hand. All the mental health benefits of dance can be found in singing – increased endorphins and lower cortisol levels among them. When making music with a group, empathy for those around you increases and heartbeats become synchronized (a really amazing phenomenon called biological entrainment – we’ll talk about that some other time!). We talk about this often; here’s a breakdown from a previous Minds on Music post:

The Combination of Movement and Music develops:

  • The Vestibular System.

A well-developed vestibular system provides emotional security, good muscle tone, develops auditory language processing, visual-spatial processing, and reduced cortisol levels.

  • Neural Pathways.

Moving in a variety of ways gives your child a chance to ‘see the world’ from many perspectives, thus strengthening neural pathways, which carry messages from your child’s mind, guiding her senses and motor skills.

  • Fine Motor Skills.

During the first part of life, we’re learning to walk, so gross motor activities dominate the child’s movement. Now she can focus on activities that encourage the development of fine muscles, so she can increase skills that require finger and hand movements such as putting together a simple puzzle, painting with a paintbrush, turning a page of a book or stringing beads.

  • Physical Confidence.

Body awareness is important in the development of the child’s physical confidence. This developmental goal may be met by engaging in movement activities which focus on body part movement, whole body movement in one place, and whole body movement while traveling in space.

  • Creativity and Imagination.

Listening and responding to music and movement activities helps develop pretend play skills while also helping your child assimilate music and movement concepts such as fast, slow, loud, quiet, bumpy, smooth, straight and curvy.

  • Thinking Skills.

While in motion, the brain acts like a flight simulator, constantly inventing, moving mental models to project onto a changing world. This is an extraordinary mentally complex operation which builds thinking skills.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A child that can express herself when dealing with stress, and then have an outlet to safely and physically work that stress out, encouraging the body to self-regulate, is a happier child. A child that has the opportunity to sing and dance with others develops empathic skills that allow him to see the world from the perspective of his friends. To put this in the simplest terms, a dancing and singing child is a healthier child, a child who deals with stress much more effectively.

And by the way…this applies to us, too, my friends. Sing and dance with your child! You might even laugh a bit…and that’s healthy, too![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


 

For more info on dance and stress, check out Yami Joshi’s TEDTalk on Dance and Stress.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVC0uMugtEk”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Don’t just sit there – MOVE!

movement

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At a time when it seems there is so much pressure on kids to perform academically, more and more research about the social, emotional, cognitive, and health benefits of movement and play is coming to the forefront. The recent consensus of a group of researchers who studied the evidential links between moving, playing, and learning was overwhelmingly definitive – taking time to move and play actually improves academic performance. So…don’t just sit there…MOVE![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And why is this? Simply put, movement wakes up our brains and primes the brain for learning. As one writer stated, “movement isn’t a break from learning; movement is learning.” Professor Emily Cross sums it up this way:

“New neuroscience research…shows that active learning—‘where the learner is doing, moving, acting, and interacting’—can change the way the brain works and can accelerate kids’ learning process.”

That’s pretty compelling evidence, if you ask me, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the myriad of sources, studies, research, and analysis that could have been cited.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It should come as no surprise then, that as the world’s leader in music and movement education, Kindermusik International has long been an advocate for the power of movement and play, especially with music in the mix. For over 30 years, the Kindermusik curricula have been based on the premise that movement is key to learning.  That is both the success and the joy of the Kindermusik classroom experience.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]movement[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

So how can you ensure that your child is getting enough time for moving and playing?

1. Make sure that your child has time every day to just play.
2. Play music regularly. Most children respond very naturally to music with movement.
3. Inspire imagination, play, and movement by encouraging your child to be outdoors.
4. Take time for physical activity yourself. Your example is a powerful model for your child.
5. Enroll in a Kindermusik class. (Okay, we couldn’t resist!)

You’ll not only enjoy lots of movement and play in class, but your Home Materials will also inspire you with more musical play and movement at home all week long.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in upstate South Carolina has been inspiring children and families to move, play, and make music together for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Music Can do THAT? – Learning Languages Through Music

Music enriches our lives in so many ways, but for young children, music is also a very powerful tool for learning. Kindermusik’s English language learning program for young children, Kindermusik English & Me, has been an outstandingly successful and beautifully delightful of teaching children a second language through music, music, stories, rhymes, and more.


 

Kindermusik English and Me

Here are just a few of the amazing ways that music and a music class help children learn another language:

  • Music and movement literally wake up the brain, making it easy to take in, absorb, and remember even more new information.
  • A music class is an immersive environment like no other. The entire class time is filled with English vocabulary, phrases, and patterns of speaking.
  • Music activates more parts of the brain than just speaking can. In fact, music activates both the left and right sides of the brain and gets those neurons firing!
  • Songs and rhymes “stick” in the memory longer than anything else. Kindermusik classes are filled with repetition in class, and the @Home Materials allow parents to review, reinforce, and enjoy those same songs and rhymes at home throughout the week for an even more powerful learning experience.
  • Music acts like a glue that causes all the pieces of learning another language to not just stick, but also stay, together.
  • A music class like Kindermusik gives rich and varied opportunities for children to listen, listen, listen – which sets them up for greater success when they begin speaking the new language.
  • The combination of listening, speaking, and singing in the Kindermusik classroom increases fluency.
  • The joy and delight of an interactive children’s music class fosters a happy motivation to learn, therefore making learning the English language so much easier and more natural.

So whether your little one is just learning to speak or you have a young child who is an English language learner, one of the very best and most effective tools for learning is music.  And here’s a little secret… YOU as the parent will love your Kindermusik too!

Yes, music – and especially Kindermusik! – can do all that!

The Music of May Day!

May Day Music

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To read this post in Spanish, click here![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Happy Spring, Kindermusik lovers! Yesterday was May 1st, which is historically celebrated as a springtime festival in many countries, with singing, dancing, games, and much more. Sometime in the 19th century, May Day also became a celebration of the worker, a sort of mid-year version of Labor Day. Today, we’ll explore some of the traditions of this day, and the music associated with it. Get your May Poles ready![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Flora

The springtime festival finds its roots in Floralia, an ancient Roman celebration of Flora, the goddess of flowers. Her image was associated with renewal and fertility. Games occurred in her honor and the various and colorful entertainments even included, according to the Roman poet Ovid, a tightrope walking elephant!

May Day
The Roman goddess Flora, by the famed painter Botticelli – the same artist who painted the Birth of Venus

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The May Pole

One of the longest standing traditions of May Day is the May Pole and May Pole dancing. If you are interested in learning how to dance around the May Pole, check out this link. Here’s the basic premise: a large pole, usually located in the center of town or in a park, around which people dance and sing, often wrapping colorful ribbons around the pole. The music associated is pure folk and represents the culture from which it arose. In the UK, Come Lassies and Lads calls all to the May Pole for an energetic, day-long dance.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Here is a video from Glastonbury, England, showing the May Pole Dance, complete with drumming and jingling bells.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxcIqMmlVOs”][vc_column_text]

Spain and Los Mayos

While Labor Day is also celebrated at the beginning of May, Spain, and many Hispanic America countries celebrate springtime festivals at this time as well, complete with music, dancing, and parades. In Spain, young boys would climb up the Maypole to retrieve a flag while girls would dance below.

Different “Mays” are sung to different people, from the Virgin Mary to girls of the town or village. The music is always celebratory and welcoming of warm springtime weather. Here, we see the traditional Maypole, and women, dressed in traditional attire, dancing in the streets during Los Mayos in Madrid, Spain.

 

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Hawai’i and Lei Day

In the early part of the 20th century, Hawai’i began a tradition on the first of May called Lei Day. The islands have their own representative flowers, displaying the uniqueness of each. Lei Day has become a celebration of Hawa’ian culture mixed with traditionally American/European elements, and culture is so often defined by music, dance and food! The festival includes singing and hula dancing, with flowers everywhere! The Romans might think it was Floralia…

And don’t forget the lei itself, Hawai’i’s unspoken symbol of welcome and affection. Here is a classic recording of King Bennie Nawahi singing the traditional song of the day, May Day is Lei Day in Hawai’i.
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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So get out today and smell the flowers, sing a song, and dance around a tree! Better yet, find a Kindermusik class and dance and sing with your young ones. Celebrate the day![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1462192779194{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Leaping for Leap Day!

7 Musical Ways

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Happy Leap Day!

Considering the special nature of this day, we thought it might be fun to present a collection of activities involving leaping and a little Leap Day/Leap Year.

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National Wildlife Federation

Some fun outdoor activities for the day – or any day, actually! Be creative. Anything can be adapted and adjusted.

Modern Mom

The folks over at Modern Mom provide a great list of fun leaping activities, from the traditional to the creative. Check them out!

Livestrong

Okay, so these are “jumping” activities – but after all, isn’t a jump just a fancy leap? Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Regardless, these are some truly fun games you can try at home.

Kindermusik: Leap Frog!

We can’t ignore quality Kindermusik songs and games – lots of frog-based leaping activities. You can find out more about this froggy fun at a studio near you.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1456721908716{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Educator Spotlight: Christa Beck

Educator Spotlight

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Maestro Educator Christa Beck loves what she does. That love is evident in the smiles of the children and parents she serves in her studio. Theresa Case interviewed this successful teacher so that we might get to know Christa a bit more.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Christa Beck has been changing lives as a Kindermusik Educator for 15 years. Her studio, Kindermusik with Christa Beck, is a multi maestro educator award winner, recognizing those that are among  the top programs internationally.

TC: What are some of your hobbies?

CB: Baking, running, reading and eating delicious meals that my husband has cooked. We also love to go out to eat; to experience new restaurants and breweries (and Pittsburgh has lots to choose from!).

TC: What do your Kindermusik kids call you?

CB: Miss Christa

TC: How do your Kindermusik families describe you?

CB: Fun, energetic, silly, smart, kind, loving, patient and always smiling.

Educator Spotlight Christa Beck
Always smiling!

TC: What’s your favorite part of teaching Kindermusik?

CB: Enabling parents to use music to connect with their children in ways they have not known before, in a positive, joyful, supportive environment.

TC: Do you have a favorite Kindermusik song?

CB: I have about 100 “favorite” Kindermusik songs. I loved learning all the words to traditional bedtime songs like “Hush Little Baby,” and “You are My Sunshine” early on in our Kindermusik experience. My children joke that I have a song for just about everything (from toast, to trains, to animals, to cleaning the house). I do randomly burst out in “Kindermusik” songs on a daily basis.


One of Miss Christa’s favorites!


TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik dance?

CB: ‘Liza Jane…I love the energy, the fiddles, the fantastic rhythm for dancing.

TC: If you had to name just one secret to success in the Kindermusik classroom, what would it be?

CB: Genuinely know and care for your families, and always give them 110%.

TC: What are some of the most touching moments you’ve experienced as a Kindermusik educator?

CB: I love the moment when a baby has learned to walk, and the parents in the class all cheer for that first walk across the Kindermusik classroom. When a toddler begins to sing in class, so pure and clear with no inhibitions, my heart smiles and knows this is the most right place to be in the world. Preschoolers are fun, silly, smart and energetic people. I love watching the self-confidence emerge, friendships blossom, and kindness happen naturally in our classes.[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Christa Beck”]Every single child matters.[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: Describe a teaching experience or favorite Kindermusik family that has especially impacted you as a teacher:

CB: I have always been particularly touched by special needs children. I am acutely aware of the extra effort it takes some children to reach certain milestones. I still remember my first Kindermusik child with Down’s Syndrome, Megan. She had been working so hard on walking and around age 2, finally walked across the room during class. The pride and joy of that mom, and the support of the families in that class had tears of joy flowing. I realized at that moment, how much our Kindermusik communities matter. Every single child matters. And what we are doing in the Kindermusik classroom matters. I’ve never lost sight of that.

TC: What do you feel has made your studio business a success?

CB: First and foremost, being the most well-prepared that I can for each and every class. Knowing the songs, knowing the activities, understanding why they are important, and learning more every day about early childhood development. Second, knowing, caring about, and loving my Kindermusik families. I believe in the value of each and every child and parent that comes through my doors each week. My hope is that shines through, and in turn has helped our studio become successful.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://animoto.com/play/Nfw6eJE8vvsSSdsYd00ikQ”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: What’s something new and exciting that’s happening with your business?

CB: We’ve been celebrating our 15th year all year long with fabulous events. A giant “on the farm” playdate at our local organic CSA, Jingle Jam holiday playdates, a recent Sweetheart Ball with 120 people in attendance, and more class offerings that ever before. We focus on adding new and exciting things to our business every year.

TC: What’s next for your Kindermusik program?

CB: I am taking Kindermusik to the Middle East this summer through a mission trip organized by another Kindermusik educator (Jessica Hanson.) My goal has been to have the studio families not only support this trip financially, but also share some of the different music from the two cultures with each other. I look forward to taking materials from our studio to leave in Amman, Jordan, and bringing activities and music back from the other side of the globe. My strong belief is that every child has value, and that music can be a universal means of communication; sharing healing and love from one country to the next.

I also hope to continue to grow our Kindermusik baby classes; to share with parents how much music can make an impact on children’s lives, particularly during the earliest years.

[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Christa Beck”]Truly a labor of love…[/blockquote][vc_column_text]TC: If you could share one tip with a new Kindermusik educator, what would it be?

CB: Being a successful Kindermusik educator takes time, talent and hard work. If you believe in it, live it, breathe it, and give as much as you can of yourself, the rewards that come back are priceless. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked, and the best time I’ve ever had in any career. Truly a labor of love.


Theresa Case’s award-winning Kindermusik program is part of Piano Central Studios, located in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Are you interested in becoming a Kindermusik Educator?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_button2 title=”START HERE” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.kindermusik.com%2Fteach-children-music%2F||target:%20_blank”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Universal Language: Music Therapy

Music Therapy

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Prof. Laurie Fox, Board Certified Music Therapist, takes us on a brief journey, and explains her field along the way. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]It’s been said that, “music is a universal language.” And while I would amend that to, “music is universal”, nonetheless, I must concede that music is a communicator, a connector of persons with diverse backgrounds. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the use of music by children.

Having just returned from trips to Kenya, Tanzania, and the Dominican Republic, I was blessed to share music with children with whom I could not otherwise engage. We made music together using “found sounds”, body percussion, singing and rhythmic chanting. In addition, we helped the children in creating and utilizing shaker instruments in call/response activities and as accompaniment to pre-composed songs.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Immediate Music/Immediate Connection

The immediacy of the joint music-making did not come as a surprise, because that is typically what we can expect from children in the States. What WAS different was how the children naturally embodied the music, using their entire bodies in their music-making, whether it was dancing as they played or fully engaging with the instruments, staying mindful and present with their music-making endeavors, as opposed to perseverative behavior. For me, as a musician, a music therapist and music educator, it’s the embodiment of music that is of vital importance in exploring and experiencing one’s self as a musical being. This belief has been the foundation of my use of music with clients in music therapy.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]And so, first, what is music therapy? Here’s how the American Association of Music Therapy defines it:[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=” AAMT”]Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.[/blockquote][vc_column_text]This definition leaves many questions unanswered because of the variety of possible musical interventions, along with the vast array of clientele groups, as well as the training, skill and personal style of each individual music therapist. So, what follows are a couple of examples of my own work in re-purposing music education approaches as therapeutic interventions in order to assess, support and aid childhood development.

Music education approaches from pedagogues such as Jaques Dalcroze, Zoltán Kodály, Carl Orff, and Schinici Suzuki emphasize the value of experiencing music (through singing, moving, rhythmic activities) as a means of learning musical concepts. While not yet thoroughly explored for use in music therapy, these developmental music approaches and philosophies align with the humanistic framework in which many music therapists work.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Music Therapy in Africa
Experiencing embodied music making in Africa – look at those smiles! photo credit – Jen Seniuk

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Therapeutically, embodied music-making experiences allow children to explore their own resources, all the while remaining in their world of play. The value of their music-making comes not only from the aesthetic virtues of music as art, not only from cognitive benefits, but also, and maybe most importantly, from the music as being a vehicle through which children can build their sense of self and strengthen self-mastery. To those ends, common goals in music therapy could include the following:[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

To improve awareness of self, others and environment

Utilizing the Dalcroze concepts of “time-space-energy”, children are encouraged to walk the quarter note beat at the tempo of what the therapist improvises on the piano; they are to attend to the music and respond by walking faster or slower when they sense the shift in the tempo. In addition, they are encouraged not to walk in a circle (which often happens naturally!) but rather to make use of the entire space. For older children, you can encourage them to use their upper bodies by “conducting” the music and also to explore the space above and below them (arms waving overhead; knees bending to explore closer to the ground)[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

To increase and/or improve social skills (sharing, turn taking)

Using Orff instruments, children are partnered together on various instruments, all arranged with the pentatonic scale (or five notes, each instrument utilizing the same five notes). The larger (or lower pitched) instruments keep a simple ostinato (repeated musical pattern), in which client A plays one note and client B plays another, and together, their notes form the ostinato. Other clients on medium pitched instruments can be given a simple melody that repeats (again, shared by two clients). And then maybe one xylophone gets passed around to those who do not yet have an instrument, and these clients can (one at a time) create something on the spot to go with the “accompaniment” of the medium and lower pitched instruments. The clients would then all switch roles so that everyone has a chance to “solo”.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Other goals might include:

  • To increase and/or improve communication skills (receptive skills, expressive skills)
  • To improve autonomy (decision-making, problem-solving)

Perhaps I can share more ideas about music experiences to target these goals in a future post, but the main thing I hope to convey is that children need to explore music in its (and their!) fullness. Happy music-making![/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Laurie Fox Music Therapist

Laurie Fox, MMT, MT-BC, LPC, is the Coordinator of the Music Therapy Program for Seton Hill University. She has practiced music therapy since 1994, focusing primarily on working with older adults with dementia and children, adolescents, and adults with mental health issues. Additional clinical work has included corrections, oncology, and neurology, and she maintains a private music psychotherapy practice. Laurie has recently joined the team at Heritage Hospice, Indiana, PA, marking a return to her love of hospice music therapy.

Laurie continues to be an active performer in her community and is passionate about bringing people together through music making endeavors. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, which includes a few cats![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

KINDERMUSIK AND DISNEY JUNIOR TEAM UP TO CREATE HARMONIOUS PROGRAM

Disney Lionguard

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Kindermusik® International, the world’s leader in music and movement education, today announced a new  exclusive “Rock & Roar” program to bring the musical adventures of Disney Junior’s newest hit series “The Lion Guard” to Kindermusik Studios throughout the United States.  Kicking off this February, the fun-filled, 45-60 minute classes for children ages 2-5 will explore the African savannah in a rip-roaring, fast-moving adventure, all set to the thunderous beats of “The Lion Guard” soundtrack. Along the way, kids will learn to build relationships, develop language and literacy skills, enhance balance, flexibility, and coordination, learn steady beat, and explore pretend play.

“We are thrilled to be working with Disney Junior to provide our families with this one-of-a-kind experience,” said Scott Kinsey, President and CEO of Kindermusik International. “Through this program, we’re able to blend our expertise and research-proven education methods with Disney Junior’s beloved characters and storytelling, delivering an exceptional experience for children and families enrolled in Kindermusik.”

Disney Junior’s “The Lion Guard” animated series continues the epic storytelling of “The Lion King” and follows Simba and Nala’s second-born cub, Kion and his diverse group of friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands.  Kion and his friends were introduced this past November in Disney Channel’s animated television movie “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar,” the #1 primetime cable TV telecast of 2015 among Kids 2-5 and the #1 animated telecast across kid cable-TV networks among Total Viewers and Adults 18-49.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Find a class near you!

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Movement and Music: Hop, Wiggle, Squirm, and Sing!

Babies movement smiles

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Lisa Sempsey, Kodály Educator

Kids have boundless energy! That statement is no surprise if you’re a parent, caregiver, or teacher to a child. There are times that you may look at the children under your care and think, “they may not need a nap, but I do!” or, “how do they just keep going?” Well, movement: touching, rolling, skipping, jumping, wiggling…it’s just part of how a child explores her world. It’s also how their brain/body develops “must have” connections to grow up in a healthy way. Movement is key! But, traditional sports or dance classes are not the only way to keep children moving. Don’t get me wrong, organized athletics and dance programs have an important impact in the world, but there are also other ways to keep your little ones on the move and having fun![/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Ralph Waldo Emerson”]It is a happy talent to know how to play.[/blockquote][vc_column_text]Music and movement have a natural connection. Think about it, when you sing to an infant, you rock them. Squirmy toddler? You’ll probably bounce that little guy on your knee as you recite a traditional rhyme to him. Is your kindergartner having a birthday party? Then, you might organize a round of musical chairs. All of these examples have a music-movement connection. But, they just scratch the surface. There are hundreds of “old” movement games that children still love to play, plus, new ideas on how children can explore movement, and often, music at the same time.

Not sure where to start? There are many websites and online libraries that are treasure troves for kid-friendly and parent/teacher approved, movement rich activities. I used to use them with my own child. (He’s twelve now!) I use them for planning activities at summer camps, and school lessons with many age levels, pre-school through high school. Try out the two online resources below. Take a look. Explore and see how much fun you and your children can have![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Music and Movement Resources

  • GoNoodle.com: What a fun website! Sign up for free, create a monster, click on an activity, and let the fun begin. Whether it’s yoga with Maximo, Zumba for Kids, silly movement with Koo Koo Kachoo, or one of the many other choices. Kids are engaged, challenged, and most likely giggling!
  • Kodaly.hnu.edu: This is an online library for folk songs, inspired by the Kodaly philosophy of music education. While I have many, MANY song sources for my classroom, this is my go-to resource when I’m in a pinch. Click on “search the collection” to look for song material that meets your needs. Looking for a movement activity? Scroll all the way to the bottom to the “game type” drop-down box. Choose a genre and you’ll get many songs with the game or dance directions written out for you. Some songs even have field recordings that you can listen to.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”Zoltán Kodály”]Singing connected with movements and action is a much more ancient, and, at the same time, more complex phenomenon than is a simple song.[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Want even more ideas?  Looking to integrate movement into a group setting with children?  There are many books with music and movement ideas together.  Some of my favorites are:

Music and movement are a natural fit at home and in school.  Those wiggly kids will sing, play, move, and laugh their way through great games and dances both old and new!


Lisa Sempsey
Lisa Sempsey

Mrs. Sempsey is an active clinician and workshop presenter in south-central Pennsylvania covering topics including classroom management, choral reading sessions, technology in the music classroom, movement and music curricular connections, Kodaly philosophy, curriculum development, and lesson planning, and Orff-Schulwerk philosophy, curriculum development, and lesson planning.

 

Mrs. Sempsey has taught kindergarten through sixth grade general music, elementary choruses, as well as elementary and middle school strings in Lower Dauphin and Conestoga Valley School Districts, as well as been the Artistic Director and Prelude Choir Director for the Children’s Choir of Lancaster from 2005-2012.  Currently, Mrs. Sempsey teaches kindergarten through sixth grade general music, choruses, and Orff & Drum Ensembles in Columbia Borough School District.   She is also the K-12 Art & Music Curriculum Coordinator.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]