Hoping to Nurture Social-Emotional Wellness in Your Child? Music Helps.

Kindermusik class at Kindermusik with Madeline in New Orleans. Foundations 0-1.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Since 1990, Americans have been keenly interested in “emotional intelligence.” That’s the year the term was coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, who claimed that “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action” was vital not only to a person’s wellness but also to his or her ability to succeed in life.

Continue reading “Hoping to Nurture Social-Emotional Wellness in Your Child? Music Helps.”

5 Big Benefits: The Social Learning Domain and Kindermusik

Quality Time

The textbook definition of social-emotional development “…includes the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others (Cohen and others 2005).  At its heart, social development for children is about connections and understanding and expressing emotions.

Continue reading “5 Big Benefits: The Social Learning Domain and Kindermusik”

No Matter What – Sing to Your Child

Sing to Your Child

It’s the viral video that made its rounds on Facebook and probably made you tear up a bit too.  A mom sings a sad love song to her 10-month baby, and the baby’s eyes well up.  Why does the baby have such an emotional reaction to the mother’s singing?

In her article featuring this viral video, psychologist Siu-Lan Tan theorizes that it has to do with the emotional contagion that causes human begins to “absorb and reflect the intense emotions of those around them.”   Continue reading “No Matter What – Sing to Your Child”

Building Community Through Music

Building community

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I travel quite a lot as a conductor. I guest conduct choral festivals in various locations as a part of my musical life. Last month, I found myself working with the New Jersey Treble All-State Choir, an ensemble made up of high school sopranos and altos. These types of festivals are always exciting for me. There’s something special about conducting a group that will only exist for a very short period of time. After the performance is over, that ensemble will never exist again. For this choir, people come from high schools all over New Jersey to make music with strangers. One of the things I always focus on is building a community in the ensemble, even for the brief time they are together – because an ensemble that has a sense of community about it will always make more meaningful music. This is directly related to the emotional and social benefits found in a Kindermusik class[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Connections

To be bold, building that sense of community is actually more important to me than the music; particularly at first. The ensemble won’t trust me just because I was selected by a committee and have fancy letters after my name. I work hard to prove to them that I am there for them as people first, musicians second. I do my best to connect to each person – all 150 or them – in some meaningful way, even if it’s only for a second. This often takes the form of standing at the door and greeting each person with a handshake and asking their name. I might walk through the rows of singers and do the same.

As we move from piece to piece, I often ask the musicians to turn to their neighbor behind or in front of them (this will prevent students from the same school as the default interaction as they often sit next to each other) and share something about themselves that makes them proud or that makes them smile. This breaks down walls and starts to build simple, but powerful connections between the singers. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Purpose

I admit, I talk a lot in rehearsal. I certainly talk less now than I did when I was younger, but I do still talk quite a bit. We talk about the text of the music and what it means for us and our audience. We talk about composer’s intent. We talk about what our job as musicians is…what our purpose is. Put plainly, I tell the students that it’s our job to change lives for the better. It’s our job to make people feel something. To give the audience a shared experience. That is difficult to do without a unified sense of the music we make. I ask questions. I encourage mistakes…bold mistakes…mistakes to be celebrated. I tell them that the person who makes no mistakes makes nothing. I do my level-headed best to create an environment of possibility in which we can learn from a mistake and not be embarrassed by it.

When the rehearsal starts, the very first thing we do is sing. That’s our practical task at hand. Our purpose is to enrich each other’s lives with the shared experience of music, thereby enriching the lives of our audience. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”Unknown”]”The person who makes no mistakes makes nothing.”[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Community
Choral singers holding hands…building on that sense of family and community.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Music’s Magic

I talk about this a great deal on this blog. There certainly is a ton of science that tells us, as best it can, why music affects us the way it does. We talk about that, too; it’s important to know that information. But, as silly as it might be, I fully embrace Albus Dumbledore’s take on music, so beautifully stated in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”

It is magic. A roomful of singers who have never made music together smile at the wonder of it all. They feel the connection, almost instantly. Kindred spirits from different communities, ethnic backgrounds, faith experiences, and socio-economic groups coming together to sing, one of the purest forms of musical expression. Each singer finds their place rather quickly as we understand our common goal…to change lives.

We work hard for three and a half hours. I sweat like crazy (I’m quite active in rehearsal). We practice extravagant gratitude. I ask them to thank each other and thank our collaborative pianist. I ask them to thank their choral directors at their high school. I ask them to thank their parents and guardians. I ask them to feel proud of their work. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

End Game

When we are done after this initial meeting, this first rehearsal, a new family has been created. A new community full of connections and shared purpose and magic has been born. Hopefully, they are looking forward to the next rehearsal, this opportunity to be together as that community to change lives, even each other’s lives.

One of the most important aspects of the Kindermusik experience is making music with other kiddos. The social/emotional benefits of this activity can’t be overstated. As kids see others engaged in an activity that brings themselves joy, the spark of connection lights a fire within. Emotional sensitivity for others is increased. The very idea of cooperative society blossoms in a Kindermusik class.

Our educators approach what they do in the same way I approach all my rehearsals…with love. It’s an honor to change a life with music. And every day we wake up knowing that’s what we get to do, we friends, that is a good day. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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.


 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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!

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

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]

How Music Affects your Mood and your Mind

Music and mood

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With over 30 years of observing children and adults in the Kindermusik classroom, we know from experience that music has a huge effect on the emotions. Science and research continue to affirm what we also suspect, and that is that music can significantly impact cognition as well – in the early years and later in life as we age.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And so we find articles like Music & the Brain: The Fascinating Ways Music Affects Your Mood and Mind to be very intriguing and incredibly confirming of the wonderful benefits of being enrolled in a music program like Kindermusik.  The author of the article, Barry Goldstein, points out four ways that consistent participation in a “…musical program can target and enhance certain brain functions.”  Here’s a quick summary of those four benefits that Goldstein identifies.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Emotion

Music actually affects the brain emotionally because of the way specific brain circuits are wired to respond to music. The closeness and bonding times that come through singing and dancing together actually release the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone.” And when listening to music touches us emotionally, it’s because there’s a neurotransmitter produced in the brain, called dopamine, that helps feel the pleasure and connection of music.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

music and mood
This little guy has found joy in music making.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Memory

Even when the mind is debilitated by the effects of Alzheimer’s, it can still be awakened when the patient hears music from his younger years to which he had an emotional connection. One of the most beautiful illustrations of this is an elderly man named Henry who was featured in the movie Alive Inside. Watch this and see if it doesn’t move you to tears! The music we love creates memories that stay with us for all of our lives.

Check out this charming older couple making music together.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI-l0tK8Ok0″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Learning and Neuroplasticity

Did you know that the brain can literally reorganize itself by forming new neural connections?  And that the formation of new neural connections can be significantly affected by music?  We see this documented in extreme cases of brain damage when music is one of the stimuli used to cause the brain to rewire itself.  For example, music therapy and singing were instrumental in helping former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords learn how to speak again.  If music has this kind of powerful effect on a brain that’s suffered trauma, just think of what effects music can have on a healthy brain![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy as part of her recovery process.
Gabrielle Giffords used music therapy as part of her recovery process.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Attention

Unlike any other medium, music has the unique capability o capture our full attention, and as a result, can “activate, sustain, and improve our attention.”  In a culture that’s full of distractions, the ability to focus our busy minds and allow our brains and our hearts to connect, we can find true balance and deep-seated joy.  This wonderful phenomenon can occur for both adults and children alike.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]All of this research and brain “stuff” can be a little dry; we admit it. But it also underscores the amazing and powerful effects of music, no matter what age or what stage of development the mind and emotions are in. Understanding a little of the science behind the powerful effects of music on our minds and emotions makes it all the more meaningful when experience music together in our Kindermusik classes. It reinforces again the immeasurable and lifelong value of early childhood music classes – something the children adore and memories that we as adults can hold in our hearts long after those precious years of childhood are left behind.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, has given her a heart full of songs and musical memories that she knows she’ll enjoy for the rest of her life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

7 Things: Harvard Psychologists Identify Positive Parenting Points

Positive Parenting

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Recently, psychologists from Harvard’s Making Caring Common Project (MCC) produced a list of seven concepts successful parents tend to consider when raising caring, compassionate, ethical children. The MCC exists to:

..help educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice.

It’s a pretty wonderful group of folks who truly want to see our kids be the best versions of themselves they can be. Both scientists and parents partner together to foster kindness and a commitment to the greater good. Let’s take a look at their seven research supported “guideposts” for positive parenting.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

1. Work to develop caring, loving relationships with your kids

Sounds obvious, but it’s important. If we want to pass on important concepts to our kids, they need to trust us. The more you express love and demonstrate that you care tremendously about them, they will feel closer to us. In turn, they will be more receptive to learning what we have to teach them.

How can we do this? The folks at MCC suggest planned, regular time together that includes meaningful conversation. Ask questions! The can be basic and simple, but in the end, these questions signal to our kids that we are interested in them and care about them. Try these on for size:

  • What was your favorite part of the day?
  • What was the hardest part? Why?
  • What did you learn today?
  • What is something nice someone did for you today?

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Model love...get love back.
Model love…get love back.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

2. Be a strong moral role model and mentor

We will be our kid’s first super hero. Before they learn about Wonder Woman and Superman, we will fill those roles. They will look to us, especially as we live into the first guidepost, to discern what is right and wrong, what is moral and amoral. We will be their moral hero. They will copy what we say and what we do. We’ll see them try out the faces we make, our body language, and our manner of speaking. Their eyes will always be on us. We must try to give them something positive to emulate.

How can we do this? Reflect on how we speak, how we treat others, and the model we are building for our kids. MCC advocates the following:

Pay close attention to whether you are practicing honesty, fairness, and caring yourself and modeling skills like solving conflicts peacefully and managing anger and other difficult emotions effectively.

Obviously we aren’t angels 24 hours a day. We make mistakes, but these can occasionally be used as teaching moments, too (depending on the subject at hand). Here are some suggestions from MCC:

  • Engage in community service and include your little ones when appropriate.
  • Be honest – Talk with your child when you make a mistake that affects them
    about why you think you made it, apologize for the mistake, and explain how you plan to
    avoid making the mistake next time.
  • Talk things through with friends – do you have someone with whom you can talk with when things may prove challenging? It’s great to be able to have a dialogue with a fellow parent who might be able to provide a different perspective.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

3. Make caring for others a priority and set high ethical expectations

We live in communities. Life on our planet is really about interacting with others. We are, by and large, social creatures. Learning at an early age how to practice empathy and compassion is very important when trying to raise kids that will care about others. With our first two guideposts in place, we are in a good place to help these little ones develop and understanding of these concepts and and put them into practice in their world.

How can we do this? Help our children live into the commitments they make – even the most simple commitments. Making their bed…practicing kindness with a sibling…sharing toys with others…these are all basic commitments we can help them realize.

We can help them stand up for important principles like fairness and justice, and always encourage them to be respectful. Here’s MCC’s list to help with this guidepost:

  • Consider the daily messages you send to children about the importance of caring. For example, instead of saying to children “The most important
    thing is that you’re happy,” you might say “The most important thing is that you’re kind and that you’re happy.”
  • Prioritize caring when you talk with other key adults in your children’s lives. For example, ask teachers and coaches whether your children are good community members in addition to asking about their academic skills, grades, or performance.
  • Encourage kids to “work it out.” Before letting your child quit a sports team, band, or a friendship, ask them to consider their obligations to the group or the friend, and encourage them to work out problems.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Opportunities to interact with others and practice kindness are great - like a Kindermusik class!
Opportunities to interact with others and practice kindness are great – like a Kindermusik class!

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

4. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

Have you ever gotten proficient at a skill without opportunity to practice? Most likely…no. And friends, putting these concepts into practice is a skill. Ensuring that our kids have ample opportunity to exercise these skills in the real world and not just as ideas in their head is key. When you are at the store, have your child thank the cashier and the bagger. At a restaurant? Let your little one order, complete with please and thank you. Take every chance to express gratitude, to demonstrate compassion. MCC’s list of suggestions includes:

  • Help with chores around the house. This should become routine. Praise uncommon acts of kindness. Expect routine – these actions will more likely become ingrained.
  • Make caring and justice a focus. Start conversations with children about the caring and uncaring acts they see in their daily lives or on television and about acts of justice and injustice they might witness or hear about in the news, such as a person who stood up for an important cause or an instance of sexism or racism. Ask children how they see these actions and explain why you think these actions are caring or uncaring, just or unjust.
  • Expressing thanks. Consider making expressing gratitude a daily ritual at dinnertime, bedtime, in the car, or on the subway. Encourage children to express appreciation for family members, teachers, or others who contribute to their lives.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

5. Expand your child’s circle of concern

It’s a simple concept, really. If we’ve been successful with guideposts one through four, our children will already have a great foundation in compassion, caring, and empathy. Normally though, this readily extends to the close circle of trusted adults – immediate family and close friends. The idea here is to help our kids care about those outside the circle, thereby expanding it. We want our kids to be compassionate and empathetic with the new kid in class or someone that might look different than they do, whether that be, for example, race or ability.

How can we do this? MCC states:

It is important that children learn to zoom in, listening closely and attending to those in their immediate circle, and to zoom out, taking in the big picture and considering the range of people they interact with every day. Children also need to consider how their decisions impact a community. Breaking a school rule, for example, can make it easier for others to break rules. Especially in our more global world, it’s important, too, for children to develop concern for people who live in other cultures and communities.

Here are some specifics from MCC:

  • Encourage children to consider the perspectives and feelings of those who may be vulnerable, such as a new child at school or a child experiencing some family trouble. Give children some simple ideas for taking action, like comforting a classmate who was teased or reaching out to a new student.
  • Use newspaper or TV stories to start conversations with children about other people’s hardships and challenges, or simply the different experiences of children in another country or community.
  • Emphasize with your child the importance of really listening to others, especially those people who may seem unfamiliar and who may be harder to immediately understand.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]positive parenting[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

6. Promote children’s ability to be ethical thinkers and positive change-makers in their
communities

Kids care about ethics. They might not know the term, but ethics enters into their lives pretty early one. How often have you heard a young child talk about what is fair and not fair? Have you had a discussion with your own child about how they might have been mistreated by another child? What about telling the truth, even when it’s hard? They know. They want to learn. They have a desire to understand how human interactions work. They quickly understand that their choices have an impact on others. So how can we promote ethical thought in young kids?

We can help them work through the ethical puzzles that occur in their lives. MCC uses this example – talking through a situation in which a child is deciding whether or not to invite a new friend to a party when their best friend might not like the new friend. We can help our kids understand how to handle bullying when it rears its ugly head.

The key here is to use the open channels of communication and moral center we have created by employing the previous guideposts.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

7. Help children develop self-control and manage feelings effectively

We’ve talked about this one here at Minds on Music before. Helping our kids develop self-regulation and self-control are key to navigating the journey from toddlerhood all the way to puberty and beyond. If our own challenges can’t be managed successfully, it will be next to impossible to view the world through compassionate eyes. We’ll be overcome by our own ego. If we help our children develop a skill set to manage their own emotions and moderate their interactions with the world, they will more readily understand their place in it. We can aid them as the move through Piaget’s Preoperational Stage, characterized by the struggle to see things from perspectives other than their own.

How can we help them? By teaching our kids to label their feelings, to talk about them. It’s so important that kids learn that feelings, even feelings like anger and sadness are okay. The challenge is in how we express those feelings, how we process them. Some ways are much better than others. From the MCC:

A simple way to help children to manage their feelings is to practice three easy steps together: stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Try it when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them together.

Practice with your child how to resolve conflicts. Consider a conflict you or your child witnessed or experienced that turned out badly, and role play different ways of responding. Try to achieve mutual understanding—listening to and paraphrasing each other’s feelings until both people feel understood. If your child observes you experiencing a difficult feeling and is concerned, talk to your child about how you are handling it.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Positive Parenting at its Best

This is proactive, positive parenting. It takes time to employ, but the benefits are long-lasting. I have often told our kids that my main goal is to make sure they make it to adulthood alive. My 14 year-old likes to jokingly quip back when i ask him to do simple things (like turning out a light), “Don’t tell me how to live my life!” I return with, “That’s literally have my job.”

“What’s the other half?” he’ll ask.

“Telling your brother how to live his.”

We laugh. We’re lucky to have a positive relationship. But really, whether our sons realize it or not (and I’m pretty sure they do), what we do as parents goes far beyond making sure they make it to adulthood alive or simply telling them how to live. We try our best to be positive models. We have tried to help them develop a sense of right and wrong, of compassion and empathy. We have had and continue to have discussions over dinner about ethical issues and how to treat others. Hypothetical situations are great conversation starters. Sure, the content of the discussions has increased in complexity as they have gotten older, but we did our best to have age appropriate talks at every point in their lives. When we take the time to practice these guideposts, our kids have the potential to develop as caring, compassionate individuals. And that’s the MCC’s goal, to make caring common. It’s a pretty good goal for all of us.

For more from the MCC, click here.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1500605090553{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/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.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

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]