Music Makes It

Music Makes It

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]What drives us? What is important in our lives? Connections…family…friends…and all things beautiful in this world; art, poetry, dancing, and music. Can you imagine your life without music? Movies without a sound track? Cars without a radio? The truth is this: music does more than entertain. It lights up parts of the brain seemingly put there to react to it. Dr. Boyle explores research that indicates integrating music into other subjects makes them come alive…and how music transformed the lives of some special young people. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]We learn the alphabet through song, there are songs about math facts, songs that teach the names of the states, and more. There’s even a rap that teaches the presidents of the United States. And who can forget School House Rock? Admit it, you still can sing Conjunction Junction and I’m Just a Bill.

Way back in the 1960s, two Bulgarian researchers discovered what moms and dads the world round already knew: music increases the quality of memories formed, leading to easier recall of facts and experiences. Drs. Georgi Lozanov and Evelyna Gateva developed methodologies which involved incorporating music into language learning. The results were rather amazing, specifically the retention length. This was greatly improved when music was incorporated, even in a passive way.

Author and educator Chris Boyd Brewer provides us with a wonderful list of benefits when music is integrated into early childhood learning experiences:

  • establish a positive learning state
  • create a desired atmosphere
  • build a sense of anticipation
  • energize learning activities
  • change brain wave states
  • focus concentration
  • increase attention
  • improve memory
  • facilitate a multisensory learning experience
  • release tension
  • enhance imagination
  • align groups
  • develop rapport
  • provide inspiration and motivation
  • add an element of fun
  • accentuate theme-oriented units

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Last week, I attended a summer composers festival at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. One of the mentor composers was Dr. Steven Sametz, Professor of Music at Lehigh. He recently received the Raymond and Beverly Sacker 2013 Music Prize from the University of Connecticut, an award that commissions new music. In Dr. Sametz’s case, being a son of Connecticut, he opted to write a large scale choral/orchestral work that would honor the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. As most of the victims were young children, he decided that the voices of children, expressing how they deal with grief, needed to be part of the work.

Dr. Sametz traveled to an inner-city school in Philadelphia to meet with a group of students, each of whom had experienced violent loss in their young lives. At first, these kids were silent; it was difficult to get them to talk about their experiences. As the process went on, they opened up and began to share. When their words were integrated into the work, titled A Child’s Requiem, these young people were transformed. Their stories were being told. People cared about what they had to say. They suddenly had a voice – magnified by music.

These Philly kids attended the New York and Stamford, Connecticut premieres and were recognized on stage for their contributions to the work. These kids, who could barely see past tomorrow, began talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up…

“I want to be a poet.”

“I want to be a film maker.”

…all because of music.

I asked Katie Young, the dedicated music teacher of these amazing kids, what the most important effect of the whole process was for them. She said, “They couldn’t talk about the loss in their lives before. Now they can. I can see a much brighter future for them.”

…all because of music.


 

While reading an article on the state of music instruction in preschool programs, wading through academic jargon and buzzwords, I came across a quote from one of the teachers who participated in a research survey. It grabbed my attention in its honest simplicity:

“Our teachers sing all the time – the children sing and clap and dance around. Music makes our days happy.”

– Journal of Research in Music Education

For parents and teachers, that’s the brass ring. Happy children…happy teachers…this makes for a more productive and effective learning environment. Music, while bringing, joy to young children, unlocks their potential in other areas. They start to see what the first though was impossible…as perfectly possible. Frankly, that’s what we all want.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Research: Involving Parents Increases Positive Outcome for Kids Enrolled in Head Start

New research once again shows that an intentional partnership between parents and teachers positively supports children’s educational outcomes. Without a doubt, parents are a child’s first and best teacher. We know that intuitively and we hear that from early childhood experts and teachers. But, let’s face it. Parents need help. They need partners in their children’s education to best equip them in their role as teachers. They need information and they need practical ideas and tools that they can easily use in their everyday routines with their children.

 

Involving Parents Helps Young Children Maintain Literacy Skills

Recently, a research team recruited 200 children and parents from families enrolled in 24 Head Start programs in rural and urban Pennsylvania. The families were split into two groups. The control group received math games to play on their own. The other group received materials, such as books and learning games, and visits from “educational counselors” who provided coaching on how to use the games with their children. Those materials specifically supported the lessons from the Head Start classroom.

The children who participated in the second group showed significantly higher retention of literacy skills (vocabulary and fluency) and social skills (self-directed learning and social competence) acquired in the classroom when compared to the control group.

A Listening Game to Support Early Literacy Skills

While not a part of the Head Start study above, Kindermusik programs provide materials (games, music, books) and child development information and resources parents can use OUTSIDE the classroom to support what happens INSIDE the classroom. For example, this fun game—“Reading” the Violin”—supports children’s early literacy skills.

 Violin game

Matching sounds to a visual image is an extremely important early literacy skill. It is, in fact, the precursor skill to the alphabetic principle, or the understanding that there is a relationship between letters and sounds. Before children can explore letter-sound relationships and learn to decode words, they must first understand the connection between a sound they hear and an image they see.

This game provides kids lots of practice with associating a specific bit of audio with a specific bit of visual, and they’ll have no idea that this game is actually preparing them to read. It also supports other important early childhood cognitive competences, including:

  • Selective Attention: the ability to selectively concentrate on one aspect of the environment while ignoring distractions.
  • Auditory Working Memory: the ability to retain information that has been presented orally (e.g., listening to a target sound and then matching the sound to its image)
  • Auditory Discrimination: the ability to discriminate between similar sounds.

Did you know Kindermusik offers a program for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs that include materials and resources, like the game above, for families to use? Learn more.

November 12 ~ Free Webinar for Early Childhood Educators

Using Music to Boost Infant and Toddler Development

Kindermusik International partners with Hatch Early Learning to offer this Free Webinar, “Using Music to Boost Infant and Toddler Development.” Music is the one constant in an infant’s everyday life. All over the world, parents are bonding with their babies through musical sounds and rhythmic movement. Parents know instinctively what scientists have now proven: infants thrive on music.

Join us on November 12th as we team up with Hatch Early Learning to bring you a free webinar that will detail how and why music and movement provide the best learning vehicles for early childhood development (newborn to age 3). Kindermusik International’s Director of Professional Development, Betsy Flanagan, will lead the webinar.

  • What You’ll Learn
    • How immersive musical experiences create and strengthen an infant’s neural pathways
    • Ways to create special bonding moments with newborn to age 3 learners
    • Specific techniques that have worked in Early Head Start programs
    • Active music making ideas that “light up” a baby’s entire brain

Register for this FREE Webinar on November 12 at 2pm EST.

If you’re unable to attend this webinar live, that’s no problem! Be sure to register and we will send you a link to our on-demand portal to view a recording of the live event.

5 ways Kindermusik helps preschoolers reach early learning benchmarks

Preschool teachers notice the signs long before the children do. Boxes of sharpened and unused crayons. Full canisters of tempura paints. New bags of sand for the sensory table. The smell of the freshly laminated name tags. Yes, all signs point to a new school year starting soon!
At the beginning of each school year, preschool teachers gather more than new supplies for the classroom. They also gather key information about the children by identifying and describing each child’s development in various domains. This benchmarking helps educators support the growth of each child to his or her fullest potential throughout the year.
Kindermusik_PreschoolClassroom_MusicAndSensoryLearningOur early childhood curriculum uses music and movement to support the development and learning across and within domains. We use music to reach children of all abilities and in a classroom of children exhibiting a range of skills and competences.
Whether used in a preschool, Head Start or Early Head Start program, public school, or other early learning setting, Kindermusik’s early childhood curriculum delivers proven results. In fact, children participating for just 30 minutes a week experience a 32 percent more literacy gain than other children. Here are just some of the ways we use music, movement, and stories to help children reach standard benchmarks.

5 ways our early childhood curriculum helps children reach benchmarks

  1. Our Storytime gives preschool teachers ways to ask and answer questions about key details such as the plot or the characters. We know that children benefit from hearing the story multiple times, so it’s repeated weekly in each unit for preschoolers to become familiar with plot, characters, settings, and main events.
  2. Our Hosted Teaching CDs provide brief introductions with key information about a story’s topic and setting. In the second half of each unit, lessons pose a range of recall, inferential, compare/contrast, and beyond-the-text questions. At the end of storytime, the lessons give preschoolers opportunities to ask or answer questions about the story that can help deepen their understanding of the story or subject.
  3. KindermusikPresents_ABCMusicAndMe_AGlobalEarlyChildhoodCurriculum[1]Our songs and poems use rhyme to improve phonological awareness. Research shows that lyrics can help young children improve their comprehension and build their vocabulary and listening skills. Plus, the engaging nature of music helps motivate young children to learn. And, of course, building vocabulary, comprehension, and listening skills are all part of the preschool standards.
  4. Our songs, poems, rhymes, and rituals inspire children to acquire vocabulary incidentally by reading and listening to stories. The texts’ illustrations and activities give children tools to learn new vocabulary through both seeing and doing. To ensure comprehension, teachers often pause the Hosted Teaching CD and ask questions to assess learning as well as answer student questions.
  5. Each unit also includes explicit vocabulary instruction. Words essential to songs and poems appear on picture cards and are introduced through direct instruction or by modeling during group discussions. Research supports the use of direct vocabulary instruction, including the effectiveness of having young children learn robust, academic words.

 

Learn About Kindermusik at SchoolTo learn more about using our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, email us at abcinfo@kindermusik.com.

 
 

US Congress recognizes importance of early child development

Baby-Safe Instruments - Tips from Kindermusik

Baby-Safe Instruments - Tips from KindermusikAround here, we have a saying: A Good Beginning Never Ends. The early years of a child’s life make a difference on child brain development. That’s just not us saying it, the research proves it again and again. For example, birth to three years old is the peak age for child brain development with 700 new neural connections forming every second!
Now, with the introduction of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013, the United States Congress recognizes the importance of early child development. Senator Harkin, Representative Miller, and Representative Hanna introduced the Bill, which offers more babies and toddlers the chance to participate in high-quality programs and services, including Early Head Start, that support early child development and the pivotal role of parents.

How does the bill focus on early child development?

  1. Gives Early Head Start programs the ability to reach more eligible children through innovative partnerships with high-quality childcare programs.
  2. Allows states to use up to 15 percent of their Pre-K funding to provide child care settings for infants and toddlers to help prevent the learning gap and ensure they are on-track when they get to Pre-K.
  3. Endorses the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs that have been shown to have a range of positive impacts on parenting and early child development.

We know firsthand a good beginning never ends. We experience it every day in the classroom—from our Early Head Start and Head Start curriculum to studio classes for babies, toddlers, big kids, and families to our English Language Learners curriculum.

Learn more about the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 and the importance of early child development.

 
 

How Music Supports Spatial Development

“Exceptional spatial ability at age 13 predicts creative and scholarly achievements more than 30 years later, according to results from a Vanderbilt University longitudinal study, published today in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.” (from Early spatial reasoning predicts later creativity and innovation, especially in STEM fields)

Where Spatial Ability Begins

Kindermusik girl with hoopSo where does spatial ability begin?  The development of spatial awareness actually begins in infancy as babies start to understand spatial relationships through concepts such as up/down, inside/outside, over, under, and all around.  Discovering their hands and feet is also part of the developmental process.
Next comes a greater sense of body awareness for toddlers as they gain an understanding of spatial orientation between self and other objects.  Preschoolers begin to understand the concept of landmarks and gaining a sense of direction.  The learning keeps building and expanding as big kids then also begin to develop a sense of personal space, control of their bodies, and a greater understanding of positional words and directions.

Why we listen, label, dance, and use props

This is why all of the music listening, labeling, moving, direction following, and use of props that’s done in Kindermusik music classes is so powerful.  And now we have the research to support what we’ve known all along… that there is a connection between early experiences in music and movement and creative and scholarly achievements later on.  Music and learning definitely go hand-in-hand!

Give your a child a head start in learning and for life

Come see how Kindermusik can help develop your child’s spatial ability.  Try a free class on us today!

– Contributed by Theresa Case, owner of an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC