The beauty around us

Aesthetic awareness has been described as one of the defining qualities of being human. Becoming aware of the beauty of sound – a part of aesthetic awareness – requires key listening skills.

Sometimes the most unusual sounds and beautiful sights can strike a chord within us, and even within a precocious young child!  Learning to search for beauty, listen for beauty, and discuss beautiful sounds – these are the building blocks to developing an aesthetic awareness that lasts a lifetime.

As adults, it’s up to us to model an appreciation for loveliness  around us and also create environments to help awaken a child’s aesthetic senses. In order for a child to become a truly creative, authentic learner and creator herself, this awareness must first be developed and fostered.

Even simple Kindermusik activities like taking a pretend windy walk, reading about Michael Finnigan’s antics with the wind, or making wind chimes, are part of helping a child seek out and understand the aesthetic beauty around us. A nature walk, singing, painting, drawing, playing an instrument – all these activities are effective.

Here are a few tips to help your child continue to build aesthetic awareness:

1.  Expose your child to experiences that heighten his sense of the aesthetically pleasing – museums, concerts, nature walks, etc.

2.  Point out the beauty already around your child – in nature, fine art, and music.  Talk about what he likes, or doesn’t like, and why.

3.  Play good quality music in the home and/or in the car, surrounding your child with a variety of musical genres and styles.  Discuss what she is hearing and how it makes her feel.

4.  Encourage your child to express himself musically and artistically.  Let your child pick the music he listens to while doing a little project.  Keep kid-friendly art supplies within reach for those moments when inspiration strikes.

5.  Keep your child enrolled in Kindermusik!  From newborn up, Kindermusik is seven musical and magical years of preparation for a lifetime of aesthetic awareness.

Posted by Theresa Case whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios is proudly among the top 1% of Kindermusik programs worldwide.

Sometimes ACTIONS are louder than WORDS

Have you ever sat in a movie theater, and several people in the row behind you are all talking? I bet you found it difficult to concentrate on the movie.

What does this have to do with your child in a Kindermusik class? Just imagine this scenario: your Kindermusik teacher brings out a basket of rhythm sticks and sings “two for you and two for your grownup”. Most of the grownups in the room start encouraging their child to go get the sticks. They encourage them with their voices and now we hear 10 adults telling their child to go get sticks. At this point, some of the children will start to “tune you out”. I like to call this “selective hearing loss”. (I have teens at home and I am very familiar with this temporary, albeit sometimes annoying ailment.)

Although we highly encourage you to talk to your child throughout the day and label movements, sounds, and objects to help with language acquisition, there are times when we have to allow them to figure out what to do without being told. Allow them to problem solve.

I want to share with you an experiment we did in a few of my classes. I asked the adults not to give directions to their child during this class – just sing when it was appropriate in the lesson. The toughest part was the “no talking”. But they all agreed and were curious to witness their child in this somewhat altered environment. I encouraged them to guide their little one by being a model and using non-verbal cues.

Here is what some of the adults said at the end of class:
* They showed more patience
* They were more “in the moment” with their children
* Their children were more attentive and focused
* Their children felt freer to create, explore, and express themselves

Try a version of this experiment at home. Take time to explore with your child without giving them opinions or directions. Be a model for them through your actions and not your words. It’s not easy, but it may allow you to be “in the moment” with your child in a way you have not been before.

Special thanks to Kindermusik educator Cathy Huser for sharing this insightful post from her blog.  Cathy’s program, Kindermusik of Cleveland, has been a top ten Kindermusik Maestro program for 10 years running.

What do you hear?

Pitter, patter, pitter, patter… I can HEAR the rain.

Musically speaking, rain sounds are short sounds.  The musical term “staccato” refers to sounds that are separated and often short.  It’s the perfect word to use when playing with – and describing – rain sounds.  But did you know that being able to identify a sound as “short” (staccato) or “long” (legato) actually involves some pretty high-level thinking and listening skills?

Active listening differs from simple hearing in that we must choose it as an intentional act. Analytical listening, like the kind we will do in Kindermusik class when we explore different shaker sounds and mimic and identify a variety of rain sounds, takes the development of our music listening skills to a whole new level.

Analytical listening is an absolutely vital skill, for music class and for life because it requires children to:
– Evaluate what is heard and comprehended
– Contemplate and reflect
– Weigh new information against what is already known
– Discuss by sharing thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints

As Kindermusik teachers, it is an awesome privilege for us to be able to help shape a child’s disposition and aptitude for learning music – practicing the skills that lead to competency and enjoyment and encouraging the attitude that music is fun.  Music truly is a powerful tool for representing ideas and expressing individuality, especially when a child develops the ability to listen analytically.

In the Kindermusik classroom where so many of the senses are often engaged simultaneously and where imagination can soar, musical learning truly has the potential to be the strongest and most powerful.

Posted by Theresa Case, whose Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios is proudly among the top 1% of programs worldwide.