Finding Your Voice: Lessons Learned from Isabella

This guest post originally appeared on the blog: One Random Angel. 

I’ve been working with children since I was old enough to babysit. Been teaching children in some capacity for the last 23 years. So I don’t want to say I’ve seen it all, but I will say not much surprises me. And I generally think I’m pretty good at reading kids and meeting them where they are and bonding with them from there. Or at least I thought that until this past year when a creative, loud, happy child named Isabella surprised me and taught me a new lesson that will help me now to be a better teacher and maybe even a better person.

Let me back up. When I first began teaching Isabella, then 2 years old, in one of my parent/child gymnastic classes, I did not see her at all as creative, loud, or happy. In fact, I saw her as timid, introverted, and nervous. She hid most of the class behind her dad’s legs. And her kind, supportive parents, along with her kind, well-meaning teacher would encourage her to try skills and push her to participate. But if I’m honest, she didn’t really ever seem to enjoy the class in those days. I thought she needed time: time to get to know me, time to be comfortable in the environment, and time to just watch and observe before doing.

Then we started a new Kindermusik program at my gym.

Isabella and her mom joined my very first class. I could see the first day that Isabella was more comfortable. From day one, she participated fully in the class. As the weeks went on, Isabella became louder and louder in her participation. She modeled for the other kids all the imaginative play involved in Kindermusik. She was the first to vocalize and sing along. She really transformed into a leader before my eyes. One week early on we were dancing with scarves to classical music. Isabella stood off to the side and sang “Let It Go” as loudly as she could over the music. It was glorious.

As amazing as watching her come out of her shell in music class was, here is the part that really blew me away. When she found her voice in Kindermusik, the way she participated in the gym class also changed! She stepped out from behind her dad’s legs and into the center of the circle. She met me in the gym class with the same imaginative spirit that we used in music class. In our opening circle for example, instead of burying her head in her dad’s chest when I’d ask her for her name, she began to give me a different name each week for what I should call her. Then she’d pretend to be that person (usually a princess). One day during our exploration time, she said to me, “I’m Miss Angel and you are Isabella. You follow me.” She led me around equipment that a few months earlier I couldn’t even get her to go near.

Lessons Learned from a Child

Isabella didn’t need more time or understanding from me. She needed a change in environment. She needed to find her voice where she felt confident and where the activities spoke to her and her strengths. She found those things in Kindermusik. Then she owned her new voice and used it to overcome whatever fears she had in the gym. Now she tries skills. Now she participates fully. She is sometimes still nervous when trying new physical skills, but instead of hiding and refusing to try, she just tells you that she feels nervous. Then she tries it anyway.

Isabella is a joy to teach in both programs. Take a look at Isabella and her family singing with me and the Wiggle and Grow Family class. You’ll recognize her from her confidence and joyful, loud singing!

Finding Your Voice Video Clip

So my hope for all of us is that we can find a change in environment when we need it. Find a place where we feel confident. A place that speaks to our strengths and draws out the very best in us. A place where we can sing “Let It Go” loudly even when entirely different music is playing.

What lessons have you learned from a child? Join in the conversation on our Facebook page and tag your response #lessonslearnedfromkids.

Angel Hundley has owned and operated a The Little Gym Franchise in Huntsville, Alabama, since 2007. She has taught hundreds and hundreds of children. She hopes they’ve learned from her. Angel is certain that she’s learned from them!

Music: A prescription for healing

Kelsey SpringstedMeet Kindermusik educator Kelsey Springsted

A spiral-bound notebook might not look like much, but to a 15-year-old girl diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer), it became a lifeline. Kelsey Springsted always loved music—from creating musicals to perform in the living room for her family to piano lessons to playing the oboe in high school band. However, all of that came to a stop as a teenager when Kelsey learned she had cancer.

Chemotherapy treatments compromised Kelsey’s immune system so rather than spending her time in the typical teenager ways—hanging with friends, lamenting about homework, or performing with the band—Kelsey stayed in her room, alone. However, she did have a notebook.

“I began writing songs. That was how I got through each day,” confesses Kelsey. “I was rarely allowed to see my friends, even my twin sister, because of how weakened my immune system was, but the music allowed me to write about it and express myself. I wrote in my notebook and composed on the piano every day.”

Bringing musical healing to other children

Kelsey learned at an early age that music can indeed save us and transcend our circumstances. So, as her health improved at 16, Kelsey brought music to the hospital. She shared her notebook songs with children undergoing cancer treatment and other life-threatening illnesses.

“Music can be a therapy in many ways,” Kelsey explains. “It can get you through the day.”

Kelsey’s music led to organizing makeup parties for the girls, silly string and Nerf gun battles, and even a special gingerbread-making event around the holidays. Thanks to Kelsey and her gift of and for music, she helped make the days in the hospital a little bit better.

However, the music didn’t stop there! After battling cancer a second time when she was 19, Kelsey became involved in the Philoptochos Kids ‘n’ Cancer Camp Agape. Camp Agape offers families dealing with cancer and other life-threatening childhood diseases a refuge for four days in the summer, away from the sights and sounds of doctors, laboratories, and hospitals, where they spend so much of their lives. Children and their families engage in hands-on group activities that provide a reprieve from their daily challenges.

Each summer Kelsey runs the nightly campfires and leads families in playing instruments and singing together in Dunlap, Julian, and San Diego, California. Take a listen to her singing “No More Chemo” (with little voices singing along). The nurses taught Kelsey this song when she went through chemotherapy and she shares this at Camp Agape each year:


Making a difference with Kindermusik

In her early twenties, Kelsey taught for a kid’s gym. “I got excited when the kids started singing with me. That’s where I felt joy,” shares Kelsey. “A Kindermusik educator offered classes at the gym so I talked with her about Kindermusik. As that educator’s circumstances changed, so did mine. Now, I own all of her studios, with my main studio in Valencia, California.”

Kelsey loves being a Kindermusik educator: “I know that I am making a difference in the lives of children. When a child comes in to class having a bad day, the singing makes it all go away. Plus, I see how Kindermusik changes children. They are learning steady beat and sharing, language and literacy, and so much more. They are learning how to learn.”

It’s about the parents, too. “I get to be silly at work and the parents can get silly with their children in the classroom,” explains Kelsey. “I love that I can teach new parents how to play with their little ones and what a difference singing to their children can make.”

Kindermusik and Reading Rainbow

Kindermusik educator, Kelsey Springsted, and employee-owner, Jamie Sterling, with Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton and CEO Mark Wolfe.

Now, as a Coloratura soprano and a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Kelsey participates in multiple opera and musical theater productions each year. One of this year’s “live performance” highlights took place last month at the Kindermusik and Reading Rainbow event to help celebrate the launch of the Kindermusik “Music Mountain” island on the Reading Rainbow app.

At the event, Kelsey led the auditorium full of children through Kindermusik activities. The entire hall filled with music and clapping and twirling and laughter—in typical Kelsey fashion.

“I loved being the musical theatre person on stage,” shares Kelsey. “I got like a 1,000 high fives!” (And, we loved being a part of it with you!)

Oh, and that notebook?

It’s gone—lost at Disneyland—but not forgotten. Yes, those songs helped Kelsey through her diagnosis and treatment. Yes, those songs encouraged more children when Kelsey sang to them in the hospital and at Camp Agape. And, yes, the roots of those songs spread into her Kindermusik classroom each week. So, the music lives

on. And so does Kelsey—5 years cancer free!

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, Kindermusik parent, former Employee-Owner, and lifetime believer in the power of music.

4 reasons why music therapists love Kindermusik

why_music_quotes13American writer Sarah Dessen is not a Kindermusik teacher nor does she specialize in early childhood special education. However, she seems to understand how music can reach individuals of all

abilities. She wrote: “Music is the great uniter, an incredible force, something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

In Kindermusik, we say it this way: “Everyone speaks music.” In the classroom, Kindermusik educators celebrate the individuality and contributions of each child. It’s no wonder music therapists love recommending Kindermusik and teaching Kindermusik. With our similar child-centered philosophies, music therapists are discovering Kindermusik offers opportunities for both their practice and their clients.

4 reasons why music therapists love using Kindermusik as part of a special education curriculum

  1. The Kindermusik curriculum naturally integrates typically developing children and children with special needs into one welcoming and loving environment.
  2. Kindermusik classes support the work done in individual music therapy sessions. Music therapists and families appreciate how Kindermusik takes many of the concepts children with special needs work on in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and puts it into a group learning environment.
  3. Music therapists understand firsthand the benefits of music on children, including cognitive stimulation, self-expression, self-awareness, and increased motor movements.
  4. Music therapists can use their music therapy skills to reach more children and to expand their income potential.

Teaching children as a Kindermusik educator

“Being able to integrate typically developing children and special needs kids was just a dream come true,” explains Julie Wade, music therapist and Kindermusik educator. “The Kindermusik curriculum enables you to do just that in a positive therapeutic environment.”

Listen to what else Julie loves about being both a music therapist and Kindermusik educator. Plus, hear from her students, too!


Learn more about becoming a Kindermusik educator!


My Kindermusik Day

Kindermusik educator Theresa Case in Baby Music Class

Kindermusik educator Theresa Case in Baby Music Class
Yesterday was one of my Kindermusik days — my day to teach, to be in the classroom with 10 delightful toddlers and their special adults. Besides being an invigorating ton of fun, every one of my Kindermusik days reminds me of why I’m so lucky to do what I do!
As a program owner, I am privileged to work alongside the other wonderful Kindermusik educators on my staff. I spend time in the office, administrating and overseeing the business that enables me to reach so many more families with the power of Kindermusik. The time I spend teaching inspires and motivates me when it’s time to put on the other hats I wear as a Kindermusik program owner and director of Piano Central Studios.

Smiles, Love, Learning, Joy & Music

My own boys have long since graduated from Kindermusik into taking music lessons, but I still remember the joy of experiencing Kindermusik as a parent, now precious memories of spending time together and watching their love for music blossom. Thankfully, I still get to be in the Kindermusik classroom as a licensed Kindermusik educator, witnessing firsthand how the magic of Kindermusik brings out the smiles, the love, the learning, the joy, and the music in the parents and children in my classes.
What a precious gift my Kindermusik days are to me!
– Shared by Theresa Case, director of Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC

Learn more about becoming a licensed Kindermusik educator or program owner like Theresa.