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!

Guest Post: Seven Years of Kindermusik

This post originally appeared on the blog: 

It took me a while to write this post — partly because June was quite the busy month, and also because I get emotional just thinking about it.  We’ve reached another milestone in Sam’s childhood — the end of Kindermusik.  sniff!

Kindermusik Graduation

It has been seven years after all (give or take a few months!).  Seven years, three wonderful teachers in three different parts of the globe.  I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with kids seven and below, no matter where in the world you are.

We spent a majority of those years in our first Kindermusik home with Rebecca in Chapel Hill.

Rebecca Dyck

Prior to that I’d never heard of Kindermusik — I was a Gymboree / Little Gym kind of parent (which I see now is very different from what Kindermusik offers).  To this day though, I am so so SO glad I came across it in my endless search for mom-child programs for my infant.  And I’m even more thankful we landed in Rebecca’s little home.  It’s where we made our first set of friends, who are still friends to this very day.

We owe a lot to Rebecca, as she set the bar high for the wonderful and highly educational experience we had over the years.  I’ve said it time and again, Rebecca is a wonderful maestro of music, and she absolutely loves the kids and their families.  I learned a lot about music, parenting, child development and even a little bit about teaching from Rebecca!  I remember asking her every sort of question, from the purpose of each type of song or stage, to the perfect age for piano lessons (If you want to know what she said, ask me!  I’ll never forget that piece of advice she gave).

When we moved to Manila, I sought out Teacher Jeannie (upon Rebecca’s recommendation).  

She and her staff of teachers (Teacher Maya in particular!) were also another set of wonderful teachers for the girls.  Little did we know that Kindermusik with Teacher Jeannie was in the top 1% of the total Kindermusik programs in the world.  But the wonderful experience continued for both myself and Sam, and she continued to look forward to Kindermusik every week.

Because of the volume of Teacher Jeannie’s enrollment in the country, at the end of every Kindermusik year, she’d hold a Kindermusik Festival, the highlight of which would be the Young Child students’ performance and graduation.

It’s one event Sam misses and talks about with so much gusto, until this day.  Sam joined last year’s performance and was looking forward to graduating on Teacher Jeannie’s stage, except we’d moved to California.

And so, Sam finished her last year in Young Child 3 and 4 in Kelly Meyers’ studio.

Ms. Kelly, as we fondly call her, held a little graduation ceremony for all the parents and friends in her Young Child class and the kids performed several numbers together.  Each one did a solo too on the instrument of their choice.

At the onset, Kindermusik may seem like any other music program, with song and dance,  instruments and games, but across our transcontinental encounters of it, I was very impressed with the consistency of its program and curriculum.  We picked up exactly where we had left off.  And at the end of it all, Sam had so much fun learning the different musical concepts, composers and terms, and remember them all to this day.  She and Jamie, who has been in Kindermusik since she was in my tummy) can tell you the difference between piano and forte, crescendo and decrescendo, staccato and legato among other things. They both already know the different instrument families, as well as facts about Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and their respective work.  All of these things, I learned when I was in high school, and most of it was because I took the time to learn it myself as well!

In my opinion, what sets Kindermusik apart from all other music programs is its Young Child curriculum.  Young Child is a 4-semester course for 5-7 year olds that is run over a period of two years.  At the end of it all, the child learns how to read through the entire C scale, and play simple tunes on three different instruments.  Sam knows about flats, and sharps, and she can read the notes and their respective rhythms.  She can write her own beat and tune, and find where it is (on her own) on a keyboard, on a dulcimer, a glockenspiel and a recorder!

Young Child

Each week’s session has a different song, story or theme, but it is readily applied to what they’re learning, and it progressively builds on each other.  Everything has a purpose, and it becomes much clearer as the lessons go by.

I am a true believer in the Kindermusik program.  I grew up knowing that music has many benefits to a child’s development, and I can see how Kindermusik has shaped that into the fun and interesting curriculum it has today.  I can’t imagine the childhood of my girls without it!

My girls love music because of Kindermusik.  The teachers, the program and all of our experiences have shaped Sam’s musicality into what it is today and I will forever be grateful.  I’m so glad Jamie has 2 more years left!

Contributed by Jenny Reyes. Jenny Reyes is a mother to two beautiful girls. They teach her about parenting and motherhood everyday. Apart from the blog, Jenny is a marketing consultant and part-owner to a locally manufactured Children’s Furniture and Accessories line. She currently resides with her family in California.

Create your own family musical memories. Find your local Kindermusik class!