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.

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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]

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.

Music Tunes Kids in for a Great Year

Music tunes kids in to learning from the very first day of life. After all, even babies in neonatal care experience reduced heart rates and deeper sleep when listening to live music. Research shows that musical activities stimulate development in every area of the brain: vision, balance, speech, behavior, sensation, skill, movement, and emotion. Music also impacts all learning domains (cognition, language and literacy, social and emotional, physical, creative, music). Music celebrates the unique joys of each year and developmental stage and prepares children for a lifetime of learning.

Musical activities to try at home or in the classroom that tune kids in to learning

For Babies: A baby cooing and babbling and imitating a lullaby being sung is learning how language works while also bonding with a caregiver. Gently swaying with the baby in time to the music adds vestibular development, pivotal to balance, coordination, eye control, and movement.
Music activities for kidsFor Toddlers: Toddlers who march, stomp, jump, and tiptoe to a steady beat tapped on rhythm sticks are discovering new ways to move their bodies—and gaining confidence and an understanding of spatial awareness, too. Instructing children to stop when the beat stops (and moving when the beat starts again) includes inhibitory control development as toddlers learn to control their bodies.
For Preschoolers: In a Preschool class when children experience musical rhythm patterns through movement, they also lay an early foundation for reading music and words on a page. When preschoolers play instruments along to the rhythms in a song, they also practice active listening and pattern recognition—with strong correlations to word recognition, speaking, reading, writing, and even math.
For Big Kids: When children intently listen for the sounds of a specific instrument in a song, use wood blocks to produce a staccato sound, or move smoothly with scarves when they hear the music change from staccato to legato, children practice active listening. Considering that school children spend an estimated 50 to 75 percent of classroom time listening to the teacher, to other students, or to media, developing strong active listening skills prepares kids for classroom learning.

Musical learning: The ultimate multi-tasker

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), “Any activity that stimulates one area of development automatically influences others. Good curriculum design must recognize and plan for this integration.” Activity by activity, every lesson in Kindermusik is designed to address multiple areas of development—and to tap into a variety of individual learning styles. Kindermusik’s carefully crafted activities and deliberately integrated sequences set the stage for optimal, multi-sensory learning experiences.
For example, children exploring the concepts of fast and slow might hear music that alternates between the two tempos. They may practice moving or playing instruments in time with what they hear. They could hear a story about a slow snail and a fast cheetah. In short, they explore and internalize the new concepts more effectively through multiple senses and activity types. (Not to mention, such an activity cluster also hones listening skills, self-control, expressive movement proprioception, coordination, and other skills!)

YC boy with new logoFind out more about Kindermusik at www.Kindermusik.com

Music Education Prepares Children for Future Careers & Problem Solving

We sing about the benefits of music a lot. Some might even call us melomaniacs—people who are passionate about music. (By the way, we are!) After all, we never hesitate to explain how music helps children develop listening skills, supports early language and literacy, builds social and emotional skills, and even boosts balance and coordination. We even belt out a song or two—or twenty—at random times throughout the day. We can’t stop ourselves! We love music.

Survey Says! Music education prepares kids for successful careers.

Music_Education_Prepares_KidsApparently, most Americans love music, too, at least when it comes to music preparing them for successful careers. According to a new Harris Interactive Poll of 2,286 adults, 71 percent of Americans say that the teachings and habits from music education equip them to be better team players in their careers and two-thirds confess that music education prepares people with a disciplined approach to problem solving and prepares someone to manage tasks on their job more successfully. Other attributes learned in music classes applicable to successful careers include working as part of a team toward a common goal, striving for individual excellence in a group setting, and flexibility in a work situation.

Ready for the future, celebrating the moment

Children respond to music in profound ways. Music literally lights up all areas—on both hemispheres—of the brain. In our classes, we know that playing music together is more than, well, playing the individual instruments, singing the words, or moving together in a circle dance. It is learning how to work as a group, how to share, how to listen and respond to others, and it’s even about learning that every child’s ideas hold value. Creating music together also imbeds lifelong memories into the banks of our children’s thoughts. So, whether singing a lullaby to your infant each night to signal bedtime, combining music with movement to enhance motor skills and muscle development in a Head Start or Preschool program, or singing the songs together as a family in the car, participating in music classes celebrates the beauty of childhood and gives children skills applicable as an adult in the working world.

Find out more about Kindermusik at www.Kindermusik.com.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

4 Cool Music Facts

4 Cool Music FactsWhen young children are consistently engaged by music in an age-appropriate, socially accepting environment, they benefit at so many levels. Learning through music literally lights up every area of a child’s brain and teaches little ones to love learning. So, in our music education classes for babies, big kids, toddlers, preschoolers, and families when we recite a nursery rhyme, participate in a circle dance or movement activity, play a vocal game, and explore instruments, children develop skills in early literacy and language, spatial-temporal and reasoning skills, physical development, and creativity.

4 Cool Music Facts

1. Making music together connects brains.—Researchers in Germany conducted a study with trained guitarists in which they attached electrodes to their heads while they played a duet. During the study, they found that the brain waves coordinated between the two guitarists while they played the duet together. This also applies to choral groups, orchestras, small ensembles, and yes, even music education classes for kids
2. Singing (and dancing) the Hokey Pokey helps children learn to read, walk around the room, and understand geometry. When young children explore the directions up and down during a fingerplay or put their left hands in and take their left hands out, they gain a greater understanding of spatial awareness. Spatial awareness is the ability to be mindful of where you are in space and to see two or more objects in relation to each other and to yourself. This eventually helps young children to safely navigate around a room, tell the difference between letters and group them together on a page to recognize words, and understand geometry.
3. Music and movement experiences in a group teach children how to be a good friend. Actively participating in a music class class for babies, toddlers, big kids or families, impacts all seven areas of social-emotional development, including confidence, curiosity, intentionality, self-control, relatedness, capacity to communicate, cooperativeness. All key skills needed to be a good friend.
4. Steady beat gives children the ability to walk effortlessly, speak expressively, and even regulate repeated motions such as riding a bicycle, brushing teeth, or dribbling a ball. Through music, children experience and respond to steady beat during lap bounces, instrument play, and by dancing. While children move to the beat with their bodies instinctively, learning to control those movements, and to follow—or create—is an essential component of a child’s early development.

resized KM music and learning playWant to experience for yourself the amazing benefits of music on a child’s development. Contact a local Kindermusik educator! 

 
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer and former Kindermusik parent, who loves seeing the long-term impact of Kindermusik classes on her children.

Yes! Music education unlocks the door to success (and more!)

A recent article in the New York Times asked the question: Is music the key to success? Of course, at Kindermusik, we would answer a resounding: Yes! We wouldn’t be alone in that exclamation either.
Music - happy familiesThe body of music education research continues to grow concerning how musical learning can increase social-emotional abilities, math skills, language development, inhibitory control, collaboration, empathy, creativity, cultural understanding, and so much more. Studies show music can decrease pain during medical procedures, lower blood pressure, and lift our overall spirits.

Getting personal about the benefits of music

However, the music education research only tells part of the story. Music is personal as much as it is social. Take the case of United States Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. A bullet to her brain left her in critical condition and unable to speak. However, through music therapy, she is learning how to speak again.

In the above television interview,  Dr. Oliver Sacks, Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University sums up the benefits of music on language by explaining: “Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music to it to have been possible to create new language areas in the right hemisphere.”
The New York Times article provides more personal stories from individuals who credit the benefits of music to their success in other areas:

  • The television broadcaster Paula Zahn (cello) and the NBC chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd (French horn) both attended college on music scholarships.
  • Larry Page, a co-founder of Google, played saxophone in high school.
  • Steven Spielberg is a clarinetist and son of a pianist.
  • Condoleezza Rice trained to be a concert pianist.
  • Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, was a professional clarinet and saxophone player.
  • The former World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn has played cello at Carnegie Hall.

(Source: WorldBank.org James Wolfensohn performs with Bank/IMF Choral Group at Christmas Concert, 2004)
(Source: WorldBank.org James Wolfensohn performs with Bank/IMF Choral Group at Christmas Concert, 2004)

Music provides balance, explains Mr. Wolfensohn in the New York Times article, who began cello lessons as an adult. “You aren’t trying to win any races or be the leader of this or the leader of that. You’re enjoying it because of the satisfaction and joy you get out of music, which is totally unrelated to your professional status.”
So, again, we answer the question, “Is music the key to success?” with a resounding, Yes…and so much more!

Come experience for yourself how music education can unlock the doors of success for your child. Find a local Kindermusik and try a free class!

The music in your head: How did it get there?

Music education is a vital part of a child’s life. Research shows that our abilities to sing in tune, move to a steady beat and yes, hear music in our heads, are all formed by the time we are 8- or 9-years old. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn to sing or dance or play the piano after the third grade, but the learning windows for musical aptitudes do begin to close.

Do you ever hear a song in your head over and over again? Can you imagine not being able to hear music this way? Audiation, the ability to hear music when no musical sound is present, is an acquired skill. Similar to thinking thoughts without talking aloud, when you audiate, you internalize and “think” music. To practice audiation with your child, leave off the last word of a favorite song. Stop completely. Observe and listen to your child. What is the reaction? When you play this game with familiar songs, you are engaging your child’s ability to think and “speak” with you musically.

Were you lucky enough to have wonderful parents who sang to you all the time? Did you sing endless rounds of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain” when you went on vacation? Repetition is a critical part of your child’s growth and development between the ages of birth and seven. Repetition aids in strengthening the neural pathways in the brain. So when your child wants you to “Read it again, Mommy!” or “Play that song again, Daddy!”, do it!!!

Babies are innately musical. They respond to music and sound in utero. Carla Hannaford, author of Awakening the Child Heart, tells us that hearing and language begin in utero and become the first window to the material world as the embryo physically reacts to sound 23 days after conception. Sound becomes the organizer of our physical structure and later, via the mother’s coherent heart rhythm, gives us the patterns on which to form a coherent understanding of patterns within our world.

People often ask, “What do you do with an infant in a music class?” Babies can be soothed with music. Brain development is stimulated by music. A Kindermusik Village class, for example, provides a rich environment of music, movement, language and touch for babies newborn to 18 months. This combination of music and movement stimulates the Vestibular System, the fluid in the brain. According to Dr. Alfred Tomatis, without a fully developed Vestibular System that allows us verticality and balance, language and learning become difficult. Language development begins with movement and is supported with interactive communication and music. Hannaford points out that early music education, including the interplay of music, movement and sound, is key to developing language, math, relational and learning skills, as well as creativity.

Toddlers love to clap and pat to the steady beat of favorite tunes. Steady beat is the unchanging, underlying beat that pulses through every top-10 tune on the radio. Different from rhythm – a combination of various short and long sounds – steady beat is what we tap our toes, pencils and imaginary drums to. For many toddlers, steady beat is an innate ability nurtured with lots of opportunity to practice. For others, it is a skill that can be learned through practice. The ability to keep a steady beat is a gift that we all want our children to have. A study showed 100% of first string professional football players can move their bodies to a steady beat. Moving to a steady beat develops a sense of timing and the ability to organize and coordinate movements like walking, dribbling a basketball, driving and using scissors. Not true for 2nd string. Kindermusik classes provide many opportunities for toddlers to play instruments and move to a steady beat and parents are educated about ways to keep music alive at home.

Preschoolers are exploding with ideas and questions. Creative music and movement provide an outlet for the imaginary characters that live inside a child. 3- and 4-year olds flourish in an environment where there is music, movement and an opportunity for them to contribute ideas. In a Kindermusik Imagine That! class, a child can explore voice and ideas, add instruments to songs and rhymes, act out enticing characters and grow socially while interacting with peers.

For a kindergarten or first grade child, reading readiness is an important issue. I often imagine how it would have been to have the language of music and the English language concurrently integrated into my life: learning to read and write music while learning to read and write language.

Kindermusik provides a whole child approach to music education. Children move and sing, play musical games, learn about music in other cultures, talk about and listen to the instruments of the orchestra, develop their discriminative listening skills, build self-esteem through group interaction and music making, begin to read and write basic musical notation and much more.

I often get calls from eager parents, ready to spend gobs of money on private music lessons for their 3-, 4- and 5-year olds. I first ask them, how are the children’s fine motor skills? Are they reading? How big are their hands? Are they ready to practice at least 20-30 minutes each day? By the time children complete a 2-year Kindermusik class, they have played a pre-keyboard instrument, a simple string instrument and a wind instrument. They are eager to pursue private lessons and have more staying power!

When you choose a music program, make sure it is compatible with you and your child. Be prepared to be an active participant and supporter of your child’s music experience. It could be the best investment you ever make.

Music turns kids on. So turn it up!

Thanks to Stephanie Bartis, M.M., for sharing this great article, orginally written for the Art of Well Being. Stephanie is a member of Kindermusik’s Maestro Conductor Circle, which distinguishes her and her studio, Bartis Creative Studio, as among the top 1% Kindermusik programs worldwide.