Where are the future scientists? In a music class for kids!

Future scientist?
Future scientist?

At first glance, music classes for kids might not seem like the best place to look for future scientists, technology experts, engineers, or mathematicians. Well, look again! New research indicates that an early childhood music class is exactly where we should look.
Researchers from Michigan State University recently published a study that found that 93 percent of STEM graduates (college students who majored in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) reported musical training as a child compared to only 34 percent of the average adult. STEM graduates also showed an increased involvement in the visual arts, acting, dance, and creative writing.

Benefits of music for children continue through adulthood

“The most interesting finding was the importance of sustained participation in those activities,” said Rex LaMore, director of MSU’s Center for Community and Economic Development, in a press release. “If you started as a young child and continued in your adult years, you’re more likely to be an inventor as measured by the number of patents generated, businesses formed or articles published. And that was something we were surprised to discover.”
According to the research team, participation in the arts, such as music classes for kids, encourages “out-of-the-box thinking.” The STEM graduates reported using those skills they learned in music or art classes—such as analogies, playing, and imagination—to solve complex scientific problems.

Music and learning in early childhood education

3_why_music_rectangle_yellowIn Kindermusik, we know children also use exploration and problem solving to learn what an object does and how it works. We call that process epistemic play. In our early childhood curriculum, we provide many opportunities for children to explore objects in order to better understand how they work. While trying out all the ways to tap, shake, or roll an instrument or stomp, tap, tiptoe our feet, children gain a foundational understanding of how things work. Plus, all this epistemic play supports a child’s overall cognitive development.

Learn more about using music in the early childhood classroom to support the cognitive development in children, including early math, science, literacy, and language skills.

To experience the benefits of music with your child, find a local Kindermusik educator in your area. 

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.

Music in Our Schools Brings Harmony to Learning

(Source: National Association for Music Education)
(Source: National Association for Music Education)

Each March, we join with the National Association for Music Education for the observance of Music in Our Schools Month to help raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children.
With over 35 years of experience in using music to reach children of all abilities, we know without a doubt that music belongs in our schools. Why? Because that’s where our children are!  

Music opens the door to learning

When young children are consistently engaged by music in an age-appropriate, socially accepting environment, they benefit at so many levels. Here are just a few… 

  • Early Literacy Skills. They gain the phonological processing, spoken language, and comprehension skills that are the foundation of reading and early literacy skills.
  • Quantitative. They build the spatial-temporal and reasoning skills required for math, science, and engineering.
  • Social-Emotional. They develop social and emotional skills that are essential for school readiness—like the ability to regulate their responses and relate to others in complex ways.
  • Physical. By moving and dancing to music and playing simple instruments, children improve their gross and fine motor skills.
  • Creative. Activities that encourage freedom within a fun and friendly structure spark children’s creativity and provide inspiration.
  • And of course, they develop a lifelong love of music.

Music brings harmony to learning…and school

3_why_music_rectangle_yellowIn the early childhood classroom, the teacher, the paraprofessional, and the children all contribute to the learning process and environment. This experiential environment where the learning process is shared by everyone in the group is called “social constructivism.” Music creates a learning environment where every participant contributes and takes away something unique based on their own experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. For example, in our early literacy curriculum, ABC Music & Me, our classes provide children with ample time to reflect, compare, make choices, express opinions and preferences, and engage in problem solving activities together. This teaches children not only the lesson focus but it also teaches them how to learn. Plus, these shared experiences create a sense of community, harmony, and even teaches empathy.

What about you?

Why do you think music belongs in our schools? Take a minute to let us know by posting on our Facebook page. In the meantime, listen to children from Public School 22 in Staten Island, New York. Yes, music belongs in our schools. Every child deserves the opportunities that music can bring. We think these children would agree!

March is National Reading Month

Yes, we know that today is February 28.  But that means that tomorrow is March 1, and March is National Reading Month in the U.S. And what exactly do reading and early literacy skills have to do with music, you ask? More than you might think!
Here are just a few of the connections between music and reading – and just some of the reasons why literacy and books are an important part of our Kindermusik curricula and the musical learning that is so foundational to all we do:
• Music incorporates rhythm and tempo just like words and sentences do.
• You read music the same way you read music – from left to right.
Patterns are as much a part of music as they are of reading.
• Music helps children learn to listen which is also an essential skill for literacy.
• In both music and reading, symbols are used when writing music and words.
In celebration of National Reading Month which kicks off with National Read Across Amercia Day on Monday, March 3, here are a few of our favorite music-themed books.
Meet the Orchestra Ann HayesMusical Instruments from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
Meet the Orchestra by Ann Hayes
Ah, Music! by Aliki
Music, Music for Everyone by Vera B. Williams
Hand Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
Berlioz the Bear by Jan Brett
The Musical Life of Gustav Mole by Kathryn Meyrick
And here are some additional resources to help you and your child get reading.
Also, enjoy these Read Across America printables and resources from Seussville.com.

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read with a child.”  ~ Dr. Seuss

Shared by Theresa Case, who has an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.

Musical learning on the brain

(Source: Milesdavis.com)

We have music on the brain—all sorts of music. All. The. Time. We love to share music and musical learning with children and families in studios, schools, childcare centers, and more. Introducing children to a wide variety of musical genres gives them a greater understanding of what is possible through music. Today, thanks to a new study from Johns Hopkins University, we have jazz music on the brain. Here’s why.

What jazz teaches us about language development

Led by Charles Limb, M.D., the study tracked the brain activity of jazz musicians in the process of “trading fours.” Trading fours is a musical term that refers to jazz improvisation when solo instrumentalists take turns playing four measures each. The musicians respond to each other by repeating, elaborating, and altering what another musician plays.

During the study, 11 skilled jazz musicians participated. Limb and his team found that improvisation activated areas of the brain linked to syntactic processing. However, the musical exchange deactivated brain structures involved in semantic processing. In language development, semantic processing happens when the brain encodes the meaning of a word and relates it to similar words with similar meaning. Syntactic processing happens when the brain computes certain aspects of meaning from the underlying structure and not simply from the linear string of words.

“Until now, studies of how the brain processes auditory communication between two individuals have been done only in the context of spoken

language,” explained Limb in a press release. “When two jazz musicians seem lost in thought while trading fours, they aren’t simply waiting for their turn to play," Limb said. "Instead, they are using the syntactic areas of their brain to process what they are hearing so they can respond by playing a new series of notes that hasn’t previously been composed or practiced."

“We’ve shown in this study that there is a fundamental difference between how meaning is processed by the brain for music and language. Specifically, it’s syntactic and not semantic processing that is key to this type of musical communication. Meanwhile, conventional notions of semantics may not apply to musical processing by the brain,” he concluded.

5 ideas for using jazz improvisation with children at home and in the classroom

Idea #1: Go on a virtual field trip by attending a jazz concert. Try listening to one of the world’s best jazz pianists, Keith Jarrett. He improvised this entire performance.

Idea #2: Get out your own instruments or use your voices to improvise a family or classroom concert. Try your own version of “trading fours” by taking turns.

Idea #3: Learn more about the origins of jazz and play some jazz music online at PBSKids.

Idea #4: Explore various types of jazz music on Pandora, Spotify, or iTunes radio. Try jazz musicians such as Esperanza Spalding, Miles Davis, Preservation Hall Jazz Band or even one of the jazz genre stations.

Idea #5: While listening to jazz, move expressively around the room together. Movement is another way to experience the value of improvisation and emotional expression, while also gaining an appreciation of jazz music.

Interested in learning how other genres of music unlock a child’s potential, including early language development? Come visit a Kindermusik Class today.


4 musical learning tips that make parenting a little bit easier

It doesn’t take a parent long to figure it out. No baby or toddler or preschooler—or teenager for that matter!—comes with an owner’s manual. Sure, parents can Google, look to books and blogs, talk with other parents, and even ask Siri but there is no one-size-fits-all answer to parenting.
At Kindermusik, we don’t have all the parenting answers either. We do, however, have one thing that makes parenting just a little bit easier and unlocks a child’s potential: Musical learning! Here are just a few ways to use musical learning throughout the week in your everyday routines and rituals.

4 musical learning tips that make parenting a little bit easier

  1. Music helps children, even babies, learn how to relax. Relaxing is a learned sleeping babybehavior. A child’s world can be full of stimulating experiences, from practicing new skills like standing or walking to all the sights, sounds, and smells of a trip to the grocery store. Teaching children how to relax after a period of activity gives them time to recoup and get ready for what’s next. Listening to some quiet music, snuggling together, or gentle rocking can show children how to relax. By the way, children who know how to relax and self-soothe can be better sleepers!
  2. Singing or humming a comforting song can soothe a child or ease anxiety and fears. From 2am feedings to boo-boos to thunderstorms to visits to the doctor, singing a soothing song can calm fears and comfort little ones in many different situations. The world’s most famous and revered nanny, Mary Poppins agrees. After all, she sang, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
  3. Music can signal to your child it’s time to transition to something else. In our music classes for babies, toddlers, big kids, and families, we sing “instruments away, instruments away. It’s time to put our instruments away.” That tells every child that the instrument playing time is over and we are moving on to another activity. After a few times, children begin to understand and will put the instruments away (most of the time!).  Try using that little song throughout the week to signal the end of bathtime, playtime, or even time to leave the park.
  4. Make a playlist of your child’s favorite music for your next road trip. Few children enjoy being strapped in their car seats for long periods of time. Music makes it easier. Create a playlist of your child’s favorite Kindermusik songs for the trip. Here are some of our favorites. Mix in your own favorites, too, for a family musical playlist.

New benefits of music on the cognitive development of children continue to be discovered by researchers. However, throughout the years generations upon generations of parents have used musical learning to help make parenting just a little bit easier. We invite you to come visit a Kindermusik class and discover for yourself a loving, welcoming community of families who are discovering the power of musical learning!

Find a local Kindermusik educator in your area today.

5 musical learning activities that teach school readiness skills

Music class drumDid you know that the benefits of music include preparing a child for school? When intentionally used as part of a pre-K curriculum or preschool curriculum, musical learning can positively impact the cognitive development in children and help children of all abilities be ready to learn at any age. Here are just five ways to use music when teaching children enrolled in a preschool or pre-K curriculum.

5 musical learning activities that support cognitive development in children

  1. Circle dances teach cooperation. Ringing around the rosey gives children more than a pocketful of posies. Choreographed movements require children to cooperate, move in synch with a group, and listen to and follow oral instructions.
  2. Identifying the specific sounds (or timbre) of different instruments teaches children auditory discrimination. The same sound discrimination used in recognizing the difference between the musical note “C” played on a clarinet verses the same note played on a piano by sound—not sight—helps children hear the minute differences between letter sounds or phonemes, which supports early literacy and language development.
  3. Moving to the tempo of the music teaches children to be active listeners. When children respond to the changing tempo of a song—from fast to slow—or when children move slowly when they hear the music change from staccato to legato, they are using their body movements to practice active listening skills.
  4. “Stop and Go” activities with music builds self-regulation skills. Children need to learn to tell their bodies what to do, when to stop, when to go, and when to move on to another activity. When playing a musical learning game of “Freeze Dance,” children learn and practice self-regulation skills by responding to the musical cues.
  5. Finger plays, such as “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” help children learn to coordinate hand, finger, and wrist movements that support fine motor control and precision. Those fine motor skills will help children hold a pencil correctly, use scissors, and even tie their own shoes.

Pre-K curriculum uses musical learning

Early Literacy gains with ABC Music & Me
Our school partners and students benefit from ABC Music & Me – see the research-proven results!

In our preschool curriculum, ABC Music & Me, teaching children includes singing, dancing, and instrument exploration. Throughout all the musical learning, teachers are laying the groundwork for school readiness. Plus, our preschool curriculum includes proven results, in spatial-temporal reasoning, self-control, and even a 32 percent gain in early literacy.

For more information about bringing our pre-k curriculum, preschool curriculum, or Head Start curriculum to your school, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Seeing the patterns of musical learning and English language learning

toddler girl playing the sticksWhat do music, patterns, and language learning have in common? Well, more than you might think. When English language learners play along to the rhythms in English songs for kids or clap their hands to the beat of nursery rhymes, they are practicing active listening and pattern recognition.

Now, new research published in the Psychological Science journal suggests that learning a second language can be predicted by the ability to recognize patterns.

Second language learning and pattern recognition

In the study, the researchers recruited American students to learn Hebrew. During the two semesters, they tested the students’ Hebrew understanding and measured their ability to recognize visual patterns. The data showed a strong link between pattern recognition and language learning. Students who did better recognizing patterns

also spoke more Hebrew at the end of the two semesters.

“It’s surprising that a short 15-minute test involving the perception of visual shapes could predict to such a large extent which of the students who came to study Hebrew would finish the year with a better grasp of the language,” explained lead researcher Ram Frost in a press release.

Using the patterns of musical learning to teach ELL students

ABC English & Me - Teaching English to Children through MusicIn our ESL curriculum, ABC English & Me, we lead young children to experience patterns through movement, listening to English songs for kids, and playing instruments. When we jump, jump, jump, stop during a song or ta, ta, ta, rest with instruments, ESL students learn rhythm patterns (quarter note, quarter note, quarter note, rest), a basic musical concept. Rhythm patterns are combinations of long and short sounds and silences. In musical learning, a child’s whole body involvement with patterning lays a foundation for English language learning.

Learn more about using the patterns found in musical learning to teach young English Language Learners with ABC English & Me!


Support early language development with a healthy screen time “diet”

(Source: Grow & Sing Studios)
(Source: Grow & Sing Studios)

Although we just celebrated a holiday devoted to giving candy to children, we all understand that fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet. A child filled with strawberries, carrots, and yogurt behaves radically different than a child filled with candy corn, chocolate, and a juice box. You don’t need to be a teacher of an early childhood curriculum to understand that!
In addition to a healthy nutritional diet, children also need a healthy “screen time diet.” Today’s children are considered digital natives, but too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. And, of course, not all television shows, movies, and mobile apps for kids are created equal—some are more candy than carrots for the brain. However, in a world filled with smart phones and tablets, and with televisions found everywhere from the home to the car to the local family-friendly restaurant, it can be challenging.

A healthy “media diet” matters

A group of pediatricians recently published the results of their study, Modifying Media Content for Preschool Children,” that showed that increasing a child’s exposure to screen time that teaches positive social behavior can strengthen a child’s social skills. In the study, the pediatricians recruited 565 parents of preschool-aged children ages 3 to 5 years. Without decreasing or increasing the amount of screen time, the participants simply changed what their children watched. After six months and again after 12 months, the parents reported increased social competence and behavior in their children. In addition, the preschoolers showed significantly less aggression and better social skills when compared to the control group.

Try “feeding” your children these mobile apps for kids

Finding the best mobile apps for kids can be tough. Unlike the grocery store where healthy foods come with labels like “organic,” “100% whole grains,” or “120% of vitamin C,” apps that support a healthy “media diet” such as early language development, phonemic awareness, or even musical learning aren’t as clearly identified. As creators of early childhood curriculum and with thousands of educators around the world, the Kindermusik community can help.
RreadingRainbowKindermusik_MusicIslandPromo_Exp111513An earlier blog post identified 6 websites and mobile apps for kids that support early literacy development, including the Reading Rainbow app. This trusted app for kids includes eBooks for families to read together and video field trips to expand a child’s world from the comfort of a parent’s lap! Plus, Kindermusik will be partnering with Reading Rainbow to bring a “Musical Island” to the app and we’d love your help naming the island! The new Kindermusik Island will contain a limited selection of eBooks from the Kindermusik library and some additional videos that Reading Rainbow and Kindermusik will produce together around musical topics.
Help us name the new Kindermusik/Reading Rainbow Music Island!
Enter your suggestion by clicking this link. If your name is chosen you will win a $100 Amazon Gift Card, a free 6-month subscription to the Reading Rainbow app AND a Kindermusik prize package! Enter to Win now – Friday, November 15, 2013.
Kindermusik@Home - Online Learning Games for KidsOf course, we want to mention Kindermusik@Home as part of a healthy media diet. Available through enrollment in Kindermusik, Kindermusik@Home provides parenting resources, musical learning games for kids, eBooks, and developmental insights behind the activities. Kindermusik@Home helps children learn both online and encourages families to take the learning offline through engaging activities. Try one of these Kindermusik@Home activities today!

To learn more about enrolling in a Kindermusik class and receiving access to Kindermusik@Home, contact a local educator via our Class Locator.


Early language development: It’s all in the rhythm and beat!

baby playing drum

baby playing drumMusical learning and early language development go together like a newborn and a swaddle or a toddler and the words, “I do.” Young children rely almost exclusively on what they hear in order to acquire language. Scientists now know that our brain processes music similarly to how we process language.
In early language and literacy development, young children need to understand that words—like music—are made up of discrete sounds. In early language development, this is called phonemic awareness. Later children use that knowledge of sounds to build words and read. Research shows that children with strong phonemic awareness are more successful learning to read than others.

Ability to move to a steady beat linked to language skills

Under the leadership of Dr. Nina Kraus, a new research study published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that teenagers with more musical training experienced enhanced neural responses to speech sounds when compared to others.
“We know that moving to a steady beat is a fundamental skill not only for music performance but one that has been linked to language skills,” said Nina Kraus, of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois in an article for the BBC, “Moving to the rhythm can help language skills.”
In the study, participants were asked to tap their fingers along to a beat while their accuracy was measured. Their brainwaves were also measured to observe how the brain responded to the sound.
“It turns out that kids who are poor readers have a lot of difficulty doing this motor task and following the beat. In both speech and music, rhythm provides a temporal map with signposts to the most likely locations of meaningful input,” Dr. Kraus told BBC News.

Musical learning and language development in Kindermusik

Kindermusik provides many opportunities for children to discriminate similarities and differences in sound. So, while children gain musical skills participating in our early childhood curriculum, they also make gains in phonological awareness and early language and literacy development. For example, when parents lift their children high “up, up in the sky” or “twirl around like a leaf” while singing the songs in class, children learn the word and understand the concept. Or when we recite nursery rhymes together or tap out the beat to a song, children hear the music of language. Children’s brains make a connection based on what they experience (being lifted high or twirling around) and hear (“up” or “twirl”). Later, children will discover those words correspond to marks on a page which eventually leads to letter recognition and reading.

Kindermusik is the world’s leader in early childhood curriculum development and musical learning. Find a class near you and experience the many benefits of music on a young child’s development.