Meet 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
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.