No Surprise: With Music Involvement, You Do Better at Learning

We know this, but it’s always nice when we find folks who spread the word: kids involved with music are better learners.  Geoff Johnson’s fascinating article also cites Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a renowned expert on music, neuroimaging and brain plasticity at Harvard Medical School.  “Listening to and making music,” he says, “is not only an auditory experience, but it is a multisensory and motor experience. Making music over a long period of time can change brain function and brain structure.”

Music and Learning
Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD

Because of the way music and music-making engage different parts of the brain, music activities actually help children learn how to learn, in addition to stimulating all kinds of brain function and development. Johnson also highlights a study done by Finnish researchers in 2011.  The findings are impressive.  “…Finnish scientists discovered that listening to music activates a wider series of networks in the brain, and their method of brain mapping revealed complex dynamics of large-scale neural networks.”

Our brains – and our hearts – are hard-wired to respond to music.  Technology allows scientists to see inside our brains, but all the confirmation a parent needs of the power of music even for a very youngest child is to watch her child’s eyes light up in a Kindermusik class at the sound of a favorite dance or lullaby, to feel her child instantly calm at the first sounds of a lullaby, or to see her child kick his legs or start bouncing when the music comes on.  And now we know with every certainty that the more intentional and sustained exposure to music, moving to music, and music-making, the more powerful and long-lasting its effects.

The scientific evidence continues to pile up – it truly is long-term exposure to music that has the greatest effect on learning.  So start early… and keep it up!


Contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in upstate South Carolina has been inspiring children and families to learn and make music together for over 20 years now.

Educator Spotlight: Carol Stringham

Educator Spotlight

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Joy. Connection. Family. Growth. Heart. These are the values embodied by Carol Stringham and her lovely team at Song of the Heart Studios in Salt Lake City, Utah. Song of the Heart Studios was established in 1998 by Carol Stringham. Since then, her studio has grown to include over 350 students with a team of five talented Kindermusik educators, each dedicated to providing a spectacular experience in learning for the families at Song of the Heart. It comes as no surprise that Song of the Heart Studios is an award winning Conductor’s Circle Maestro program ranked among the top ten studios nationwide and the top 1% worldwide. Carol describes the last 18 years teaching Kindermusik as nothing short of amazing.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: How did Song of the Heart Studios get its start?

CS: I opened in 1998 in the family room of my home where I taught for 3 years. When the parking got a little crazy I moved into a ballet studio where I rented space and hired 3 teachers. We were there for 10 years. For the last 5 years we have enjoyed our own space with 3 studios and a team of 6. We are so grateful for our own space because we love to constantly add new instruments, props, and puppets. We’re always discovering something new to add to our collections that we know our families will enjoy. We also have a small satellite studio about 30 minutes away from our main location.

TC: What makes Song of the Heart Studios such a special place?

CS: I would definitely say our team! We have a talented family of educators but more importantly we have a dedicated, loyal, loving, encouraging group of women who strive to do good in the world. And they do. Every time they sit on the floor with Kindermusik families, they do good.  I am so grateful to learn from and to work side by side with each of them.

TC: What do your Kindermusik kids call you?

CS: They call me Ms. Carol

TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik song to sing?

CS: I love ALL of the hello songs because when I open my mouth to sing it means class is starting![/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/AEirM6FYGI0″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik dance to lead?

CS: I adore all of the Young Child dances but I think my favorite is Heel and Toe Polka. It’s such an accessible dance for this age group and there’s nothing like having the kids teach their grown-ups the dance. Circle dances are such a beautiful way to create community and bond with friends and family.

TC: What’s your favorite part of teaching Kindermusik?

CS: There are so many favorites in teaching Kindermusik. But, if I could only choose one, it would be witnessing the power of Kindermusik to build family bonds. At our studio we say that Kindermusik is joy, connection, growth, and family time all wrapped up in a musical package. There’s nothing we love more than seeing the JOY as families grow closer, or witnessing the CONNECTION as parents really come to understand and support their children, or watching the GROWTH that both children and parents exhibit. And it is such a privilege to design and provide the unparalleled FAMILY TIME where all are together in a spirit of love and encouragement. We have a favorite quote at our studio that we give to all of our parents. It says “There are no days of our childhood that we live so fully as those we spend with our mothers and fathers in play.” To be able to facilitate that experience for our families is our joy and our best work. I feel immeasurable gratitude for the opportunity.

TC: What’s the most touching thing that’s ever happened to you as a Kindermusik teacher?

CS: Oh my gosh, there are so many! One touching time was when we had a Kindermusik toddler pass away in a tragic accident. The moms in the class came together to comfort and support the grieving mother with thoughtful gifts, cards, and attendance at his funeral.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1471552518163-6d90f666-7fcd-0″ include=”9229,9227″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][blockquote cite=”Carol Stringham”]People first. Always.[/blockquote][vc_column_text]

TC: What are some of the funnier moments you’ve had as a Kindermusik teacher?

CS: Some of the funny moments – the time a Kindermusik daddy lifted his little guy up over his head and the baby promptly sent a waterfall of spit up all over Dad’s head and into his mouth. There was also the time when one of our toddlers lost her drawers as we were doing a circle dance. She just didn’t want to let go of the hands that were holding hers!  Like many Kindermusik teachers who have been doing this a long time, we have a joke in my family that we can’t go ANYWHERE without running into a Kindermusik family, even Disneyland but mostly Costco!

TC: Describe a favorite Kindermusik family that has impacted you as a teacher.

CS: I have a family whose 4 children have gone through our program from beginning to end. They have been a part of our studio for 14 years, with their youngest beginning Young Child in a few weeks. They credit Kindermusik with so much of the good in their lives and constantly express gratitude for the difference it has made. They credit Kindermusik with teaching mom and dad how to be better parents, with their children’s work ethic, with their school success, their musical success, and most importantly with their family bond. Amy, the mama, tells me that some of the happiest moments she has ever had with her children have been in my Kindermusik class. That has to have been one of the loveliest things anyone has ever said to me.

TC: What are some of the goals you have for your business?

CS: For a good long while, I thought I wanted to continue grow bigger. Now, I realize that I want to sustain and maintain while providing our families with such a stellar experience that they will feel the impact in their lives for years to come.

TC: If you could share one tip with a new Kindermusik educator, what would it be?

CS: Jump in! Try and put any fears you may have aside and have the courage to move forward onto this meaningful, life-changing path.  You will make a difference.

TC: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

CS: I have so many! The one that immediately comes to mind is “Children are the only future the human race has. Teach them well.” Another favorite is “All I really need is love in my family and a song in my heart.” Raffi  This quote was part of the inspiration for the name of our studio.

TC: If you had to name just one secret to success in the Kindermusik classroom, what would it be?

CS: People first. Always. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Don’t just sit there – MOVE!

movement

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At a time when it seems there is so much pressure on kids to perform academically, more and more research about the social, emotional, cognitive, and health benefits of movement and play is coming to the forefront. The recent consensus of a group of researchers who studied the evidential links between moving, playing, and learning was overwhelmingly definitive – taking time to move and play actually improves academic performance. So…don’t just sit there…MOVE![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]And why is this? Simply put, movement wakes up our brains and primes the brain for learning. As one writer stated, “movement isn’t a break from learning; movement is learning.” Professor Emily Cross sums it up this way:

“New neuroscience research…shows that active learning—‘where the learner is doing, moving, acting, and interacting’—can change the way the brain works and can accelerate kids’ learning process.”

That’s pretty compelling evidence, if you ask me, and we’ve only scratched the surface of the myriad of sources, studies, research, and analysis that could have been cited.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It should come as no surprise then, that as the world’s leader in music and movement education, Kindermusik International has long been an advocate for the power of movement and play, especially with music in the mix. For over 30 years, the Kindermusik curricula have been based on the premise that movement is key to learning.  That is both the success and the joy of the Kindermusik classroom experience.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]movement[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

So how can you ensure that your child is getting enough time for moving and playing?

1. Make sure that your child has time every day to just play.
2. Play music regularly. Most children respond very naturally to music with movement.
3. Inspire imagination, play, and movement by encouraging your child to be outdoors.
4. Take time for physical activity yourself. Your example is a powerful model for your child.
5. Enroll in a Kindermusik class. (Okay, we couldn’t resist!)

You’ll not only enjoy lots of movement and play in class, but your Home Materials will also inspire you with more musical play and movement at home all week long.

[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in upstate South Carolina has been inspiring children and families to move, play, and make music together for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Educator Spotlight: Shirley Boening

Educator Spotlight

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Theresa Case interviews Shirley Boening, Kindermusik Educator from College Station, Texas.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]TC: How long have you been teaching Kindermusik?
SB: We first opened our business in 1989, so it’s been 27 years this past May that I’ve been running my Kindermusik business and teaching.

TC: What do your Kindermusik kids call you?
SB: Mrs. Shirley

TC: What’s your favorite part of teaching Kindermusik?
SB: My favorite part of teaching Kindermusik is knowing that what I am teaching is changing lives. I am making a difference in children’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and musical lives. That’s a pretty heady thought.

TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik song to sing?
SB: Oh, my, there are so many! I love “Morning Song”. I always have so much fun with pictures of animals and puppets when singing this with my classes. I love “Walk Along Rover”. There are just too many to name. I especially love the rocking songs “Skye Boat Song”, “The Water is Wide” and most of all,“Turtle Dove”. Listening to these always makes me a bit teary eyed while watching the lovely bonding time happening between the parents and children.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/Rp1ZU-V1WgA”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik dance to lead?
SB: I love all the many Cuddle & Bounce dances, and the parents love them, too. With the Wiggle & Grow crowd I love “Jing Jang”. And in Young Child, dancing to “Old Lady No Nose” and “Heel and Toe Polka” never gets old. So fun!

TC: What’s the funniest OR most touching thing that’s ever happened to you as a Kindermusik teacher?
SB: The most recent funny happening is that one morning I was so preoccupied with thinking about the studio and what I had to do that day that I showed up for class wearing unmatched shoes! Didn’t notice until class time when I looked down at my feet while slipping off my shoes. Thank goodness we wear socks in class!

TC: Describe a teaching experience or favorite Kindermusik family that has impacted you as a teacher. SB: All of the families who have come through our doors have shaped the teacher I am today. And, I am constantly impacted by the children and parents we serve. The children and families have given me so much through the years and it is very humbling.

TC: What makes Kindermusik of College Station – Bryan such a special place?
SB: Our Values. We strive to make every child and every parent who enters our studio feel welcomed and special. And, we create a joyful community in which we nurture each child’s love of music through a creative, warm atmosphere. Our ultimate goal for our students is to give them a quality musical foundation, and to inspire within them a lifelong love of music.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: If you had to name just one secret to success in the Kindermusik classroom, what would it be?

SB: Be prepared 150% ! If overly prepared, one can handle the curve balls that inevitably come one’s way in class. The words can go on automatic pilot while thinking about how to connect with a parent or child; how to change the lesson plan to accommodate the runner, the child who has just burst into tears, or the late-comer; or how to adjust the next activity because you intuitively know how it was planned is not going to work with this particular group today. Preparedness gives flexibility to teach the class with success.

TC: What do you feel has made your studio business a success?
SB: An absolute passion in bringing the best Kindermusik experience possible to every child and every parent who walks through our door. In addition, I have always been very fortunate to have a strong team on board. I am particularly indebted to a dear friend, Chris Borchardt, who has taught with me for the past 21 years and who has been very instrumental in helping make the studio a success.

TC: What are some of the goals you have for your business?
SB: My short term goal is to increase our numbers and to hire an administrative assistant to allow me to have more time to work on the business in ways I never seem to have enough time for. Long term goals are to position the studio so that I will be able to cut back on administrative and teaching duties and to eventually sell the studio in the future when the time is right.

TC: What’s something new and exciting that’s happening with your business?
SB: Having a business coach. After reading Facebook posts about Chantelle Bruinsma Duffield’s Studio Expansion Program last year, watching her webinars for Kindermusik educators, and seeing her in action last October at the Maestro Conference, I decided to join The Studio Expansion Program. Once I delved into the SEP a bit, I knew that I needed to sign up for Studio Squared in order to have more one on one time with Chantelle if my team and I were going to get our numbers moving up once more. In November, I joined Studio Squared. Chantelle has been fabulous and through her careful guidance and my team’s strong support and hard work, we are seeing a turnaround in our studio’s numbers. Our summer enrollment has been 23% more than last summer. And, for September we are setting our fall goal at 36% more than September 2015.

TC: If you could share one tip with a new Kindermusik business owner, what would it be?
SB: If I were starting over and wanting to quickly grow a larger program, knowing what I know now, I would consult with a business coach from day one. I think the money spent would be earned back posthaste and would be a sound investment in the future of the business.

TC: What are some of your hobbies?
SB: More than anything, I love spending time with my husband, our 2 sons and daughter-in-law, and our three grandchildren. The highlight of every summer is having the two older grandchildren, Alison and Jacob, spend a week with us and attend our August week long Kindermusik camp. Jacob still attends the camp as a camper, but Alison has aged out and is now a helper at camp. Such fun!

TC: Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
SB: This isn’t an inspirational quote, but it is my favorite quote because I passionately believe what it says with every fiber of my being. “Children must receive musical instruction as naturally as food, and with as much pleasure as they derive from a ball game… and this must happen from the beginning of their lives.” – Leonard Bernstein[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Meet Julie Zimmer – Kindermusik Mom

Julie's eldest, Elena

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Julie is a busy mom of three adorable kids – Elena, age 6; Luc, age 3, and Gia, age 1. They call Greenville, South Carolina home. Let’s learn a little bit about this Kindermusik Mom…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: Tell me a little about your own musical background.
JZ: I took piano lessons at the age of 5 and grew up having the privilege of many musical opportunities. I graduated with 2 degrees: in piano pedagogy and piano performance. I taught piano for 10 years.

TC: Why did you want to enroll your children in Kindermusik?
JZ: Because I understand the value of music mentally, socially and emotionally on a life. I started my oldest daughter, Elena, in Kindermusik classes as a baby, and she is now a proud 2016 Young Child graduate.

TC: How has being in Kindermusik impacted Elena?
JZ: It has really helped her develop a musical ear. She is not my naturally musically gifted one, and when she was little, she struggled with matching pitches or even coming close. As she grew up in Kindermusik, her musical ear grew stronger, too. It also taught her the disciplines of setting aside time to practice her instruments she learned in Young Child. Socially, it helped her work with her peers during ensemble play and in the younger classes, the concept of sharing and listening to others came much easier.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: You also have Luc and Gia in the program. What do you love most about getting to do Kindermusik the second and third time over?
JZ: I enjoy the one on one time with them more and just carving out that time in the day to be very present with my child: to watch her, to listen, to play and explore together, a wonderful bonding environment. I also have learned the value of playing the music at home more. I have found it really helps them “play better” and get along better.

TC: What are some ways that Kindermusik has helped you be a better parent?
JZ: Reminding me that there’s not just ONE way to do things. I love the encouragement to explore together. Kindermusik has also taught me the value of SEEING the value in the “small” things we do each day with our children. “Just” holding them or rocking them is huge for the child and parent! Not just emotionally but physically.

TC: How has Kindermusik affected your relationship with each of your children?
JZ: Kindermusik has helped remind me that each child is different and that’s a good thing! One child may not be “actively-to-the-human-eye” participating due to anxieties or whatever reason, but Kindermusik reminds us of many different learning styles and some children absorb and process information much more internally than externally. And that’s ok! So learning to appreciate each child’s way of learning.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: Do you feel your children are more musically inclined as a result of being in Kindermusik?
JZ: Yes, definitely.

TC: What is one way that Kindermusik has helped one of your children developmentally?
JZ: My 3 year old struggles with anxiety so Kindermusik is so good for him to in learning to deal with “new” situations, “new” friends, and “new” sounds.

TC: How does Kindermusik class “follow you at home” throughout the week?
JZ: We play music much more often now during playtime, while mommy is cooking, etc.
TC: How has being in Kindermusik benefited you personally?
JZ: I have found without even thinking I sing-talk through many of our activities. For instance, we have a song now for getting ready for church. A little tune that came to me that I just put words to that had to do with what we’re doing: getting ready for church. And there’s just something about singing your instructions to the kids that makes everyone enjoy the process more and look forward to the “activity” more.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: What would you say is the greatest benefit your children have gained from being consistently enrolled in Kindermusik?
JZ: Their LOVE and appreciation of music

TC: What are some of your children’s most favorite Kindermusik songs?
JZ: “Toast, Toast” is a favorite when we’re making breakfast. Elena loves Bell Horses. I used “Ruru” as my second child’s special lullaby. All three kids LOVE “Catch Me.” Mommy’s favorite is “Toys away Toys away” – ha! 🙂

TC: Where do you see your children musically 5 or 10 years from now?
JZ: Taking piano lessons or violin lessons using their gifts to serve others.

TC: Why do you recommend Kindermusik to your friends? And why would you encourage a friend to sacrifice as you have to have all three children enrolled?
JZ: Because the benefits don’t stop when you leave the classroom. They continue for years to come. I have visual proof of that having taught piano students for years who grew up in the KM program. It won’t just benefit their music lessons but their school work as well.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case, who has had the immeasurable privilege of teaching all three of Julie’s beautiful children in her Kindermusik classes at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Four on the 4th: Four Ways Early Music Classes Prepare Your Child for School… and for Life

Why Early Childhood Music

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]We’re pretty sure we could have listed forty-four ways early childhood music classes prepare your child for school and for life, but we don’t want to make your eyes glaze over. After all, this is a blog post, not a doctoral thesis. Plus, “Four on the 4th” just sounded catchier…so we’ll just point out four of the many ways music makes a difference in the mind and heart of a young child.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Learning Music Makes Kids Better Learners

Maybe it’s because we as humans come hard-wired to respond to music.  Or maybe it’s the way music wakes up the brain, causing learning to happen with greater ease and impact.  Thanks to technological advances, we know that musicians’ brains actually work differently than non-musicians’ brains.  The really exciting thing is that educators and researchers continue to find undeniable links between early childhood music experiences and enhancement in every of a child’s development.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Early Childhood Music Classes Promote Creative Thinking

In Kindermusik, there’s a reason why our emphasis is on process and not performance, on exploring rather than precisely imitating. We want the children in our classes to explore without defined parameters, to move and play instruments in all different kinds of ways because we understand that creative thinkers become expert problem-solvers and solution-finders. These creative thinking skills lead to success in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Being Part of a Musical Group Encourages Cooperation and Teamwork

Whether it’s exploring instruments with mom or dad or being part of an ensemble play-along later on, working together in a group music class requires an attitude of cooperation and a spirit of teamwork. Developing cooperation and teamwork is often happening without conscious effort because both really are a natural outcome of the way the music class and the activities themselves are presented. These are two essential skills, success predictors even, that a person will benefit from for the rest of their lives.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Music Classes Strengthen Emotional Bonds and Social Abilities

At first, parents might enroll in a weekly music class in order to bond with their child. Music elicits all kinds of emotional responses, creates unique memories, and helps parents and children connect in a deeper way. But what also becomes apparent is that music classes are a beautiful place to foster friendships and give kids practice interacting socially. There’s just something uniquely special about making music together.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music has the potential to do so much good – in our hearts, in our minds, in our communities, and throughout our entire lives. And the greatest potential for impact on a child starts in the very early years when the critical windows of learning are open the widest, when the brain is primed for learning, and when the memories of those consistent early music experiences will be most deeply embedded. There is no other single activity that is better for a young child – indeed for all of us – than the rich experience of enjoying music, learning from music, and making music.

For those celebrating – Happy Independence Day! Be safe![/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Contributed by Theresa Case, whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in upstate South Carolina has been inspiring children and families for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Enjoying Spring with Music!

Spring

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In some parts of the world, it’s spring. Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and mamas everywhere are happy that kids can be outside, playing and enjoying the warmer weather. Unlike other times of year when music and the season are synonymous, you may not make a connection between music (or musical activities) and spring, so we’ve come up with a few to brighten your day![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Featured blogger Theresa Case brings us some music and activities for spring. [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Watch and Listen: Vivaldi’s “Spring” from the Four Seasons

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycl2ADg5Mto “][vc_column_text]

Craft Idea: How to Make a Paper Plate Sun and Pipecleaner Windcatcher

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://kindermusik.wistia.com/medias/euzwum7d5v”][vc_column_text]

Get Outside: How to Make a Seed Grow

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://kindermusik.wistia.com/medias/1a47x80bgt”][vc_column_text]

Listen and Play: Bird Sounds Vocal Play

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Watch the babies’ faces in this video. For very young children, “vocal play” isn’t about call-and-response or sound-and-echo; it’s about watching and listening, absorbing all that’s going on around them, and working hard to match up what they see with what they hear and feel. You can see the deep focus on some babies’ faces as they watch the mouths making the sounds. Remember: Patience, always beautiful patience with babies, as every sense receptor is “on,” and sifting through all that input takes time.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”green”][vc_column_text]There’s nothing like a little music – and a little together time – to make every day a little brighter!

For more ideas and inspiration to make everyday parenting just a little bit easier and a whole lot more musical, discover Kindermusik, the world’s leading music and movement program for parents and children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Educator Spotlight: Katie Henderson at Music Connections Foundation

Educator Spotlight

Katie Henderson is the director of Music Connections Foundation in Bloomington, Illinois, where they have an award-winning Kindermusik program that is the highlight of their not-for-profit foundation. Music Connections became a Not for Profit Foundation in 2008 in order to broaden the impact of their Kindermusik program. To date, Music Connections has drastically increased their outreach to low-income families via individual Foundation Scholarships, as well as to families of children with special needs, adopted children, at-risk two year olds, autistic children, single parents, and to seniors. Partnerships with outside organizations have included Marc Center, SPICE, Heritage Manor, Westminster Village, Western Avenue Community Center, Evangelical Free Church, East White Oak Bible Church, Illinois State University’s Music Therapy Department, the Autism Society and CIDSO (Central Illinois Downs Syndrome Organization)The Basics

TC: You are one busy lady! What other hobbies do you have besides teaching Kindermusik and running the Foundation?
KH: I would say that my biggest hobby of late is keeping track of all my daughter, Grace, has going on, and enjoying all of her musical pursuits in this, her senior year of high school! Otherwise, I love to experience the beauty of nature in all forms – sunsets, mountains, oceans, flowers peaking through the ground – this brings me joy!

TC: What do your Kindermusik kids call you?
KH: Kindermusik kids call me “Mrs. Henderson”. I didn’t know other teachers, thus other options like using first names, when I began in 1994

Henderson Spotlight
Mrs. Henderson blows bubbles with some of her kids

Kindermusik and Katie


TC
: If I could interview your Kindermusik families, how do you think they would describe you?
KH: Hm……How would they describe me?   I guess I haven’t asked them lately! I hope they would say that I LOVE their child immeasurably – I do recall a parent once commenting that I treated every child like they were the most special one in the classroom – and that was a great compliment. I would also hope they would say that I am extremely passionate about what I do in my “job” as a Kindermusik educator.

TC: What do you love most about teaching Kindermusik?
KH:   It’s hard to identify one favorite part of teaching!   One aspect is definitely the chance to empower the grownups in their important jobs as parents, helping them to understand how they can easily impact their child’s optimal development and make parenting easier and joyful using music.   Another has to be the love I receive from the children every single time I step into the classroom.   Third, I would say that I love that this profession is forever challenging me to grow and change – and I love that ongoing journey!

Favorites

TC: What are some of your favorite Kindermusik songs, and why?
KH: My favorite Kindermusik songs are typically associated with a favorite classroom moment, and many are Quiet Time or Rocking songs, as I am so often overcome with emotion watching parents take the time just to “be” with their kids during these class. Just a couple are: “The Water is Wide,” when I can remember first watching a parent with two kiddos (one little and one quite big) straddle their lap and cuddle, some twenty years ago; “You are My Sunshine,” with a cacophony of 10-12 different names being inserted in place of the word ‘sunshine’ – “You are my Gracie,” “You are my Nathan,” etc.

TC: How about a favorite Kindermusik dance?
KH: Favorite Dance – a hard choice for sure, as there are some great new dances in the new monthly units, but my “old brain” recalls when the Kindermusik Village curriculum was brand new and we had a VIDEOTAPE to teach us all the dances in Do-Si-Do! It seemed a huge undertaking to learn all of those at the time, but was such an enrichment to “Village” – I loved the “Virginia Reel” and “Tango Cha Cha” in that unit.

Success, Smiles, and Special Moments

TC: You have had a hugely successful program here at Music Connections. What’s your secret?
KH: One secret to success is to learn to let go of the lesson plan, and of the idea that you have to follow the plan exactly and/or “get to” everything; to relax and be in the moment with the children AND with the parents – to get personal with them and to be in relationship with them.

TC: And if you could share one tip with a new Kindermusik business owner, what would it be?
KH: Don’t do it all yourself. Come to understand what you are best at, and do THAT, and find others to fill in the gaps! Also – don’t look to replicate yourself in others on your team! Building of team of like-minded, impassioned folks, with varying strengths and abilities, will reap immeasurable rewards in your business.

TC: Share with us some of the most touching moments you observe or experience in your Kindermusik classes.
KH: Some of the most touching moments are celebrating the milestones achieved in class – like a baby taking its first steps, or an extremely active kiddo finally laying down for Quiet Time are special, of course. But I have also been deeply touched – often blown away, really – when we have asked parents to tell us, outside of class, what they love about Kindermusik, and they provide these eloquent testimonials about how we have changed their lives! One parent recently told how she was experiencing extreme post-partum depression, to the point that she could barely leave the house, and someone invited her to visit a class; she described in great detail how welcomed she felt, and how she was drawn to come back the next week because we had been so genuine and kind to her. She detailed how we literally “saved her life” at that time, and I had NO idea about it! (She’s been in for nearly four years and now has a second kiddo enrolled)

TC: What has been one of your most impactful moments in your Kindermusik career?
KH: Though I’ve had many individual experiences, what stands out at this point in my career is the big picture of our business’s journey. We became a Not for Profit in 2008, our 15th year in business, to be able to provide services to larger groups of kids/people with special needs or those at risk. I have a staff who teaches most of these outside classes – for Hispanic families, at-risk two year olds, special needs kiddos, seniors with moms who couldn’t otherwise afford our services, etc.; when I get to the various sites and observe these families who overcome obstacles to make a commitment to get to class (many don’t drive or have cars), and watch them try to sing in English, or reach out to interact with seniors, or work with such patience with their special needs little one – it is then that I stand back and soak in the impact of what we do! It extends well beyond me, with the ripple effect from a team of dedicated ladies (both teachers and my administrator) who give of their hearts and souls as well. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what I believe to be God’s gift to me, 22 years ago, in finding purposeful, rich “life’s work,” and serving thousands of kiddos and families along the way.

TC: What are some new and exciting things happening with the Music Connections Foundation?
KH: In connection with our 3rd annual yearly fundraiser, an evening entitled “Open Your Heart to Music,” we had a video made to highlight the work that we do as a Not for Profit. We will be cutting it down, eventually, into “snippets” we can use in advertising/marketing efforts, but I am excited that it tells an important story, and was successful, at this event, in helping us to raise nearly $19,000.00 to support the work we do!

The Future

TC: What’s next for you and for the Foundation?
KH:   Well, if you want my 10 year, long-range plan, I believe it is that our business will find a new, young leader (or leaders) who can embrace “cutting-edge” ways of doing business that will take us into the next 20 years of Kindermusik, presented by Music Connections Foundation, in our community! I will always stay involved, but would love the role of “Community Advocate,” where I have the time to “pound the doors” of businesses and the “powers that be” in our community, educating them on how music at a young age is crucial, and soliciting funding to support the expansion of our offerings. I also want to see Kindermusik@schools becoming a part of Head Start options in our area. For now, however, I am still on the floor with the kids… for as long as my knees will allow it!


Theresa Case is the director of Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, where her award-winning Kindermusik program is part of a vibrant, thriving, community music school. In addition to being a former member of both the KEA and PKE Boards, Theresa has also worked with Kindermusik International on such projects as piloting Village and Imagine That!, developing the original Fundamentals course, contributing to the Imagine That! teacher guides, serving as co-author for the first two units of Family Time, working on the early ABC teacher videos, and presenting various professional development webinars and conference break-out sessions. By far, though, Theresa’s favorite life work includes serving in her church and being a wife and a mother. She and her husband have three boys.

Educator Spotlight: Christa Beck

Educator Spotlight

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Maestro Educator Christa Beck loves what she does. That love is evident in the smiles of the children and parents she serves in her studio. Theresa Case interviewed this successful teacher so that we might get to know Christa a bit more.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Christa Beck has been changing lives as a Kindermusik Educator for 15 years. Her studio, Kindermusik with Christa Beck, is a multi maestro educator award winner, recognizing those that are among  the top programs internationally.

TC: What are some of your hobbies?

CB: Baking, running, reading and eating delicious meals that my husband has cooked. We also love to go out to eat; to experience new restaurants and breweries (and Pittsburgh has lots to choose from!).

TC: What do your Kindermusik kids call you?

CB: Miss Christa

TC: How do your Kindermusik families describe you?

CB: Fun, energetic, silly, smart, kind, loving, patient and always smiling.

Educator Spotlight Christa Beck
Always smiling!

TC: What’s your favorite part of teaching Kindermusik?

CB: Enabling parents to use music to connect with their children in ways they have not known before, in a positive, joyful, supportive environment.

TC: Do you have a favorite Kindermusik song?

CB: I have about 100 “favorite” Kindermusik songs. I loved learning all the words to traditional bedtime songs like “Hush Little Baby,” and “You are My Sunshine” early on in our Kindermusik experience. My children joke that I have a song for just about everything (from toast, to trains, to animals, to cleaning the house). I do randomly burst out in “Kindermusik” songs on a daily basis.


One of Miss Christa’s favorites!


TC: What’s your favorite Kindermusik dance?

CB: ‘Liza Jane…I love the energy, the fiddles, the fantastic rhythm for dancing.

TC: If you had to name just one secret to success in the Kindermusik classroom, what would it be?

CB: Genuinely know and care for your families, and always give them 110%.

TC: What are some of the most touching moments you’ve experienced as a Kindermusik educator?

CB: I love the moment when a baby has learned to walk, and the parents in the class all cheer for that first walk across the Kindermusik classroom. When a toddler begins to sing in class, so pure and clear with no inhibitions, my heart smiles and knows this is the most right place to be in the world. Preschoolers are fun, silly, smart and energetic people. I love watching the self-confidence emerge, friendships blossom, and kindness happen naturally in our classes.[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Christa Beck”]Every single child matters.[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: Describe a teaching experience or favorite Kindermusik family that has especially impacted you as a teacher:

CB: I have always been particularly touched by special needs children. I am acutely aware of the extra effort it takes some children to reach certain milestones. I still remember my first Kindermusik child with Down’s Syndrome, Megan. She had been working so hard on walking and around age 2, finally walked across the room during class. The pride and joy of that mom, and the support of the families in that class had tears of joy flowing. I realized at that moment, how much our Kindermusik communities matter. Every single child matters. And what we are doing in the Kindermusik classroom matters. I’ve never lost sight of that.

TC: What do you feel has made your studio business a success?

CB: First and foremost, being the most well-prepared that I can for each and every class. Knowing the songs, knowing the activities, understanding why they are important, and learning more every day about early childhood development. Second, knowing, caring about, and loving my Kindermusik families. I believe in the value of each and every child and parent that comes through my doors each week. My hope is that shines through, and in turn has helped our studio become successful.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://animoto.com/play/Nfw6eJE8vvsSSdsYd00ikQ”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TC: What’s something new and exciting that’s happening with your business?

CB: We’ve been celebrating our 15th year all year long with fabulous events. A giant “on the farm” playdate at our local organic CSA, Jingle Jam holiday playdates, a recent Sweetheart Ball with 120 people in attendance, and more class offerings that ever before. We focus on adding new and exciting things to our business every year.

TC: What’s next for your Kindermusik program?

CB: I am taking Kindermusik to the Middle East this summer through a mission trip organized by another Kindermusik educator (Jessica Hanson.) My goal has been to have the studio families not only support this trip financially, but also share some of the different music from the two cultures with each other. I look forward to taking materials from our studio to leave in Amman, Jordan, and bringing activities and music back from the other side of the globe. My strong belief is that every child has value, and that music can be a universal means of communication; sharing healing and love from one country to the next.

I also hope to continue to grow our Kindermusik baby classes; to share with parents how much music can make an impact on children’s lives, particularly during the earliest years.

[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Christa Beck”]Truly a labor of love…[/blockquote][vc_column_text]TC: If you could share one tip with a new Kindermusik educator, what would it be?

CB: Being a successful Kindermusik educator takes time, talent and hard work. If you believe in it, live it, breathe it, and give as much as you can of yourself, the rewards that come back are priceless. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked, and the best time I’ve ever had in any career. Truly a labor of love.


Theresa Case’s award-winning Kindermusik program is part of Piano Central Studios, located in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]


Are you interested in becoming a Kindermusik Educator?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_button2 title=”START HERE” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.kindermusik.com%2Fteach-children-music%2F||target:%20_blank”][/vc_column][/vc_row]