Thursday, December 20, 2007

Giving and Taking: Every conflict is an opportunity for growth

Here's parenting tip #249814334:

How to model sharing and trading.

Scene: child #1 has the drum and child #2 has the shaker. Child #2 drops the shakers and grabs the drum away from child #1 (GASP!) Parents are reacting fast. Parent of child #2 grabs the drum and announces the rule : NO GRABBING!!!

Hey! That was me with my first two children. Claire was always looking to Ben (who was older by 2 years and 1 week) to see what big kids do and to find out what's interesting. Whatever Ben had was always interesting. She grabbed the drum, I grabbed the drum and screeched "No Grabbing!!!!".

It was Ben who said "Mom, How come you're grabbing?"
.......oh........ Hmmmm.....right.....I don't know. I'm trying to teach the no grabbing rule. I was actually reinforcing that, well, grabbing is OK...especially if you are bigger. And you probably should shout when you do it.

Here's what my new approach was when baby #3 comes six years later. Anne looked to the big kids and Claire got some of her own medicine. I got a chance to revise my message.

I noticed how connected the new baby grabber was to me. Even though the umbilical chord was cut it was as if we were really still so many ways. If I reacted to any situation it was as though she did.

When she grabbed, and before the shock to register on the other child, I had something with which to "trade" and using the best negotiating skills I could muster, I modeled a polite transaction. The younger the "victim" the smoother the action goes. And the younger the perpetrator, the more they believe that they actually did the right thing. And now the baby has the script for polite negotiations.

If the offer was refused I had to muster up some creativity to continue the negotiations. I'd say "Oh, Anne. Look at Claire's face. She's pretty angry. What do you think she might like as a trade?" or "Do you think you could give her back the drum and ask her to give it to you when she is all done?"

No set formula is perfect for every situation and this new way is very time consuming. But much more effective. Give it a try. And pray for patience.....Remember light travels faster than sound. Our actions are more powerful than anything we could possibly shout.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker suite (Part 1)

Here's some music to dance to!
To my Young Child 1 students (Jack, Joshua, Zachary, Ravi, Cameron, Nicholas, and Johanna) can you find the brass family?

And the piano-like instrument...what's that?? It's a percussion instrument called the Celeste. Isn't it heavenly?

Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker suite (Part 2)

Keep listening! Are you pretending to be the conductor?
What's your favorite instrument?

Can you find the glockenspiel?

Nutcracker Suite

The Nutcracker story is a folk story that inspired composer Peter Tchaikovsky to write music that would be danced to in a ballet. In Young Child 3 we've been dancing like mice and soldiers, like Russian dancers, like the Sugar Plum Fairy. And yes the ballet needs male and female dancers.

Anyone know what you call a male ballet dancer?

Here's a nutcracker word game for fun (click on the nutcracker....but better to put the Nutcracker Suite music on and go dance. The music is on of my favorites and maybe the first one I danced to with my now 19 year old. When he was a fussy baby that one cured him with all the short contrasting pieces that make up the suite. There are some great cuts for spinning!

Or go make angels outside in the snow.
Have fun.

Glockenspiel Days!

Yeah!!!! My Young Child I students have taken home their glockenspiel for the first time! The can play Dr. Foster, Toot-Toot Train is a Comin', and Ding dong Ding dong.

Hey! If you click on the Kindermusik Young Child Logo you can play a virtual Glockenpiel!

For the Young Child 3 students we've tried out a seasonal song. Joy to the World is built on a scale. So try this: begin on the white dot C and play down to the bottom of the glockenspiel singing "Joy to the world...." you can play the rest by ear! It is easy and it's great brain work for anyone! Have fun.

Next, can you figure out "Jingle Bells"?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Family Dancing and Live Music: DO IT


A Family Holiday Ball

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adults $25
Students (5 to 18) $5.
(Have you ever danced with your baby in a sling? It's lovely.)

7:00 to 11:00 pm (map)Evergreen Commons, Holland

Join the Holland Symphony Orchestra for a Holiday Ball for the whole family. Dance to music composed by the Strauss family performed by the Holland Symphony. Then dance into the night with a live swing band!
Conductor Thom Working is leading the orchestra in an evening of Strauss waltzes, polkas and marches from 7:00 to 8:30. Included are the familiar strains of the Blue Danube Waltz, the Emperor Waltz, the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka and the Radetszky March. Waltz and Polka dance instruction will be provided. A fun Children's Parade will conclude the first half of the evening that includes mask making provided by the Holland Area Arts Council. The second half of the evening begins at 8:30 with a spectacular dance exhibition and lessons given by dance professionals from Arthur Murray. The swing band "Hall Street Six" and the Gramer's will finish off the night with swing, tango and your favorite ballroom dances.

Tickets available on the secure HSO site online, at the Arts Council reception desk (150 E. 8th St. Holland), Borr's Bootery (51 E. 8th St. Holland) and by phoning the Symphony office at 616-494-0256.

Information on coming projects/events:

(See the very cool violin?!)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gift Giving

"The judgments, criticisms, complaints, encouragement, joy and love that we think we are giving to others, are really gifts we give to ourselves."

from Conscious Discipline by Becky Bailey

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Important Brain Developments....

Today Emma, in my Kindermusik Our Time class watched me carefully as I sang our good-bye song. I reached out and touched each child on the arm and looked into their eyes. When I was finished and about to turn away I saw her go around the circle, touch each child on the arm, look into their eyes and sing good-bye.

"According to neuroscience and child development research, brain development proceeds at a faster pace between conception and the first day of kindergarten than during any subsequent stage of life. In the early years, basic capacities such as trust, self-confidence, empathy, and curiosity are established. How people think, learn, reason, and relate to others throughout their lives is rooted in their early relationships, experiences, and environments."

Common Vision, Different Paths: Five States' Journeys toward Comprehensive Prenatal-to-Five Systems"

Where will children find early relationships, experiences and environments that will lead them to be the kind of people we dearly wish our children to be?

With people they love and who love them...unconditionally.

Kindermusik is a great place to
BE together.

Thank you for sharing your children with me. I take it seriously. I know this is important work and that we are shaping the future.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Big Broccoli Ocarina:Angels We Have Heard On High

Now children....PLAY with your vegetables.

In Imagine That! just this evening I was asking the children what sound does it make when you chew on your broccoli? Here is the new answer.

the vegetable orchestra

If you know me and you know what my moonlighting job is you will get a vitamin blast out of this video! I can't wait for Farmers' Market to start up again!!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Twelve Days of Christmas

Too many words!!! But this will bring a smile to you!

Jingle Bells ~ Perry Como

Pull the children up into your lap and watch this while you sing along.
Hugs to you all.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Singing with young children

There's two songs that I can think of that it seems ALL children know. Twinkle, Twinkle and Jingle Bells. And Jingle Bells wins the joyful rendition award. Children really LOVE this song. It seems one thing they most love about it is that right now the whole world seems to be singing this song! They hear variations of it on the radio, TV, at school concerts, even the shopping music at Meijer's...really everyone is singing it. Furthermore when their favorite adults sing it they are smiling and all the cares in the world drift away for those moments.

Don't we love it when the 2 year olds begin singing with us? Here are some ways to encourage their attempts to sing with us.

Find moments when you are singing together without a recording or accompaniment so that you can slow...... down...... the...... tempo...... Follow their lead.

Be very attentive to sing on the pitches they are using. You might have to sing way up high or use falsetto to be up where they are!

If you are initiating the sing-a-long try this: Begin singing "Jin-gle Bells, Jin-gle...." leaving off the second "Bells" to see if they will chime in! If they just look at you and listen you have to sing further. Go up to "Jingle all the---" by then they should give you the "Way!".

Giving them the experience of really singing along, in pitch and time with another person will be an important moment musically for them. With this experience they will know what music and resonance really mean.

Most songs have way too many words. The verses: Dashingthroughthesnow,Inaonehorseopensleigh.O'erthefieldswegolaughingallthewayHaHaHa.....
way too many words for a 2 year old. (Well there are some out there that do know all the words but they had to start somewhere!) So for the beginners take out all the words and sing on a favorite syllable like doo doo doo doo doooooo dododoo doo doo doo dooooooo
That way they can join you on the melody. Children even younger than 2 years old can sing along, accurately matching pitches on songs that have very complicated rhythms! Then switch back to the Jingle Bell words because they are latching on to those simple, repetitive words.

These moments are usually fleeting. You take them when they come! While going to the potty. While going down stairs. Between bites of corn or oatmeal. Slow yourselves down so you can hear them and be with them for these irreplaceable moments.

'Tis the short season of their life and means all the world to them.

Sing your way through the week.
Sing and sway cheek to cheek.
Sing and sway every day, Sing, sing, sing.
Love, Yvette

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Kindermusik Corn Bread

In a 400’ oven place a buttered 10” iron skillet

In one bowl mix together these dry ingredients:

1 C. whole wheat flour

1 C. corn meal

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

In 2nd bowl combine

4 Tbs. melted butter

4 Tbs. maple syrup

1 Cup apple cider or apple juice

2 eggs

Add the dry ingredients to the 2nd bowl

Stir only until the ingredients are combined

Add 1 Cup chopped cranberries

Pour into the HOT skillet

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

Enjoy hot with or without butter and jam

Even though you probably used corn meal that was pre-ground you will still want to sing our Grinding Corn song (from Kindermusik Young Child 3). In class we “grind” a rhythm of TI TI TAH TI TI TAH ,while singing a rhythm that is sometimes matching and sometimes different. This activity is challenging and helps children (and their parents!) learn how to do an activity that is similar to strumming a guitar and singing along at the same time….trickier than you might think!

Grinding Corn, grinding corn.

Here we are grinding corn.

Grains of red and yellow,

Blue and white corn

We are grinding……

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Syncopation is a "jazzy" rhythm that really gets us toe tappin'. In Kindermusik Village we dance our feet to this rhythm in "Water Come a Me Eye". For weeks we do this dance! Some parents do the dance at home everytime it comes around on the CD. Kaylin can do it with her feet all by herself!

In Kindermusik Our Time we play the rhythm sticks to a steady beat while with our voices we sing "Tinga Lay-O": Run, little donkey, run! (There's the syncopation!)

Syncopation comes and goes through out all the Kindermusik levels...then in the "big kid class", Kindermusik Young Child, we layer it in again with the "Canoe Song": dip, dip, and swing...... In the last semester (#4) we'll finally see what it looks like. The children will be able to read syncopation and use it in their composing.

With all this those Kindermusik graduates won't be afraid of playing those "Jazzy" rhythms when they sightread new music in orchestra and band. How cool is that?

I just love this curriculum.

Gift Giving Season!

Their most cherished presents
are their parents' presence.....
Gift certificates available....
call 616-392-7182

Friday, November 16, 2007

vocal play

Here is an 11 year old girl who played around with her voice and listen to what she came up with! She seems so confident and beautiful. Listen to her Yodel!

Hey! I've been blogging for a whole year!

Any feedback?

What's the difference between a library music time and a Kindermusik Class?

Some folks say "Oh, we do Kindermusik for FREE at the library!"

Well, I'd love to widen your view a little.

Darcy and I do music and movement storytimes here and there (i.e. the library and some mom and tot groups, for example). We meet children who love music, who naturally sing and dance to the music, children who love the instruments and knee bounces, circle dances and stories. Those children, their sparkling eyes, smiles and giggles capture our hearts. And we see the possibility. In all the children. All of them.

What would be different if they went to a weekly class for a whole semester at a time? This is what we know about children who are lucky enough to be in a flourishing environment where consistency of space, trust, routine, repetition and variety exist.

These children begin sometimes warily, like any child. Sometimes at the first class the younger ones look around for the moment their adult will sneak off or kiss them goodbye. Imagine their wide eyes when all the adults sit on the floor with them! They know then that they are safe. After the second class they begin to sense a rhythm in the flow of the class as it is very similar to their first experience. They realize that it is safe to put the bells or shakers back in the basket because they know they will have another opportunity to work with those again. After a few weeks a change comes over them. Waiting their turn becomes easier. The songs are very familiar since they hear them also at home (Home materials include CDs, story books, instruments etc.). The story is predictable and there are more and more details emerging every week. (This never happens at a one time event.)

They become thoughtful risk takers, more experimental, more creative. Everything is safe. They sing and twirl along, delighting in their participating adult. Here is their chance to be in charge. To practice their budding autonomy in a safe environment. Isn't that what we want for them?

It's how they bloom.

Please join us.
And for the families already participating why don't you bring a friend to you class!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Music on the Brain

Daniel J. Levitin, Ph.D. Associate Professor, James McGill University, was a keynote speaker at the October Kindermusik Convention. We enjoyed his talk about music and the brain and his pop music quizzes where we could identify a piece of music and artist by hearing less than a second of the recording. Today I found an article written by Scott LaFee for the Union-Tribune, which sourced Levitin. This is what caught my eye:

Music does appear to improve brain function, according to scientists. "Early exposure to and learning of music and instruments seems to have clear benefits," Levitin said. "Such children often have improved visual perception, analytical thinking skills and physical coordination. Music helps them focus their attention."

Singing in the Brain .

The Union-Tribune , November 15, 2007

I am also noticing how the students in my classes have shown such growth in their self control and social skills. Taking turns, trading instruments, responding to auditory cues, stopping their excited fast and slow horse trotting and galloping....

I've heard more children using their singing voices, seen more amazing creativity in movement ideas....So many times I wished for my camera!

And sequencing and predicting....memory work....(I'm thinking of the 2 year olds who can tell me what's next in the Watch Me! story book.

Parents, you are doing great work. Keep up the steady beat....keep singing...keep dancing....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Show Your Children How:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?... Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you... We were born to make manifest the glory...that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Nelson Mandela

This quote is a little inspiration that we Kindermusik educators find in our teacher manuals. Aren't we lucky? I say I like teaching Kindermusik because it stretches me to be a better person. And I share everything I can with the parents in my classes.
Love to you all,

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Smart Toy Buying

What's going to be under the tree for your children this year? How will these new toys affect your child's imagination and thinking skills? Do you know what really makes a toy a GOOD toy? Do you have an opinion that counts?

Do you want toys that entertain your children or ARE you more interested in the important work that children call "PLAY"?

Toys that spark imagination and pretend play rarely need batteries! They are objects that can become many different things....a big silky scarf or squares of fabric can be a cape, a hat, an apron, a blankie for a teddy bear, a purse, wrapping paper for the hymnal in church, a peek-a-boo toy.... Blocks can be towers, cars, trains, cell phones, musical instruments..... Board books can be tunnels, towers, peek-a-boo play objects....

Puppets, stuffed animals and dolls for girls and boys can be tools for pretend play that helps children work through their social development, processing life events, working through growing up.....

Boxes can be so many things! Forts, toasters, hiding places, post offices, trains.....

Music instruments like shakers, bells, drums, rhythm sticks can inspire parades, concerts, spontaneous singing, stories with sound affects.....

Do you think those toys mentioned above would pass the strictest safety criteria? Wouldn't they made of materials you could trust? The simpler the toy the easier it is to be sure it is safe!

Electronic toys do not allow children to be the leader in their own play. Pushing the buttons is the extent of the control they have. After that they become a spectator. For that reason these toys are the ones that end up neglected in the long run. After they annoy the adults with the volume and clutter the children's rooms, these toys are the first to find their way into the garage then the garage sale/give-away pile.

Our grown-up ears that have listened to plenty of loud music. Babies have very sensitive hearing compared to ours. Have you ever listened to a child's toy cell phone? Up next to your weary ear it BLASTS! Imagine how it sounds to them.

There is one electronic toy I do recommend. Cassette tape recorders can open the door to a child's expressive voice! Singing, storytelling, describing, listening skills...If you have a grandparent who lives far away they can exchange audio recorded letters! A parent who must travel for work can make a tape for the family to listen to. Make a point to know that the cassette recorder you purchase is one that the child (3 and up) can operate and be in charge of (with adult supervision).

So you've got the toy basics already. Your family doesn't need anymore blocks and scarves and teddy bears (though my daughter, Anne, says there's never enough stuffed animals...). Well I say there's never enough read aloud books or great music CDs.

So for this holiday season I'll make it easy on you. I'll have my favorites at the studio this week: CDs, books, instruments... the best! I had stockpiled these when Do Re Me and You! went through all those big changes. So you'll find great prices, good selection, great quality....But this is your last chance. Once these are gone you won't find them anymore...

The only thing that won't be easy for you is waiting till Christmas to open them!

Keep singing!

Changeing with the Time Change

Someone commented that while it was simple to set their alarm clocks back last night they had forgotten to change the internal clock in their dog. Guess who got licked awake!

I've been thinking about the internal clocks of the children too! They will be hungry, sleepy, awake, all at the wrong times! How long will it take? How understanding and patient will you be?

Years ago, as the music teacher for an elementary school in Delaware, I was surprised one spring Monday after the time change when the entire class really HAD to use the restroom just after our class began. They were used to their break being right after music every week! The clocks had been changed but not their little bodies!

Not so very long ago my very bright little friend and Kindermusik student, "Emily", began to tell her mother that she no longer liked Kindermusik. She even marched into her evening class one day and announced to me that she hated Kindermusik! I was so surprised. I asked her why and her answer told me you can never know a child's whole story! This 3 1/2 year old was convinced that it was MY fault that it got dark during her Kindermusik class. Now that meant that when she got home it was bath and bed right away! No more play time! She was angry and let me know.

Children are such interesting puzzles!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Holland Area Youth Orchestra and
Holland Area Junior Strings
Fall Concert
Sunday, November 11th, 3pm
Zeeland East High School, DeWitt Auditorium
The Jr. Strings will be performing on the first half of the concert, followed by the Youth Orchestra. Please invite family and friends to this wonderful performance.
Tickets are $7 adults & seniors and $4 students. Tickets are available at the Arts Council or online at

Monday, October 29, 2007

From the Holland Sentinel
Claire Gerhardt holds some kale from the Boeve Farm booth at the Holland Farmer's Market.

Monday, October 29, 2007

What is kale?

Veggie is loaded with nutrients

If you're looking for a veggie that's packed with nutrients (vitamins A, C, E, K, calcium, iron and others minerals, beta carotene, fiber, lutein, some omega 3s and even a little bit of protein), open wide for kale.

This ancient vegetable is actually wild cabbage in the "cole" family with collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts, to name a few. Although no one is certain, some historians say that kale was brought from Asia Minor to Europe by groups of Celtic wanderers around 600 B.C. Wild cabbage was developed to form a head perhaps as long as 2,000 years ago.

There's good reason this vegetable has been around for so long. It's a hardy plant and some say it's the most nutritional vegetable there is. It's enjoying renewed popularity as people become more nutrition-conscious.

Kale is especially sweet if it has been in the field for a frost. You might actually like it, and your kids will too, if you can find kale that has been grown in some cold weather. Now that we have fall weather, you'll find it locally at the Holland Farmers' Market.

I know someone who has requested kale every year for her birthday since she was little. Now that she's older, she even volunteers to prepare it herself. Here's how she does it:

Claire's Kale

5 bacon strips, chopped (you can omit this but add more oil)

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 cup water

Salt to taste (or soy sauce)

In a 5-quart pot (we use a cast-iron Dutch oven), saute the bacon in the oil over medium heat until cooked, but not crispy. Add the sesame seeds and toss around in the fat. Put the kale in the pot and stir it around until it wilts. You can fill the pot, cook it down, then add more kale, continuing until you have all your kale in the pot. Add the water and salt. Cover and cook for 25 minutes or longer. Check every so often and add water if needed. The leaves should be tender and the water nearly cooked away. A longer cooking time will release more minerals, making them more accessible for your body.We do a whole bouquet of kale at a time so that there are leftovers to toss in to the vegetable beef soup. Or try this easy and delicious idea: add leftover kale to your favorite mashed potato recipe and top with 2 leeks and half of a sweet red pepper sauteed in some butter.

Freezing extra kale is easy if you wash and prepare the leaves, fill a plastic bag and store in the freezer.

Yvette Odell, who wrote this story for the Sentinel, was chosen to present a session on "Classroom Management with a Sensory Approach" to her peers at the annual Kindermusik Convention to be held in Chicago. She has been teaching young children since 1980 and teaching Kindermusik in Holland since 1995.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Where Do The Children Play?Premiering Tuesday, October 23rd at 9 p.m. Michigan TV (PBS)

"Free play is slipping away from children’s lives. Yet time spent building forts or exploring outdoors, caring for animals, pretending or problem-solving with peers are now being shown by a wide body of research to be essential to healthy development, spiritual attunement, and emotional survival. Open-ended play in places that offer access to woods, gullies and gardens, ditches, boulders, and bike paths enhances curiosity and confidence throughout life.Play takes many forms. It may be best defined from within as a spontaneous human expression that relies on imagination and a sense of freedom. Players invent alternative contexts for conversation, visualization, movement, and interactions with real objects. They find release and involvement, stimulation and peace. Although play may arise anywhere, even in a cement cell, children are beckoned by the natural world to enjoy sensations of being alive."(Taken from the Where Do Children Play?" Website)

This is a very serious subject. I believe children should be rolling down hills every day. Has your child rolled, jumped, climbed, swung, and spun today? I know I have because I've taught an Kindermusik Imagine That! today and we did all those things plus pretended to be a tree full of birds, squirrels, bees, a bear and a little girl in the tree house all covered with leaves.....

Here are some interesting sites to inspire....or maybe to distract you so that your little one will play in the cupboards or jump off the couch! Better go outside!

Thank you Ashley for giving me this heads up.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kindermusik Educators Have a Ball

What do hundreds of Kindermusik educators do when they get together?

We are home from the Kindermusik Convention!

What a wonderful, intense time. Here we are:Yvette, Carol Penny from KI, and Darcy sharing hugs and smiles. It was non-stop from the crack of dawn to past midnight every day...singing, dancing, learning, networking, laughing, sharing, is very powerful to be around so many people who share similar vision and belief in music as we do. I loved meeting Kindermusik educator-sisters from around the world. (Thank you for sharing yourselves with us and Mabuhai to you all.)

I've got lots of fun things to share about our experience but since I got home at 3:45am I have got to catch up on the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzs.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

William Tell Dance

THis is why children should listen to their Kindermusik CDs where they can jump and move and dance and conduct! Not just in the car while they are in the car seat or when they are all tucked in for bed at night!!!! How fun it was to watch this guy who really knows this music from beginning to end! He's so expressive with his hands. Thanks Kindermusik educator Deborah in Texas for sharing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Here's a "foundation of learning" (which we educators call "FOL") that I shared this week with families:

Did you know that stimulation of the calf muscle aids in language development? Put you child on the floor in front of you so that you can bicycle her legs. Then flex their feet and have your child just push against your hands as hard as she can. I think they just have fun trying to be as strong as you! But the work is good for their brains as well. It actually aids in the language development of children. Why? Well in my next life I plan to be a cellist and a neuroscientist so I may be better able to explain why but for now I know that I found this information in Carla Hannaford's book Smart Moves, Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head. I can't tell you which page because I've lent out my copy and :-( don't know where it is......

This kind of stimulation of the whole body is why children need to be jumping, running, climbing, twirling, singing and dancing and playing in free, joyful situations. And this is why Kindermusik is such a good investment...your dividends increase exponentially.

Glad you found us.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

How come when it gets cold, things get more and more hectic? Is it to get us moving to stay warm? Well, it's all good hectic-ness anyway!

Hope you've marked your calendars: No classes next Wednesday afternoon or Thursday! Darcy and I are headed for the Kindermusik Convention!!! Just imagine the energy of hundreds and hundreds of Kindermusik teachers in one building...singing and dancing and sharing all day and practically all night!!!

My calendar is also filling up with extra music class events for speaking or making music in area preschools, young five programs, homeschool groups, library music and movement storytime, and mom and tot church group events etc. I love coming out and sharing with the adults information on child development, parenting skills, benefits of music and movement for their children and sharing with the children the joy of musical fun.

Other items on my calendar include leading La Leche League meetings, farmers market days, church choir, concerts, flute students and occaisional flute playing gigs! Then there's homeschooling schedules of Anne and Claire...... No two days are routine!

Wonder what my calendar looks like? Well it's an amazing calendar called Weekdate, invented by my sister in law, Kay Odell. It works for me! Her 2008 designs just came out and I'm trying do decide on the cover.

It's a good kind of busy.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Parents often ask.....

Too young to play an instrument? By Jane Palmer

What are good starter instruments? For babies: rattles (maracas), tambourine, bongo drums. For toddlers and preschoolers: rhythm sticks, sandpaper blocks, maracas, drums, finger cymbals, triangles, cymbals, gongs, jingle bells, xylophone-type instruments with removable bars and chorded zither. Toy instruments won't hold a youngster's interest for long. Age 3 and older: new or gently used piano, which should be tuned once or twice a year. Second best is a digital electronic keyboard with touch-sensitive, weighted keys. Young violin players: smaller violins, scaled to a child's hands and body.

How young can children typically start music lessons? For traditional piano lessons, at age 7. For band and orchestra instruments, in fourth or fifth grade, when children are big enough to manage the size of the instruments and have more lung capacity.

How can you get preschoolers interested? Listen to all styles of recorded music from birth. Sing together and play singing games. Participate in Kindermusik or other music experience programs for babies through age 7 or 9. Find local programs online at for preschool programs that devote at least 10 percent of their time to music.

How much are lessons? From $15 to $40 for a 30- or 60-minute session.
How do you obtain instruments? Introductory instruments such as sandpaper blocks may be available at toy or school supply stores. Most instruments require a trip to a music store. Ask for a student instrument. Turn down artist instruments, which are higher priced. Buy a used instrument to further cut costs, and ask about service and repairs after the sale. You may find a bargain in classified advertisements or at a pawn shop, garage sale or thrift store. Make sure everything works. Music stores often have a rent-to-own program. If you keep the instrument longer than atrial period, you own it and your monthly payments apply to the purchase. On the rental agreement, take note of the interest rate and total cost. It may be cheaper to obtain your own loan.

Sources: Joan Reist, past president of the Music Teachers National Association and retired associate professor of piano pedagogy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lance Nielsen, president of the Nebraska Music Educators Association and director of bands at Lincoln East High School. National standards published by the National Association for Music Education at

Thanks Molly!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Glissandos galore!

Slide whistles can make glissando's. So can clarinets, trombones and our voices. And so can string instruments like the violin! This is Jackie playing a "gliss" with Ms. Yvette.

Who loves their dulcimer?

WE DO!!!!!!!!!
And we are loving strumming and singing....which is way more complicated than you might think. I remember the first time I tried to strum a steady beat on the guitar while singing in rhythm! It's like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time!

We are also loving dancing to Old Lady No Nose and making music with household items like spoons and paper bags and washboards! Here's a picture of David Holt who sings a couple of the songs on the Young Child 3 CD. He's the one with the washboard.

Now swing your partner!
(see David Holt's website for more fun music from the Appalachian mountains.)

To the MOMs

Dear Moms,
Are you aware that MOM is WOW upside down? That is a given. Forwards and backwards. No other judgment necessary!

A few years ago I began a conscious journey of self improvement and have as a mantra to "love others as myself". Interestingly I noticed I didn't love myself very much and surely not unconditionally! During times when I loved myself least I was less able to love others at all.
How could I love others, especially my own family, if I could not love myself.

Baby steps. Baby steps. Two steps forward and one back.

Here are two ideas that helped me with the one step forward.

Accept compliments.

Wouldn't you know it? I have still lots of work to do here! Today after playing flute in church I totally negated a freely given compliment! I will choose next time to say: "Thank you" and allow it to soak in.

Second: Stop "should-ing all over myself".

I think most moms are in the habit of using this technique. "I should have returned that call yesterday". "I should have gotten up earlier." "I should post more often on my blog." "I should have practiced that music."Should-a should-a, should-a....., Goodness, I can come up with a bunch of them. There's a lot of judgmental energy being used up in feeling angry or frustrated at myself for what should have been! How is that going to help anything? The word "should" matters too in saying what we might do in the future. "I should run to the store". "I should drop a card in the mail." "I should clean up as I go." I choose to replace "should-a" with "I could" and then decide whether or not I will. I can always change my mind but I don't need the nagging sound of that voice saying "You should have.......".

If you are an educator and you are reading this you might want to know more. I've been reading Becky Bailey's work book for teachers "Conscious Discipline". But if you are a parent reading this then you could choose to run out and get this book because it can help you transform your parenting.

Thanks for listening. Because you know I say this for my own sake.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My newest favorite quote:

f you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

by Antoine de St. Exupery

Imagine a group of people driven by a yearning for the vast and endless sea! Imagine holding them back from building this boat! The passion and energy for the project are unquestionably abundant.

Last week I lamented to friends: Help! How can I help Anne WANT to practice her cello? Here is my answer. The SEA! The SEA! LOVE and yearning for the sea of beautiful cello music.

Teaching one to yearn is where we could get hung up. I don't really know if that can be done! So what do we do?

Model passion. Look for others who live by their passion. Surround yourselves with their modeling. Talk about it passionately. Love the journey.

Antoine de St.Exupery also said: All grown-ups were once children--although few of them remember it.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

What's this about music and reading? AGAIN?

I'm doing what I can to shout it from the rooftops. Music is good for you! My blogging friend, Molly from Kindermusik International, posted about a study that I just love hearing about.

Because the brainstem offers a common pathway that processes music and speech, the study suggests that musical training conceivably could help children develop literacy skills and combat literacy disorders.

Read the article.
Skip the tutor. Forget the phonics. Ditch the drudgery.
Sing some songs. Play the piccolo. Come on and Contra (dance that is!)
It's more fun that way!
I'm singing and twirling!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Music is Everywhere, In my head in the air, in my kitchen!

How about your kitchen? Bathtub? Car?.....everywhere! That's where Young Child I students are looking this week. We will make a "found sound concerto" in class today!

In Village and Our Time I often will ask parents to imitate a sound vocally. Imitate your child's vocal explorations (Who's making all that noise?) and imitate sounds you hear in your environment(like the filling of the bath tub). Playing like this with sounds helps children to listen with intent because you are modeling it for them. (For children there's not much more important than what the parents are doing!)and it's affirming their own explorations since ....well, you noticed!!!! Doesn't it feel good to be noticed?

Seeing this little video brought back memories of my dad. He used to ALWAYS vocalize sounds he heard. Not just for little kids...he did it because he loved sounds. He would ask us as we got older "How do you think you would spell that?" It was fun to try to figure out letters for those funny sounds. My dad was a musician and a poet. Is it any wonder why all of his 7 children still love music?

Enjoy exploring with your ears.

Thanks Merri

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dancing is MATH

Kindermusik Village has a lot of dances in it. The babies love when the adults carry them facing in towards the circle. Oh, my! How they wriggle with delight when the circle takes four steps in and flies baby high then four steps out and down.....And they are working on the math of it all. Depth perception judgments for the eyes, figuring out the time it took to go in and out, to how the size of the person changed from large circle to stepping in to make the circle smaller....

In Our Time we dance:
Oh, Lukey's Boat is painted green. Aha! Me boys!
Oh, Lukey's boat is painted green the finest boat you've ever seen. Aha me riddle aye day!
These are auditory patterns that are stipes for the ears! a narrow stipe and a wide stripe (short phrase then long phrase). We repeat this over and over again.

In Imagine That! we are singing more stripes:
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la la la laa laa la la la la laa.
La la laa la la laa la la la la laa.
Step in, turn yourself around.
Step out, turn your self about.

The stipes look like this in my head: 4 similar red stripes then 2 matching blue stripes. Do it again!

In Young Child 1 we play a singing game called Rig a Jig. We are walking to the musical meter (the musical measuring stick for measuring time) that counts in 2's and we skip for the refrain's meter which counts in 6's.

In Young Child3 we dance to the folksy music of David Holt singing "Old Lady No Nose"
We're learning steps like do si do, peel the orange, swing your partner. We are measuring time and distance with musical phrases.

The children don't have to know the theory of it at this age but later they will find their brain has created places for understanding steady beat, time, distance, measuring, counting, estimating, predicting, patterns, repetition, momentum, and lots of other physics concepts.

This is good brain stuff. I'm glad you're in Kindermusik. For your kids sake. It makes them smart.

Some good dancing to be had at the Overisel Township Hall this Friday Sept. 21st at 7:30. It's my favorite: Contra Dancing. Great music. Great friendships. Great dancing. Do come. It's open to the public and beginners are VERY welcome. The callers will walk you through the dances and ....yes, you will have to think! And then you will say "Oh, Yes! Kindermusik is great brain work for our children!"

Everybody swing your partner!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Serving Suggestion!

The Holland Farmer's Market was in full harvest yesterday. The colors are spectacular. At the Boeve's stand, where I work there were big rainbow piles of sweet peppers, cauliflowers of white, orange, purple and green Italian cauliflower! Huge, dense cabbages (I sold one which weighed 9.99lbs for $1.25!), sweetest onions you've ever had, piles of tomatoes, bright green delicious broccoli.....

It was cold too! The change of seasons is coming through.

So I have lots of veggies in my kitchen right now. It takes time to make a meal when you start by chopping the vegetables instead of opening the plastic bag! Do we have time for this? Yes, we must! Here's my philosophy.

First cut up a red or orange pepper. (They are THE sweetest!) Arrange on a dish and leave on the counter. As the hungry children come by they nibble! Then Get out a second cutting board and knife and have them start chopping vegetables with you.

How young do you start them with this kind of work? As SOON as they are interested in dragging a chair over to the counter and standing on it begging to help. It does increase the time it takes to make the soup but this is an investment you will want to make. Because now when we are cutting and chopping we are also talking. It is a way of creating time and space for sharing what's on their minds and what's on your mind. It works well if you don't have an agenda...if the door to conversation is just open. Maybe you are just going to listen for a while. Maybe you are going to ask them open ended questions. Maybe you'll sing: "This is the way we chop the tomatoes..."

(Claire was watching some children here at the house and they helped us cut and chop a huge mound of peppers for salsa and for freezing last year. We all had great conversation. This year they came over ASKING "Do you have any vegetables we can chop?)

What happens when they grow up and everyone is so busy running from here to there that no two people are in the kitchen at same time? Well, yesterday I came home and the Moussaka was already made. And it was SO delicious. Who chopped for that? Not me! Thanks Claire.

Leek Soup
Clean and chop 2 leeks
Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a skillet
Saute the leeks until tender
Heat up 2 quarts of chicken broth
Peel and chop 5 potatoes
Chop 4 carrots
Simmer everything in the chicken broth until cooked (about 45 minutes)
Add 1/2 Cup of half and half
Grate in about 1/2 tsp. of fresh nutmeg
Shake in about 2 shakes of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

ARTS in the Holland Area

If you are reading this blog and you are from the Holland area I strongly encourage you to sign up for the Hope College email newsletter/arts calendar. Email Derek Emerson:
Tell him I sent you! Every week I get a great list of abundant art happenings for the area. For instance this weekend was
Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company, renowned for their powerful stage presence and high-energy style. This is the first in Hope College's series called the Great Performance Series. And the deal is the family ticket price! Go ahead and email to have the info sent to you. I so appreciate these reminder emails!

And by the way, the Vienna Boys Choir is coming too. Have you ever heard angel voices? Don't let this one pass you by.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Do you LIVE in your living room?

Once when Claire was about 2 she discovered the scissors. Luckily the newspaper was nearby...actually right in the heavily used walkway going into the living room. She worked for almost 2 hours singing and cutting the paper into tiny pieces. (How long is a child's attention span?) (How happy was I for two hours to do things on my agenda?) She was getting very accomplished with those scissors and I was so proud of her new skills!

She was an absolute gray mess!!!! And the living room, already quite lived in, was a disaster. As my friend, Jody would say: "Signs of a struggle!"

Well actually, signs of LIFE. And for that I am grateful.
Today Claire who is 17 is very dexterous, making many things with her hands from her beautiful lampwork glass bead earrings to beautiful violin music.

In Kindermusik Our Time we begin working with our hands and fingers while we singing "If You're Happy and You Know It". Time for children to explore their little hands and the many things we can do with them! They look so intently at their hands and you can almost see them thinking: "So THESE are thumbs!"

So when you find life in your living room remember this:

A House Becomes a Home When You Can Write "I love You" On the Furniture

Life is short. Enjoy it! Dust if you must, but wouldn't it be better to paint a picture or write a letter, bake a cake or plant a seed, ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there's not much time, with rivers to swim and mountains to climb, music to hear and books to read, friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world's out there with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, a flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind, old age will come and it's not kind. And when you go- and go you must- you, yourself will make more dust!

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.
author unknown
Peace, Yvette

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Caught You Blinking!

Didn’t I tell you!? Don’t blink! They will be grown up before you know it. Parenting takes us into an amazing dimension of time. With an infant 10 minutes is an eternity.... and 6 months is a blink of the eye! Now my first born (my first Kindermusik graduate!) I’ve sent off for his second year in college! And my second is in the midst of the college search asking "How far can I go?" I was sure my children would never get to the teenage years (much less get through them!) and that this letting go time would never, never come to pass. I was determined not to blink! Now I blink for the tears! Tears of sadness and tears of proud joy.

Sure as the sun comes up day after day we can’t do anything about the speed of light!

Here’s a story I love. My mother told it to us often during our growing up years. I don’t know the origin, maybe someone can tell me! I love the truth in it and I believe it has made a great impact on how I approach children in my teaching and in my parenting.

Read it to your children, and listen carefully.

Once upon a time the wind and the sun were having an argument. The wind huffed and puffed and proclaimed to be mightier than the sun.

The sun proposed a contest to settle the argument. “Do you see that man down there on the path? We will see who can get his coat off.”

The wind, seeing an easy contest, boisterously said, “I’ll go first!” With that the sun hid behind the clouds and the wind began the contest. He blew and blew. The man below felt the cool air and buttoned up his coat. The wind whirled a mighty gust and the man clutched his coat tighter. Harder and harder the wind blew nearly knocking over the man and tighter and tighter he pulled his coat around him.

Finally the wind gave up. Exhausted, he said to the sun “You try. That man is so stubborn.”

The sun grinned from ear to ear and came out from behind the cloud beaming brightly. “Oh, how warm it has become” thought the man as he dropped his arms by his sides. A minute more of the bright warmth and the man unbuttoned his coat then slipped it off.

The wise "sun" finds a way to convince the man to choose to take his coat off.

Parenting and teaching can’t always be so simplified, I know. But in general, choose your battles wisely and approach with a level head. Breathe out and bring out the empathy and warmth. We all know this intellectually but the emotions are often the stumbling block. My greatest challenge has been choosing a path different than my own parents. Their ways are deeply embedded in our hearts and though we may want to try a different approach, when we are under stress and emotionally charged the old way presents itself with a mighty gust.

If you are looking for great books to deepen parenting wisdom, look for these (my all time favorites):

Reading list:

The Out of Sync Child, Carol Kranowitz, 1998

Smart Moves, Carla Hannaford, 1995

Baby Teacher, Rebecca Shore, 2000

Punish By Rewards, Alfie Kohn, 1995

Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kircinka, 1991

Life Enriching Education, Marshall B. Rosenberg, 2002

A General Theory of Love, Thomas Lewis

Conscious Discipline, Becky Bailey

Love and peace,

Yvette Odell, M.M.E., director

Kindermusik of Holland

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” A. Einstein

Sunday, September 2, 2007

When Should You Enroll Your Baby In Kindermusik?

How young is too young? If that's your question I think you will enjoy reading this entry from Eliott's mom. Eliott fell asleep in the middle of most classes but I know he still got an infinite amount of goodness from his experience in the summer class.....

His mom writes:

I had always planned on getting Eliott involved in Kindermusik eventually. I thought I would have to wait until he was 6 months old just like everything else that is fun for parents and their babies. I was happy to find a class to take with my 2 month old. I was surprised to learn that Kindermusik is more than the songs. The music is just one of the tools for building up my son's brain and strengthening our bond. There are so many opportunities around every day life we take for granted to teach our little ones. Things that I had at one time done begrudgingly with my baby, I now do happily. I love opening junk mail! Eliott likes the feel of the envelopes on his hands and to see the colors and the sound of the crackling paper. Putting away laundry is FUN! I unload the dryer and my son gets a laundry basket train trip from the laundry room to where ever I need to put away the laundry. Then we have a fun game of peek-a-boo with the clothes as we identify the colors, textures, and what body part they cover. Doing the dishes is fun too! There are lots if musical instruments in the kitchen.

I love all of the silly songs and dances because it is fun and it is laying the foundation for reading and math. There is a good sound rational explanation for every silly move and song. I love all of the little extra tid bits of information worked into the classes. I love the socialization aspects of the class too. It makes me feel good to know my son is going to know how to greet a friend and to respect boundaries and structure.

.... Eliott really is a good happy boy! I hope he lets you see more of that in the next round of classes!

Thanks again!
Kate (Eliott's Mom)

And the DEAL is still on: For babies 5 months and younger you can register for 5 weeks tuition free. Don't wait for them to grow up any more!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Take Time

"Bearing and raising children is not some pesky, peripheral activity we engage in, but the whole point."
Ann Crittendon
The Price of Motherhood

Keep that one on your fridge.

Take time. Look into their eyes. Come sing and dance like it's heaven on earth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


While other popular activities like dance, gymnastics and soccer do provide certain benefits, only participation in Kindermusik promises more life-impacting growth in all areas of your child’s development – including cognitive, physical, emotional, language and social development – for now and for life!

Activity Benefits


Dance / Gymnastics

Organized Sports

Helps develop social skills through group interaction

Provides for physical development

Gives parents a chance to socialize

Builds self-esteem

Prepares Child for possible future as an athlete

Prepares Child for a future dance career

Leads a child toward a lifetime of joyful music-making

Provides a flexible, but structured routine

Enhances brain development for other skills like spatial and complex reasoning, listening, and reading

Allows a child to creatively express and explore individual strengths with art, vocal, dance, and instrumental activities

Improves memory and the ability to learn new information

Develops a child’s language and auditory skills

Is process, not performance, based

Supports the home as the most important environment for learning

At Home Materials make the weekly experience live at home again and again

Compiled by Theresa Case, M.Ed.

Thanks Theresa!