Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Anne!!!

Pablo Casals, the great spanish cellist, wrote these beautiful and profound words:

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe,
A moment that never was before and never will be again.
And what do we teach our children in school?
We teach them that two and two make four
And that Paris is the capital of France.
When will we also teach them what they are?
We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel. You are unique.
In all of the world there is no other child exactly like you.
In the millions of years that have passed, there has never been a child like you.
And look at your body- what a wonder it is!
Your legs, your arms, your cunning fingers, the way you move!
You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything.
Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel?
You must cherish one another
We must all work-
To make this world worthy of its children.

Casals, mostly known for his fascinating cello playing, was also a conductor. He performed many concerts and recorded many recordings, possibly the best known being his performance of the Bach Cello Suites.

El canto de los pájaros

Dear Anne, I celebrate you today. Thank you for being who you are and teaching me so much. Love, your mom!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Music’s Top Ten Benefits for Parents

I can hardly keep up with the media reports on why music is the BEST CHOICE you can make for your child!!!

This afternoon Anne, my daughter who will be 11 this Tuesday, who never wears matching socks....took me to Meyer Music to get her new cello...She's out grown her 3/4 sized one and now it's time to look at owning one! " That's a lot of money", she said. Wow, no kidding!!! Lessons, camps, music books, CDs, concerts, orchestra tuitions, fees, etc,etc,etc... But I told her this is my investment in your college fund! I am investing in your mind!!! Believe me we give up a lot to be able to make these "deposits" but I have no regrets. Read these:

1. In a 2000 survey, 73 percent of respondents agree that teens who play an instrument are less likely to have discipline problems.- Americans Love Making Music – And Value Music Education More Highly Than Ever, American Music Conference, 2000.
2. Students who can perform complex rhythms can also make faster and more precise corrections in many academic and physical situations, according to the Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills- Rhythm seen as key to music’s evolutionary role in human intellectual development, Center for Timing, Coordination, and Motor Skills, 2000.
3. A ten-year study indicates that students who study music achieve higher test scores, regardless of socioeconomic background.- Dr. James Catterall, UCLA.
4. A 1997 study of elementary students in an arts-based program concluded that students’ math test scores rose as their time in arts education classes increased.- “Arts Exposure and Class Performance,” Phi Delta Kappan, October, 1998.
5. First-grade students who had daily music instruction scored higher on creativity tests than a control group without music instruction.- K.L. Wolff, The Effects of General Music Education on the Academeic Achievement, Perceptual-Motor Development, Creative Thinking, and School Attendance of First-Grade Children, 1992.
6. In a Scottish study, one group of elementary students received musical training, while another other group received an equal amount of discussion skills training. After six (6) months, the students in the music group achieved a significant increase in reading test scores, while the reading test scores of the discussion skills group did not change.- Sheila Douglas and Peter Willatts, Journal of Research in Reading, 1994.
7. According to a 1991 study, students in schools with arts-focused curriculums reported significantly more positive perceptions about their academic abilities than students in a comparison group.- Pamela Aschbacher and Joan Herman, The Humanitas Program Evaluation, 1991.
8. Students who are rhythmically skilled also tend to better plan, sequence, and coordinate actions in their daily lives.- “Cassily Column,” TCAMS Professional Resource Center, 2000.
9. In a 1999 Columbia University study, students in the arts are found to be more cooperative with teachers and peers, more self-confident, and better able to express their ideas. These benefits exist across socioeconomic levels.- The Arts Education Partnership, 1999.
10. College admissions officers continue to cite participation in music as an important factor in making admissions decisions. They claim that music participation demonstrates time management, creativity, expression, and open-mindedness.- Carl Hartman, “Arts May Improve Students’ Grades,” The Associated Press, October, 1999.

Kindermusik is a good beginning that never ends......Keep it up with summer adventures:
(did I tell you my college son Ben got a 99% on his calculus exam? I'm beaming!)
Tips to Lori Burkhart

Jump for Joy, Jing Jang!

Don't you just love the toddler jumping with such intensity....they can't get both feet off the floor at once! It's a precious moment. Then you've forgotten that precious moment because they've grown and are bouncing off the floor, walls, and ceiling.

Jumping increases bone density...I'd heard about a school in Washington requiring the entire student body to do a certain amount of jumping every day! It also gives you deep pressure to you joints and spine....Please note that when jumping it's most effective if they jump all the way to the heels rather than the toes. The toe jumpers or toe walkers give the pressure to their foot rather than joints. Pressure for their joints gives them information about their body...like where their body begins and ends. It also uses up the stress hormones, so it can calm and focus children if they jump (with their hands on their head) all the way to their heels.

Just today I read about a different study on children jumping! Look!

“In a recent study, 4 to 6 year olds in a music and movement program showed more growth in motor skills than those in a standard physical education program. ... [Researchers] placed 50 children in an experimental music and movement program, and 42 in a traditional physical education program. After 8 weeks, the experimental group had improved significantly in both jumping and dynamic balance skills when compared to their peers in the traditional program.”Early Childhood Research Quarterly (Vol. 19, Issue #4, 2004).

Now, why would that be? We don't have as a Kindermusik class behavior objective to improve jumping skills? I would say a gymnastic class might actually have that objective. Hmmm. Back to the brain books I go to dig for an answer! But in the mean time....we sing: Jump for Joy, Jing Jang...and Jump 'Round the Mountain Todeediddleum....
Wait till next week when we jump like frogs!!!!(oh, my poor adult knees.)
:-) Thanks Molly, I can't believe the timing!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kevin Crawford playing the tin whistle live!

I thought about changing my name today like so many of the other annually Irish.
Luck of the Irish be with you today and everyday!
Yvette O'Odell

Kevin Crawford playing the tin whistle live!

I thought about changing my name today like so many of the other annually Irish.
Luck of the Irish be with you today and everyday!
Yvette O'Odell


What is empathy? Is it something we are born with? Why do some people seem to be more empathic than others?

Empathy is uniquely human. It's a skill we must learn. It means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

Every person's every action is coming from the desire to know or be known. Empathy assures them that you do know.

It's different from sympathy, that's when you cry if they cry! It's different from compassion, that's when you are moved to action, to help.

A mother's empathy may look something like this: The 5 year old at the grocery store passionately, tearfully pleads for the Easter candy. Mom gets eye to eye and says, "Honey, they look so yummy! You really want that pink bag full of chocolates, don't you?" That might be the beginning. Who knows where the conversation will turn from there. But the child sees and hears that mom did indeed hear her and understands why she's upset. Empathy does not mean you'll buy the chocolates!

In this case all mom did was , with eye to eye contact, simply describe what she saw and heard. If she was wrong the child would have hollered out the correction, "My foot is stuck in the shopping cart!" or what ever, until you get to the bottom of the source of wimpering and crying. But if she was right, then the child would either go on to something else or try to convince you that she would indeed perish if she didn't get those chocolates. (She may truly believe that!) The eye to eye contact is important because it means all my attention is for you right now. That's convincing.

So how does one learn empathy? Thomas Lewis' book A General Theory of Love suggests that eye to eye contact is our primary way of learning empathy.

What does a mother do instinctively with a new born....gaze lovingly into their baby's blue eyes! Add some loving touch, mom's soothing voice, gentle rocking....all perfect ingredients for learning empathy. A baby who's bond with the primary caregiver contains these elements will actually have a bigger amydala. That's the emotional center of the brain. It's where the decision is made to either fall back into the primitive brain and react to a situation with the hormones of cortisol and adrenaline (fight, flight, freeze) OR it will decide to send you forward into the frontal lobes where you will deal with the situation with creativity!

Thomas Lewis said at a conference that I attended in Chicago the summer after the Columbine incident, that empathy was missing in children who could commit such an incredible act. His perscription for any teen was so simple that his message was often met with a cold response. He said it's not too late and you can deal with it without medical intervention. Required: minimum of 5 meals a week sitting at the table with all electronic devices disabled. Converse in this setting. You don't need to talk about "important things" like grades or peers, etc., but just talk and parents look your children in the eye.

It's harder to begin this with a teenager. Kindermusik families are doing it now while the brain has the most potential. Keep it up. You won't regret it.
Peace and love,
ps Maybe I only know enough about how the brain works to get me in trouble. I welcome anyone who would set my details straight. But I will say it has served me very well with my children and in my teaching of many, many children!!!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Summer Adventures

Let's plan our summer fun:
Creatures In My Backyard (1 ½ to 3 ½)$80
June 18-22 at 10am One week/5 classes
Heather Honeck

Busy Days (newborn to 1 ½) $71
July 10, 17, 24, 31 Tuesdays 7pm
Or July 11, 18, 25, Aug. 1 Wednesdays 10:15
Darcy Logan

Let’s Play (1 ½ to 3 ½+) $51
July 10, 17, 24, 31 Tuesdays 6pm
Or July 11, 18, 25, Aug. 1 Wednesdays 11:15
Darcy Logan

Under the Rainbow (4 to 7+)$51
July 11, 18, 25, Aug. 1 Wednesdays 9:15
Darcy Logan

Family Time (up to 8+)
Aug.2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Thursdays 9:30
Team: Heather Honeck, Certified Speech-Language Pathologist
And Yvette Odell

Sign and Sing (6months-3 yrs.) $80
Aug.2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Thursdays 10:30
Team: Heather Honeck, Certified Speech-Language Pathologist
And Yvette Odell

America the Musical (7-10+)$70
Aug. 6-10 everyday 2-3:15
Bring your recorder and your Uke
Yvette Odell

Full descriptions and registration
on line

Call: 616-392-7182

Studio located at Lakewood and Waverly: Lakeway Plaza

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rossini - William Tell overture (Part 2)

SO MUCH FUN! Listen to this clip to get your ears ready for this:
FAMILY CONCERT "Orchestra Games" Holland Symphony Orchestra with 2007 Norbert Mueller Concerto Competition Winner Blaine Sims, March 18, 2007 – 3:00 pm at West Ottawa Performing Arts Center. You'll hear R. Strauss: Introduction to Also Sprach Zarathustra,Gregory Smith: The Orchestra Games,Rossini: Finale from Overture to William Tell
Holland Symphony musicians get into the spirit of friendly competition and “instrumental” pride in Smith’s fun and creative The Orchestra Games - a perfect way for young, and young-at-heart, to learn about the amazing array of instruments and personalities that make up our orchestra! “Let the Games Begin!”

This is a perfect concert for Kindermusik Kids. Make your plans now! Children do not need tickets but adults do ($17). Also you'll want to bring the children early (2pm)for the instrument "petting zoo", conducting station, make an instrument, and more.
Look for me! I'll be doing the instrument making project!
See you there!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Here's a favorite quote of mine:
“Movement is a universal, full-time, personal, childhood occupation, and its importance in children’s early learning experiences cannot be overemphasized…Children develop movement in space to understand position, size, distance, and shape. Continuous activity…is essential for an optimal rather than a marginal level of motor performance.”
Moving and Learning for the Young Child by William J. Stinson, Ed.

I just love that! And I see it all the time with the children I work with. Did you know that we develop a specific body movement for every sound of our language while we were listening to our mothers as we were in utero? Researchers have videoed babies doing a beautifully choreographed movement sequenced according to the words first heard moments after they were born....they repeated and repeated the words and those babies repeated and repeated their movements! We as adults still hold those electrical impulses in our muscles every time we hear words...though we don't execute the movement anymore.

We must move to learn. As adults we must at least move our eyes! But children depend on full body involvement: Kinesthetic experience.

A few years ago I attended a workshop in Kalamazoo for school educators. Carol Kranowitz was the keynote speaker. She has written The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun. Her career began as a kindergarden teacher. When her students moved on to the 1st grade their teachers were amazed at their dexterity with markers, scissors, etc. They asked for her secret....NO big secret, she said, we just get the children outside moving everyday, rain or shine. The key is that children need opportunity to learn control over their core muscles (their torso) before they can begin to work on arms and legs....and then they need to learn control of their arms and legs before beginning to manipulate the finer muscles of the fingers.

A baby first learns to roll over (core muscles) then crawl (arms and legs) then comes the pincer grasp of picking up Cheerios....(fine motor movement). But that doesn't mean they are done! That's just a glimpse of the progression. And also an clue that one feathers into the next. It is still important for a 3 year old to roll down hills or.... in Kindermusik! Try squirming like a worm! What good hard WORK!!! Still important for children of this age to be crawling! (We were so glad to have them out of that stage, weren't we!) If your child is still akward with the scissors and markers, go crawl and roll and squirm!

This illustrates learning to control movement but what about moving to learn? What about the woman who went back to school and took complicated chemistry classes, aceing them without taking notes? She was knitting!

And what about Vincent in my Kindermusik Young Child class years ago who used to spend most of the time upside down spinning around? His mom was struggling during family time when it sure looked as if he was nowhere near "Paying attention"! Yet when I asked who was the composer we had talked about Vince pipes up with no hesitation "Bach". No matter the question this guy KNEW it. I did not have it in my heart to ask him to sit still!!!

Movement is a universal, full time occupation. Let them dance. And dance we do in Kindermusik!