Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's all about the Roman Numeral: L

speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes

seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure

share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair

let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.

For poise

walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored,renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;never throw out anyone.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand

you will find one at the end of each of your arms.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;

one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.
Thanks: Molly McGinn
I say it's all about the Roman numeral L because it was a significant birthday for me. :-) So as I age I'm keeping in mind Audrey Hepburn's tips!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


"Television will never be a serious competition for the radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued to the screen. The average American family doesn't have time for it."
New York Times at the 1939 World's Fair

Turn it off. Live it up!
TV-Turn off Celebration
Thursday April 26, 2007
Dow Center Hope College 13th and Columbia Ave. Holland
To register call the City of Holland 616-355-1130

The fun events include
Kindermusik of Holland
Indoor bowling
Birds of Prey
Children's arts and games
Story times
activities for adults too!

Television cuts into family time, harms our children's ability to read and succeed in school, and contributes to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity. Here are just a few of the facts:
On average, children in the US will spend more time in front of the television (1,023 hours) than in school this year (900 hours).
Forty percent of Americans frequently or always watch television during dinner.
As US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher said at the Kick Off of TV-Turnoff Week 2001, "We are raising the most overweight generation of youngsters in American history...This week is about saving lives."

1) Television Eats Your Time
The average U.S. adult watches more than 4 hours of television a day. That's 25 percent of waking time spent every day. Imagine if you suddenly had 25 percent more time (More time for Kindermusik).
2) Television Makes You Stressed (The blinking screen of the TV causes us to produce cortisol, the stress hormone.) (Try Kindermusik rocking songs instead!)
3) Television Makes You Overweight
People eat between 31 and 74 percent more calories while watching TV. (Time to dance High and Low to your KindermusiK CDs.)
4) Television Make You Uninteresting
Many people have whole conversations that are recaps of TV programs, sporting events and sitcoms. When asked about their real lives, there is little or nothing to report and no stories to tell (except the TV shows they have watched). (I love those real life stories of your children dancing the syncopated rhythms from their Kindermusik Village class.)
5)Television Ruins Your Relationships
A television is turned on an average of 7 hours and 40 minutes per day in many U.S. households. With the TV on that much, there is little time for you and your significant other or children to spend time together, share experiences, and develop deeper relationships.
Sitting together and watching TV does not grow a relationship. Turn that TV off and find something to do together. (Sign up for a Kindermusik Adventure Summer class:
6)Television is Not Relaxation (Give your child a massage while you sing a lullaby, enjoy that eye to eye contact! Then do those fun Knee bounces like we do in Kindermusik. Remember if they get a good belly laugh their bodies will produce a day and a half of extra white blood cells. That's for boosting imunities....)
7) Television Loses Opportunities (You sit in front of the TV and before you know it your children will be walking out the door--grown up and gone. Quick, go in the kitchen and do "All ARound the Kitchen Cockadoodle Doo! with all the pots and pans...need more ideas? Look in your Kindermusik Family activity books.)
8) Television is Addictive. Do you schedule things around your favorite shows? (People first. Have a conversation instead. Ask your little one what they did in Kindermusik today.)
9) Television Makes You Buy Things
By age 65, the average American has seen 2 million commercials. (I can't advertise Kindermusik on TV anyway. Let's make live music instead. See you in class.)
10) Television Costs Money (Save that money and keep your kids in Kindermusik and music lessons. Kindermusik.....a good beginning that never ends.)

What about me? We got rid of our TV. Completely. When the AT&T telemarketer called to find out why we have phone service, internet service but no cable he was completely shocked when I told him it was because we don't own a TV. After a prolonged moment of silence he asked "Well, what do you DO?" My daughter was listening in and shouting "WE READ, WE READ!!!" Can you imagine that!

You can do it to. At least for one week.



Thanks to Mark Stibich, PhD and the website: for 10 TV consequences and the quote from the top.

Music and the Brain

For all you parents investing in Kindermusik here's some affirmation! More and more experts and research indicates that music experiences early in childhood has very positive effects on children's brains. Here's an article from Canada's media. The photos did not come through so you will surely enjoy photos of children from Kindermusik of Holland instead!

Music's Notable Nurturing
Early exposure is linked to staggering brain development -- but for kids, it's just pure fun
COLIN HUNTER, Reporter for the KW Record, Kitchener, ON
Ten-month-old Lily Baker, who has Down syndrome, delights in a Kindermusik class in Cambridge with her father, Nathan. Her parents hope it helps her language skills.

CAMBRIDGE (Apr 14, 2007) -- Grace Baker toddles to the front of the room, picks up a wooden mallet and begins to play. Ting. Ting. Ting . . . She gently, rhythmically strikes a metal tone bar -- similar to a single note of a xylophone -- in beat with the song, Sweetly Sings the Donkey. Around her, a dozen parents and a Kindermusik instructor sing the lyrics while fellow toddlers wait their turns to play the tone bar. Two-year-old Grace taps the final ting, squeals with glee and scrambles into the waiting arms of her mother, Jane.

"Did you hear that steady beat?" Kindermusik teacher Hannah Hastings-Fuhr asks the parents. "At this age, it's remarkable for them to be able to accompany music like that. It's a way for us to discover their internal beat."

Grace, of course, doesn't know or care about her internal beat. Nor does she have a clue about the mountain of scientific research that indicates early exposure to music is helping her cognitive, motor and social development. But that's why her parents, Jane and Nathan Baker of Cambridge, enrolled her in Kindermusik when she was just four months old.

The Kindermusik method, which is taught by thousands of licensed instructors around the world, focuses on music and movement as fundamental factors in early childhood development.

"I think Grace's communication is amazing because of it," Jane says. "At two and a half she's singing songs, speaking full sentences. For her, it has definitely done a good job."
Grace's 10-month-old sister Lily, who has Down syndrome, is now enrolled in weekly Kindermusik classes too. "I'm looking for language and communication skills," her mother says. "I'm hoping that, by singing to her a lot, and by her seeing the movement of my mouth and sound of my voice, it will help her to learn to speak sooner and more."

Apart from any developmental benefits the program may have, Jane sees a more immediate payoff. The kids love it. If Lily is crying in her crib, a CD of Kindermusik songs invariably settles her. And as soon as Grace notices that her mother is pulling into the driveway of Kindermusik's Sheldon Drive building in Cambridge each week, she squeals "music!" and claps her hands. "They're so happy when they're here," the mother says, "and I've seen both of them grow with it."
For parents wondering when they should introduce their child to music, Prof. Lee Willingham, coordinator of the music education program at Wilfrid Laurier University, has a quick and easy answer: "There is no wrong time, except too late."

Perhaps just as important, he is father to twin girls -- "three-year-old guinea pigs we do musical experiments on," as he puts it. Three or four times a week, Willingham and his daughters, along with mother Eva Mezo, have "music time" -- an hour or so to play rhythmic games like patty-cake and sing simple songs. For the girls, Leah and Nora, it's pure fun. For Willingham, it's science at work. "It's amazing that a child's brain seems to be hard-wired to respond to music," he says. "You don't have to infuse kids with music -- it's already there, waiting to be awakened."
Willingham says there has been a flood of public and scientific interest in the cognitive benefits of music since the Mozart effect became widely known in the late 1990s.
Though the Mozart effect itself refers to a study in which university-aged students seemed to fare better on spatial-reasoning tests after listening to Mozart, many studies followed, examining more specifically the effects of music on children.
Music, combined with rhythmic motion (especially playing two-handed instruments such as guitar and piano), has been shown to aid development of the corpus callosum, the connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. "I find this pretty staggering," Willingham says. Other studies have shown links between playing simple instruments at an early age and development of spatial reasoning and language skills.
Researchers at Hamilton's McMaster University recently used magnetoencephalography brain-scanning technology to determine that children aged four to six who took music lessons showed more changes in brain activity than those who did not. Even the act of bouncing babies to the rhythm of music has been shown to help children compartmentalize and make sense of the world around them.

"I think we have enough evidence to say that a child who doesn't get music is being deprived -- I will say that boldly and unapologetically," Willingham says.

Though experts unanimously agree exposing children to music is beneficial, opinions vary on how it's best done. The Suzuki method, taught at the Suzuki String School in Guelph, emphasizes building performance skills on an instrument such as violin or piano through a nurturing lesson style. Programs like Musikgarten and Kindermusik emphasize singing, dancing and playing to help children grow mentally and emotionally. Other methods, such as Orff and Kodaly, focus on ways children can experience music in specialized sensory, regimented or improvisational ways.

The number of options might seem overwhelming to parents, but it needn't, says Bill Labron, director of the Beckett School in Kitchener. The school's Early Childhood Music program uses a blend of a number of different teaching styles -- including Orff, Eurythmics and Dalcroze -- to introduce children as young as three to music. "At that age, they can learn to carry a tune and develop a sense of rhythm," Labron says. "It provides physical, emotional and mental stimulation. If people can make that investment in their kids, the benefits are wonderful."

Emily Matin, 9, plays a 2-string dulcimer, an instrument she built herself in a Kindermusik class. Emily is a graduate of the Kindermusik program, which she started when she was 18 months old. Her parents say music has helped develop her intellect and self-esteem.
Emily Matin clambers onto the piano bench, opens the book of sheet music and takes a deep breath. The audience waits in silent anticipation. Then she plays Boogie Number One, a simple 12-bar blues standard that would sound familiar to anyone who ever took piano lessons as a kid. Nine-year-old Emily is no child prodigy. She flubs a couple of notes, but shrugs, giggles and soldiers on. Her parents, Ed and Lesley Matin, couldn't be happier.
When they enrolled Emily in Kindermusik in Guelph as a toddler, they had no illusions of molding her into the world's next great concert pianist. They simply wanted her to be immersed in music, to develop a love for it and reap all the benefits it can bring. It worked. Now too old for Kindermusik, Emily takes private piano lessons -- not because she has to, but because she wants to. "We don't have to badger her about playing piano," her father says. "She gets up in the morning before school to play piano. And she's playing for the fun of it, to relax after school."

Her parents say the benefits of music have been immeasurable. "Music has really helped with her self-confidence," her mother says. Once painfully shy, Emily has become more outgoing, even playing a duet with a friend in her Grade 1 talent show. She gets straight As at school and has a creative streak -- thanks largely, her parents say, to music.

Michelle Jacques, director of Kindermusik of Cambridge/KW, calls Emily's progress "a miracle in itself. She wouldn't play for anyone at first, she was so shy. The fact that she'll play for everyone now is just fantastic."

Emily herself doesn't like to boast. When she finishes playing Boogie Number One, she sums up her love of playing music like this: "It's really fun, and it makes a pretty sound."
The right time to introduce children to more complex instruments depends on age, size and maturity of the child.
"With guitar, we usually say the child should be about nine, because of the ability and motor skills needed to reach the chords," says Cathy King of Kitchener's Circadian School of Music. The best plan, King says, is for the parent and child to work together in choosing the instrument that is the most appropriate and fun at the time.
"The earlier they're introduced to music, the more they can be creative and risk-takers -- they'll experiment and learn more." Source: Music With The Brain In Mind, by Eric Jensen.

TIMELINE: Children and Music
Studies have shown that fetuses respond to sounds and music in utero, though there is little evidence of positive cognitive response. Avoid loud music.
Newborns and premature babies studied at a Florida hospital in the early 1990s tended to have shorter hospital stays and reached an ideal weight faster when played lullabies.
Five-month-old babies can discriminate between musical notes only a semi-tone apart in pitch.
In the first two years, children should be introduced to clapping, rhythm, dancing and simple rhythm instruments such as bells.

Between ages two and three, they should be encouraged to clap and drum along with recorded music.
A early as three, the child's brain can distinguish notes.
By four, the brain is developed enough for rhythm games.
Music With the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen (Corwin Press, 2000).
Good Music, Brighter Children, by Sharlene Habermeyer (Prima Lifestyles, 1999).
Nurtured by Love, by Shinichi Suzuki (Suzuki Method International, 1989).
Raising Musical Kids, by Robert Cutietta (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Kindling the Spark: Recognizing and Developing Musical Talent, by Joanne Haroutounian. (Oxford University Press, 2002).
Thanks to Michelle!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Holland Symphony Concert

Announcing the concluding concert of the 2006-2007 season of the

Holland Symphony Orchestra

this coming Saturday, April 21st. Help us bid farewell to Morihiko after his tenure of six years at the artistic helm of the orchestra.
DATE: Saturday, April 21, 2007
TIME: 7:30pm Concert
7:00pm Pre-concert Talk by
Music Director Morihiko Nakahara
Short presentation following concert
Reception in concert lobby following
LOCATION: Zeeland East High School
Riley at State Street, 3333 96th Avenue, Zeeland
TICKETS:: $17 Adults, $14 Seniors, $5 Students through college. Tickets available at Symphony office by credit card (616-494-0256), Arts Council desk (150 E. 8th Street, Holland) and at the door.
FAREWELL RECEPTION following the concert in the lobby with food from Morihiko's favorite Holland restaurant....Unkh's Restaurant, 332 E. Lakewood, Holland! Please join us and wish Morihiko well in his promising career!

Holland Symphony Orchestra Events:

You're Invited to Morihiko's Farewell Concert! Coffee at JP's - Meet and Greet Morihiko Join us to give your own personal wishes to Morihiko as we share a "Mocha-hiko" at JP's Coffee & Espresso Bar on 8th Street in downtown Holland from 10am to noon Saturday, April 21st. Donations to the Symphony will be received all day at JP's when you purchase this special coffee of the day in Morihiko's honor! Did we tell you Morihiko is a coffee adict? (We have to limit his consumption to the morning so the tempos of the concert don't get too fast!)

For Next Season:
Save $10 per ticket over regular season ticket prices!
Early Bird Season Ticket Offer:
$65 Adult
$55 Senior
Offer Expires: May 1, 2007
Holland Symphony Orchestra P.O. Box 2685 150 E. 8th Street Holland MI 49422-2685

Friday, April 13, 2007

A child never gives the wrong answer. They simply are answering a different question. ~unknown

My personal quest as someone who is priveledged to be surrounded by children in my work is to try, every moment, to see from their perspective. To try to figure out the question! Only then can we build scaffolding to grow their understanding.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wish I had a parenting manual.

Did you know that right before a baby figures out how to walk (at about 11 months old), her brain sprouts tons of new neural connections in her prefrontal lobes. Her brain is getting ready for all the exploring she will do on this new level! Shortly after there's a natural pruning that happens which clears away the excess connections that aren't being used. We seem to cringe when we hear that because I think we see potential that won't actualize. But the brain needs to streamline and get better at what we're good at rather than having too many irons in the fire....

But what I've read recently sheds new light on parenting and your baby's potential at this exciting stage of development. The prefrontal lobes is the part of the brain responsible for problem solving and creativity as opposed to the limbic system and the hind brain which take care of emotions and body functions (heart rate, breathing, digestion, aggression, etc). The limbic system is responsible for the decision to send an experience to the prefrontal lobes for thoughtful consideration OR back to the hind brain for fast action and survival. Consider this: How we discipline this toddler sets her up for how her brain will best handle situations that present themselves to her.

The average toddler hears NO!!! or receives a stern look or swat about every 9 minutes of their waking day. Those particular adult reactions to toddler behavior sends the toddler's hind brain into action. The prefrontal lobes do not get enough practice. Those new neural connections aren't being used much.

How can you say NO! without saying no? You know, when my babies were little I prayed everyday for creativity and patience. Some days I worried God left me all alone to deal with parenting! It's such hard work.

Here's some suggestions on saying NO without saying no.

Tell the child what TO do.
Get the child’s attention before communicating, touch them on the shoulder or hand...
Say the child’s name.
Use a gesture, move so you get into her visual field.
Show him an object or other visual cue to get him to look at you.
Help them know what TO do.
Using your singing voice calms you and the child.
Use a prompt, hand him a tissue instead of saying “Don’t wipe your nose on your sleeve.”
Use a gesture. Gestures can guide her to appropriate behavior. Point to the coat hookinstead of “Don’t drop your coat on the floor.”
Model what you want
Offer “Let’s do it together.” That can encourage children to do things with more enthusiasm.
Call attention to the “problem”.
Say “Oh, oh” “Oops!” “Look!” Then point to what needs to be done.
Look right at his face and clearly state what you want the student to do.
Take a deep breath..... and exhale.
Save NO! for emergencies! You'll need something strong then.

And parents, take care of yourself because it's a lot easier if you're not exhausted, hungry, stressed out....etc, etc! Your baby NEEDS a happy mom and a happy dad.
Thanks Lori B. for your post on alternatives to saying NO.
The part about the brain I got from a great author Joseph Chilton Pearce who wrote The Magical Child and The Biology of Transcendence.
I know just enough about the brain to get me in trouble...some day.... I dream about being a neuroscientist! ...and a cellist....and.....

Do you think that it will ever really be spring? I just can't believe we had a snow day today!
I'm envisioning summer.....And Summer Kindermusik Adventures! It will be the perfect weather for our adventure. Sign up:

The 2007 Challenge of Children Conference will be held onThursday, May 17, 2007at Hope College, Holland, MI.
This free parenting conference is a community effort among Allegan, Ottawa, and Muskegon County Health and Human Service Organizations. It's a popular conference so register right away!
Check the line up of presentors. You'll find your two favorite Kindermusik teachers are presenting!! Darcy Logan is doing a session on using sign language with your children and Yvette Odell is presenting a session on the involvement of music in the development of your baby's brain.
See you there!