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!