Keep it simple. Children cannot discriminate through a lot of different sounds. A lot of loud, synthesized, music is very difficult for young children to process. I just discovered Justin Roberts, and, so far, he gets a thumbs up!
But, don’t be afraid to pass on your own musical heritage! If you love U2, Taylor Swift or Tim McGraw, your children will associate that with you, and hearing that music later will connect them to you. Just, no Miley for a while, ok?
The most important thing, though, is for your children to see you enjoying music. So relax! Enjoy some tunes together!
Sometimes, in the baby class, it can feel like we repeat activities and songs SO MANY TIMES!!
This is on purpose. Babies learn through repetition! When an adult hears something new, it is generally pretty easy for us to figure out what is going on. We take cues from our past or our environment and interpret what is around us.
Babies don’t have that context for new activities, though! It may take them 3 repetitions of a song before they even realize something new is going on. Then it may take another 3 before they decide if it is fun or not. THEN, once they decide it is pretty fun, it takes another 3 or 4 times before they can recognize the pattern and anticipate what is coming. It’s so fun to watch, but it takes a lot of patience!
As we repeat activities ad nauseum throughout our class and week to week, don’t worry! Realize you are on “baby time”, slow down and enjoy this unique time before they switch focus every 15 seconds.
You can also really help your child this week at home by repeating your favorite class activities. Try singing “Pop! Goes the Weasel” or “Diddle Diddle Dumpling” after every diaper change and watch how your child grows to anticipate that time!
Do you ever feel like bursting into song, but are nervous about subjecting others to the noise? Here’s some help! 1) Listening when you sing is just about the most important thing you can do. Take time to deliberately use your ears to hear if your voice is matching pitch. This may mean you need to sing softer. 2) Don’t forget to breathe! Take deep, controlled breaths when you sing, and try to regulate how much air you are letting out at a time. 3) Find your “high” voice. Next time you are playing with your child, make sounds like you are a fire truck, a ghost or a dainty princess. Any of these can help put your voice in a higher register. Once you are there, take some time to explore those notes. If you can get your voice there easily, you are well on your way to a pleasing singing voice. 4) Practice! Sing along to the radio, join a choir, sing songs with your children. You will find that the more you sing, the easier it will become to find your way. 5) Relax! First, tension does really bad things to your vocal cords — so please don’t strain when you sing! Second, you don’t have to be a great singer to enjoy singing. We live in an age of Simon Cowell, where people who don’t sing like a professional feel like they will be laughed off stage. Music is meant to be made as a community, not to be the art form of an elite few. Enjoy the voice you have and don’t worry about a few glitches you don’t like. Your positive example will have a strong impact on your children. 6) Take lessons. Yes, they are for adults too! If you would really like to work on improving your voice, I can put you in touch with any number of quality voice teachers in the area. Anyone can learn to sing and anyone can learn to improve their voice. Send me an e-mail for a referral. Try it!
Megan has loved music ever since she was little and her mom and dad took her to family music classes! Her mother swears she is responsible for all musical talent because of singing to and playing music for Megan while she was in the womb. Growing up, life was full of fun as Megan sang and danced with her sisters, learned piano and guitar, discovered a love for theater, wrote poems and stories, and was active in the youth praise band at church. These rich experiences shaped her life and gave her confidence and courage to pursue a variety of passions! After two years at New York University studying journalism, Megan transferred to Northern Kentucky University. She graduated in 2009 with three Bachelor’s Degrees in Theater, English (Creative Writing Emphasis), and Spanish. From being a summer church camp counselor to a long-term substitute teacher, Megan has had a lot of different work experiences but they have all revolved around teaching and kids.
Megan has taught private music lessons and group drama classes at Bowman Music and Creative Outlet since 2009, and loved serving as middle school youth director at Hebron Lutheran Church from 2010-2014. Megan married her hunky husband Matthew Moss in September 2014 and they are having a blast being married and building their life! Megan loves teaching Musikgarten classes because it is a joy to partner with parents in helping their children discover their inherent musicality and build life-long memories.
Megan teaches a variety of classes throughout the week, but mainly focuses on toddlers and preschoolers.
What is your earliest memory? I remember watching my parents leave the house for a date, and being mad that I was left with a babysitter. I also remember the goldenrod yellow carpet of our first house, coming home to find my aunt had left a lollipop on our coffee table for me, and getting stung by a wasp. All of these events happened before I was four. Other than these vignettes, I can’t get too specific about my early childhood! Most of us don’t remember much, if anything, before the age of four. Feelings, however, last much longer than specific memories.
Imagine this: the first 3 years of your child’s life, you take your child to music class once a week. You focus your attention completely on her during this time. The phone, computer, TV, chores and cooking is all put aside for this precious half hour. During class you dance to great classical music, rock to soothing lullabies, jump enthusiastically like rabbits and cuddle while doing intimate finger plays.
When your child is 30, she will not remember music class. Sad, but true. The feelings she associates with class, however will persist. She may hear, “A Little Night Music” and smile without knowing why. The connection between loving mom and music will become blurred as she gets older, so a natural love for classical, traditional music will develop. Safe, warm feelings will be identified with music which will be identified with mom and family. It’s a beautiful thing!
I was recently at an early childhood development seminar, and learned a little bit more about the human brain. Did you know that when most animals are born, their brains are 95% developed? When a human baby is born, however, his brain is only 30% developed. Here’s the most amazing part, though! By the time a child is 3 years old, his/her brain is 80% developed. No wonder they tell us the first three years are the most important!
What types of connections are you helping your child make in those first three years? Much of the way children will relate to the world as adults is formed in this critical time. Being surrounded by love and security now will help them feel loved and secure their entire lives. Surrounding them with music now will help them develop musical skills they will keep for life! Elizabeth
Until a few years ago our church had a gentleman named Frank who would occasionally play the saxophone for our worship service. He was a very talented musician — he used to play professional jazz — In the 1950’s. When he was playing in our church he was more than 90 years old!
Frank probably started studying music in the 1920’s, maybe the 30’s. He had been playing music through the great depression, through WWII, through the cultural revolution, the technological revolution etc. etc.
When you think about your children as adults, do you wonder what you can give them now that they will keep for a lifetime? While there is a lot of value in sports teams, dance classes, and gymnastics, by their very nature they are limited. If you are lucky, they will still be playing in 10 years. If you are really lucky they will play in college. But music is a gift we can give our children which they can enjoy for life. My daughter will teach my grandchildren the songs I am teaching her today. Long after I’m gone, my children will be able to sit at the piano and enjoy a song that is special to our family today. In fact, there are many stories of alzheimer’s patients who can’t remember their children’s names, but are able to sing along to a hymn they grew up with, or are able to perfectly play a piano piece they practiced as a child.
When you put your children in music classes, they are not only benefiting today, but you are giving them a gift which they will keep their entire lives, and, in fact, will pass on to their children and grandchildren! Take advantage of this time to create a legacy of musicians!
One of my favorite parts of the Musikgarten curriculum is its sequential nature. Musikgarten has an eight year plan for your child, starting at birth, which can help them develop into musically minded people at a very young age. Because the curriculum is so stable, activities are repeated year to year, with new musical elements added on as children mature.
In the next few newsletters, I will explore the highlights of each of our different classes for you. But for today, I wanted you to have a general overview. Many parents don’t realize that you can go for a full eight years without repeating any particular class, and that everything we are doing culminates in a piano class once children reach grade school.
1. Music for Babies (0-1 year and walking well)
2. Music for Toddlers (1-2 years) 3. Music for Preschoolers (3-4 years) 4. Pre-Piano (Kindergarten or 1st Grade)
5. Music Makers at the Keyboard (1st-3rd grade)
These classes aren’t even including the special summer programs we run! Currently, at Little Songbird Music Studio in Florence we offer every level of class. Children can join anytime. It’s never too early! Children learn music the same way they learn language, so early education is critical! We really hope you will stick with the program. The cumulative effect is priceless!
If you would like even more information, or to get to the nitty gritty of the pedagogical process, please visit Musikgarten’s website!
When my oldest was born, I swore Barney would have no place in our house. Ever. (I also swore off Disney and the color pink — but that’s another story) Perhaps you made a similar vow against the big purple dinosaur — or maybe there is another children’s program that grates on your nerves! I will confess, I failed (very quickly) on all three counts. My children have all enjoyed the saccharine sweetness of Barney, the mind-numbing Teletubbies and don’t even get me started on Caillou.
Admittedly, there are a lot of annoying things marketed towards children. And it doesn’t get any better as they get older! Our children will definitely have their own tastes! And it really is important to allow them the freedom to express their own opinions — in music and other things.
The trick to developing good taste, however, is to make sure children are exposed to high quality art along with the fluff. Please make sure that when YOU choose a movie, music, book or show for your child, you take the time to consider the quality of what you are giving them. Children who are exposed to great literature and music learn to tell the difference. They will eventually gravitate to art that engages their mind and heart. Imagine a teen who loves Debussy, Dickens or Alfred Hitchcock! It’s not an impossible dream, but it’s up to you to help your child along.