Saturday, July 30, 2011

What instruments should I have?

In general, in building a home instrumentarium, look for the following categories of age-appropriate instruments:

1) Something to hit. The younger the child, the bigger hitting surface and the bigger thing to hit it with-large plastic storage containers are great. So are Remo Kids Drums, LP Kids drums, Yamaha kids drums, and other durable hand drums. I would not suggest getting a toy drum that isn't made by a percussion manufacturer-usually they break quickly.

2) Something to shake-Rattles, egg shakers, maracas, and other sound makers. You can make these from plastic or metal containers and something to fill them. Rice is good for very young children, because it won't hurt them if the container comes open and some is eaten.  Commercial instruments are good, too-but check age testing for the under 3s especially.

3) Something to bring to the center-sandblocks, small cymbals, and zig-zag blocks are all good choices for this. Meeting at and crossing at the midline is an important skill. Zig-zag blocks aren't my favorite instrument sound-wide, but are a great instrument for toddlers (These are included in the Wiggles and Giggles Kindermusik home Kit) because they are one piece, with nothing to come off.

4) Something to blow-train whistles, kids harmonicas, and other noise makers help develop lung capacity and control. Recorders are a good choice as children get into the 5-7 yr old age range.

5) Something that plays pitches-Boomwhackers (tuned plastic tubes) are wonderful for this, a great way to burn off energy, and not terribly expensive. Handbells, resonator bars, a good bell set, or orff instruments are also great options-but can get a bit expensive.

6) Something with a keyboard. An inexpensive electronic keyboard with a good sound-it doesn't even need full-sized keys-is a good way for children to explore making music and move into playing melodies. A piano or full-sized keyboard is even better, if you have one, but I wouldn't buy one for an infant or toddler just yet!

7) Something with strings to strum-for children in the slightly older age ranges, ages 5+, a small guitar, ukelele, or dulcimer can allow a chance to explore a different type of music making. These work best if you are able to tune them (you can download apps for cell phones/iphones/home computers that turn it into a tuner, and then simply adjust the tuning pegs to bring the instrument into tune).

8) Earplugs for parents, so you can handle the experimentation phase!

All of these instruments, at home and in class, give children a chance to explore, to experiment, and to find out what they really like, what they don't like, and what they love musically. While many children can be successful on almost any instrument, when children are MOST successful is when they pick something that they love. And that comes from seeing, hearing, and trying out approximations. We do this in Kindermusik classes every week, but don't be afraid to bring it home!

Where do you get instruments?

This is a question that comes up fairly often, so I decided to answer it here.

First of all, local sources:

The Target $1 section often has wooden instruments around Christmas, and sometimes at other points in the year. I wouldn't use these with any child who might put them in their mouth except under supervision, because they're labeled 3+, but they're an inexpensive, and often decent sounding way to build up an instrument collection. The wooden Castanets are especially nice.

Hobby Lobby has handbell sets, both small and large periodically, usually in the section right up by the cash register. These are the ones I use in class, and they are identical to those sold by music stores. Hobby Lobby often runs 40% off coupons online, so check there-with one, a set of handbells is only about $15.

Knowledge Tree, Village Toymaker, Toys R Us, Target Toy Section and Learning House all have a small instrument selection-but they're usually very expensive for what you get-and the sound quality isn't always great. Boomwhackers, the LP kids Percussion line, Woodstock percussion, Hohner, and Remo are sometimes available this way. 

Your kitchen-empty containers, plastic storage containers, metal spoons...anything that's not heirloom, silver, or breakable can be used to make music!

Amro Music, Memphis Music and other Music stores. These sometimes carry the Remo or LP kids percussion, but they also carry small percussion instruments in general, and you can assume that these will generally be good instruments. My favorite brands for small percussion are Remo, LP, CP, Yamaha, and Nino. All have proven to be of high quality in the past.

The Kindermusik store sells many of the instruments used in class in small quantities to parents, and it's not a bad source for instruments. I do find that they're often a little expensive compared to other vendors, but Kindermusik safety tests their instrument to a much greater degree than almost anyone else out there-far more than what is required by law in the US, so especially for something your child will be playing with unsupervised, it's a good choice. Labeling on age tends to be conservative, so you can trust that if something is labeled for under 3s,  it's going to stand up to being chewed, spit on, leaked on, thrown, pounded, and generally abused without breaking into sharp parts.
West Music, in Coralville Ia, is probably my favorite music store anywhere as far as comprehensive selection, and while they're often not the least expensive on everything, they are reasonably priced, have the materials in stock, so you rarely get back orders (I'm tempted to say never), and ship quickly.  They are also one of the few vendors that sells the larger Orff instruments we sometimes use in class-which are expensive, but absolutely wonderful. They have a special "under 3 section", mostly the Hohner Kids, LP, and Remo line.
Empire music has lower prices than many other online stores, and has free shipping over $35. However, they do not sort based on age. "Early Childhood", in this case, means birth to age 6-7, so if you have a baby or toddler, I would not assume all of the instruments here are going to be safe for use for less supervised play.
Rhythm Band Inc has been around forever. If you played with those white resonator bars with red wood bases when you were in elementary school, or red wood drums with skin heads, or triangles with wood ball handles, you've probably played a rhythm band instrument. Most kindergarten classrooms have sets of their instruments. They are a good way to build up a collection quickly, but they're not as nice sounding as Remo, LP and the like. They ARE a great source for resonator bars and handbell resources, including nice color coded music. If they say something is "currently out of stock" or "currently back ordered" don't bother to order-you'll probably see it 6 months from now when you've completely forgotten about it. They do not ship quickly under the best of circumstances.
Suzuki has great prices on recorders, kids percussion, and Orff instruments. One thing I like about their Orff instruments is that they have holders for the extra bars and mallets right on the instrument, which is GREAT for home use. Please note that most of their "kids" instruments are rated 4+ unless they're reselling something made by another company.

Anyway, I hope this helps! Have fun making music!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Confessions of a cheerleader mom-or, who chooses music lessons?

This is a tough one-because obviously, I believe music is important for kids. Otherwise, I wouldn't teach it-and especially, I wouldn't teach it to ages 0-7.

But there also comes a time when the child is truly expressing a preferences, and circumstances, whether it's too much homework, too many nights out of the house for mom to keep her sanity, money, or just common sense force a choice. What do you do when your child is clearly expressing a choice that's not what you want?

My first thought is to decide what the important factors are. For me, having music as part of my daughter's life is important, and since she's homeschooled, she is not getting even the once a week school music class. However, that doesn't mean that a specific KIND or type of music activity is essential. When my daughter was 2, I was gung-ho about starting her on Suzuki violin. I'd always wanted to play strings, and hadn't had the chance to learn until college, and here I was, teaching every week in a building with all these wonderful string teachers. So, I got a violin and started practicing.  I bought the Suzuki book 1 CD and started playing it constantly. I pointed out the violins that my DD heard each week when we were in the music building. I told my daughter that pretty soon she'd be big enough to take violin lessons, and wouldn't that be fun? I pointed out the Elmo's World episode where the violin was the word of the day.

And my toddler told me flat out "I don't LIKE violin! I play flute!".

Oops! Guess I'd missed an important step-figuring out what the child wanted.

Anyway, my DD stayed in Kindermusik, which she did enjoy. In YC 1, after she started playing glockenspiel, she began picking out the melodies on piano, and started trying to figure out some of the piano books I had at home. I started giving her little mini-lessons when she asked for them-but didn't even suggest starting formal lessons. In YC 4, she started playing recorder, and wanted to play it more, so I asked her if she wanted me to teach her recorder. Her response is "yes, but I want Ms Teri to teach me piano". Enough said. So now, she takes piano with Ms. Teri, and recorder with mommy. It works. She found her own way.

If she hadn't wanted to take piano or recorder, we'd find another way to get music education in for our homeschooling plan-maybe a children's choir, or a music literature class or music theory, or maybe she'd have wanted to try that flute she said she wanted at age 2. And I would have been worried that I wasn't doing enough-but I would have tried to let her do it.

Similarly, I feel that it's important for her to have some form of physical outlet, especially since we homeschool. We've tried soccer and t-ball. She hated both. We tried swimming. She likes playing in the water, but doesn't particularly like it in her nose, and she tends to break out when she's been swimming. We tried dance and cheerleading and gymnastics. Basically, anything our local parks and rec department offered that she showed any interest in whatsoever.

What's stuck was probably the single thing hardest for me to accept as a graduated high school and college band geek-she loves cheerleading. She loves it enough that she's willing to spend hours working at the gym, not for gymnastics, but for tumbling. She loves it enough that she wants to do hip hop or jazz-dance team, cheerleader-type dancing, not ballet, despite having worn a tutu everywhere at age 3-and even when she's dancing with her dance class, she's jumping and moving with the crisp, brisk moves of a cheerleader, not the fluid movements of a dancer. So, I've become a cheer mom, going to competitions and sitting on uncomfortable bleachers to watch my pigtailed, pleated skirted daughter get picked up by kids only a couple of years older than she is, and sitting at the gym watching her work on back handspring prep. Oh, and sitting in the orthopedist's office when my child broke a bone in her hand trying to do a flip off the stairs like the "big girls"-and having the orthopedist comment "You're a cheerleader, you'll be back to see me again!".

I don't know what the future holds. There's some big part of me that hopes that by high school she'll decide that she'd rather march in a band than lead cheers on the sidelines, or that she'd rather dance to Tchaikovsky than Justin Bieber. But she's made a choice that fulfills the stated goal of having something physical. She's working hard at it. And she enjoys it.

And, if push came to shove, and we could only afford one activity outside the house, she'd pick cheer. And I'd go with her. Not just because I can teach it myself, but because music is something she enjoys and finds rewarding, but for whatever reason, cheerleading is what she loves.  And if she, later on, decides she wants to try something else, that's fine too.

But ultimately, if she's not hurting herself or someone else by her choices, they should be her choices. Even if it means mommy doesn't get to take violin lessons.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Songs all kids should know

This has been a topic of discussion on the Well Trained Mind board, so I thought I'd address it here.

My first thought is "What songs are important to you"? Every family has their own musical heritage, that springs from their backgrounds, culture, and beliefs (religious and otherwise), and that's really where you start teaching music and sharing music with your children. Often, this comes from daily life, but I've known many parents who, the second a baby is born, stop listening to their music and put Raffi in the CD player. Now, that's not a bad thing-and there are a few genres of music where that may be a good idea. But in most cases, the music you'll be most comfortable singing with your child is the music that you're comfortable with yourself-the songs you sing in the car when they come on the radio, or sing in the shower. And there aren't many genres that don't have at least SOME songs that are child-appropriate. I once had a three year old student who's favorite song was "When a Man loves a Woman". And man, could she sing that song! Nothing wrong with that-it shows that her parents are sharing their music with her, and that their love of music is being passed to her.

Having said that, though, there are certain types of music that I consider important to children.

The first is nursery rhymes/nursery songs. These are crucial for developing phonemic awareness (Mem Fox, in Reading Magic, relates a study done that shows that children who do not enter school with multiple nursery rhymes memorized struggle with reading later). They also are very useful for early singing skills, because in most cases, they're limited in pitch and range to what young children's voices can manage first. Songs written for more adult audiences usually are pitched too low and have too wide of a range for children to sing well. There's a reason why "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Ring around the rosey" have stuck around-and they're a place to start.

Recommendation-any good nursery rhyme book. Read, sing, and have fun with your child.

The second category is common heritage songs. In the early 1990's, the Music Educators National conference put together a list of songs, with the help of other music organizations, that they felt were common to the US music heritage. While I may not agree with all their selections (and some that were ranked very high in their surveys were not included due to copyright permissions issues), it's a good place to start.

The Core knowledge folks ("What your nTH grader should know") also have a list of 170 songs they have chosen to include. This list is very  diverse, and is absolutely wonderful.

My final category is music from around the world. We include this in our Kindermusik classes and home CDs, but it goes beyond that. My favorite way of finding good world music for children is to go to the source. While Putmayo kids and other world music publishers have done a good job of providing excellent children's music, if you go to an Asian market, or a small grocery store in a Latin American area,  and ask what music they recommend for a X yr old child, often they'll point you to resources you've never considered. I am very fortunate in that, teaching at the University of Memphis, I have a lot of parents from different cultures who are often very, very glad to share their music with me, which, in turn, lets me share that with my students, and with you. And if you're traveling, CDs are great souvenirs, light, portable, and easy to bring home.

Regardless, whatever music you choose, have fun, enjoy it, sing, play, and move!

Free trial subscription to

Sara Jordan, who is the creator of the Bilingual Songs CD series, which is extremely well done, and many other educational materials, has asked me to announce a free 7 day trial of their online streaming site

Not only does this let the kids hear the songs (and gives you a chance to "Try before you buy"), but it shows the words highlighted as the children hear the songs. If you have a child who enjoys, this may be a good fit for them.

I have found Sara Jordan CDs locally at Knowledge Tree and the Booksellers at Laurelwood, as well as through numerous online retailers.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musical carschooling-the primary grades

As a homeschool music mom who has a child who seems to thrive on activities, sometimes it seems like we're never home to have school! One way I supplement this is via using audio recordings in the car. For this list, I'm focusing on curriculum supplements, although a few could be used as your primary curriculum source for a young child.

Here are some of my favorite places to find  these.

Discovery Education-If you have a subscription, make sure you check there first. There's a big library of audio/songs available, including most of Twin Sisters, Music for Mar, Lodge McCannon, Teacher and the Rockbots, Audio books, speeches, and more. It's a little annoying in that you can only download one song/track at a time, not whole albums, but if you're already paying for the subscription, why not use it?, there are lots of audio download sites out there. The reason I like Napster is, to be blunt, I usually get to download from there for free. If you have coke addicts in your life who are willing to save you the rewards codes, these can be traded for audio downloads. Just put in what you're studying, listen to samples, and decide what you want to get. 

Big Lots-Twin Sisters CD sets often appear here, for far less than in teaching stores.

Scholastic $1 sales. While most of these are .pdf files, a few have audio files available as well, and it's hard to beat a $1 audio album, even if only one or two songs are immediately useful to you.

Now, here are some favorites-please note, these are picked for educational value and ones that my daughter enjoyed. In most cases, they're not the best singing models for children. Most children's artists sing in a lower pitch than is ideal for children, and many use a folk music type style, which isn't the more pure tones used in teaching vocal music. If you don't like the sound of a CD, by all means, sing the songs yourself-acapella singing with children is wonderful to do, and most of these are very simple.

There are lots of math facts CDs out there. They're nice for reinforcing already learned concepts. Here are some that I've used/own.

Schoolhouse Rock Multiplication Rock-Nostalgia anyone? This is probably my favorite math CD :).

Twin Sisters-addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Not my favorite, but my daughter enjoys the songs with breaks in them to yell out the answers.

Teacher and the Rockbots-a little "harder", more contemporary than I like, but it's fun to watch my daughter and her friends trying to hip-hop dance to multiplication tables or measurement concepts.

Rock and Learn-Have a musical style your child likes? Chances are good they have a CD with the same set of words, but a different musical style for each, whether it's rap, pop, rock, country, or so on Again, these aren't my favorites, but some people love them.

Google Power Crazy 4 Math-Nice "history of Math" focus with a combination of stories and songs. I used this in combination with history.

Language Arts-

Twin Sisters-see above-mostly for Phonics and early learning

Handwriting Without Tears-Rock, Rap, Tap and Learn. Where do you start your letters? AT THE TOP! My daughter LOVED this CD, and at one point I had three little girls in the playroom, happily bouncing along with pom-poms.

Shurley English Jingle Time-I don't use Shurley as my primary LA curriculum, but the Jingles/songs are a nice addition to any grammar curriculum. My daughter also liked the coloring/activity book that is available to go with the Jingles.

Audio Memory-Grammar Songs. These haven't caught on as well as the Shurley ones, maybe because they're a little longer.

Schoolhouse Rock-Grammar Rock-Conjunction Junction...what's not to love?

Lyrical Science-We've only done Lyrical Life Science here so far, but it's been a real hit. I'm looking forward to enjoying the other CDs.

AIMS Singing Songs of Science-Very cute and fun-although I wonder how much you really need a song about mealworms?

Twin Sisters-at least one CD for most science disciplines, plus a bunch about specific topics.

Sing and Learn with The Weather Dude-a meterologist/musician has fun singing songs about his favorite subject-weather!

Science on the Wild Side-A little "harder" than Twin sisters, with a lot of fun topics, but not necessarily ones that fit in well with a specific curriculum study in the way the Lyrical Life Science does. The Slug Slide was a favorite around here.

Schoolhouse Rock Science Rock-some of these haven't aged as well as grammar and multiplication, but they're still fun.

Teacher and the Rockbots-again, a little "harder" than some, but worth checking out if you have discovery education or slightly older kiddos who like that style of music.


 Tunes that Teach History-songs about single topics, tend to be a little on the humorous side and possibly a little less serious-but also often have sparked discussions.

Audio Memory History Songs-Nice for US history timeline memorization

History Rocks-Kind of the "Teacher and the Rockbots" version of history, although it's by "Professor Presley".

Schoolhouse Rock-History Rock-US history 

Veritas Press-I'm not terribly fond of their timeline CDs-I like the Audio Memory ones better, but they are better aligned with the cards.

Audio Memory Geography Songs- These were very enjoyable, however some parts of them do not match current maps.

Twin sisters-lots of things for US states/capitals/geography/facts

Classroom Pop vol 1-Lamar Holley-This one has a mix of geography, world history and a little bit of science. I kind of wish he'd make another album, because this has been great for finding very quick little memory pieces to match curriculum areas.

Animaniacs-I LOVE the US states/capitals and the Yakko's World one, both on video and audio.

Song School Spanish and Song School Greek-My daughter enjoyed both of these, and it gave her the confidence to tackle the languages more seriously. They're not everyone's cup of tea as far as the recordings go-these were mostly "listen once, then sing ourselves" CDs around here.

Hop, Jump and Sing Spanish-Ana Lomba. I love this album. It's little, short activities, mostly from Latin American countries, that are children's games/songs. Directions are on a separate track from the audio, so I put just the audio in Spanish on our car-schooling playlists, and left the instructions for when we could actually do the activities. Play and Learn Spanish is by the same author, and has a book to match with the CD, but is less movement-oriented.

Bilingual Songs English/Spanish-This is the closest to Song School Latin for Spanish that I've found, moving more into rules and grammar as you get into higher levels. Sara Jordan has a lot of other educational recordings as well-but I haven't used them all yet.

Twin Sisters-there is a CD for most modern languages available, with the same basic vocabulary (animals, body parts, members of the family and the like). My language-loving kid was thrilled when she found these on Discovery Education, because then she could learn the same words in Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Whew! I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, so please add your favorites, too!


The benefits of amateur, acapella singing

I just came from a wonderful church service that reinforced SO much of what I believe about teaching kids to sing. See, we have two regular folks who play piano/organ. One was on a mission trip, and the other was on vacation this week-so this week, we did all the songs acapella. And it was GREAT. While each song started with just a few strong singers, maybe because the organ wasn't there, voices started coming in. Not always on pitch, or in the same key, but they started coming in. Instead of the first verse being somewhat strong and fading out, the volume grew with each verse as people felt more comfortable with the melody. And each song was a little stronger than the one before. I could HEAR the confidence of people who never sing in church increasing.

It was great!

When I teach parent/child classes, I'm constantly telling parents that their child's favorite voice to hear is the parents', and encouraging acapella singing in class and at home. But then, I send parents home with a CD or a Mp3 file download-and also encourage them to listen to that CD. And that's all well and good-but I many of my class parents experience that confidence that comes from just singing? And how many of their children are internalizing that singing is something that you do with a CD. Or with your music teacher?

So, to quote Sesame Street, Sing, sing a song-don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear!
Just sing, sing a song!

Musical learning with your preschooler

One thing I've found in the last few years-homeschooling is a misnomer. We're never at home!  What I've discovered is that the car is a great place to reinforce whatever skills my daughter is working on at the time. Obviously, Kindermusik songs were (and are) a big part of the playlist, as are recorder and piano practice CDs now, but there's a lot of academics out there, too.

My favorite way to use these is on an iPod. Set up playlists, then put the playlist on shuffle so you don't have an hour of math, but instead have it mixed up a bit. The iTunes software shows the number of times a song has been played, so if you think that you've heard that particular one a few thousand times, you can check and find that you're right, and take it off the active playlist for a little while.

Here are a few of my favorite resources. Many of these are available for digital downloads.

Dr. Dr. Jean is a noted presenter at early childhood workshops for her ways of making early learning fun for kids. If your child came home from preschool singing "Tooty-Ta", blame Dr. Jean. I'm not thrilled with her singing voice-it's too low pitched for children to sing along with in their most comfortable range well, and she's not a trained vocalist, but as far as concepts go, these are wonderful. You can download whole albums or individual songs. Her CDs are often available at teaching stores as well. Make sure you check for support materials, too-she has a lot of printables to go with the songs on her website.

Sesame Street-sometimes, the traditional is the best. Lots of nice songs, often ones that parents enjoy as much as children, that reinforce academic concepts and social skills.

Leapfrog-you know the videos with the cute frog singing "The A says /a/"? Well, he has a CD, too! I found mine at Dollar General, of all places. Amazon has it for digital download.

Handwriting Without Tears Get Set for School CD -this is one educational CD that is actually very well done musically as well as content wise, and is great at introducing early concepts. There's a second one for reading and math on the website as well, which I don't own, but if it's by the same people is worth considering.

Classics are always the best-both Ella Jenkins and Hap Palmer have recordings of songs that you probably remember singing when you were a child. Or, in the case of Hap Palmer, marching around the room to a scratchy record recording. Because these are mostly re-releases of material recorded years ago, they're not as high of audio quality as some of the other CDs out there, but they're sweet, fun, and often bring back memories.

Twin Sisters These are kind of a "you love 'em or you hate 'em" type set up, because all their recordings have a lot in common-a lot of familiar melodies used to teach concepts, a lot of repetition, and mostly the same voices singing. However, they've got a CD for ANYTHING. If you subscribe to Discovery Education, most of their songs are available as Digital downloads (one song at a time, which gets tedious) so you can find songs that match whatever your child needs at the time. Most teacher's stores sell these, too, and the boxed sets often appear at Big Lots.  is the Kindermusik download site. Not surprisingly, there's a lot of great children's music here, downloadable one song at a time or by albums. The "Loony Libs", "America the Musical", and "Dem Bones" CDs have all made it onto our playlists for more academic reasons, plus lots of fun songs.

And special for blog readers-the first 10 people to mention this blog to me at the UM Open House on August 13 (10:00-11:30 on the Park Avenue Campus)  Parent information night on August 16 (7:00-8:30 at the main Music building at UM), or at the first day of Fall classes will receive a digital download card which will let you download 10 songs (or one album, in most cases) from the site.

Get listening and have fun!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some favorite music printables

This is probably my single favorite music ed link on the web. There's SO much here to do, from sheet music to play, composer study information, and printables. Best of all, it's all free.

This is just what the link indicates-resources for music teachers, especially piano, voice, and guitar.

While I think that building a super-deluxe playground for your child might be overdoing it, I wouldn't mind seeing some of this effort go into community playgrounds for kids. And that would serve the desired purpose of giving the child someone to socialize with much better than an "if we build it, they will come" attitude on what is probably such a big property that no one ever knows there's a playground there! 

Music-it's not just for kids

One of the best parts about getting to teach Kindermusik is that I'm not just teaching children, but teaching their parents, caregivers, grandparents, and anyone else who comes with them. It's not just a child-centered experience, but a family one.

In the Memphis area, UM, Amro, and Shelby State Community College all offer adult weekend piano classes-ones that can help you get started playing quickly and have fun doing it. We have New Horizons band programs for adults and seniors at UM as well-so it's never too late!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Group music lessons build skills

Great find in the Target Dollar Section

Music Notes

I found some great resources in the Target Dollar section that I thought I'd pass on to parents. These are wonderful ways to continue the Kindermusik experience at home, or wherever you are, and to enhance early learning.

First, for the younger ones, there are two sets of "Animal Sounds" and "Animal Movement" jumbo cards. These full-color cards include a picture of the animal and a phrase that describes the animal's sound or how the animal moves. What a WONDERFUL way to develop vocabulary and have fun with your child! Simply pull a card or two out, and encourage your busy toddler to move or make the sound. As children grow, this also supports early reading skills. And at $1 a pack, the price can't be beat. I also love that the bags the cards are packaged in are reclosable.

For older children, there are Music Makers musical instrument cards, which give pictures of instruments, and then at the bottom on the other side, the instrument's name and a little information about the instrument. While most preschoolers and early school-aged  children will not be able to read these independently, they can enjoy the pictures and hearing about the instrument with you, sorting them into groups (instruments with strings, instruments you hit, instruments you blow) and developing classification skills, and matching. I purchased 2 sets of these to allow my students to match the cards picture to picture and to be able to see all 36 pictures at once.

Just a reminder that it's time to enroll for Fall classes. In addition to the classes currently on the website, we also have classes on Tuesdays and Fridays.

9:30-Village, 0-18 months
10:30-Our Time-18-36 months

11:00-Family Time, for families with at least one child age 0-4

9:30-Our Time-18-36 months
10:30-ABC Music and Me-preschool ages

9:30-Family Time, For families with at least one child age 0-4
10:30-ABC Music and Me, ages 4-6.

To register, call the office at 901-678-4244, or see the website at

I am also announcing my blog, Making music with kids. This will include a lot of tips and ideas for making music at home, helpful links, and all the other neat stuff that I find and want to share with families. Visit me at

Have a great day, and I hope to see you in the Fall!

Ms. Donna

It's amazing what music can do

I would add, though, that many of these benefits also can be seen just in music study. I had an occupational therapist tell me, at age 17, that there was nothing to do-that I'd already done it all, and the primary reason I'd built that coordination was so I could play saxophone. I have had so many children with special needs, some identified and some not yet identified at the time, and seen them grow-the child with aspergers who gradually was able to leave her mother and began interacting with the other children, the child with CAPD who worked SO hard to learn his glockenspiel melodies, and who's mother commented that he'd gained more by practicing music than he had in therapy...there have been many, and they've been my best teachers.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reading and learning music blog post discusses learning to read and includes a quote by Jim Trelease

"In concentrating exclusively on teaching the child how to read, we have forgotten to teach him to want to read…somehow we lost sight of the teaching precept:  What you make a child love and desire is more important than what you make him learn." ~ Jim Trelease

 This strikes home with me as an early childhood music educator and parent. My goal for my students are simply that they LOVE music-and because they love it, at ages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, they'll have the desire to continue-and to continue when it's NOT always fun because they know the fun, the joy, the love is there.

Why kids should study music

I love this article, but I disagree with them on one point. Preschoolers are, by their nature, social beings. They're really just to the point where they're starting to play interactively. Music is also, by it's nature, a very social activity. Therefore, I would submit that private lessons, or at least private lessons exclusively are NOT the best choice for a 3-5 yr old. A group music class, at this age, will allow a child to develop not only their musical skills but their social skills as well, in a fun, light hearted setting. Even at age 6, my personal Kindermusik graduate, now taking piano, misses the interaction and fun of music in a group that she experienced in her 6 1/2 years of Kindermusik classes. If she had started piano at age 3 privately, instead of continuing in Kindermusik and continuing to explore the piano as an instrument at home, I think she would have missed one of the most valuable experiences of her past three years.

But, regardless, music education doesn't have to wait until a child can read, or can reach an octave on the piano, is potty trained, can talk, or can walk. It begins the second a child starts to hear, to listen, and to respond-and that starts even before birth.

It's that time of year again

Time to start getting Kindermusik class schedules ready, reviewing new curriculum choices, and generally getting geared up for back to school. It's a little different for me this year, though, because Nancy Knox retired, and this year, instead of just teaching, I'm coordinating the UM Kindermusik program. My plan is to use this blog as another way to communicate with the parents of our students, and also to anyone else interested in the joy of making music with your young child at home.

Anyway, this is a test post, and a chance to get started. I hope to see you here again soon!

Ms. Donna