Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Favorite recorder resources

I got to lead a wonderful HOMe Co-op today, where about 20 kids learned the basics on recorder playing. For those parents interested in continuing at home, here are some of my favorite recorder resources. Also, I will make myself available to help any child or children (or parents) who want to do a little more recorder each week at Co-op before or after the more formal lesson.

Dexter Dragon's Amazing Recorder adventure is a suite of pieces, beginning with one played just on B. If you're in the co-op group, you got the sheet music and the site password today at co-op for the first piece, and there are several more that I can make copies of for those who wish to continue. There are also adorable stories for each next step and new skill. On the site, you can hear the music and play along, as well as access other great resources.

By the same folks as Dexter dragon, you also got the first piece from this book (Hot Cross Buns) and the password to this site today. Recorder Karate is a set of "belt levels" for basic recorder, each adding a new skill (you may have noticed that my recorder has a "pompom" of colored yarn on the bell-that's why!). Like with Dexter, you can play along and participate in more activities on the site as you progress through the belts. I will make copies of the other pieces for anyone in the group who wants to continue-just e-mail me and let me know that you want them.

Other resources:


Printable sheet music and video lessons

Recorder playing powerpoints

Tips to remember about playing recorder-

Left hand on top-
On recorder, this matters less than other instruments, but all other woodwinds and brass are left dominant, so it's best to get in the habit of playing left hand on top now so that the transition is easier later on if the child decides he wants to play a different instrument.

Blow Gently-
Soft, warm, air-be a tropical breeze, not a west wind. It's not the right time of year to fog up windows, but when I started recorder 2nd semester, I'd actually have my students practice fogging up windows to get the breath slow enough. Another good trick is to attempt to move a candle flame, without blowing it out.

Cover holes completely
Look for "recorder circles" on the pads of the fingers when hands are removed-if you don't have them, you're not pressing hard enough.

Think Dah.......

Most wind instruments you tongue using a "ta" sound. For recorder, you want a very soft approach, so you don't overblow and squawk. Daa is a good place to start.

Recorder care-
Don't share your recorder with anyone you wouldn't share your toothbrush with!
Brush teeth before playing, or at least rinse out your mouth. You don't want food in the recorder.

Plastic recorders can generally be washed in the dishwasher without melting (every now and then, I'll get one that will, but that was usually using the commercial dishwashers when I was still teaching K-6). If yours is 3 pieces, take it apart. Let drain and dry thoroughly before playing.

I had a lot of fun making music with you today! I hope you'll have fun at home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Great sale on early learning products

I've posted before about ETA-Cuisinaire's Teacher and Family Appreciation sale. It's well worth checking out. I want to highlight a few items that I think my Kindermusik parents-and other music teachers, for that matter, should consider adding to their collections. Some of these would be wonderful holiday or birthday gifts, too.

All quantities are limited, and they're shipping very, very slowly-but are not charging for shipping.

For kids at home

Reading Rods jumbo set-These are just plain a fun way to build words-or buildings. Math and literacy manipulatives in my house tend to get used for play in ways I'd never expect.


Here's a cup, and here's a cup, and here's a cup of tea....We're not doing Milk and Cookies this semester, but this looks like a wonderful playset for studio for food-themed units like Milk and Cookies or Jazz Kitchen, and a good price for parents to use at home.


Some play food to go in the kitchen

I LOVE these big magnetic letters. Since they're larger than the usual ones, they're safer for younger children, and are bright and visible. They're also helpful for teaching form and analysis if you have a magnetic surface in your classroom. I've used magnetic letters for this purpose even with college students :)


Let's go to the doctor!

Rhymers are readers! We do a lot with rhyming and phonemic awareness in Kindermusik classes, and these domino sets are a way to practice those skills at home, or during gathering time in your studio.


Want some more Spanish animals for "My Farm"?

For preschoolers and up-buttons to practice lacing, counting, sorting, and patterning.


For teachers, or the refrigerator. I like the magnetic attribute blocks (and pattern blocks) for when my older children start working on form in music. Since I have a whiteboard, the children can manipulate the blocks on the board, and we can save the children's creations to show parents later. They are also fun just for making pictures. Again, these aren't going to be appropriate for under 3s due to size.


Counters-duck, people, dinosaurs! Great for preschoolers to sort, pattern, and play with!

Learning place game cards-opposites, numbers, pairs, shapes.

Early puzzles


The whole leveled readers section has a lot of little books which may be of interest as well. Many are in a set of 6 for $1.00.

Have fun exploring and learning with children!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Parents can help babies develop rhythm ~ Moving to the beat an early step to learning music, research shows

Parents can help babies develop rhythm ~ Moving to the beat an early step to learning music, research shows

The Associated Press
Updated: 6:40 p.m. CT June 2, 2005
WASHINGTON – Gently bounce a baby while you sing, and you’ll usually get squeals of glee. But it’s not just fun: Feeling the beat helps wire babies’ brains to hear rhythm.
So says new research that tested moms and babies doing what comes naturally — dancing around together.
Everybody knows babies love music. Around the globe, parents sing to their infants in a special way, with a distinctive high pitch that’s soothingly slow for a lullaby and elaborately bright at playtime. Babies catch on quickly, able to perceive aspects of melody and recognize different beats at just a few months of age.
Important for development
As psychologist Laurel Trainor studied how babies perceive music, she noticed that parents hardly ever sing to them without bouncing or rocking or playing with their feet. She wondered if that movement was important developmentally.
Her research shows it is: Using multiple senses helps the brain learn about rhythm — how we move indeed influences what we hear — Trainor reports in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.
“It’s wiring the sensory system,” said Trainor, of Canada’s McMaster University. “That early experience that parents do naturally is probably really important for learning down the road.”
Consider it an early step toward learning to make music, or at least to really appreciate it, said infant development specialist David Lewkowicz, a psychology professor at Florida Atlantic University.
“It’s a very clever kind of study,” said Lewkowicz, whose own research also shows that stimulating multiple senses is important for brain development. “When babies are learning about their world, we should never lose sight of the fact that they are learning in a … multisensory context.”
Moving to the beat
Trainor and colleague Jessica Phillips-Silver tested 16 healthy 7-month-olds by having them listen to music made by a snare drum and sticks that had an ambiguous rhythm — no accented beats. Mothers bounced half the infants on every second beat, in a march-like rhythm, and half on every third beat, in a waltz-like rhythm.
Then the researchers played the music again, this time with the beats accented in either the march or waltz pattern.
The babies preferred to listen to the pattern that matched how they’d been bounced. (Trainor measured preference by how long the babies looked at speakers playing the different selections.)
Watching someone else bounce to the music didn’t do the trick. In a series of tests, the babies picked out a rhythm only if they’d been moved to that beat while listening to the original, nonaccented tune.
Nor was vision necessary. Blindfolded babies picked out the rhythm, too, as long as they’d been bounced.
So what if you don’t boogie with your baby?
No one needs continual bouncing, and passive listening certainly isn’t bad. “But they’re not getting the full experience that they would naturally get in most human cultures” without some bouncing along, says Trainor, whose research was funded by the Canadian government. “It suggests that you’re better off to do music in an interactive way.
“It probably doesn’t matter if you listen to Mozart or a rock band or jazz,” she adds. “All those kinds of music and concurrent rhythms go to wire up the brain.”

Kindermusik classes for parents and children 0-6 now enrolling! http://memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php

Beyond the music-Jumping Beans week 1

Welcome to another great Kindermusik semester as we begin exploring Latin American music, learn a little piano, a little music reading, and even a little Spanish in our Jumping Beans unit!

Today we learned quarter notes and quarter rests, put them together to make different rhythm patterns, and played these patterns on the piano. We also started to explore the keyboard, finding black keys, white keys, and patterns of black and white keys. We went into the rainforest to see what we saw, danced to Latin American music, and played a part of a melody on a mallet percussion instrument. 

We don't have home materials yet, so please go to play.kindermusik.com and use the digital download card you received in class to download some songs to listen to this week. You might pick ones from class that you especially liked, so that you'll have a digital copy when your home CD arrives, or pick a few others that are good additions to your collection.

Here are some suggestions from class today.

Corre Burriquito
La Cucaracha
Move and Freeze
Mama Paquita

For back to school fun, I also like this album.
I'm the teacher

We still have space for a few more friends in this class and in our Kindermusik classes on Friday and Saturday for younger children as well. If you know of anyone who is interested, please encourage them to come visit us! For more information, they can see http://memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php or contact me

Until next week, have fun making music with kids!

Ms. Donna

Beyond the Music-Movin' and Groovin' week 1

Welcome to the family! This week in Family time, we began our exploration of everything related to movement by starting with tempo. Tempo simply means "how fast (or slow) are you going".  As children grow and develop, they learn all the ways they can move, from crawling as babies, to walking, to running, until they get to the point that you REALLY wish they'd slow down a little! So, in class we will explore both ways to go, go, go, but also ways to slow, slow, slow down a little, to relax, and to control those growing bodies, even when it's hard.

Please go to play.kindermusik.com and use your play card to download a few songs to share with your child. This will let you start listening to the music while waiting for your home materials to arrive, and will greatly increase your child's enjoyment of and participation in class.

Here are some specific songs from class today:



And a suggested album

This semester we will also be looking at a lot of different animals and the ways they move. A great purchase to have at home, and a very inexpensive one at this time of year, is a deck of animal picture cards. Target usually has these in the dollar section during the back to school season, with either drawings, photographs or both, and at $1, it's hard to beat the price. This year, along with regular animal cards, they have animal movement and sound cards, which are great, too and musical instrument cards.

My personal favorite visual cards, especially for children who are learning a second (or third) language, are the Lang o Learn picture cards. These are more than a little bit pricey, I'm afraid, at about $10 a set (I've found them as low as $6 a set at teaching stores) but the nice thing about these cards is that not only are they nice, full color photographs of animals, objects, people and the like, but that they're labeled on the back in 17 languages, with pronunciation helps.

This week we listened to a horse galloping and trotting. If you have a chance to visit Shelby Farms, you can often observe horses in action out there, or here are some examples from youtube

Horse galloping

Horse trotting (with background music)

We still have spots for a few more friends in our Friday and Saturday classes. If you know someone who is interested, please invite them to check us out at http://memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php or contact me to set up a preview class

Have fun this week making music with your child!

Beyond the Music-Wiggles and Giggles, week 1

Welcome, or welcome back, to a new Kindermusik semester as we wiggle and giggle! As our children move from babies to toddlers to preschoolers, they literally MOVE, and move a lot! This semester, we will celebrate that movement and that growth in songs that refer to experiences in a young child's life.

First of all, please use the class code to visit http://play.kindermusik.com and download your class recordings. Since we don't have home materials yet, this will allow you to start listening to the music and improve your and your child's enjoyment of class each week, as you wishy, washy wee! together in your real bathtub, while washing dishes or the car, or just for fun.

Here is a cute, easy to make fish craft out of a paper plate. Why not use a big plate and a little plate, and let them explore "Above the Sea" this week? Participating in simple crafts, whether it's simply by observing and listening, coloring, or even, as a child moves into the preschool years, gluing or even cutting independently, develops fine motor skills and concentration, as well as gives a child an "I did it" feeling of accomplishment.

We still have room for a few more friends in our classes this semester. If you know someone who would love to join our Kindermusik experience, please invite them to come along and to get more information at http://music.memphis.edu/childhood.php. Right now, we have openings in classes on Fridays and Saturdays.

Until next week, have fun making music!

Microphone play part 4

And now, she moves into more serious directions, with some poetry. The first stanza is one she wrote as part of studying poetics using Music of the Hemispheres, which is part of the Michael Clay Thompson Island level Language arts curriculum. The others are, I believe, improvisational and inspired by a desire to fill up the 60 minutes Windows Sound recorder allows.

Microphone play part 3

And next we moved into a different direction-with rapping and beat boxing :). The graphics she's put with this are a little dragon flying around a much bigger knight, so I think the dragon is bluffing .

Microphone play, part 2

Next she moved into podcasting...I guess.  Live from our computer room-it's the Dragon Talk Show!

Want creativity? Get a microphone!

Alli has enjoyed playing with the Scratch programming language for awhile now, and wanted to make her own sounds. So, we plugged in a cheap computer microphone, and off she went. Here's a few creations. (I haven't bothered to upload all the various sound effects she's recorded so far. I don't think anyone need "Me Screaming" with their morning coffee :) ).I haven't yet figured out how to save the little videos she makes in scratch, but here's the audio.

First of all, we have attempts in music. She's definitely NOT ready for a pop career yet. Although the music teacher in me was pretty pleased when she commented, on listening after the fact that "I'm off on the verses, but I'm pretty close on the chorus-which is exactly right (and about what can be expected-the chorus is more in a 6 yr old's expected vocal range than the verse).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I hate this...truly I do

The best part of teaching Kindermusik is teaching the kids. The worst part is when there aren't any kids, or enough kids, and having to move them around to cancel classes.

I did that today. With a click of the mouse, four Kindermusik classes, planned for this fall, are no more. Three more are still on the schedule.

What's frustrating is that I KNOW there are parents who were interested in these classes. They've told me so. They've told me how much their child loves music, how much they enjoyed the class. But for whatever reason-money, school scheduling, teacher moving and wanting to try something new, or whatever, they aren't here.

It's easy to think that it's not going to matter whether I come or not in a group. It's easy to think that my child is just a cog in the system. But they're not. They're special. They're wonderful-and in a group, it's magic.

I hope my final three groups have enough students to make that magic this year.

The value of bonding and development


A wonderful article from a great friend of mine.

In doing the comparison locally, my daughter dances at Bartlett Dance Factory, through Singleton. It costs $40/month per class. I just spent $85 on shoes for two classes, and will spend about $150-$200 this year on costumes and recital.

Gymnastics at River City is $50/yr registration, plus $63/month, with an ongoing contract, two week notice required to leave the contract. This is for recreationa,, not competitive

Kindermusik at the University of Memphis is $182 for 12 weeks, plus a $25 registration fee for a total of $207, with all materials included as Christa outlined.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Free Kindermusik preview classes this week!

Our fall semester starts tomorrow, and it's not too late! Join us for a free preview class and see if we're what you're looking for!

Great video!
Classes start tomorrow (August 23)-we still have spots available in the following classes for children and their parents/caregivers:
Tuesday-infants 0-18 months, 9:30
Tuesday Toddlers 18-36 months 10:20
Friday Toddlers 18-36 months 9:30
Saturday-Children 0 months-4 years,  9:30
Saturday-Children 3 1/2-6 years old, 10:30

All classes meet at the U of Memphis Community Music School U of M Park Avenue Campus  building 2, (935 W. Park Loop – located at the corner of Park & Getwell).

More from Mount Parnassus Elementary

Alli and I are continuing to explore, even though it's getting hot here (A/C troubles).

 We've discovered that printing 16-1 on a laser printer turns e-books and online worksheets into a nice scale for dolls and stuffed animals, and that word cards, with a little alteration, become good folders. I bought the tiny colored pencils from Oriental trading a couple of years back when we were doing HWOT and I wanted small things for DD to write with to build up her pencil grip. These were too small even for preschool hands, but are about right for toys. The desks are little step stools from the target $1 section a couple of years ago-we had a bunch of them around the house for DD to use in reaching light switches until she grew enough on her own, plus a bunch of plastic boxes I'd used at one point for manipulatives and puzzle pieces, until I got a ton of plastic drawers that worked better.

Classmates in the classroom :)

We're having a lot of fun with our explorations

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Homeschool=playing school? In our case, yes!

OK, time to take a break from the music ed stuff for a bit ;).

One of the best and worst things about homeschooling is that I'm the school. And while Alli doesn't miss the school side side much (and much of what she misses from the classroom as far as time with other kids and teachers other than mom is more than covered by our great homeschool group (Homeschoolers of Memphis Eclectic) and her various activities, she still had some frustration, especially after we spent a week with her cousins, one of whom had just finished Kindergarten and one of whom had just started (the rising 4th grader stayed out of it). She started to really, really want "School stuff". Not being stuck in a room with kids who are learning at different speeds than she is, and having to deal with it, not being in school for 6 hours vs doing everything at home in 3, and certainly not having to choose which single activity she wanted after school because of homework commitments and general fatigue. But she still claimed she wanted "school stuff".

As it turns out, a lot of what she wanted as far as "school stuff" goes really WAS school STUFF-the trappings of being in school, like a school mascot, a name other than "Homeschooled" (and Home Life Academy, which is our legal cover school didn't count in her book) and a bumper sticker for mom's mini van reading "Proud Parent of an X elementary student" or whatever. Not to mention her own desk with her name on it, a cute theme in the classroom to talk about, and the like.

So, we've been playing school :). The plan had been,. for most of the past year, that we'd finally get the upstairs redone, and move the office up there, which would give us an extra bedroom that could be used, essentially, as a great big homeschooling closet. That finally happened, so we were able to move into our school room. And with a trip to Knowledge Tree and some time spent online, we now have a classroom. Alli and I have had a LOT of fun putting this together and "playing school". How long our homeschool room will look like a classroom remains to be seen (so far, school has still been mostly done snuggled on the couch or sitting on the floor). but it's given me a very happy child.

So, without further ado, I introduce "Mount Parnassus Elementary-Home of the Hydras"-which exists only in Alli's imagination and our spare bedroom :)

Here's our door sign, created with the help of the internet. The "Class list" consists of American Girl dolls and stuffed dragons, plus Alli.

Here's Alli's workspace. We bought the purple school desk/chair when she wanted one last year, so just moved it in, along with all the bins for various drawing supplies, paper, art supplies, and the current books we're reading/working with.

The bulletin boards and whiteboards all came from the office move that Michael's company did last year-we just decorated them.

Alli's enjoyed making bulletin board art and making signs using glitter letters. Dollar tree also had a bunch of little post-it note type mini borders. I think they're designed for scrapbooking, but she's enjoying framing her art to hang.

The pocket charts are the $1 ones from Target, and are hanging on cup hooks installed in the bottom of the shelf of the bookshelves-that way we can pull them down easily and do the usual word sort, sentence building and the like with various vocabulary words. And Alli enjoys having a "word wall" which contains ALL her languages. And they're easily removable to access the books underneath.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with our "school" room-and Alli is too. Her only regret is that we didn't bring the American Girl School desks back from Atlanta. I think the next "school stuff" task will be to dig into the cardboard box collection and make some desks for the other students :).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Music in a down economy

This has been a hard week for me. I've talked to a lot of parents who, as one mom put it "it's not a hard choice-if it's music class or mortgage, you have to pay the mortgage". These are parents who have suffered a job loss, or are worried about the future for other reasons.

And I understand perfectly. We found out less than a month ago that my husband's company is being bought out-for the second time in 5 years. We don't know what it means for us, whether we'll be moving, whether he'll have a job. It's terrifying. And it's SO easy to say "Well, those extracurricular activities are extra. We don't need them, and can save that money for the future". And feel justified in doing so. Especially since it WOULD reduce my stress to not worry about scheduling piano lessons, or getting to dance classes, or sewing elastics on ballet slippers.

But the other side of it is that I see my daughter, who is also responding to the stress at home. The stress of her father's potential job, the stress of a mother who is trying to get students for music classes. And I see that for her, in an uncertain word, music and dance are something she can cling to. They're there for her, supporting her, giving her a chance to be successful, and people who focus on the present, right now, without fear of the future. And she needs that. What's more, I need that. I need to be able to see that my labors are worth it, that she's benefiting, and that she's happy.

Obviously, each  family has to set their priorities, and if money's not there, it's not there. But consider the costs and benefits of stability, of familiarity, and of having someone in the child's life who isn't, for at least that hour, worried about the future. For me, it's worth it.

For Love of the Piano: the Piano Society of Greater Washington and the Friday Morning Music Club - After Hours Blog (washingtonian.com)

For Love of the Piano: the Piano Society of Greater Washington and the Friday Morning Music Club - After Hours Blog (washingtonian.com)

“You are not too old or too slow,” she insists. “Your hands are fine. With the right teacher and the selections that are right for you, you can play the pieces you love and play them musically.”

One of the comments I get most when talking to parents about Kindermusik for their children is "Do I have to sing?? I can't sing". In the US culture, we've made music, whether it's piano, voice, band instruments, orchestral instruments, guitar or whatever a spectator sport. Music is something you go and watch someone else do. Or something you listen to on a recording. And like sports, few adults do it themselves. They hire someone else to teach their child to do it, but as adults, it's no longer part of their lives.

The best part about teaching Kindermusik is that it's not just, or even primarily, the children making music. It's the grownups. It's not the babies singing "Bird Chorus", but the adults. It's not the babies and toddlers who figure out that they can PLAY "Chick-a-dee, dee, dee" on an orff instrument or piano-it's the grown ups. They're learning too. And they're experiencing that joy, that love of music, and sharing it with the next generation. It's a beautiful thing.

Our Kindermusik classes start August 22 (but if you're reading this later, you can join us at any time).
Visit http://memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php for more information-or call 901-678-4244

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lots of nice early learning items on sale


While most of these are designed for math/science, I've found them helpful in teaching music. We will often use visual pattern blocks to help us figure out musical patterns, or play color patterns with rhythm of the words with counters. I'm especially excited about the dinosaur counters, because I can think of several students who will enjoy this. And two color counters are great for melodic notation and dictation activities, especially magnetic ones on the whiteboard or a cookie sheet. Lots of great items here, so don't miss them!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More picnic play

We had a wonderful music picnic today! Here are some more activities to continue the play at home:
Picnic playset. Great cutting and imaginative play practice for your child!

A perfect picnic-visual discrimination activity

A whole lot of wonderful picnic activities


Use these along with the songs from our picnic! These are downloadable from http://play.kindermusik.com and here  are all the links!

This is just a taste of what you get in a Kindermusik class. Not only do you get the activities in class each week, all designed for your child's age and developmental level, but at home activities as well to take and use and have fun with in your home materials. For these early years, Kindermusik is truly the best choice.

Call 901-678-4244 or visit http://music.memphis.edu/cms/ to register today!

Songs from our musical picnic

 Use your play.kindermusik.com card to download your favorite songs from our playdate today!

Hello, How Do You Do!
Everything is Just Fine!.
We’re Going on a Picnic
Gang Goo
Train is A-Comin’
Circle Dance
A-Tisket, A-Tasket
The Train Climbs Up the Track
Simple Gifts

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sing to read, read to sing!

I had a wonderful storytime today at the Booksellers at Laurelwood, and in it I used a couple of Sing and Read storybooks. These are a wonderful addition to any home library. As a child "reads" books where the words are familiar, they are developing foundational literacy skills and working towards actual, independent reading. Furthermore, often these books become favorites, read again and again, giving the young child the reinforcement they need. You can find these books at any bookstore and many teaching stores. If your child gets Scholastic book orders through their preschool or child care program, they are often included there as well.

And, of course, literature selections are included in every set of kindermusik home materials.

Join us this Saturday at our Kindermusik Open House and Storytime at the University of Memphis, Park Avenue campus, building 2. We'll be exploring instruments, finding out more about the program, and just plain having fun! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You're never too old to be a kid-or to teach them


I'm sure there are generations of piano and music students convinced their teacher is pushing a century in age (I know that my first piano teacher and church choir director seemed downright ancient to me), but this woman, still actively teaching and sharing her love of music at 95, is truly inspiring. I'm not halfway there yet, but how wonderful to spend that many years with children!

Kindermusik at the University of Memphis will be sharing the joy this week at the Booksellers of Laurelwood. We will be doing musical storytimes on Tues, Thurs and Friday at 11:00. We will also be doing an open house at our home studio, including an instrument petting zoo and a musical storytime, this Saturday at 10:00. Come join us!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Soaring into a new school year

We're in the final stretches of being able to have our dedicated homeschool room-which I still suspect will end up being mostly a big homeschool closet and that actual learning will take place everywhere else, but it's kind of nice, and Alli's decided she wants a dragon theme this year-mostly, I suspect, because she's been hearing for the last couple of weeks as her friends go to back to school nights and registration that "My teacher has a jungle! Well, MINE has bumble bees!" and so on. And I admit, the former preschool teacher in me enjoys playing. So here's what I have so far-mostly custom binder covers for things printed off of online sites (hey, what little princess doesn't like handwriting practice more on pink paper?) and a few decor items. Alli also likes charts and ways to record progress, so I made a few of those (if you go a couple of posts down you can see them) that I expect won't last even a month before she gives up, but it's part of "playing school" for the first few weeks of the year.

Anyway, we're having fun! Any other dragon themed ideas?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hot stuff to do today-another daily chart

Another building independence tool-I've printed these out and laminated them, then put the daily assignments using a vis-a-vis marker

Incentive charts

I'm playing with dragon-themed items for my daughter for this fall, and I came up with these after not finding anything online. We have one day a week this year where she's going to need to be on her own for school while I'm teaching classes, so I thought that being able to put a sticker on a chart for each assignment completed independently, and trade in charts for some pre-determined reward might help a little. These also may be helpful for recording days of practice in a row, too.


The thrill of 10,000 twinkles

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wonderful article about the benefits of music in the classroom-and at home


From early childhood today magazine.

Interested in more music for your child? Visit us at http://music.memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php

Why music? It improves language skills!

Northwestern University researchers have found that children who study music for several years improve their ability to learn languages long-term-which is just one of the many reasons to include music in your child's life.

Call 901-678-4244 or visit http://www.memphis.edu/music/cms.php for information about group and individual music classes for children and adults from birth on!

Free kids music downloads

Here are several sites with some nice kids' music downloads
This one has over 70 songs in Mp3 format for download, with most having printable sheet music as well. Songs follow a wide range of preschool and early learning themes. You can purchase a CD with all of the downloadable songs, too.

All of the Kindermusik core curriculum CDs are here, as well as many supplemental songs from the Do Re Me and You library. You get three songs intially free, and if you take a Kindermusik class,  can use the code in your book to both download your class music and 7 more free songs. You can also download songs at .99 each.

There are several free songs for download here, including a wonderful one about washing hands.And lots of other thematic songs for download at .99 each, too-I've used many songs from this publisher through the years as a music teacher, and love them.

We are currently enrolling for classes at the University of Memphis Community music school, including Kindermusik!
visit us at http://music.memphis.edu/cms
For more music fun, visit me at makingmusicwithkids.blogspot.com or follow me on twitter  @musicwithkids

Friday, August 5, 2011

Follow me on twitter


Hope to see you there!

Kiddies on the Keys-Piano for the extremely young

One of the best parts about being a Kindermusik teacher is that I get to work with very, very young children and their parents, inside a nicely equipped music classroom. And one thing that every single child is drawn to, from the time they can walk, is that great big wood box with black and white keys. And for years, I avoided using it, except maybe occasionally playing a song myself. Even though, at age 2, I'd turn around and find my daughter sitting in someone's studio, plunking keys, there was still some part of me that drew a line that said "they're too young". But part of Kindermusik is exploration, and these kids wanted to explore that big wooden box just as much or more as they wanted to explore the egg shakers, rhythm sticks, or even my big drum. So, taking little steps at a time, I began integrating piano into all my classes. And while I'm not going to suggest that every baby/toddler needs a piano at home, I am going to say that if you have one, avoiding the "No, that's grandma's piano! Don't touch" at age 2-3 may not be the best route to take, especially if you want your child to eventually want to play piano down the road.

Here's a few basic steps for guiding your child's piano/keyboard exploration throughout the years. Most of all, remember-you're not giving a piano lesson. You're having fun. When your child is done, they'll crawl/walk away. Let them.

Start with a label:

When you're dealing with infants and young toddlers, as we do in class, it's not so much what they do as what you, as the parent do. Just as, in a Kindermusik class, we'll sing up high and move the baby up high, you can do the same thing on the piano, playing a few notes up high, and a few down low, and labeling them. The same is true with all those other musical opposites that we explore in class weekly. High/low, fast/slow. As your baby becomes a toddler, he'll probably come to the piano and explore too. And yes, that will be open hand, multi-note at a time banging. But it's exploring and it's musical. Label what's there, and give the child ideas for the future. Melodies will come later.

As toddlers get older, they get more independent. Around age 2, many of my students get shy in class and don't want to come to the piano in the classroom, but still love to watch their parents, and will sometimes even tell their parents what to do. And this is the age where they REALLY start to take it home, based on the reports I get "from the field". By about age 2 1/2, they start to show off, and then they can start to follow instructions, and make their hands jump like a frog, or "climb" up or down in pitch, or play quickly or slowly. You also start to see one finger and single note playing.

Around age 3-5, melodic exploration begins, where a child will play a few notes, and, if they've had enough musical exposure, may even comment that "That's Jingle Bells!" as they recognize fragments. The black keys are wonderful for this, because they give a pentatonic scale with no half-steps, and many of the common folk melodies children learn to sing, like Mary Had a Little Lamb require only those 5 notes. Children at this age also can start transferring rhythm patterns to piano in free exploration, and creating their own melodies. If the child is learning melodies in Kindermusik or other music classes, they will often begin playing these on piano, too.  Finger independence is beginning, and the children are developing motor control and are able to start playing with different articulations and at different volume levels, so you can now say "Can you play quieter, please" and demonstrate it-and have it stick (for the next minute or two, anyway)

Between age 5-7, I start to see preferences developing. In Kindermusik, we introduce three instruments in this age group-glockenspiel, recorder, and dulcimer. Often a child will prefer one or more of these, and if piano is available, it becomes just another instrument for exploration. Some children LOVE piano-and those are the ones who will happily move to piano lessons as soon as they graduate Kindermusik. Others fall in love with recorder, or with dulcimer, and for them, the next logical step is a wind instrument, such as continued recorder instruction, or a string instrument.

But it all starts with letting the child explore. Enjoy the journey.

Ms. Donna

We explore many instruments in Kindermusik classes this week. We are now enrolling for fall, and please see the full schedule at http://music.memphis.edu/cms/childhood.php

And, if you've been bitten by the piano bug, the community music school offers classes and lessons for all ages, including parents who always wanted to take piano, but never had the chance, or who took piano and quit and now regret it :). http://music.memphis.edu/cms/

Taken from "Put a Piano in Your Exploration Box", a conference session at the 2011 Partnership of Kindermusik Educators Atlanta Regional Conference, by Donna DeVore Metler.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The top 10 reasons to continue music instruction through elementary school

Well worth reading-a wonderful synthesis of the research!


Practice as play-or, how do I get my child to practice?


This article brought practicing to mind. One of the hardest lessons that parents of young musicians need to learn is that practice doesn't just happen, You have to actively TEACH a child to practice, and that's not always easy. Here are a few suggestions I have for practicing with a young, beginning student that work...most of the time.

1) Have a set time to practice, with a set deadline. What works well for my daughter is to practice while a meal is cooking. She knows dinner will be ready "soon", so she doesn't feel that it's as interminable of a time period as "30 minutes" would be, and it's a flexible amount of time where I can pretty easily adjust it if she is really doing well and we want to follow this for awhile.

2) Teach someone else. My daughter does very, very well when she gets to teach someone else-usually her father (for some reason, she doesn't accept that I need to be taught), or even a stuffed animal or doll, her lesson. And in her explanations, I can tell that she's got it, or that she doesn't have it.

American Girl has 18 in doll sized musical instrument sets which seem perfect

It's almost enough to make me wish my daughter played violin, cello, or flute, but my daughter's found ways to create a piano and a recorder for her special friends.

Encouraging recitals helps, too. My daughter LOVES to put on concerts for her stuffed friends when she has a song ready-sometimes including programs.

I've also found, both with my Kindermusik Young Child students and at home, that focusing on repetitions instead of on time is a good way to go. Since Alfred, my alligator puppet, is my companion in Kindermusik classes, I let him help the children practice, too.

The kids push a bead around to "Feed" Alfred each time they play "mouse, mousie" or whatever song they're working on. And, of course, Alfred needs to eat EVERY day :). It's amazing how well this works. The beads and charms came from a necklace kit from Oriental trading-in this case, a "cajun crocodile" themed one, and there are all sorts of cute options. Each one makes 12 or more practice buddies (each necklace has 3 charms-in this kit, one alligator, one firefly, and one dragonfly, so if you don't have a specific mascot, you could easily make more than one per necklace).

I know that eventually, we'll get to the more deliberate practice talked about in the article-but right now, practice is play.