Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Buggin' out

I'm one of those folks, too that poo-poos the latest quack's reinvention of musical instruments. But given the impact music and movement has on early childhood development, and the impact technology continues to have on the way children learn--these little music bugs leave me, well, buggin' out.

Developed at MIT in Boston, take a look at how techonology is reinventing the classical music experience, via Toy Symphony.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Send cool thoughts

Kindermusik Educators in Australia are feeling the effects from one of the worst heat waves in years, so says this picture, passed on by Sylvia Stock, Distributor and President of Kindermusik Australia/New Zealand. You can learn more about the goings-on of Educators there on Sylvia's blog, or the on the

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Make things like this

Bre Pettis is a Seattle-based artist and arts educator who makes conceptual video installations, photographs, paintings, drawings, puppets, and dolls. Altogether, that makes for a great blog.

What if you turned the video camera towards your crafty ideas, and showed families excerpts of the integrated learning moments that happen in a Kindermusik class? I think they'd make their own registration form just to sign up.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hand shadows

All you need is a flashlight, one white bed sheet, and your imagination. These hand-shadow illustrations should inspire some good stories.

A family's heart

A snippet of tips (and tons more in the article) on how to see what's going on inside, by knowing a little bit more about how to approach the outside, Applying Family Systems Theory to Early Childhood Practice


1. Don’t focus on the negative. Build on family strengths and avoid labeling and allowing personal bias to influence your interactions with families. Educators will often perceive “good families” as the ones who are more enthusiastic and involved. The family who responds politely to requests but leaves day-to-day decisions and work on school matters to the child and teacher is seen as less caring and uninvolved.
2. Learn more about the cultural background of your families. Just because a student is of a certain culture does not mean that student’s family is of a given religion, does not have legal status, has a certain discipline style, or has a specific socioeconomic status (Kagan & Garcia 1991). It is critical for teachers to become familiar with the cultural background of individual students.
3. Bring lots of chairs. Be sure to have enough chairs, snacks, and materials to accommodate extended families at events and conferences. For some families, an invitation to family night includes aunts, uncles, cousins, friends who serve as family, and even neighbors (Trawick-Smith 2005).
4. Put the child’s experience first. Whether their families are disengaged or enmeshed, children need opportunities to experience who they are individually and as a part of a group.
5. Respect families’ need for control. When introducing new ideas, materials, or experiences to children, involve families as well. Also recognize that some family members did not have positive experiences with education as they were growing up. While they may display anger, hostility, or mistrust, and these may be directed at you, the source may be events from the past. It will take time and persistence to build a relationship with these families.

Monday, January 23, 2006

FYM (for your marketing)

Kindermusik International recently completed an online study of over 300 Kindermusik parents and found that 99 percent would recommend the program to a friend. More findings from the November 2005 study by Harris Interactive will be released in the coming months.

Guest blogger

This post and Educator tip is from Darcie Brown.

First Impressions Matter
I learned very quickly in the photography industry that packing a final product leaves a lasting impression with clients. This also applies to the Kindermusik studio.

When presenting families with Sign and Sing At Home Materials, I always make sure I spend a little time and money making the materials look their best so they make a great first impression. This semester, I got funky gift bags and matching tissue paper from a dollar store. This cost me a total of $1.49 per student and definitely adds more value to the materials. I always enjoy bringing in a whole pile of bags at the end of class to present to the children and their parents as it is a wonderful grand finale to what is often a family’s first Kindermusik classroom experience.

Friday, January 20, 2006


A Japanese music label, Amorfon, calls itself the "lovely experimental music label." Here's a little proof: This album, called "Kindermusik," and in no relation to Kindermusik International, is a recording of sounds made from babies and toddlers dropping instruments in a beautiful, musical way. I found it enchanting.

Idea: Do you have a "recording" day in your Kindermusik classes? One day when families can bring a friend and film a class, take pictures, or better yet, record sound?
At Home: Encourage parents to record their own "Kindermusik" albums.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

We've been working on Sign & Sing

Ok. So the first home DVD for Sign & Sing was a little, um. Academic? Boring? A bit of a snore? About as much as fun as a glossary? Imagine Kindermusik Educator Cathy Moore's Aussie accent saying, "It's just a bit dull, mate."

Still, the academic integrity, research, and easily adaptable methods behind Sign & Sing are undeniable, even with a somewhat dry delivery, for Cathy and many other Educators.

So if the Session A DVDs were less than what you expected, take a look at the new home DVD for Sign & Sing Session B. And check KI news this month for more sample clips from the Teacher's Kit.

Then let me know what you think: mmcginn@kindermusik.com

By the way, the gentlemen in the photo are actually participating in a Sign Language contest, via Davy Crockett's Woodsmen's tests.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Rhythm and 'rithmatic

Number theorist Manjul Bhargava is also a tabla master, a kind of drum. Hear what he says about the mathematics in music on NPR.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Putting the press on Family Time

No more than two weeks ago Kindermusik Educator Darcie Brown emailed me asking for the Family Time press release. Today she emailed me the article. You can find new releases for Sign & Sing and Family Time in the Teacher's Lounge, under New Curricula. And if you don't know where to start with the media, or you've been having trouble getting someone to listen, let me know. I used to be one of those journalist types. Drop me a line at mmcginn@kindermusik.com

Otherwise, here are some quick, media tips:
  • Read your community paper. Check out the lifestyles and parenting magazines. You don't have to go with the big papers. Start small, pick a writer you like, and follow them for a while. Once you're familiar with the kind of stories they write send an email or make a call. "I've really enjoyed your last couple of articles and I think I have something you may be interested in." Be prepared with a press release and a few class times when the reporter could visit your class.
  • Contact media early in the morning. By the afternoon, things are already hectic in the newsroom. Call or email someone early in the day with your information. "Hi. I'm a local music and child development Educator and I have a press release about a new class I'm offering. Do you know who I can send this to? And do you know if they prefer an email or a fax?"
  • Follow up. Get the reporter's phone number and follow up around 10:30 am. Anytime after 3, and they could be too busy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Start your own scholarship

Last night I talked with a first-time mom who was struggling to find a job and still worried that her son hadn't said his first word, yet . "How much is Kindermusik?" She asked. When I told her, she said she and her husband were barely scraping by, but that maybe they could get something together to take classes. She didn't say it to ask for charity. It was just a mumbled truth.

What can I do? Something like Kindermusik Educator Sonya Kempf, and Shirley Grossman, who started a scholarship of their own. I'll profile Sonya soon on the Teacher's Lounge, who is also using money from direct sales parties to fund her scholarship. In the meantime, here is what Shirley writes about how she got started.

"Instead of gifts parents normally give me at Christmas time and the end of the schoolyear, I request that they give a donation to my Materials Scholarship Fund. We now have over $400 in this fund, and it has been wonderful for some of my needy families. Since children love to give presents, I also suggest that the children make a picture for me, so they have something special to give me that I can ooo and ahhhhh over."

Do you have a scholarship? Send me an email at mmcginn@kindermusik.com

Monday, January 09, 2006

Start your own blog

Faster to print than a newsletter, and quicker to edit in a single stroke, a blog is a great way to stay connected to your families throughout the semester, post pictures from class, announcements, and musical thoughts for the day. Here’s how you can get started.

  • If you’re unfamiliar with blogs yourself, a parent in class may be interested in starting one for you. Ask around.
  • Start a blog yourself for free at http://www.blogger.com.
  • Check out educator guru Bob Sparkle's blog.
  • You can see how parents are talking about Kindermusik in this blog. Scroll down and look for the babies on the Maestro blanket.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kindermusik moms are hot

Over here at Kindermusik International we've been getting some pretty interesting feedback over the new mommy photo on our Web site. To summarize some of the worst we've heard: "No way is a Kindermusik mom that hot."

Well, naysayers, you're wrong.

Once the photo posted we heard from Kindermusik Educator Julee Kowalis who said, "That's a mom in my class." And no, the marketing department didn't pick it that way. It was one of a million pictures in stock photography. And no, there are no men in the marketing department. We just know a cool Kindermusik mom when we see one.