Friday, March 31, 2006

Let's share profiles

Recently word came around that you guys really liked reading about each other in the Educator Profile section on the Teacher's Lounge. So we're going to revive that feature, only I need some help.

Take a few moments and fill out this bio sheet and we'll post a new one each month in the Teacher's Lounge. Go ahead. Be bold. Make a statement. The more you say, the more we'll learn about you, and from you.

(Just think, hundreds of years ago, I would have asked you to send in a cut-paper silhouette of yourself.)

Have we talked about this yet?

The song of the day on Each day they feature a new artist and a new song. Whether it's athletic-clad hipsters or funk-meisters long gone, the link always provides a pleasing sound, with accurate reviews written by an expert listener and critic.

Today's song is heart-achingly beautiful. Made me fall back in my chair and collapse with gratitude that music exists at all. It's downloading to my iPod right now. It reminds me of the scene in that movie Garden State, (writer and lead actor Zack Braff has a blog, too) when Natalie Portman puts her headphones on Zack's head. She says, "This song will change your life."

It's a song like that. Listen.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Send me your pictures from last year's convention.

I'd like to put together a multi-media Web cast using photos from the last convention. If you attended the KEA Convention in Nashville last summer, can you send me copies of your photos? I'd like to use them in an online video to promote the 2006 Kindermusik Convention in November.

The kids are alright

My favorite band of all time, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, announced a new children's album in the works, "The Kids are Alright." I fell in love with MMW because of their sporadic, bouncy experimentation with sounds on traditional instruments--Hammond organ, drums, and stand-up bass. All band members are insanely classically trained musicians let loose and sizzle with a funky sound that can't be imitated. I've often thought that MMW's music is what imagination sounds like.

They'll do for children's music what Vince Guaraldi did for Snoopy.

Tears of joy

I'm squeaking out a proverbial teardrop of pride and joy over the Family Time blog. Yesterday, I had a front row seat on how powerful a mode of communication blogs can be. Also, a front row seat on the talented people who take Kindermusik, and children's learning, seriously.

Here's the story. In the March 22 post "What you'll see in class," an Educator clicked the comment box and wrote about her frustration over not having Unit 2 for Family Time until fall, 2006. It's a very real, concerning issue that affects her life and her business. And since reading her post, Carol Penney, Manager of Curriculum Development, thoughtfully responded. The FT blog's main facilitator, Darcie Brown, posted Carol's response this week.

That kind of communication is what I hoped the blog would, and will do: provide a place for Educators to get together, share experience, and provide solutions.

Makes a blogger proud.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Puppy on her shoulder

In case you haven't met Marketing Director Lisa Rowell, the little one pictured here is her best work.

Lisa is one of those tireless people, always ready to lend an ear and a joke, no matter how much crap is piled on her desk. Her selfless energy never ceases to amaze me, and she's the best manager a creative, unpredictable, moody, and sporadic writer-type like me could ever ask for.

If you do talk with her, she'll likely have you laughing before you hang up. You'll know what it feels like to speak and have someone actually listen, and you'll be a better person for the experience, even if it's only temporary.

The little one in the picture here is a lucky little girl, Emmie, aka Emmerson Rowell. And she belongs to Lisa and Clay Rowell. Welcome to the world little one. We could use a few more Lisas.

I heart art

Land of Nod has a great art collection for kids.

Narrowing thinking

Grr times two = Double grr. The new buzz phrase in public schools is "narrowing the curriculum," according to an article in the New York Times. That means more schools, especially underperforming schools, are edging out the arts and music. Here's what leaves me multiplying my grrs:

"The survey, by the Center on Education Policy, found that since the passage of the federal law, 71 percent of the nation's 15,000 school districts had reduced the hours of instructional time spent on history, music and other subjects to open up more time for reading and math. The center is an independent group that has made a thorough study of the new act and has published a detailed yearly report on the implementation of the law in dozens of districts."

Math was never my subject. If it wasn't for arts classes, I likely wouldn't have developed the self-esteem I needed to tackle the harder subjects: like social skills.

The solution: I'd like to collect some of the great FOLS some of you may have put together over the recent years on how music can help develop math and science skills for the next issue of Tune In.

Send your thoughts and ideas to

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Have you seen these ladies?

One or more will be coming to a city near you for the Professional Development Series. Expect a unique two-day training experience, customized to meet the marketing and classroom needs of Educators in your area.

Laughter and friendship is inevitable. Bring a camera.

Check the schedule for a PDS near you.

The way dads see it

Some of my favorite Kindermusik parents in class have been dads. They seem even less inhibited than most moms, and more willing to roll around on the ground with their kid, snort like a pig, and wave wispy scarves.

Case in point: DaddySpeak. It's a blog co-written by two dads who write about fatherhood and dad stuff. One takes his little one, Doodles, to Kindermusik pretty regularly. He shares his thoughts about it in this post.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I want to go home now

Okay, I'm craving my little music desk and guitar at home right now. Right around now the yellow afternoon sun makes my bedroom glow a warm, inviting, come hither and play light. And my French Press still has a little coffee left over from this morning. Music charts cover the desktop, and my fingertips are callousing up as I type from last night's practice with a new blues-jazz progression.

What got me started?

Helen Peterson posted this musical game on the San Fransisco Symphony for kids Web site, and it makes me want to learn music all over again.

Carry that weight

Shortly after the cost for shipping Kindermusik materials went up, Wisconsin Educator Betsy Flannagan emailed and said, "Hey. What's up? Why is DRMY! cheaper?"

Here is the answer, straight from CFO's Scott Kinsey's email:

"Weight is the primary issue since many of our Kindermusik materials include more items like instruments, toy sets, journals, etc. Many of them, like Toys and AWG are also bigger – so fewer items can go in one box."

Do whiny babies grow up to be conservative adults?

By way of the NPR blog, this study published in a Toronto newspaper lead me to look up some solutions to help whiny kids stop whining. Overall, the number one solution is humor. Here's what the experts say:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Funny, they don't look tired. Must be PDS.

Early last fall, this caffiene-happy group of Educators hopped in their cars and drove all night from the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois area to Greensboro, North Carolina. Leaving their families, their students, and the comforts of home behind they made the 14 plus hour trek for the first workshop in this year's Professional Development Series. I've made that drive before, and the drive across Indianna alone is reason enough to turn around for home.

And that was before PDS registration was free. So with the first official day of spring already sprung, you likely won't have to pull an all-nighter to get to a PDS. The weekend training workshops are happening right now, and with recent announcement of The Partnership, and registration costs covered by your annual license fee, it's a great time to see what a PDS is all about.

If you can't see the schedule here, sign on to the Teacher's Lounge. Click "The Partnership." Then "Seminars."

Paint by 3-D

Neat Web site, albeit it a bit vague, where you can order a paint by number mural kit for your kid's wall. So what's new? The images have a 3-D element.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dream toys

A Kindermusik Educator's blog in the UK, Kate's Musings (I couldn't find her last name on the blog, and just sent her an email) posts the children's toys drawings from her Imagine That! Toys class. Scroll down on her blog to see a few more.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Emailing audio

Next time someone asks you why music is so essential to an early childhood education, you can email them this music clip, courtesy of Provo, Utah Kindermusik Educator, Julee Kowallis.

Listen here.
Copy and paste this link to send it around:

For more video and audio messages on topics like this, check the "Masterful Minutes" section. Log on to the Teacher's Lounge

  • Click "The Partnership"
  • Then "Masterful Minutes"

Operators are standing by: New summer camps

We're trying something totally new today with the new summer camps. When you call and pre-order the Village and Young Child camps, we'll email you the introduction, and the first two lessons from the new camps--free. The email will include a materials list, song lists, and enough to plan a demonstration lesson waaay before the real Teacher's Kit arrives to your doorstep, May 1.

Why'd we do that? You've said you need more information, right now. I hope this helps.

To pre-order, call 1-800-628-5687. As soon as you place your order, check your email inbox.

Blogger babe

Musician, artist, mother, blogger and Kindermusik Educator Darcie Brown recently modeled for a Blume Maternity fashion show--a local clothing designer for pregnant women in her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. Darcie has featured Blume before on her Web site, as well as a few other local family-friendly businesses. Plus, she'll link the Blume blog from her blog, and Blumes' fashion blog is a great read, too for new moms, or pregnant moms.

That's one example of how a blog can bring new community connections to the families in your studio. You have a great network in your classrooms, a blog can be a creative space that people come to explore that community.

Also, in the Family Time blog, you and other Educators will figure out when is the best time to hold a Family Time class. Also, read what Patricia has to say about how to help a parent who may be looking a little overwhelmed in class.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More about blogs

Theresa Case in Greenville, South Carolina sent this article in as a great primer for getting started.

How do you sing a baby star to sleep?

Last night was one of the most clear, starry nights I've seen in a long time. That's not saying much since I've only recently been paying more attention to the stars, ever since a recent visit to the local observatory. One of the astronomers there pointed out what he called a "star nursery." I loved the word so much I scribbled it down in a notebook by blue moonlight.

You can find the star nursery, or nebula, yourself on Orion's belt. In this photo, see where those three stars on his sword point vertically down? See the kind of pinkish star? Where it looks kind of blurry, that's where the stars are being born. Just like real babies, it's super gassy around there, too and that makes it look fuzzy.

So last night when I looked up to say good night to the baby stars, I wondered, "What would you sing a baby star to sleep?" Or would it be good morning? They wouldn't be going to bed until the sun comes up. Crazy kids.

Any ideas? I want to write a song about it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All is right with the world has this nifty little music feature where they play a song of the day. Today, it's Neko Case and a release from her new album.

I never really learned anything from a book, anyway

Same goes for blogging. Be an experiential learner and jump in. It's immensely satisfying to have a space to put thoughts that can inspire action—whatever that action may be. If it’s to take a Kindermusik class, look at a picture, or laugh. Post FOLS, Email Databank snippets, dates for Pickles & Ice Cream parties.

I read a blog the other day where a new mother posts at least one new photo a day. She also writes notes to her 2-year-old daughter on her blog, so that one day she'll know both sides of the story. That more than once, in the face of her child's mischief and misbehavior, it's a near losing battle between a stern face and a fit of laughter (If you want a link to that blog, email me.)

What will your blog be about?
Find out, and start your blog.
Or, email me your blog address. I'd like to collect other Kindermusik Educator blogs:

Monday, March 13, 2006


My new favorite magazine.

The difference is hope

I've been thinking about that "Go Outside" post from earlier this week (scroll down and bit and you'll see a blurb about a new study claiming more violence than ever in children's television programs).

It’s just too easy to wag a finger and say, “shame, shame,” on TV for putting violence on the boob tube. Some of children’s greatest songs and nursery rhymes told violent stories:
  • Ring Around the Rosie tells the story of the Black Plague
  • Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary is about the beheaded Mary Queen of Scots
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd was secret code to southern slaves to find the Underground Railroad

So “what’s the difference?” How is violence on TV any different from the violence then, or the world children are growing up in today?

Ella Jenkins gave me the answer. The children’s music performer and historian has a voice as deep and truthful as the history of her songs. Yet those hard time stories always carry a message of hope and understanding. That’s why her music, and music like hers, will survive.

That junk on TV won’t survive. There’s not enough hope in it. It takes hope to survive, and that’s the message I want to send, and sing, to children.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Tell Me A Tale

Art Director Tony Jacobson had this to say about the illustrator for the new Young Child camp, Tell Me a Tale:

"Aaron is a full-time illustrator with a fine arts degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. He has illustrated numerous stories for children's magazines and educational publishers, among them Lee and Low's Bebop Books. He also has illustrated the Do-Re-Me & You! book Ned Redd, World Traveler. Boyd and his three dogs live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin."

Updated summer camp information on the Teacher's Lounge. Click the "new curricula" link, then Summer camps.

Busy Days illustrator

For a while, illustrator Abby Carter's biggest fan was her grandmother. But the artist for new baby summer camp book, Busy Days, has a new captive audience: your Kindermusik families.

See more of Abby's work.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What's your presence online?

Broadband growth. Eighty-four percent of U.S. households will have broadband access by 2008, according to eMarketer. This opens up the pipe for marketers to develop video, music, and other unique branded content to reach the masses in more personalized, entertaining ways.
Source: ClickZNetwork

Tune In drops today

Check your email inboxes for the latest issue of Tune In, a free e-enewsletter for parents and children. This one's a little bit different this time around, with more video features, and links to products. Let me know what you think and email me at

When your child cries, harmonize

Ok.I sheepishly admit that I check People's online magazine. Every day. And today I found this little Kindermusik cure from a new dad:

"He's the happiest little fellow," says Big & Rich's "Big" Kenny Alphin, 42, of 4-month-old Lincoln (with stylist wife Christiev, 43). "He never cries really loud. And if he starts to whimper, I'll just harmonize with him."

Go outside and play

Okay, this is me, around age 5 or 6--about the same age as the kids in a new study in the Kansas City Star, which basically found that TV is more violent than ever.

■ Nearly eight incidents of violence per hour. Even when Wile E. Coyote-era “cartoony” violence is extracted, the average dropped to only 6.30 incidents per hour. “To put this figure in perspective,” the report stated, “consider that in 2002 the six broadcast networks combined averaged only 4.71 instances of violence per hour” during prime time.
■ Nearly two cases of “verbal aggression,” like insults and abusive name-calling, every hour.
■ At least one “disruptive, disrespectful or otherwise problematic attitudes and behaviors” per hour.
■ Sexual content appeared, on average, 0.62 times per hour, usually in the form of provocative pictures of female characters.

My concern is that kids may see far more violent incidents on TV than they can even remember to ask you about. I'm not anti-TV. I'm just pro "go outside and play." I'd rather worry about a child climbing a tree and falling down, than worry about what he's watching on television.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I don't think Beatrix had an iPod

Still, this is a quick little sideshot of Renee Zellweger on set of a new movie about Beatrix Potter, the Peter Rabbit creator, illustrator, and author.

Wonder what she's listening to.

What do parents think about Kindermusik?

You could break into their houses and read their diaries. What? Not your style? ‘n k.

Instead you could go to Technorati. It's a search engine, like google. Only you’re searching the online Web logs, aka blogs, of tech-savvy parents who love posting pictures, progress notes, and other dimple-inducing vignettes about their little muses. Think of it as an online baby book. Quite a few write about Kindermusik.

So. Take a look. See what parent’s value about their child’s time in Kindermusik. And while you're there, you'll probably come across a few other blogs created by Kindermusik Educators.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Remember the rhythm

In my film class last night, my teacher said one of the most important skills any director or filmmaker could possess is a little musical understanding. He had just described one dramatic edit he used in a film as a “coda.” He snapped his fingers to illustrate the 4/4 rhythm in the action between edits.

He went totally Kindermusik.

Monday, March 06, 2006


New study in Pediatric finds that early education for premies boosts long term skills.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Mahna, Mahna

See what happens in class today if you hum a little of this melody. Hum it in the grocery store line. The coffee shop line. Then let me know how many people actually say back, "Mahna, Mahna." I'll bet lots.

"Mahna, Mahna" was one of my favorite Muppets' songs. And because Jim Henson and the Muppets were so well loved by so many people, it can provide an instant connection between strangers. Try it out.

Not so coincidentally I've been thinking about Jim Henson a lot lately. He used puppets to inspire imagination. We, as Kindermusik Educators, use music. And in class, you give parents the information and insight they need to inspire a child's imagination. Open their minds to finding a more creative, musical way to help them engage, play, interact, and learn with each other.

Inspire imagination. Make it a musical mind.

Mahna, mahna.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Show me a craft

This morning I took pictures of the crafts featured in the new Young Child camp, Tell Me a Tale. With a new folk tale featured each musical day, the young ones let their fingers do the learning when they make the main character from the story that day:

Totem pole: Rolled up construction paper, googlie eyes, pipe cleaners, foam shapes, glue, and clothespins
Sock donkey: One mismatched sock, googlie eyes, a bag of beans, rubber bands, and clothespins
Alligator (or is it a crocodile?): Construction paper and brown grocery sack
Black paper: Crayons, paper, and lots of black crayons. The kids will scratch away at the black to show the color below.

What else do you want to know about summer camps? Drop me an email at

New Summer Camps will be ready to ship on May 1st. Current camps start shipping April 1st.

New summer camp craft snaps

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bubbles: More than meets the eye

Some of the simplest things, like bubbles, can do so much good. Watching soap bubbles can soothe a baby's fussy mood in an instant. Blowing bubbles can help develop lung and breath control. And early on for a child, simply reaching up and popping up a sudsy circle is a sign that she's working on eye-hand coordination, and fine motor control.

What you'll see. Around 5 months, your baby reaches her whole arm towards something she wants. Eventually she’ll grab, and perhaps switch something from hand-to hand. Also around this time, her eyes uncross and her vision improves as she focuses and scans slowly moving objects. Those two developing skills come together as your baby watches you blow bubbles. Plus it’s relaxing, like watching curtains blow in the window. Add a little music and this playful time becomes a soothing ritual as your baby grows.