Friday, March 30, 2007

A perfect blend of mentors

The banjo-uke
Part banjo ... My great, great, Uncle, or something like that, was Eddie Condon. And I like to think of him up in heaven quietly guiding my late night lyric cramming sessions, and running scales and burning out my wrists on the guitar. He started out playing the banjo, then moved to a four-string guitar, before going on to make history as one of the Chicago Seven.
Part uke ... Mr. Saunders is very well likely up there with Eddie, tickling the keys. The martini-swilling Mr. S left me a ukulele when he passed away. It was stolen by a crack-addicted neighbor. Seriously. He is no longer my neighbor.
All Molly ... I like the idea of playing this instrument and having them both so close to me. My guitar represents my father; my voice is my mother; and this banjo-uke will be the boys, and part Federal Government, once I get my tax refund back.
See the little star on the head?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Please stop jumping on the cardboard

"Swiss architect, designer and bike messenger Nico Enrico Staubli has free downloadable patterns of unique designs for you to make cardboard (that’s right, cardboard) furniture for your kiddos. So far, Staubli has patterns for a stool, a chair and a rocker, all of them with clear instructions in a pdf format and a gallery of the furniture to which you can submit your own photos when you make your own."

Hat tip: Poco a Poco

Yes: Owner of a Lonely Heart

From yet another, wonderful Brown, Darcie.

Move over soccer mom: Meet Alpha mom

A new generation of mothers is dubbed "Alpha Mom" in USA Today.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Meet Kathryn Brown

If you've called Kindermusik recently, you may have talked with the lady in the picture with me: Kathryn Brown. Kathryn is my giggle buddy here at Kindermusik, and every once in a while, she sends me emails composed from pictures, like this one. My new favorite.
She's telling me to ride my bike to work tomorrow. Looks like we'll both be riding our bikes.
Everybody needs a Kathryn Brown. And you can't borrow mine. OK, maybe for a minute.

Monday, March 26, 2007

When I mother up, I want to be just like Mollie

With all the great moms I know, including my own, it's hard to say there is one mother I'd most like to be like. But I hope I'll love my children like my own mother. Nudge them towards creativity like Darcie Brown.
And write about them like Mollie Greene. As I've said before, the way she writes reminds me of something out of a Great Gatsby novel, only better. And in lower case letters.

Search the top three early learning sites

Scroll down on the right-hand column and I've linked a google search to the big three child development resources:

So next time you need a quick tip, research bit, or something smart pertaining to child development, just type in your key words and it'll search only the sites listed here. Also, if you think other sites should be included in the mix, let me know.

Thanks Poff!

Waiting for fireflies

“On soft Spring nights I’ll stand in the yard under the stars - Something good will come of things yet - And it will be golden and eternal just like that - There’s no need to say another word.” Jack Kerouac, Big Sur

Music Night
It's still too early for fireflies, or crickets, or cicadas, but they're coming. One listening game you can play with the little ones might be, "Who can hear the first cricket, frog, or cicada" of the summer. Even better, who can spot the first firefly.

When you do finally hear those sounds, you'll have this activity in your back pocket, ready to go.

Sit outside and listen to the night sounds, then your big kid can make these homemade instruments for a "summer night's symphony."

Fireflies—Fill different colored glasses or bottles with varying levels of water and strike it gently.

Baritone bull frogs—Wrap rubber bands of different widths around an empty shoe box or rectangle-shaped plastic food container. Pluck the rubber bands, one at a time.

Rain—Fill one paper or plastic plate with rice. Tape the other plate to the top and seal the sides with tape. Roll the rice around slowly for rain sounds.

Cricket—Wrap pipe cleaner around one pencil and leave about a half an inch between ridges. Take another pencil and run it back and forth across the pipe cleaner ridges to make a chirping sound. Or, turn the dial on a ratchet wrench for a cricket sound.

Any other ideas?

Music is the solution

I was moved to the point of a breakdown (good thing I was running the video camera) as I watched Jenya (Kindermusic) instructor lead Dave and another lady as all three interacted with the children. I do not know a whole lot at this point about Kindermusic....but what I witnessed with my eyes and heard with my ears today was truly impacting. Broken lives....lives that nobody seems to want....singing, laughing and giggling....a Godsong was rising in the room and I had the honour of having a front row seat. To Tammy McMath (the Kindermusic Instructor who first brought KM to this Central Asian country about 5 years ago)....all I can say is....thanks!

Hat tip: Sarah Flack

Sunday, March 25, 2007

All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned from the Feds

Here's why I was jumping out of my seat last week.

We're in the throws of spreading the word about ABC Music & Me for 4-to-6-year olds. My shoulders keep rising up to my earlobes, in a crinch over increasing pressures on schools, teachers, and the kids in pre-k, to find measureable ways to track the altruistic skills you're supposed to be learning in kindergarten ... and perform them on cue.

How will this ditty change if children grow up in an environment where they're not learning for the joy of the process, but for the performance?
All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Robert Fulghum
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are food for you.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw some and paint and sing and dance and play and work everyday.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why. We are like that.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Jumping out of my seat

It's so frustrating when you're looking for something, and you can't find it, and instead of blaming yourself for not organizing your stuff more correctly, you blame

"Why can't have a better archiving system?/!?!?!?!?!?!!"


I'm scrambling to find a link to a study I posted sometime ago about how preschool children could jump higher when they participated in a music and movement class.

Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

Kindermusik in 'Strailia

Pictured above is Aussie Educator Michelle Spencer. Below is a letter that a parent (and PhD) sent us explaining why she feels so at home, even half-way around the world.

Dear Kindermusik International,

I just want to share what a wonderful experience we have had in Kindermusik. We are Americans living in Australia and I was thrilled to find a Kindermusik program in our area. I have been taking my one-year-old to her Village class since she was six months old.

She knows when we are getting close to Hawthorn Music Studio, where her class is held, and she begins kicking and squealing with excitement in anticipation of her class. Michelle Spencer has been our teacher in each of our three terms, however we have had opportunities to experience other teachers during make-up classes as well.

I have nothing but praise for the program and the teachers alike. They are all eager, energetic and clearly love children and music. As a mother, I appreciate that Michelle explains to all of the parents how each activity benefits the development of the children. As a doctor of psychology, I appreciate her accuracy in these explanations.

You should be pleased to know that even on the other side of the world, the Kindermusik name is well-respected. Our experience has been so positive that we have found another class to join when we return to the United States next month. We will certainly miss the Hawthorn Music Studio, however I take great comfort in knowing that my daughter's transition will be easier thanks to the familiarity of the Kindermusik program.

Sincerely,Melanie L. Collins, Psy.D.

When a child is born, a mother is born

Translated from Korean:
A child is born not knowing anything about the world.
A mother is born not knowing anything about a child.

A child who is unable to balance his own head,
Possesses the strength to support his own weight.

He may cry out for milk,
But he has the ability to distinguish between his mother’s milk and that of another.

A newborn sleeps 14 hours a day,
And during that time, his neural development progresses at an astonishing rate.

Though a baby puts everything in his mouth,
He does so because of his limited eye sight so he can see and feel these objects.

A baby imitates his mother and this is the very first learned skill a baby possesses.

And then a baby speaks... using nonverbal gestures.

Children who learn to sign score an average of 12 points higher on IQ tests. -- USA Today
Baby signing facilitates speech development. -- Linda Acredolo

But most importantly, signing with children nurtures a stronger family bond.

Dog, cat, milk..

A child is born.
A mother is born.
Baby signing is born to help us communicate with our babies.

Hat tip: Kindermusik at Musikandmotion

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Music in the head: New research supports it

Read about the latest research on music and brain development online on
Consider joining the Kindermusik Educators in Canada Loop, where I found this article. Kindermusik Educator Lori Burkhardt sent this on, and this loop consistently posts positive information and solution-oriented discussions.
Found this picture on flickr using a "music brain" keyword search.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Laugh? Cry. Laugh? Cry. Cry? Laugh.

With the increasing number of children ages birth through five in more early learning care centers, new assessment standards are being handed down to help the caring adults around them figure out if the babies are drooling and gurgling on schedule.

Here we go.

Early Music Education = Early Intervention

"What we have here, is an improvement to communicate." (Shameless rip-off from a line in Cool Hand Luke)

"While most Educators would agree that preschool music and movement ctivities are worthwhile, this study suggests that they can help improve children's communication skills which may enable them to take greater advantage of learning opportunities in school."

Cigar box ukulele

Kathy, think your ukulele camp kids this summer would dig this project? Learn more about how you can make your own here.

Kindermusik with an Irish accent

Dubin, Ireland based Educator Malia Higgins is featured in this ireland am (like our Today Show) broadcast on, em, "Owhning your own business."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Don't let the sweet face fool you: He's a pirate

Pictured here is the always camera-ready Xander, and while I've strayed from the habit of posting "Xander's Kwips" lately, I'm linking you to Xander's latest video shoot.

Watch this. Especially the alternating rhythm with swinging the sword and slapping the knee. Who needs rum when you have rhythm like this?

We've used several of Xander's Dad's photos for Kindermusik marketing materials (especially with Mom Darcie being a Kindermusik Educator, too). Being the cost-savvy folks we are here at Kindermusik, I've paid her in Do-Re-Me & You! product for the pictures. She sent this video as a thank you.

Special note: Have you seen a camera like the one used in the above picture? A friend just bought one in Brooklyn, and apparently it takes four pictures at one time.

Respect the Van

Monday, March 19, 2007

When hands cry

If you're teaching Sign & Sing, you've felt the chills as parents watch their children say what they need before they ever say their first word. Kindermusik Educator Tracey Kretzer captured that moment on tape, and uploaded it to her new You Tube account.

Tracey sent me this email:

"I attended your blogger break out session at convention last fall. I learned a lot; thank you! I finally uploaded my first email to YouTube and thought I’d share it with you. I hope to get a blog together soon!

My now 12 month old Sign & Sing daughter started signing CRY instead of crying!She does this in a 5 word sentence! She actually started signing in 3 word sentences at 6 months old.

If pictures say 1,000 words; videos say a million; and this little one leaves me speechless.

Appearing now in the Teacher's Lounge

Flyers in Word format.
Black and white and e-postcards and graphics.
Customizeable graphics in Your Virtuoso.
Just add summer.

"Summer of Music" marketing tools now online in the Teacher's Lounge.

Pall Bearers Handle

Video camera in hand, Sean swirled around and taped one song from each of the acts at Greensboro's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration at M'Couls Public House. Then he'd duck inside and post the videos to his blog.

He asked which song I'd like to be taped, and I said the first song: Pall Bearer's Handle.

I wrote this song about the Limbo contest my family usually kicks up every St. Patty's Day. My brothers and I circle the pub and gather up the folks, saying "It's tradition here to participate in the annual limbo contest. There's a chance you can win $50."

As folks line up, my Dad passes over the "staff," which is really a pall bearer's handle. A friend of his gave it to him years ago, and over the years, Irishmen and women have signed the staff and it more resembles a happy shepard's crook.

When the bagpipes rise up and people start bending backwards, I've always been mesmerized by the idea that people are literally dancing under a death stick.

The real kicker however comes at the end of the contest, when the winner comes to claim his prize, and my father says: "There was a chance you could win $50. Chances are you won't."

Ah. The Irish.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coming soon ....

Look in the Teacher's Lounge Friday for full-color and black and white flyers and postcards
you can use to promote your summer camps.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Three more days

On Saint Patrick's Day I always try to be in the middle of my favorite Irishmen.

Left to right: My Dad, big brother Danny, and (not so little anymore) brother Ryan. Sadly, we'll likely be in different places this year. Ryan will be in Western North Carolina, playing host to his soon-to-be-in-law family in Charlotte. Danny is hosting his in-laws in Raleigh, on the Eastern side of North Carolina. And I am still in the middle, smack dab in the middle of the state in Greensboro, NC.

I wouldn't be surprised if they showed up, though, unannounced. Especially since this year, for the first time, my Dad won't need to shush the crowd, or lift me onto the bar or a stage to sing. I've actually been offered one this year.

The Sound of Music

Personally, I love the writer's lyrical touch. Mom and professional fiddler Rani Arbo writes in this month's Wondertime magazine about her experience in Kindermusik and Music Together classes.
You can read the article online.

Have you hugged your music today?

A few years ago at the Kindermusik Educator Convention in San Antonio, TX, Carla Hannaford talked about the absence of touch in many early childhood care environments. That generally means young children will go through their day and be reprimanded for touching, holding hands, hugging, and in general, being given the freedom to wrestle, and topple over each other, which is essential for spatial awareness and strengthening neural wires in the brain.

These adaptions to your stop and go activities, and stop and go dances in your baby classes, can make a big difference in a child's life today: Toddlers Express Themselves through Dance.

Musical Hugs
This game also promotes listening skills, discrimination between sound and silence and practice with stopping and starting. It has the added bonus of positive physical contact, which strengthens the bond between you and your toddler. To participate, both of you move in any way you want while the music is playing. When it stops (again, you press the pause button), you go to each other and hug. Start the music again, and repeat!

If you have multiple family members playing, participants hug whoever is closest to them when the music stops. If you're having a birthday party with several children in attendance, play this game instead of Musical Chairs, which eliminates players and means less movement for all but one child and results in one winner and many "losers."

Musical Partners
A variation on the above game, this requires players to find each other, hold hands and sit down until the music starts again! If you have several players, the game also can be played in two circles, one inside the other (one partner in the inside circle and one in the outside). When the music starts, the circles move in opposite directions. When it stops, the children run to their partners, hold hands and sit down.

A new look for zero to three is a great, quick, online resource for early childhood development. Even if you only have a few minutes before class, you can click through and brush up on your child development with this online archive of links to new and proven research, advocate support, and more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Oh, dear. Did the Beatles sing a Sol-Mi?

Regarding the whole "Sol-Mi" interval. Love it. And we know that the simple melody in "Rain, Rain, Go Away," and "Starlight, Starbright" are the easiest for little ones to hear and eventually sing on their own. And just like the estranged, singing nun once said, "We'll start at the very beginning."

But as I was doing research on songs in this interval, I came across another interval, which leaves me wondering if we can create a better, and forgive the term, hipper list, of "Sol-mi" songs.

  • The Flintstones theme
  • It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing
  • The Star Wars Theme

Compared to using "Star Wars" as an example, "Starlight, Starbright" just seems a little dull.

So I need your help. Know any songs that feature the Sol-Mi interval? Maybe a Beatles melody, something to really help a new parent say, "a-ha!" I get it!

Comment here, or drop me a note.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hello Laura!

I love Googling Kindermusik and coming across a blog I haven't seen before, like this one, especially a Kansas girl, like myself (I was born in Dodge City):
"I taught elementary music for several years in Grain Valley, MO and Olathe, KS. I became interested in becoming a Kindermusik educator when I began to realize the value of developing the whole child, and being 'process oriented' instead of 'performance oriented.' I love watching the joy the children get from simply trying something new in class and feeling that sense of accomplishment. I now enjoy teaching Kindermusik, piano, flute, and voice lessons, and spending time with my husband and son, Reece."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Awwww. Shamrocks.

Even though I stopped celebrating St. Patrick's Day with green beer a long time ago (I'm one of the lucky Irish who can't hold a drink) it's still my favorite holiday.
It was a guaranteed day out of school; a march in the local parade; my Dad standing me on the bar or any stage and shusshing everybody to hear me sing; and looking for shamrocks and leprechauns.
How lucky is the little one who gets to wear these?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Imagine these guys at 7 years old: in your class

John Frusciante (upside down, on the right) was recently named one of the top 20 guitarists in the world in a recent issue of Rolling Stone. Quick aside: I’m no feminist but there were no chicks on the list. I do see this as an opportunity.

The magazine also links to a video of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist talking with the other top three cover players about their early experiences with music. At 7 years old Frusciante says he quit playing guitar because someone wouldn’t teach him what he wanted to know, and that his parents refused to buy him an electric guitar. He later found a way.

What’s that old saying about the better way to learn? The child who walks the beach and finds a fish on the shore and wonders what’s inside, or the child given a fish in a biology class who is forced to see what’s inside.

Let the electric guitars wash ashore.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The importance of rhythm

"The fetus normally learns rhythm and vibration through a mother's heartbeat and breathing as well as from the constant electrical impulses and EMFs (electromagnetic fields) being given off by these organs. ... Babies born without this sense of internal rhythm cannot calm themselves with self-generated rocking, crooning or sucking.

Instead, they just fret."

pg. 149 "Smart Moves, Why Learning is Not All In Your Head" by Carla Hannaford.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Recognize this little girl?

How about now?

Darcie Brown took both pictures, the first one snapped in Village class, and the second, the following year in Our Time.
We love those age-appropriate instruments!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Three. It's a magic number.

Kindermusik Educator and blogger Jeanne Lippincott is back online after a short hiatus, adjusting to life with a new baby, bringing her personal total up to three beautiful children.

We've missed you, and it's good to have you back.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The toddler dance

There is no greater feat on Vimeo

It goes like this: you dance, dance, dance, bounce in place, then bend halfway ... hang there ... then run to your mom.

Last night Marketing Director Lisa Rowell played a few tracks off the CD for Emmy, and she danced, while we watch.

All done

Sent off the finished album for the RPM songwriter's challenge just two hours ahead of deadline. It should arrive today. Still, it was a great exercise, and you can check out some of tunes on my Music MySpace page.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Baby on her lap, she wrote and wrote

"With the coming of the babies," wrote Laura Richards, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of "Beauty and the Beast," and endless children's rhymes and poems. "I wrote, and sang, and wrote, and could not stop. The first baby was plump and placid, with a broad, smooth back which made an excellent writing desk. She lay on her front, across my lap; I wrote on her back, the writing pad quite as steady as the writing of jingles required."

Laura's poem Eletelphony is featured in "I Need a Kazoot."