Listen Purposefully, Avoid Tuning OUT

We are surrounded by sounds, but how well are we listening to them?   Is there too much so that we “tune out” the sounds, ignoring it like “musak”.   Or can we hear the violins play the melody, and the horns play the ominous chords that helps us feel the building tension in an orchestral piece about a thunderstorm?  Can our children recognize the difference between different types of drums?  We are either training our brain to listen purposefully, or we are training it to “tune out”.

There are so many sounds in our busy world these days that we learn to “tune out” most of the ones that aren’t directly effecting us at the time.  The interplay between our brain and hearing mechanisms that allow us to block out certain sounds is a wonderful ability that our ear has, and is not something that can be duplicated with technology.  Ask anyone with a hearing aid how they miss the ability to choose to focus on one sound, instead of hearing everything at the same level.    This is truly an asset when we are trying to focus on something. 

Yet, if our brain makes it a habit to ignore the background sounds, it lessens our ability to be fully aware of our environment.  That is why it is important that we limit the continuous background sounds in our environment, such as the TV, or even music if played all the time.   I knew a fabulous mom whose 2 girls were involved in Suzuki violin lessons.  As part of the methods for training the ear to hear the right sounds, it is important to listen to this music regularly.  In her zeal, she had this music playing in the background of their room all day and all night… for months.  This is sensory overload, and the brain simply cannot process continuously like that.  She appreciated this new perspective, and chose times to play it that the girls would be receptive to this auditory stimulation; as they were getting ready in the morning, before practicing the violin, and while relaxing before bed.

Families can consider and CHOOSE times that will work best for music to be played in their home, or even in their car.    Play SONGS at a time when you and your child can interact with fun activities, even if singing along and talking about the music in the car.    Play instrumental music while they are coloring or doing some artwork.  OR play soothing music as a child is going to sleep.  Just don’t have sound going on all the time.  The brain needs a break so it can listen with refreshed awareness when it does get a chance.

In order to develop our ability to “tune out” the irrelevant sounds, and to focus on the important sounds, we must PRACTICE active listening.  This means engaging our brain in the active decision to reduce our own sounds and pay attention to the details of specific sounds that we hear.  In class, I suggest rubbing the ear lobes before an active listening opportunity.  This helps stimulate MANY neural connections that help us pay attention and listen.  With practice, a child, when told to listen carefully, will start to rub their earlobes and close their mouth – waiting for the sound.    Music is a wonderful venue for learning to listen with purpose.  There are many things we can listen for: 

  • We can focus on each instrument separately to hear their particular “voice”. 
  • We can try to listen to the words to determine what the song is about, or to learn the words. 
  • We can listen to hear if the music seems happy, soothing, or sad. 
  • We can listen to sounds of real creatures or objects and try to imitate the sounds. 
  • We can listen to patterns in music, anticipating, and making sounds or actions at the right place in the music.  Ex,  If your Happy and you Know It  (clap, clap)  This is the beginning of ensemble development – playing instruments with others.

Practicing active listening provides lifelong benefits. It’s necessary for following directions at home and at school. Preschoolers are developing the ability to notice subtle differences of sound, such as listening to many different styles of drums, and naming that style of drum- something he wasn’t ready to do as a toddler.   

In our Imagine That class this week, and at our Studio Free Play on Saturday, the students were able to feel and hear the sounds of a variety of REAL drums, such as a djembe (African drum), a Native American Pow Wow Drum, and even a SNARE Drum.  They got to feel the curled wires underneath the snare drum.  They made an “ooooh” sound near it, and heard the buzz, and they played with drumsticks on the top. 

This hands-on experience was delightful for all, but even more than that, it has laid a concrete foundation for them to start really HEARING the different timbres of drums.

HOME ACTIVITY with the DRUM !!!

During some of our movement activities, we are practicing active listening as we listen to how the drum is being played, and try to determine HOW it is telling us to move.  For example, the drum is played with a nice steady beat for “walking”, or a fast steady beat for “running”.   The students listen, and determine HOW to move.

After much practice, they are quite the experts at listening to the sound, and they are READY to use their creative thinking to figure out HOW to make the drum sound like we want others to move. Start with “walk” vs “run”: then explore tiptoe, march, slide, spin. We will continue to explore this in class next week.

So this week, take time together to “put on your listening ears” and discover all the wonderful sounds around you. 

What do you now HEAR that you didn’t really recognize before?  How will you “train your brain”?

Try a music or art class at January Demo classes

Of course, you want to try a Kindermusik class with Ms. Debbie, or an art class with Ms. Carolyn, but you are worried about the cost, or whether your child will like it, or whether they will disrupt the class, or whether you will have to dance or sing.  Well, don’t worry so much, you can dance and sing when you want to, just like your child is encouraged to participate in their own way.  Your child may not be ecstatic about it the first day, but will grow to love it in just a few weeks (when they become familiar with the routine), and we can work through the cost issue (I’ve got my ways.)  But first, just come and try it out a class.

Demo Days Logo

THIRD Week of January:    17 – 21st

at InTune Studios

Enroll Online:   FREE DEMO Class Schedule 

Invite a friend: See you then !               Enroll Together and each get FREE music !

 

Demo classes reflect the programs offered by Music Connections and InTune Studios

Spring 2012 Semester

starting First week of February:            Jan. 31 – Feb. 2

leaf play

Babies: infants up to 17 months

– Kindermusik Village: Cock-a-Doodle Moo

– Kindermusik Playdates: Winter Wonderland
– Kindermusik Sign & Sing: Unit 1 (6 – 30 m)

 

Peek a boo Darcy

Toddlers: 1 1/2 – 3 1/2 yrs

– Kindermusik Our Time: Away We Go

– Art & Literacy: Pee Wee Picasso’s (InTune)

 

IT Boats

Preschoolers: 3 – 5 yrs.

– KM Imagine That: Toys I Make, Trips I Take

 

Ole'

Elementary: 5 – 7 yrs.

Kindermusik for the Young Child (5 – 7 yrs)

Art’Sing: Singing, Drama, Art (6 – 13 yrs) (InTune)

 

Family Lap bounce

Families:

Kindermusik Playdates: (one time events)

Jan: Winter Wonderland

Feb: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Mar: It’s Your Lucky Day

 

These Playdates are offered one Sat. a month, as well as a variety of times of other times.

 

Be a part of a wonderful musical experience with your family this Spring !!!

 

For any Kindermusik classes,  Enroll online   or contact Debbie Mondale.

Email  musiconnx@att.net ,  or call: 863-816-8835

 

For any InTune Studios classes,  contact Tiffany Stokes

intunestudios@gmail.com , or call  863-937-7782

I hope to see you at the studio this week.  Until then, be well.

Appalachian Music is Front Porch American Heritage

In the Appalachian Mountains – a strong part of our American heritage was wrapped up in songs and music that were birthed on the porches and back yards and shared only from person to person. 

Much of this music and heritage may have been lost, except for a select few who saw the beauty, and the history, and the cultural significance of this music.   David Holt took it upon himself to seek out those musicians who remained, and patiently interviewed and learned all they had to share.   In just under 30 minutes, David Holt sums up generations of real history with stories, songs, music, and people that fill out the history of this part of our world, of our country.  28 minutes may seem a bit long to consider, but this is riveting storytelling with music, and it is WELL worth watching.   I LOVE the story about the cotton fields which leads into the introduction of some of our African American music as well. 

To learn MORE about the people and music of the old Appalachian music, there are LOTS of videos on You Tube of interviews with these original musicians.  Search under David Holt, and banjofolk.  Or just check out his website, www.Davidholt.com 

You may also enjoy two of my previous blog posts in relation to this style of music:

Melodies and More on a Mountain Dulcimer  –  see different ways dulcimers are played

Got Spoons? Play Them !   –  see a video of a spoons player and get some ideas for fun at home !

The students in the second year of Kindermusik for the Young Child study Appalachian folk music as they continue their music studies, while learning to play melodies on their own two string dulcimer.  We LOVE exploring these fun songs with nonsense words and silly animal stories, and making up our own new verses to sing in between playing the chorus on our glockenspiels.  We LOVE using our musical memory to pick out familiar songs on the dulcimer.  We LOVE exploring REAL instruments that are used in this folk music, like washboards and spoons, as well as the banjo, guitar, fiddle, and the mountain dulcimer.  And we LOVE hearing the masters of this music and their stories.  That is one of the reasons we LOVE David Holt and what he has done to make this part of our culture accessible to us. 

This Appalachian music helps us learn how making music becomes part of a person’s daily life, part of a person’s heritage, part of a person’s soul.

Melodies and More on a Mountain Dulcimer

The Mountain Dulcimer is a unique stringed instrument that was born in the Appalachian mountains.  The fact that it is already tuned to a known chord,  AND that is that it is played on the lap, makes it easier for young children to learn than the ukulele or the guitar.  With 4 strings tuned typically in the key of D, the melody is played on the 1st string, with the other strings droning the D chord as it is strummed.   At least that’s how we START to play it.  Those who continue to play, learn to use more and more of its unique abilities. 

In the second year of Kindermusik for the Young Child, our students get to build and decorate their own dulcimer before the rosewood fret board with 2 strings is attached.  Although OUR two strings are both tuned to C, so we can easily play many of the songs we learned on our glockenspiel.   During this time, we are studying music from the Appalachian Mountains. 

Here are some video examples of mountain dulcimers being played by musicians as various stages of development. 

In this video, a man plays Amazing Grace – only the melody is played with noter on first string, while the D chord is strummed.   This is much like the Young Child students play familiar melodies on their own dulcimer.  We also give them the opportunity to use their musical memory to pick out familiar songs on the dulcimer. 

This fun folk song, Turkey In the Straw, is played amazingly well by a 7 year old using his fingers and more of the strings to add harmony.   I’m inspired !

A folk musician at a dulcimer festival uses “All the fingers, and ALL the strings” to play Eight More Miles to Louisville.

THEN, for another step up, to the modern world of dulcimer playing, Bing Futch introduces us to the Double Dulcimer.   I actually got to watch him play locally at a folk music festival, and I was blown away.

So, I hope these musicians will  inspire my young musicians, in our ongoing musical adventures, as well as maybe a few other friends along the way.

You may even want to listen to some LIVE dulcimer music.   Search your area for Dulcimer festivals or live events, and you may find a lot more than you expected.  If you live in Polk County, Florida, we are fortunate to have a Dulcimer Night on the FOURTH Friday night of every month, starting at 5:30 pm in the Central Park of Winter Haven.  Don’t look online for it… just show up !

Please share if you know of any websites that list festivals or events that feature live dulcimer music, or even if you are familiar with a video that would also be inspiring.

Kindermusik in Winter Haven – A survey for you

I am thrilled at the level of interest from families to have Kindermusik programs offered in Winter Haven.  More and more families are recognizing the value of music in the lives of their children and families, and want to have it more accessible. 
 
I am excited to once again work with the wonderful families around Winter Haven, but I want to make sure to plan effectively for those families who are interested.  This survey will help me determine what times and programs are best for families, as well as a few other details.
 
There are several options that I mention in the survey that will be easier for you to review before you take the survey.
 
Kindermusik Playdate – This is a one-time event, up to an hour of fun musical activities, and includes music and 1 prop or instrument so parents can continue the fun and learning at home. These are currently scheduled on the 2nd Sat. of each month in the Lakeland location.  The next event is on October 8.  See the details on my blog:  Party with the Pumpkins 
 
WINTER HAVEN Options: 
  • A Playdate can be scheduled at a location of your choice, at a time that works for you and your group of friends.  (as it fits in my schedule)  (If interested, add it to your comments)
  • A Playdate can be scheduled by me at a central location at a time that many families find convenient.  (That’s why I need your feedback.)
Kindermusik Adventures –  Includes 5 weekly classes, up to an hour of fun musical activities based on a theme, and includes music, props, instruments, and materials so parents can continue the fun and learning at home.  The musical process is greatly enhanced for children when they have the opportunity to get familiar with the music, and have a chance to get accostomed to the routines of regularly structured music classes.  We can set this up so the cost can be divided into 2 monthly payments.  I’d like to offer the following programs in October/November at a central location at a time that many families find convenient.  
 
For Babies (2 – 18 months):  Peek-A-Boo, I LOVE You !
Babies and mommies (or daddies, or grandmas) simply LOVE this semester full of traditional songs and activities that babies and their loving adults play to connect with each other.  These unique songs may come from all over the world, but the result is the same – building strong family bonds and laying a strong foundation for learning in Baby’s brain.
 
For Families (1 – 4 years – flexible):  Creatures in My Back Yard
I’d love to offer this semester of delightfully engaging songs and activities about the birds, bugs, pets, and wild critters that may be found in your yard or nearby park. Children have a natural connection with these creatures, and these songs and activities build and expand on this knowledge base.  But what you see is a happy child exploring the world around them in new and unique musical ways.
 
So PLEASE respond, and complete this survey right away !!!!
so I can use your feedback to schedule programs that work for as many families as possible.  
 
 

In the Spring, we may look at the option of 10 week semesters, so we can consider the Family Time program.  In this case, we can extend the fun and learning, and are able to lower the average cost per class.

THANK you for participating in the survey.  I look forward to hearing from you, and being able to determine the best way to bring Kindermusik to Winter Haven.

Communicate easier with your baby with sign language

ASL for Music

Signing Music

You can see the brain wheels turning as older babies and toddlers try to communicate…  as they try to tell an older sibling or adult what they need or want.  You can also see the dazed look on the parent’s face as they try so hard to understand.  Amazingly, older siblings can be impressive interpreters.  But they are not always available.  When others don’t understand, it can become very frustrating for the child, leading to emotional meltdowns – no matter how hard the parent is trying to guess their meaning.

Baby Sign Language has been around for awhile in many different forms.   Indeed, for hearing babies and toddlers that have no developmental issues, sign language provides an option for a peaceful way to communicate their needs and wants.

Kindermusik International teamed up with Signing Smart, who put a lot of research into the best methods for parents to use to help set up positive situations in which their child WANTS to use signs to communicate.  And they established methods for helping children.  The result is Kindermusik Sign and Sing, specifically designed for children from 6 – 36 months along with a parent or significant care provider (a grandparent, aunt, or even a nanny).

THIS is different approach from other sign language programs for babies. Through songs, toys, and loving playtime between you and your child, Kindermusik Sign & Sing demonstrates the FOUR Keys to Signing Smart.  Parents learn when and how to use and encourage sign language during important parts of the child’s daily routine.

Learn when you play. Parents do not have to memorize a list of signs.  Babies are not asked to make a specific sign when a word is called out.  This system encourages using signs that reflect the typical patterns of conversation between a parent and child.  The home materials provide more than 50 signs on flashcards and on DVD (for the adult’s reference).  But parents CHOOSE a few signs to focus on that are most likely to fit into a child’s day and interests. So playtime and everyday items around the house; ball, bubbles, mom and dad become the objects of learning in the classroom, and sign language becomes a natural, happy part of a family’s day.

Children start to understand language WAY before they have the ability to use it.  And children are multi-sensory learners.  When a word is used in combination with a sign, the child is able to hear and see what the parent is trying to communicate, enabling them to understand the meaning of the word more quickly.  If a tangible object is also available, it can provide the sense of touch as well.  For example, a parent says the word “ball”, while signing the word, then hands the child a “ball”, and plays with them joyfully for a few moments (adding a positive emotional element), it stimulates MORE areas of the brain to develop a neural pathway to connect object to the word and sign.  Although a child may not yet be able SAY the word “ball” yet, they are likely to understand it, and use sign language to initiate playing with the ball.  And they are more likely to start to say the word “ball” earlier in their development.

Hearing children who know signs learn language almost twice as fast.  Check out these statistics from this Study conducted by Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindert, Signing Smart program founders

Compared to developmental norms, Signing Smart children have enriched language and communication skills:

  • While the average 8 month old will have no spoken words, the average Signing Smart child will have 5 signs and 1 word.
  • While the average 12 month old will have 3-5 spoken words, the average Signing Smart child will have 25 signs and 16 words
  • At 18 months, the average child will have 10-50 spoken words. In contrast, the average Signing Smart child will have 79 signs and 105 words.
  • In addition, a majority of Signing Smart children begin combining signs and words or signs and signs together to form little sentences at 11-14 months. Compare this to non-signers, who do not begin to combine words into short sentences (e.g., “Da-da car”) until 20 months old on average!

These results indicate that ASL signs, used in combination with Signing Smart strategies, facilitate both overall communicative abilities as well as spoken language skills in hearing infants and toddlers.

Songs and fingerplays.  Parents already accustomed to fingerplays and rhyme-songs, such as “If You’re Happy” and “Old Macdonald”, begin to easily include American Sign Language (ASL) signs in familiar songs, improving your child’s language skills, fine motor skills, and strengthen fingers for zipping zippers and using scissors.  There are a few songs like this in Unit 1, but Unit 2 specializes in these activities !

There are Free Demo classes on   Oct. 3  at 5:30 pm. (Monday Evenings), or  Oct. 4 at 10:30 am. (Tuesday Mornings) at InTune Studios, 1037 S. Florida Ave. Suite 125 in Lakeland. 

Starting Oct. 10 – 11, we will be offering the full Sign & Sing: Unit 1 semester.  This is a 5 week program that offers initial training and opportunities to begin using American Sign Language with your child using the Four Keys to Signing Smart. 

In January, we are planning to offer Unit 2.  This follow-up session to the first introduces more signs using animals and toys as a learning theme, and delves into a deeper understanding of the Four Keys to Signing Smart introduced during Unit 1. With a special focus on helping children understand signs used in different contexts, the Home Materials include a children’s DVD called The Treasure Chest: Signs, Songs, and Rhymes, and features mini-music videos of children singing well-loved songs using the signs, as well as showing the printed word across the bottom of the screen—giving children multiple ways to learn the words, the sign, and the language.   It is important to complete Unit 1 before participating in Unit 2.

Please link to my website to enroll for the Demo classes

Or, to SAVE YOUR SPACE in class, Enroll now for the Sign and Sing Unit 1 Semester !

Do you use sign language with your baby?   If yes, what success have you experienced?    What would you recommend for families just starting the process?

Fall Semester Programs and Themes

YC - UkelelesMusic & Learning FALL  naturally together in Kindermusik, especially with Ms. Debbie !

Lakeland Fall Semester

starts first week of September 2011

Host:  InTune Studios in Dixieland Village at 1037 S. Florida Ave. Suite 125 

Most programs are held once a week, Monday through Thursday

Monday eve. and Tues morning classes are taught by Ms. Tiffany

All the rest are taught by Ms. Debbie.

 The following Core Curriculum classes are 45 min. for 15 weeks (except for Young Child which is 60 min.).   For an overview of how the Core Curriculum meets the needs of children at each stage from infancy up to 7 years old, please click here.

Click on the class logo for links to videos and program descriptions.  Or get class details, and enroll right away, at my website,

http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com  

No classes are scheduled during school holidays, so the last 2 classes are first 2 weeks of Jan. 

Village Logo————– Babies ————

                         Infants up to 19 months   

                       Wed. 9:30     Thurs. 12:30

Do-Si-Do  (Feel the beat with the Waltz, the Tango, the Cha Cha, and more…)  (8 weeks) 

Feathers  (Celebrate the migrating birds and the Fall changes through song and dance.)      (2nd semester starts 11/4)    

Our Time

————- Toddlers ————-

                 (1 ½ – 3 ½  yrs)     

Tues.  10 30 am.  with Ms. Tiffany

Wed. 10:30  &  11:30 am.   

                                                             Thurs. 9:30  &  10:30  am.  

  Wiggles & Giggles Semester Themes: Bath time fun and water themes, self discovery & love between family and friends)            

IT Logo———— Preschoolers ———-

                           (3 – 5 yrs) 

         Wed. 1:30     Thurs. 11:30

  See What I Saw  Theme: Park play in every way:  playground, nature discovery, picnics & more !

Kindermusik for the Young Child—— Kindergarten / First Grade ——

                          (5 – 7 yrs)

             Tues. 5:15 pm  – Sem. 1

  In this 2 year music education program, students gain a strong foundation for basic music theory, instilling a passion for learning music and preparing them for success in formal music studies.  Knowledge and skill development includes read/writing rhythms and notation, ensemble development, playing 3 instruments (the glockenspiel, dulcimer, and recorder), learning the instruments of the orchestra and introduction to several composers, learning about cultural music from around the world, and so much more.  Please contact Debbie for more detailed information.

————-  Second Saturdays ———–

9:30 am.   Babies:  1 – 24 months.

10:30 am.  Families:  1 – 5 yrs (this is flexible)

Fabulous one-time events based on seasonal and child friendly themes.  Scheduled for the 2nd Sat. of every month, starting in Sept.

Sept. 10 –   Babies:  Mister Sun (sunshiny goodness)   Families:  Tub Tunes

Oct. 8 –       Annual Pumpkin Party

Nov. 12 –   Winter Wonderland

Dec. 10  –   Bake, Build, and Sing:  Gingerbread HOUSES !

Family Time Logo———— Families ———-

                    (1 – 5 yrs) 

    If interested, contact Debbie for a survey to determine the most desired time.

  Make Way for Music  Theme:  Learn about and experience music concepts through song and movement.  Listen and learn about instruments of the orchestra. 

We also may be creating some new options for families.  If one of the above  doesn’t work for your family, but you want to see something that does, PLEASE talk to me !   If there is enough interest in a particular program at a particular time, we will do our best to accomodate !

 Enrollment can be completed on my website, http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com , and/or contact Debbie at musiconnx@att.net or 816-8835.  If you have questions, please leave a phone number so we can speak personally.  I’d really like to meet the needs of your family.

Pay in full for the entire semester by the first day of class, and get the chance to choose a prize out of the DRUM !   May include Free CD, Free Download Card, instruments, scarves, Discount Card for Tuition, etc.

To clarify Enrollment Discounts, Payment Plans, and my perspective on providing options for ALL families, see my Blog Page about Payments.