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”?

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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.

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.

2011 Winter Calendar for Families

2011 Jan / Feb   Important Dates for Families 

  For more details on Kindermusik Events,

Check the Music Connections Website

 

Saturday, Jan. 8  – Saturday Family Events    (1-7 yrs. old)

9:30 – NEW Family Time Semester – Each 2nd Sat. for 5 months 

                      “Here, There, & Everywhere”  

 

10:45 –  Family Event:  1x only for new families                  

                       “Kitchen Commotion”

             

  

Jan. 7 – 16    Annual Buffalo Pow Wow  @ Auburndale Marketworld  

                      Native American music, dancing, art, etc.

                     (Ms. Debbie says “This is a MUST SEE local event !”)

                   

  

———— Free Demo Days at InTune Studios ——– 

Jan. 18 – 19   Art and Literacy  –  Demo Class   “Snow Daze”

                                    with Carolyn Espina     Call: 937-7782

Tues.       9:30 am – Little Van Goghs  (1 – 3 yrs)

 Wed.       2:30 pm – PeeWee Picassos (3 – 5 yrs)

 

Jan. 18    Baby Sign Language – Demo class

                                    with Tiffany Stokes    Call: 937-7782

Tues.      11:00 am.  Kindermusik Sign & Sing   (6 – 36 months)

 

Jan. 19 – 20       Kindermusik Demo Classes

                                    with Debbie Mondale     Call: 816-8835

 Wed .     9:30 am.  Village    (infants to 18 mths)

                  11:30 am   Our Time  (1 1/2 – 3 1/2 yrs)

                   1:30 pm   Imagine That  (3 – 5 yrs)

 

Thurs.   11:30 am  Imagine That (3 – 5 yrs)

                   12:30 pm  Village (infants to 18 mths) 

 

If your child seems ready, try out the next level program,

OR, bring a FRIEND to share free class.

 Register for the Demo class on my website.

 

Jan. 20  –  Group Vocal Class Demo

                                     with Tiffany Stokes    Call: 937-7782

Thurs. 4:30 pm.   Young Voices    (5 – 12 yrs)

 

 

————– Kindermusik Spring Semester ————–

 

  

Feb. 5-6     SPRING Kindermusik Semester Starts

                                   Enroll & pay early to save your place !!!

                                   Some classes already FULL !  See Website.

                                   Or contact Debbie:  musiconnx@att.net  

                      

Feb. 6        ISO “Cookie Concert”    early afternoon     

                                     @ Youkey Theatre – Lakeland Center

                      (Ms. Debbie says “This is a MUST SEE local event !”)

 

If you know of other events you believe should be on this calendar, please let me know.  Thanks !

Exploring bird sounds with children

“What does a bird say?”  A lot more than tweet, or chirp.   Most children only consider one sound, but an observant child with more experience in bird sounds might ask, “What kind of bird?” 

bird singingFun vocal play with different bird sounds can open up the world of birds, and sounds, with your child, and can have so many wonderful developmental benefits.    

These are just a few: 

  •  Active Listening is practiced as they focus just on the sound of the bird – listening well enough to imitate it effectively.  This helps them practice “shutting out” other background noises from their attention. 
  • Trying to imitate the sounds helps them explore how units of sound (phonemes) are put together in unique ways, which leads to better articulation and eventually better reading skills  See an excellent article:  On The Path to Reading
  • Watching real birds, or using pictures of birds, and talking about them in detail during the vocal play helps them to make connections cognitively.  Discussions might include questions that will help them discover the characteristics that are similar to all birds, as well as discussing the characteristics that make them different.  Listening and imitating the different sounds they make is an important part of that process. 
  • Children with these experiences are often more observant when watching birds.  And these focused observing skills can easy generalize to many other areas of life.
With children just starting to make sounds, many parents are already helping their child differentiate between a song bird and a duck, and maybe even an owl.  Three choices are perfect for the early learners, and these can often be found in nature, and in pictures or small toys.   Just be sure to verbally discuss the characteristics that make them all belong to the bird family.  Make sure they make the correct connections with just ONE sound, then PLAY around with these sounds, ie:
 
Song BirdTweet – tweedle-eet , tweet-eet-eet-eet-eet – tweedle-eedle-eet (remember the 50s song “Rocking Robin”), toooo-weet, toodle-oodle-oodle…
Duck
Quaaaaack – Quack like mama duck, a daddy, a baby (peep)
OwlWho-Whoot, Too-hoot, Whoo-whoo-oo-whoooooo, Too whooooo, or even a SHRIEK

Once they have made this cognitive connection, and can easily imitate these birds, it is time to add to their birding vocabulary – new birds, and new sounds.  Depending on their interest, add only 1 – 2 birds at a time until they become comfortable with them.   In the following paragraphs, I introduce some of the ways we explore birds in age specific ways during our Kindermusik classes.   You can glean a lot from these ideas and use them at home.   And to get the full experience, join us for a class! 

 
With our Babies in the Kindermusik Village FEATHERS semester, we have fun making bird sounds while moving the babies in a way that complements that particular bird sound.   Adding movement is another excellent way to help solidify the learning that occurs, at any age.  Here are two examples:
Cuckoo bird

Cuckoo bird

 
 
Cuckoo:   Cu – ckoo  (high to low sounds)  SO, we move up and down along with the pitch
ChickadeeChick-a-dee-dee-dee  (high -med-low-low-low).   In this case, we move side to side in time with the rhythm of the sound.
 
With the Toddlers in the Our Time and Adventures programs, we do a LOT of echo play, as this an excellent method for developing language skills and vocabulary.   There are several birds that are great at echo play, like the parrot or the cockatiel, or even the Mockingbird  that we have around here.   It is fun to let the child act like a parrot or use a parrot puppet to copy words or simple phrases, or original parrot sounds, or sounds that a parrot might hear.
  
Parrot:  Squawk – Pretty Bird – Polly wants a cracker – Hello – meow   (parrots also whistle, but age-wise, children are not ready for that until sometime after they are 4 or 5 years old.) 
 
If you want to watch an amazing bird who has an enormous vocabulary, check out the video I included in the following blog posting:  Amazing Bird encourages Vocal Play.
 
With the Preschoolers in the Kindermusik Imagine That!  SEE WHAT I SAW semester, the students are introduced to pictures and recorded sounds of 4 different birds, and we discuss how they look different, and how they sound different from each other, and imitate the sounds of 4 different song birds.  We further explore birds through songs and movement activities.  Every year, their favorite bird to imitate is the Pigeon, as we have a fun song and game with counting Pigeons “Three Blue Pigeons”.
 
Pigeons:  Coooo, Cooo   and make a warbling sound with your tongue while saying it.
 
With the Elementary students in Kindermusik for the Young Child, we also actively listen, and imitate – but then we transfer the bird sounds into rhythms that we learn to write.  For example: 
 
Cu-ckoo can be rhythmically written as   “ta-ta-sh-sh”  or 2 quarter notes and 2 rests.
 
Robin:  Cheerio  – written as “ti-ti ta”  or 2 eighth notes & a quarter note.
 
Isn’t it fascinating how exploring birds and their sounds with your child can lead to so many learning experiences – and it doesn’t cost a THING ! 
 
Just yesterday at the BIRTHDAY BASH at Explorations V Children’s Museum here in Lakeland, they introduced their  BORN LEARNING TRAIL…”an activity trail turning everyday moments into learning opportunities!”
 
I had the privilege of drawing attention to the Talk, Listen, and Sing exhibit on the trail, and had a wonderful time exploring 10 different bird sounds with children of all ages.   If you get a chance, check out that exhibit – I am donating a “FEATHERS” book (from the Village program) that shows pictures of many different birds, including word art with the sounds they make.   A few you might not think of:
Kookaburra:  “HA – ha-ha-ha-ha”  With accent on first sound.
Bluebird:  “Tru-ly,  Tru-ly”  rising to a high pitch on ‘ly”
 
Have fun talking about the birds, listening to and imitating the bird sounds, and singing any songs you might know about birds. 
 
What songs do YOU know about birds ?  
What book would you recommend that can help explore different birds with their sounds!
What websites are appropriate for children to listen to and learn about birds? 

Hello Weather, Let’s Make Rain Hats and Rain Shakers

We’re singing, and dancing, and making rain music in our Imagine That! class!  Playing in the rain has never been so fun (and so dry), as with our imaginary musical rain excursions.  To enhance our rain play, students designed and created their own Rain Shakers to use for sound effects in our rain story.  AND they designed, created, and decorated their own rain hats to enhance our dancing in the rain activity.

Click to play Rain Hats & Shakers 08
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Their personalities just SHINE when they play such an important role in their creations.  A big round of applause is earned for both the students who created these wonderful crafts, as well as to the parents who listened, and supported their child’s ideas in this creative process, allowing them to do as much as possible.

This type of creative enhancements to a learning experience allows the child to internalize the ideas, and to use these ideas to create something uniquely their own to use with the activities in a new way.  If you’ll notice, several of the students placed their hats on top of their instruments to make umbrellas to dance under.  I LOVE how different EACH person’s hat or shaker is from each other.

Hello Weather, Let’s make a Rainbow

In “Hello, Weather, Let’s Play Together”, a fabulous semester of Kindermusik’s Imagine That program, we are singing and learning about Rainbows.  Our song helps us remember the order of the colors in a rainbow.  The colorful rainbow shaped puzzle pieces in our activity books provides hands-on learning in building rainbows while we’re singing our song.

There’s other songs about rainbows that I love, and one is most certainly Kermit the Frog’s Rainbow Connection.  This video also provides us the priviledge of seeing a slide show of some of nature’s most beautiful rainbows.  Please watch this with your children, and delight in finding the rainbows AND the double rainbows. 

You might also want to read the lyrics to the song, and ask some open ended questions.  Of course there are no right or wrong answers, just jumping points for imaginative discussions.  Wouldn’t it be nice for children to have more questions like this.

  • What do YOU think is at the end of a rainbow?
  • What connections do you think a rainbow makes? 
  • What would YOU wish on a morning star?  Do you believe it would come true?
  • What kind of “magic” do you think a rainbow might have?
  • What connection do YOU think of when it comes to being a “dreamer”?
  • “It’s something that I’m supposed to be.”  Kermit believes that watching rainbows help him understand who he’s supposed to be.   When YOU look at rainbows, what do YOU think you are supposed to be?

You might also talk about what makes a rainbow, and what might be causing the rainbow in each picture.  My most favorite way to describe it is that the sun’s rays shine on the water droplets from the rain, and like tiny mirrors, each droplet reflects the different colors that are contained in a beam of light.

At the top of the page of the lyrics, there is a link to learn more about rainbows.  Now, this site has more information than a child can handle, and may be a bit more than most adults care to know, but reading it yourself might help you answer all the questions that the typical 3 – 5 year old child might want to know – AND SOME.

My favorite rainbow book is “What Makes A Rainbow?”  – by Betty Ann Schwartz. 

As a Magic Ribbon Book, a rainbow is built, one color at a time, as the pages are turned.  It is a cute story about a curious rabbit, and is a wonderful way to learn about colors.  My 4 year old daughter loves it and is fascinated watching the magic ribbons work as she turns the pages.