Connecting with a child, a hand, and a story

“Connection… is the key to cooperation.”  These are powerful words by Becky Bailey.  As most of you know, I fully believe she is heaven sent to help all of us adults (parents, teachers, etc) learn the best ways to help ourselves and our children develop successful life and relationship skills.  

The following is an excerpt from her latest e-newsletter, and relates directly to our developmentally focus in many of my classes, inhibitory control – the ability of a person to control their own actions.  Music is an excellent way to help teach children to enjoy stopping, or moving slowly, or playing the drum at the correct time… through playful interactions.  Becky helps us keep in mind that much of the child’s ability for self control comes from the adults love and shared belief that the child can be successful.

“Connection is the cornerstone to Brain Smart® learning and the key to cooperation. Adults sometimes perceive behavioral or academic problems as children “being mischievous” or “trying to get attention.” The inability to focus attention or control one’s impulses, however, indicates more than laziness, disobedience or lack of intelligence. Missing or emerging neural connections between the body and the mind are often at the heart of the matter. Connection literally wires the brain for impulse control, and so establishing strong bonds is helpful for easing problem behavior, increasing cooperation and developing healthy neural patterns. Using I Love You Rituals throughout your day is an easy, immediate way to begin increasing the bonds between you and the children in your care.

Below is a ritual that, like all I Love You Rituals, is designed to facilitate connection. As you conduct this ritual, focus on the four necessary aspects of a meaningful connection: Eye contact, touch, presence and a playful setting. You can find more of these delightful activities in the book, “I Love You Rituals” by Dr. Becky Bailey. 

Story Hand
Tell the child, “It is story time.” The child will probably think you are going to read a book. Instead, take his/her hand and tell a reassuring or encouraging story about a success, concern or event in the child’s day.

Start with the pinky finger, giving it a nice massage and saying, “This little finger wanted to learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle.” (The story you tell will be based on your child’s life. I am using the success story of learning to ride a bike as an example.) Go to the next finger and give it a massage, saying, “This finger was a little afraid that he might fall off.” Continue to the next finger, saying, “But this finger said, ‘I can do it. I just know I can.’” At the index finger, continue with the story, “So he decided to try and try again.” Finally, massage the thumb and say excitedly, “Did he do it? Did he do it?” Then tuck the thumb into the palm of the child’s hand make a reassuring statement: “No problem. All the fingers knew she [or he] would do it all the time.”

I have so much to recommend, but here is where to start getting Brain Smart !

Just TRY this wonderful finger play with your child – focusing your storytelling on some success your child has had recently.

Check out her website:

Subscribe to her monthly newsletter (on the left of her website).

Check out the TOP 10  To Dos in the Free Stuff on her website.

Just know…  these teachings can help you become a better parent.  It helped me, and continues to help me over time.  So has Kindermusik – in many similar ways.   These help me connect with my child, and continually re- focus on the vision of a child who thrives – loving and living life to the fullest.

Tell me what you think !   PLEASE comment and tell me your thoughts about this wonderful finger play and how it worked with your child.  OR tell us what kind of “Love Rituals” you share in your home?

Anybody want to discuss Becky Bailey, her philosophy, her books, her MUSIC, etc.?  I’ve got LOTS of her materials I can show you.   And lots to share on trying to implement these ideas.  I STILL have so much to learn – let’s do it together !

FANS get LOTS on the MC Facebook Page

My best friend from college got me started on Facebook, and it is amazing the connections I have made (people come popping out from the recesses of my memory).   It has been fun to relive and renew.

Bumper_Sticker_LoveI am ALL about connections, esp. little musical ones, and I started generating ideas on what I could do with a Music Connections Facebook Page.  

So I set it up, a few months back, and tested it with my Village families,  and have been learning how to do all that I wanted to, and MORE.  

See the link in the Right Side bar.   

If you are on Facebook, PLEASE become a FAN !    If not, please consider it, there are some great benefits.

You can receive notifications of:

  • Upcoming Music Connections events and semesters
  • Upcoming Polk County events for children (esp. those focused on music)
  • Links to any of my new blog postings, AND my eNewsletters
  • Links to cool music videos, or online sites for fun with your children
  • Newly uploaded pictures of my current Kindermusik families (with permission, of course)
  • Juicy tidbits of ideas for fun musical activities with your family
  • Short blurbs on how music can really make a difference in a child’s life

I would LOVE to have you join in the discussions on:

  • Parenting Advice VS Real Life”   – This is a place we can discuss our responses to advice we learn from (like Becky Bailey), and to advice where we may have a difference of opinion (like John Rosemond, or…  a child’s Grandmother).
  •  “Family Routines and Rituals”  – From adding special rituals to our family’s daily routines, to making or keeping the rituals of family traditions of holidays alive… let’s SHARE !

Let’s keep connecting this summer.  I look forward to hearing from you.   BTW, don’t comment here – come connect on FB !

Connections between Music and Reading

“Books help children become whole people; reading facilitates both parent-child relationships and language as it helps to create a child’s understanding of the world.”

  Claudia Quigg, Executive director of BabyTALK


Parents hear over and over again how important it is to read to their child, and the need to build pre-reading and reading skills.  And many parents  HAVE incorporated reading into the daily routines in a child’s life.  Although some parents with babies may not know how to best introduce this process.  Some parents may read, but may not feel they know HOW to teach these skills, or what to expect at different ages.  And some very busy parents may feel they are not doing enough.


The good news is that by simply talking, singing and reading even a little bit to your child throughout the day, you are literally “turning on” his or her brain cells.  And even better, when you take the opportunity to sing, listen to stories and songs, and play instruments with your child, you’ve already begun not only providing him or her with important social, emotional, and brain-building experiences, but also building reading readiness.


The Creative Team at Kindermusik International recognizes the importance of reading skills in a young child’s life, and has developed a WONDERFUL summary of current research that will help parents understand how music benefits a child’s development of the reading process.  There are two articles that discuss the connection between music activities and reading in the critical aspects of developing the skills of Active Listening, building vocabulary, developing phonological awareness, Print Awareness, and promoting Comprehension.


These articles specifically focus on what to expect from, and what is developing in a child at each of these ages, and has some great ideas for what you can do at home based on current research in this field.  It is well worth your time to read it.  It easily explains the research, and if you are interested further, the actual research documents are also available for your curious mind.

On the Path to ReadingOur Time (1 – 3 years) / click here

On the Path to ReadingImagine That (3 – 5 years) / click here




In my other blog, “Music Connections Recommends…” , I have a lots of suggestions (based on my own research and experience) on what to look for in Finding GREAT books for YOUNG children .  Several good criteria are listed, with examples (including links to great websites), WHY that issue is important, and ways that a parent can interact with their child to aid in developing specific reading skills.


How does this relate to the Kindermusik classroom?




During each Kindermusik class, we not only engage in interactive music and movement activities, we also typically spend time with a storybook, one or two of which you receive in your home materials.  All of the Kindermusik books MEET with the suggested criteria for finding GREAT books, and are designed to be a part of the perfectly integrated set that aids parents in their continued learning experiences outside the classroom.  When parents read these books again to their child at home, and sing the related songs, and involve their child in related movements, they are assisting in their readiness for reading and learning, as well as so much more. 



Kindermusik International designs EACH of their curriculum based on the most current research on what is BEST for the whole child at each stage of their development.   During class time, children are introduced to music and activities based on themes that are engaging and relevant to their lives.  Parents learn new ways to interact, and how these interactions promote different aspects of their child’s development.  AND Parents, as their child’s primary teacher, receive all the materials they need to continue the learning at home.  


Reading is a key component of this process.  Listening to stories and interacting with the storyteller enhances language and speech development for the young child.  Story Time can foster awareness of sounds, teach use of language, and send the message that words have meaning and that books are fun. 


WHY IS IT IN KINDERMUSIK?   Reading to children closely approximates the experience of singing or conversation.  It provides another way to communicate through rhythm, reciprocity, tone and language that is, after all, much like music.


So, with due respect to Claudia Quigg, I’d like to modify her quote just a bit:


“ Good quality Books AND Music help children become whole people; interactive reading and music activities facilitate both parent-child relationships and language as it helps to create a child’s understanding of the world.”


Kindermusik just serves it up as a WHOLE package for the child and family, to make it easy to provide the experiences your child needs for ALL areas of their development.

GREEN is the color to BE

GREEN has been my 4 year old daughter’s favorite color for at least 2 years now, but little does she know all of what GREEN is starting to mean.  Even in this FALL season, I am amazed at how much GREEN is springing up all around us.  It has been marvelous that Polk County has made our recycling a lot easier over the past few years, and that grocery stores are now offering reusable bags for carrying home our purchases, but really GOING GREEN is a LOT more than that.


Did you know?  Recycling just 1 aluminum can saves enough energy to operate a TV for 3 hours.


NEWSFLASH !!!  Kindermusik International is Going GREEN – in a BIG WAY !!!  So customers will see some changes in the packaging of their home materials. (AND they are looking for your feedback in this process.) 





In ways not so visible, they are undertaking some seriously responsible actions at KI headquarters.  It is more than just reducing, reusing, and recycling.  For example, all our teacher’s guides will be available online to licensed educators.  This is a HUGE investment in green, coming from a Publishing Company.  As another significant move, they are purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates in a Palm Springs Wind Farm, to offset the energy costs of doing business.  WOW! – This blog highlights their efforts, and provides some great information, and inspiration, for families trying to go GREEN.


This REALLY HITS home that Kindermusik International is whole heartedly committed to creating a special world for children NOW, and for the future, that includes harmony and sustainability.


Did you know?  There are 60 billion single-serving plastic bottles made each year.  Only 20% of them are recyled.


At Lakeland Montessori, where my daughter attends school, all the students are involved about learning how to be more GREEN at school and at home.  Based on their research, and my subsequent research on this topic, I am creating a posting on my Music Connections Recommends… blog that will list several resources for excellent and unique GREEN products.


Did you know?  Over 500 billion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year.  Each bag takes up to 1000 years to decompose and leaches toxic chemicals while doing so.


If you are interested in keeping up with all the aspects of becoming GREEN, check out:  – a website that is “the consumer’s guide to the green revolution”.  Includes blog postings with creative & inexpensive ways to “be more green”.  And there is a newsletter to which you can subscribe. 


I thought their gift ideas were quite unique!  For example, check out these websites for plantable paper, handmade paper that can be planted, and wildflowers will grow.  (click on Plantable Paper)


How cool is that?  It would even be more cool if I could actually grow anything – I do have the brownest thumb in the universe.  Well, at least the REST of me is going GREEN !  And I LOVE it!


Good Luck with your GREEN efforts!

Music stimulates the brain, at home & in Kindermusik

I recieved an email from Montessori Services last night that had the most wonderful quote about the musicality of children, with great ideas for home activities.   Make sure to note the importance of the “sensitive period for music” during the youngest years.  Following the quote, you’ll see how Kindermusik takes these ideas to a whole new level.

dad & babyExplore the “universal language” of music

                  with your children

Children have a wonderful capacity to appreciate and make music. Early exposure to a music of all types has intrinsic value — it can tell a story, set a mood, and reflect the character of a culture. Music stimulates the part of the brain associated with pattern recognition and mathematics, helping to lay the foundation for later academic success.

Music with Your 18-month to 6-year-old
Music matters. Encourage your child to listen to all types of music and to clap, dance, and sing along.

As your child gets older you can play all sorts of musical games with her. You can sing or hum loudly along with the music, encouraging your child to do so, too. You can clap your hands to the beat, and you can dance free style in response to the music, swaying, twirling gently, or dancing in any way that feels right for the music playing.

Start to teach your child to recognize the instruments that are being played in a particular piece of music, as well as teaching her the name of tunes – “Mommy, Swan Lake is playing on the radio!” – or even composers. Make sure your child has access to lots of instruments that she can play – maracas, xylophone, drums, guitar – and encourage her to sing along with favorite tunes.

Remember that during these years, your child is in a sensitive period for music and has a spontaneous interest in the development of pitch, rhythm, and melody. Musically talented parents who expose their children to live music in their home life tend to find they produce children who are musically gifted, and Suzuki music teachers have shown for years that children younger than age four can learn to play an instrument, such as the piano or violin.”

Amazing ChildThe quote is from a book called “How to Raise an Amazing Child, the Montessori Way”, written by Tom Seldin, the founder of The Montessori Foundation.  I’m ordering the book today, and I will let you know more when I read it.  It can be found at .

Of course, Kindermusik incorporates all of these activities and ideas, and even more, LOTS more, in their curriculum.  Parents get a chance to learn new activities, and why they are important for their child’s development through a full semester of weekly classes, enabling the parent and child to learn and grow together in the company of others who are doing the same.  A full set of home materials help to bring all these ideas home where the real learning occurs.

Kindermusik is designed specifically to reach children during this “sensitive period for music” through methods proven to be effective by years of research.  And teaches parents to use music to help the development of the whole child.  My degree in Music Therapy, instead of leading me into clinical practice, has lead me to place the power of music in the hands of a child’s first teacher – their parents. 

 Find out more about Kindermusik at .  Or if you live in Polk County, Florida, visit my website; .

Molly McGuinn – “I AM Kindermusik”

At the last Kindermusik Conference, I was fortunate to meet Molly McGuinn, one of the staff at Kindermusik International.  I just want to share with you the kind of philosophy and commitment that is prevalent at the headquarters of this company. 


Molly has her own BLOG, which I frequent regularly, as it is filled with unique  pictures, videos, and brief comments about Kindermusik, community outreach, and other very interesting topics.      (If you liked my comments about Dr. John Rosemund, you will love hers.)   In a comment on one of her posts, a coworker included an earlier response Molly had made to answer a question, and I had to share it with you.  It’s a story, and a philosophy that bears repeating.

“When people ask where I work, I have no problem, in fact I am proud, to say Kindermusik. Then I usually follow it up by saying Kindermusik not only hired me, they “rescued” me.

I spent four years chasing a career in newspapers trying to balance the dream of being a journalist and a singer. It was almost impossible. Newsroom hours never end. There was little to no time for music and my inner creative spirit was withering like a little raisin. But I didn’t want to stop writing for newspapers. I believed and still believe in newspapers and the community purpose they serve. I didn’t think I could ever find a job with as much integrity—until I came to here.

Today, my life is totally different. My creative spirit is steadily recovering. Learning about the philosophies of the Kindermusik classroom has changed my life and I believe we’re changing the lives of the families who enroll in Kindermusik. Where newspapers strive to understand the problems in society that have already begun, Kindermusik strives to undo problems before they start, at the very beginning. We do this by helping families spend more time together, learn to love each other and find a balance in their lives, all through music.

We teach children music so they can become better learners. Not little Mozarts. We teach families how to spend time together. We show them the kind of things that grandparents would have passed onto their grandchildren, such as dancing around the maypole, or singing a song to wash the dishes, fall asleep, or ride an imaginary big, blue boat. So when these children grow into adults, they can use that great musical beginning to soothe and celebrate life when it’s needed most.

The same philosophy is true for this company. We’re all owners. So we treat each other with respect. Every employee has a coach who leads and mentors each one through their jobs. We’re encouraged to think creatively. Join community organizations and volunteer our time to local non-profit groups. We’re not only encouraged, we’re led by example:

• Our CFO started a round table discussion for CFOs in other Triad businesses, so they could discuss ways to stimulate the local economy.

• Our CEO coaches a girl’s soccer team, and is a member of the downtown improvement committee, “Action Greensboro.” He is also known for dressing in odd and often unflattering costumes at each fiscal quarter kick off (think Yul Brenner from the “King and I,” skull cap and all).

• People get pregnant here. In the eight months since I came to Kindermusik, seven women either gave birth or got pregnant. People feel comfortable here about having a family and a career.

Those are just three reasons why I say Kindermusik has changed my life. In other ways, Kindermusik has helped me believe in the possibilities again. You can make a living playing music. You can have a family and a career. You can change the world one child a time. You just have to be willing to sing a little, dance around a maypole, and hold a child in your lap every once in a while.”

Happy Easter

s-bun-flower.gif   May your Easter be filled with the spirit of spring, renewal, and  rebirth.

For some Easter fun, coloring pages, mazes, games, and great links, check out .  We printed out the Peter Cottontail game. Because you move by drawing a color, it’s kind of like Candyland, without having the option of being sent back to the beginning.  We had as much fun making it, as playing it. 

I found the words to the Peter Cottontail song on this site, check out SONGS on , and had a lot of fun with Nettie’s other Easter additions.  Actually, I think Cora and I had the most fun moving the mouse, and having the trail of musical notes follow the curser around.

I did modify the song a little for their Easter cards and added this verse:

Way back a long time ago,  Jesus helped us save our soul,

He gave us all a path to find the way.

Jesus taught us wrong from right, and became our guiding light,

That’s the gift that means the most today.

Merry Melodies,  Debbie Mondale