Monday, June 25, 2012

Kindermusik Director of Education Featured in USA Today’s “Guide to Kids’ Health”

Carol Penney, Kindermusik's Director of Education

Carol Penney, Kindermusik International‘s Director of Education and Kindermusik educator for 30 years is featured this week in the USA Today “Guide to Kids’ Health” Summer 2012 issue in the article, “Music & Learning in Perfect Harmony” by Mara Gorman.

Download the full article here.

The article talks about why we should teach our children to love music and why playing music now means a higher GPA later. This is something we at Kindermusik have been known for 30+ years, prior to the first evidence supporting the benefits of music on cognitive development in young children, released only six years ago in 2006. This issue is near and dear to our hearts, being that our mission is to bring learning through music to children across the world, and is especially important as schools continue to cut back on arts & music program, leaving a hole in education that parents must fill. We wanted to share a recap of the article, along with some of our favorite quotes and features to bring attention to why music is one of the best learning methods for child development.
The article begins with a question:
Guide to Kids Health: Teach Your Child to Love Music
“What if someone told you that from the moment your child was born, you could do something to improve her self-esteem, confidence, social skills, eye-hand coordination, and eventually her grade point average? Of course, you would sign up, maybe even if it meant extensive training or expense.”
As a parent, we all want to do what’s best for our children. As we at Kindermusik have known and the theme echoed throughout the piece: early and meaningful exposure to music in a family’s life is one of the best gifts we can give our children! As we discuss on this music education blog, early music exposure for children has infinite benefits. Kindermusik classes primarily focus on early childhood development – for children age newborn to seven. As research has shown, the earlier we begin to share music with children, the better:
“Children are never too young to start experiencing music. In fact, the most fertile time for music learning is between birth and 5 years old.”
This guide also points out that being musically inclined is not a requirement to be able to incorporate music into your child’s life. As parents, we can bang on pots & pans to a steady beat, play our favorite lullabies at bedtime or radio station for a dance party, have a good ol’ fashioned family jam session with homemade instruments, or try a Kindermusik class together! All of these things will set your child on the right path to early learning. The article suggests finding music classes in your area through programs like Kindermusik, citing the benefits of music. In class, we use instrument play, repetition, special songs for every day chores, soothing rituals, audiation, sign language, books, and more foundations of learning through music to give children the tools they need to develop cognitive, physical, and social skills.
“Music makes a great teaching tool. “Everyone knows their ABC’s because of the melody,” says Carol Penney, director of education for Kindermusik, a music education program. ”Traditional children’s songs are perfect learning devices for turning sounds into words and words into creative thoughts.”’

Here are some additional fun “Did you know?” moments from the article:

Kindermusik Music Classes for Toddlers
  • Children who engage in musical activities from infancy end up with stronger literacy, language, and math skills. They also typically have higher SAT scores and are more likely to graduate from college.
  • Studies show that early and consistent exposure to music improves children’s academic performance. The explanation lies in music’s ability to affect brain
  • “Music education actually rewires the brain in the same area where you develop math, language, and spatial reasoning skills.” ~ Jill Todd, president, Music Intelligence Project
  • Kindermusik classes use percussion instruments like the Japanese den-den drum, seen here, to encourage rhythm and movement.
  • The top instruments for young children are: 1) Voice. 2) Percussion and 3) Keyboard. Many kids start lessons at 7 or 8, so look into a music education program if you think your child is ready for daily practice.
Give Your Child the Gift of Music!
*All quotes in this post from Mara Gorman’s article in the USA Today Guide to Kid’s Health, Summer 2012 issue.
Order the USA Today Guide to Kid’s Health here!
Reposted from Minds on Music, by Jamie Sterling.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Again! Again!

Have you ever wondered why a child will ask you to read the same book over and over or perhaps never tires of rolling the ball back and forth? A newly published study may shed some light on this learning technique of young children. Nicknamed the “Goldilocks effect”, the study examines the attention span of infants in relation to the complexity of the world around them. The results showed that infants focus only on situations that are neither too difficult nor too easy. (That's exactly what we've always said in Kindermusik, and why we teach parents how to scaffold for their children. We'll be covering this concept in our Creatures at the Ocean classes this month.)

Kindermusik Class - Learning by Repetition

“The study suggests that babies are not only attracted by what is happening, but they are able to predict what happens next based on what they have already observed,” says Kidd, lead author on the report. “They are not passive sponges. They are active information seekers looking for the best information they can find.” Children who are engaged in a sensory rich learning experience are best equipped to receive and retain new information. The repetition of a fun activity likely yields new information each time for your child and provides an opportunity for them to test their predictions based on their latest observations.   "Parents don’t need to buy fancy toys to help their children learn. They make the best use of their environment. They are going to look around for what fits their attention level. Kids learn best from social interaction," reminds Kidd.

I hope your family can enjoy some fun, social interaction in a Kindermusik class this summer! Click here to schedule your free preview class.

This article from Kindermusik International's blog, Minds on Music, was originally posted by Miss Aimee of Delightful Sounds, a Kindermusik Studio in Florida. Miss Aimee has been named a Maestro in Outreach by Kindermusik International, recognizing her considerable efforts each year to reach underserved populations of children in her community.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Little Singer, or, "If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On!"

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, we had one of those baby journals where we noted everything from Braxton Hicks contractions to strange cravings at impossible hours. One of the
things I remember we had to fill in was what we wanted our child to be when she grew up. I wrote “folk singer” imagining a poetic soul like Joni Mitchell’s, but with not much of a voice, like Bob Dylan.

You see, neither my wife nor I sing. I’m not sure whether it’s because we can’t sing, or whether we can sing but our standards are too high, but we sure choose not to sing, and I must say we don’t
enjoy the sound of each other’s singing voice much. They say that a child loves its parents’ singing voice no matter how bad, and both of us having sung our child to sleep many a night, we can confirm that happily, this is indeed true. But as we predicted, our daughter seemed to take after us in the vocal aesthetics department.

She would sing loudly and boisterously all over the house, always off-key, always off-beat. But she loved to sing, and we praised her unequivocally. And quietly, we worried. She was even worse than us! we thought. At least we could keep a beat and sing in tune! She must be tone deaf, we thought. We even considered some kind of musical therapy.

Then as fate would have it, I became involved in a project composing children’s songs. These songs would be sung from the point of view of characters from Shakespeare, but simply and innocently. You know, Cordelia would sing about how hard it was to express in words how much she loved her father. Hamlet would sing about this man named Yorick who used to play with him when he was a child, and how he missed this man. It was a lovely idea, and we were getting a lot of interest.

So I had to put together a presentation. I hired musicians, technicians, engineers, booked a recording studio, called on professional singers, all to record a couple of samples for this presentation for publishers, app developers, and even investors.

And my daughter, who had always been a part of the songwriting process (I field ideas to her on the walk to and from school every day) suddenly piped up and said that she wanted to sing one of the songs. Cue sideways glances.

Oh well, we thought, just a few extra minutes of studio time so that we could indulge her, and let her stand inside the glass-walled booth with headphones on, and emulate some of the singers she idolized. So we let her try.

And that’s when something happened. She heard herself for the first time. She compared herself to professional singers, suddenly. In a split second she had developed a self-critical faculty. And she began to self-correct. By the end of the first take, she was singing the song beautifully.

Then she paged us. “Can I go again? I messed up at the beginning.”

She had become a professional!

We included her recording as part of the presentation, and it had the same effect each time. Everyone who heard it said that yes, the songs were great, and the singers were marvellous, but we should consider having our daughter sing all the songs.

And the rest is history. (You can
see the video here.)

Our daughter turned five yesterday. When we asked what she wanted for her birthday, she said she wanted a guitar. And yesterday, she was so happy to finally have one. And I was happy too. Maybe my dream of her becoming a folk singer would come true after all.

DAESHIN KIM is the father of SHERMAN KIM, and together they are creating and recording songs for children sung by characters from Shakespeare. You can
find out more about their project, support them, and pre-order their work here.
Their crowdfunding campaign ends on June 21, after which they will have to turn to Plan B (none of the transactions will be processed and they will receive nothing if they do not reach their goal by the end of the campaign period).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby Boogie Benefits

In preparing to teach "Peekaboo, I Love You," our summer music class for babies, I came across this WONDERFUL article on the advantages of shared dancing and had to share! Want to reap these same benefits with your baby this summer? Sign up for a Kindermusik class! 

Shared Dancing Has Benefits
For Babies & New Moms Alike

Every parent knows the calming effects on their baby of rocking and gentle motion. After all, who among us has not paced the floor at 2 am trying to entice a little one back to sleep by rocking, bouncing or swaying?

mom and baby dancingWhile you may not be able to do much about those late night pacing sessions, you can capitalise on your baby’s love of rhythmical movement to benefit both of you in many other ways as well. Instead of saving your dance sessions for the wee hours, why not make music and dancing a regular part of your routine with your baby?

Babies begin to develop rhythm skills very early on when they are consistently exposed to music and movement. In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that babies are born with natural rhythm and all we need to do is nurture it. If you exposure your baby to the joys of dance throughout his childhood, just think how much more confident he'll feel as a teenager at his high school prom! In cultures where music and dance are a part of everyday life, no one grows up to be “rhythmically challenged!”

If rhythm and movement are a consistent part of your child’s life from an early age, the ability to express herself through creative movement will stay with her throughout her life. Many parents are concerned about the effects of inactivity on their children in this age of easy access to computers and video games. Cultivating a love of music and dance early in life provides an excellent introduction to other healthy physical activities.

Even when your baby is very young, dancing in your arms can be an exciting play and social time that he will look forward to. You will probably find that as your baby grows he will soon begin to eagerly anticipate his favorite dance moves like dips and spins. He’ll also tell you by his reactions what type of music and dancing he likes best.

The best things happen when you're dancing

For parents, sharing movement and music with your baby helps in creating a stronger parent child bond. Many parents find that the more time they spend in close contact with their baby, the more sensitive they become to their baby’s needs and signals, and the more easily they are able to decipher what their baby is telling them. Done regularly, shared dancing can become a wonderful way to communicate with your baby.

For new moms especially, moving to music with baby is a delightful way to get some gentle exercise and helps with getting back in shape after childbirth. Most new mothers are eager to lose those extra pregnancy pounds, yet it’s also important to eat well and not exert yourself too strenuously, especially in the early postpartum weeks when you may not be getting much sleep. Holding your baby in your arms while you both enjoy a waltz, a 2-step or even some good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, is a wonderful way to get some gentle exercise, and it’s fun too!

And finally, we all know that a stressed out mom equals a stressed out baby. But because dancing is such good exercise, it tends to produce endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. These are the same ones responsible for “runner’s high.” So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, try picking up baby and taking him for a spin around the living room to your favourite music. You might just find that you both become calmer as a result.

So why not make good use of your natural instincts to cuddle and rock your baby? Put on your favorite music and enjoy a few dances with your baby on a regular basis. You’ll get a much needed break and some fun exercise. And whether your baby falls asleep or dances right along with you, she’ll be enjoying this special bonding and playtime with you while developing an appreciation for music and movement that has the potential to stay with her throughout her life.

About the Author...
Susan Peach has over 20 years experience as a Latin dance and fitness instructor. She is also the creator of Mambo Moms, a fun and gentle Latin dance based fitness program that helps new moms get back in shape while spending quality play time with their babies. Find out more at . Source:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Your Active Toddler

Have you ever found yourself, after a busy day chasing your toddler, wanting to do this?

Hmm...she doesn't look too happy (although she is very cute!) Here are a few alternatives you can try when your toddler is having a particularly energetic day:

1. Take her to the park and let her run around.

2. Take her to a water park and let her get drenched.

3. Bust out all of the pots, pans, and tupperware in your kitchen and make your own "kitchen commotion". (If you need a soundtrack, try downloading "Kitchen Commotion" or "Dancing Spoons" from

4. Buy yourself a cheap beachball (you can usually find a beachball for $2 or less). Give it to your child. Stand back and see what she does. Does she kick it? Throw it? Eat it? Take notes so you can chart her progress over the summer.

5. Go to the mall and watch other people's children. Notice how many of them are even MORE active than your toddler! Then be glad you've got yours instead of theirs.

6. Take out your phone and take a million videos of your toddler. Post them on YouTube (or on this blog, if you'd like), or send them to America's Funniest Home Videos. Get rich. Share the money with me. Thanks!

7. Take out your phone and take a million pictures of your toddler's antics. Post them on Facebook so  that all of your friends can take a break from reading about what everyone else has had for breakfast that day, and instead bask in the glory of your child's adorable-ness.

8. Put your little one down for a nap, get on your computer, and sign her up for a trial class at your favorite local Kindermusik studio. If you don't live in the East Bay, then mine might not be your favorite local Kindermusik studio. If you live in Ohio, please go to Christa's studio, and if you live in Florida, please go to Kerri's or Holly's studio, and if you live in Georgia, please go to Jane's studio, and if you live in Chicago, please go to Jessica's studio. If you live in Houston, wait for Shannon to open her studio, and then go there, but if you live in Dallas, just go to SoundSteps with Lisa. We love SoundSteps because all of their teachers keep moving to California and coming to work with us! If you live somewhere else, then please post a comment below and ask for a recommendation, or visit Kindermusik International's class locator, enter your zip, and see what comes up! Because let's face it -- you're going to need to make sure your child gets some serious musical skills if you're going to get your toddler dancing video to go viral.

Happy toddling!

Posted by Lindsay Levin, a.k.a. "Miss Lindsay" from Kindermusik with Miss Lindsay & Friends, who loves watching other people's toddlers run around.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Time

It’s summer time at my house–-for sure! All three kids are finished with school and we are transitioning into a new schedule (I use that term lightly as it’s not very schedule-y). I really enjoy having everyone back at home even if it does mean a little more work for me to manage the messes ("Who needs to take care of their breakfast mess?"), the shuttling ("Can I go to so-and-so’s?"), the individual plans (VBS for one, soccer for another, movie with friends for another), etc.

The summer can really get away from us if we don’t take a stab at being intentional–an oxymoron, maybe, but better to take a stab at intentionality rather than avoid it altogether, right? We were in the car the other day and brainstormed a random list of things each one of us wants to make happen this summer. I’m seeing it on friends’ Facebook pages, too. It’s too long of a time not to have some plans and it’s too short of a time to let go without making the most of it. Here are some big picture ideas as well as everyday, small ideas that can help to make space for memory making.
  • Vacation Lots of families plan big vacations around fun destinations, family reunions or family visits, but vacation doesn’t have to mean big and expensive. There is something magical about getting out of town–away from the laundry, away from the office, just AWAY! Somebody has been offering their cabin/timeshare/beach house to you and you just need to say, YES! You get one of those Groupons or Living Social deals in your inbox everyday and maybe you just need to click “buy it” for the resort hotel across town and make a vacation out of that. Yes, there’s the prep work, the packing, the arrangements on the front end, but the return on your investment of time and money is well worth it in the form of experiences, memories and pictures.
  • Summer Barbecue You’ve been meaning to have a half dozen different families over, but life just doesn’t stop to give you a moment to make a plan. Summer was made for this! Whether you’re the hostess-with-the-mostess or more of a burgers and ‘dogs kind of gal, the get-together is the point of it all. Start with picking a date, make it late afternoon so that it’s post-naps, but still plenty of time to hang out before bed time.I love the “we’ll provide the meat and drinks, please bring a dish to pass” version.Hose down the tables and patio, set out some bubbles for the kids and BOOM! You’ve got yourself a BBQ!
  • Pool Day If you have a pool, extend an standing invitation to your friends like, “Tuesday is PoolDay! 10-1!” If you don’t have a pool, make a regular thing about going to the community pool on the same day every week. Kids love looking forward to a day where they’ll get to play with you and their friends.
  • Library Day Let me tell you, you might as well get familiar with your local library and regular home DEAR(Drop Everything And Read) times because every stage of development involves the importance of reading, teachers want your school-age children to keep reading over summer, and your brain could use a little language arts development, too! Which brings me to my next point:
  • Quiet Time Whether it’s early in the morning, during baby’s nap time or a run or yoga in the evening; you need to make some space for a quiet time. This is YOUR time where you stop, listen, breathe, think. Leave your phone in another room (for all of us clicking-junkies out there), but take a notepad with you so that as your mind slows down and you inevitably think of “need paper towels” or “water the roses” or “register for Kindermusik (wink-wink)” you can put it on the paper and take it off your mind. Maybe this is where you read. Maybe this is where you just sit and be. Maybe this is where you pray. I’m sure you’ll think of something to do and I’m sure you’ll be better for it. You need it and no one can or will do it for you, so take it!
This post brought to you by Jenny Leggett who is now going to read this post and apply it to herself, accordingly. Reposted from SoundSteps is one of our absolutely fantabulous "kindred spirit" Kindermusik programs and is located in Dallas, Texas.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FREE Musical Story Time at Learning Express Toys in San Ramon


Musical Storytime at Learning Express!

Did you know that there is a super-cute new toy store in San Ramon? It's called Learning Express Toys, and it's in the Market Place. I checked it out over the weekend and, in one of those perfect coincidences, happened to run into one of my favorite Kindermusik families:

Both mother and son look exactly the same as they did in this picture, except Cayden is now FIVE YEARS OLD!! How did that happen? Anyway, Mom introduced us to the store staff and told them all about how much they love Kindermusik, and lo and behold, we have a beautiful new facility for our next Music & Movement Storytimes! The best news is, these events are FREE! Here are the details -- tell your friends and pop on by:

Where: Learning Express Toys, 136 Market Place, San Ramon
When: Tuesday & Wednesday, June 19th & 20th, 10am & 11am
Who: All ages are welcome! Storytimes are usually geared toward ages 2-4, but we'll have all-age favorites like the Cow Book and Cockadoodle-Moo! on hand.
Why: Because literacy is one of the very most important things you can foster in your child, because you'll get to be in a cool toy store where you can get your shopping mojo on, and because you'll get to hang out with other parents and kids and learn about Kindermusik! Are those enough reasons?

For more information on Learning Express Toys, mosey on over to their website, We'll see you soon!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Babies Develop Fine Motor Skills Through Baby-Safe Instruments

Baby-Safe Instruments - Tips from KindermusikNext to playing with mom, playing music is one of your baby’s favorite activities—and one of the most natural things your baby can do. Making sounds with easy-to-grasp instruments gives your baby an “I can do this” sense of accomplishment. Shaking a chime, her curiosity is instantly gratified and she’s inspired to make things happen again and again, encouraging independence and perseverance, two
important developmental skills.

Keep lots of baby-safe instruments within reach for free-play and exploration time.  For their light, high sounds, and special fit for tiny hands, some of your baby’s favorite instruments will be:
  • Baby bells
  • Chime bells
  • Egg shakers

Kindermusik tip:

Beyond the musical benefits, playing instruments like these gives your baby the
opportunity to use his fine motor skills. Grasping instruments between the thumb and index finger or with a fisted grasp pattern encourages the development of these important skills, which will eventually be necessary to turn a page in a favorite book, pinch cereal or peas, grasp a cup, and even hold a crayon.

Want to try a slew of baby-safe instruments this summer? Visit to sign up for a "Peekaboo, I Love You" Kindermusik class with Miss Lindsay & Friends, where you'll receive a free baby instrument with your registration!

Reposted with permission from