On Mother's Day 10 years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter. I had no idea what was coming next...would I have an easy birth? Will my baby be OK? Will I be a good mother? It was an exciting (and a little bit scary!) time. I knew there would be lots of learning along the way, and I hoped that I would make more good decisions than bad ones. I figured I had a good base of knowledge already, since I had been teaching Kindermusik infant music classes for 2-3 years at that time. Recently, I was asked by a colleague what would be the top advice that I would give to new parents and it got me thinking...here are the top 3 things that I did with my daughter that I think had the biggest impact on bonding and my parenting journey, and her learning and development.
The Hello Song is such an important part of our Kindermusik classes. We are often told by parents and caregivers that it is a child’s favorite song, and here’s why: it signals to your child that you are about to spend time together, 100% focused on each other. Quality one-on-one time of learning and exploring, singing, dancing, playing instruments and making connections together. We see this same excitement in virtual classes and in-person classes, because the adult-child connection is still present and the most important part of class. Recently I’ve been observing how the hello song can help build social emotional skills such as empathy, respect, and self-confidence.
According to Zero to Three:
"Starting from birth, babies are learning who they are by how they are treated. Through everyday interactions, parents, relatives and caregivers send babies messages like: You’re clever. You’re good at figuring things out. You’re loved. You make me laugh. I enjoy being with you. These messages shape a baby’s self-esteem.
Toddlers are starting to develop a sense of self-awareness—that they are separate and independent from others. This new knowledge helps them understand that other people have thoughts and feelings that may be different from their own."
What does this mean for your child?
What’s in a name? In the baby and toddler classes, including the child’s name is an important part of the hello song. As Dale Carnegie once said: “Remember that a person's name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Babies learn to recognize their own names during the hello song, and we see their face light up when they hear their name inserted into the song. It’s magical! Toddlers look forward to their turn each week, both to hear their name and to share their greeting idea. Older preschool-aged children are trying to blend in and be part of the group, so in that class, each child chooses a motion for the hello song, but their name is not sung. Everything in a Kindermusik class is intentionally done to support your child at each stage of their development.
Set your child up for success: With a baby, observe what he or she is doing, even if it is unintentional. Does he look like he’s trying to wave? Is she trying to clap? Does he always laugh when we lift arms and say “so big!”? Choose one of those as their hello motion. Give toddlers TWO choices, instead of “what do you want to do?” Open-ended questions are difficult for a toddler and you may get an answer of “go to the park.” Instead, try “would you like to clap, or jump for your hello motion?” It often helps to talk about it and choose one before class, so your child is ready and confident when their turn comes. Preschoolers will often choose a complicated motion, such as a compound movement (spin-jump) or something related to pretend play (fly and swoop like glittery dinosaurs)...just go with it! Remember that the idea is to try something new and respect all ideas. Also, if you’ve never flown and swooped like a glittery dinosaur, you are in for a treat ;)
If you’d like to learn more about how you can support your child’s social-emotional learning, check out this article.
Kindermusik classes, whether virtual or in-person, are a great way to start building your child’s emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and empathy.
Proud mama moment...here's what she chose for her recital piece:
Resilience, or our ability to cope and move through difficult times, is incredibly important to focus on as we continue getting through 2020. Building resilience is like building a muscle: it takes time and intention. I began to ponder the relationship between music and resilience. More specifically, I began thinking about how the Bucktown Music Kindermusik classes that I have been teaching and engaging in with my daughter are helping families build resilience during this year filled with loss, anger, and anxiety.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the components of resilience include connection, wellness, and meaning. We can build these skills through intentional engagement with music, both for ourselves and for our children. Here are some examples of how we can work with music for ourselves and how the activities in our Kindermusik classes support fostering resilience in our children.
TRY THIS: Here is a grounding exercise that you can do at home for yourself or with your family that focuses on the music of our bodies: Find a comfortable place to sit. Once you are settled, take three deep breaths, allowing the sensation and sound of your breath to help you relax. Once you are in this quiet space, put your hand on your heart and pay attention to your heartbeat. Spend some time feeling your heartbeat. Allow the rhythm of your heartbeat to ground you into the present moment. Spend as much time here as you need, and when you are ready, play this steady beat on a drum or instrument of choice.
Learn more about mindfulness & music
Join us for some joyful virtual music-making!
You're probably asking yourself: What on earth does playing with a ball have to do with music???? Everything, for little ones! All kids love playing with balls, and it's a great activity to do with baby to boost early learning.
Kindermusik chime balls are brightly colored and have a little bell inside, so they make a fun jingly sound when tapped or shaken. With babies, you can tap the ball on their body so they can feel the steady beat, or you can move the ball across their field of vision so that they can track it with their eyes (an important pre-reading skill, whether they are reading words or music notes!)
Moving the ball along to the music gives children a visual representation of a steady beat, which helps them learn with multiple senses: hear it, feel it, see it. The more senses that are involved in learning an activity, the more likely it is to "stick" in a child's brain.
Using a ball with toddlers teaches turn-taking and hand-eye coordination, an important skill for playing in an ensemble later in life. Preschoolers learn to pass the ball around the circle to the steady beat, and we may even make it more difficult by adding extra balls or changing the tempo (speed) of the song so that they have to coordinate their movements and ball-passing to the beat of the music!
Live in Chicago? Join us for a class at Bucktown Music!
Not in Chicago? We've got Kindermusik friends all over the world, find a class near you!
Many parents feel that getting their child started in private lessons as early as possible is the best choice. One of the most common questions we hear at our studio is “when should my child start playing an instrument?” I’ve had many (yes, MANY) people who insist that their 1, 2, or 3 year old child be enrolled in private music lessons.
Adult Students: The first step is to have a heart-to-heart with your teacher about your goals, expectations, and time. Do you want to learn to read music and play Beethoven? Or are you looking to learn some easy chords so you can play a few songs for your friends at your next party? Would you like to join a community orchestra or form a band, or are you looking for a creative outlet to relax after work?
Jessica Solares is one of the founders of Bucktown Music, along with her husband Luis. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Elmhurst College, and is a licensed Kindermusik educator with Top Program distinction.
Jessica was hired as Manager of Business Development, Studio Division for Kindermusik International. She is thrilled to have this new role to train educators around the world to open stellar music studios!