Feel the Music

In the last five weeks, we have been studying the link between emotions and music in our preschool music class, Feel the Music. It has been so interesting to watch the children explore this very important skill of understanding and expressing their emotions. From about two years old through young elementary school age, children begin to experience a wide range of emotions and need practice in identifying and understanding what they are feeling or what they may see others feeling.

Music is a great way to work on this at home. It can invoke a wide range of emotions. Choose a variety of musical styles and beats, then talk about how the music makes you feel. What sort of facial expressions would go with this song? You could even look for faces in a magazine or book that would match the mood. How does the music make you want to move? When using the whole body to explore the learning experience, you equip your child to be a better learner and encourage their ability to read body language, so go ahead and "feel the music"!

If Poison and KISS Started a Kids' Band...

Straight outta the C.C. DeVille/Paul Stanley book of theatrical stage presence, John Carlin and The Kids' Music Underground present "Air Guitar," their tribute to the budding rock star in everyone's family.

John Carlin and The Kids' Music Underground - "Air Guitar"

"Favorite Things" contest

Congratulations to the five finalists for the "Favorite Things" contest! You can read each story below and cast your vote for your favorite story. Look for the poll at the top left of the blog to vote. The winners will be annnounced the evening of June 5th. Good luck everyone!

Lavanya - "Favorite Things" contest

Here is entry number five for the "Favorite Things" contest.

Music has always been the soul of my life. I cannot recall a day that has gone by without the influence of music in my life. Although I received formal training in classical dance and playing classical stringed instrument from India called the “Veena”, I relish music in diverse identities. Coming to the topic of how my baby and I enjoy music, I must mention that we started on this journey very soon after I knew that I had conceived Manav. I dedicated a few hours every day when we would hear melodious music and literally tap toes. We decided to reap the benefits of music to the fullest extent possible. While in the womb, Manav identified a few songs when played over a period of time. He even responds to them now. Music has given us meaning to our “alone time” when we relax and unwind.
Knowing how music shapes cognitive skills and alters behavioral response, we wanted to add structure to this activity. So we started with our Kindermusik classes very soon after he turned 3 months old. We have come a very long way since our first class when Manav was a supported sitter. Now, attending the classes at Delightful sounds has become a part of our weekly routine where we explore and learn something new every day. Music has helped my son explore, understand and communicate better. It teaches him the sense of sequence and rhythm. There’s no better medicine than music when he just doesn’t feel so good. Happy or sad we share a tune. I sing to him during various activities including the usual bath and bed time routines and even during the times when we clean up and transition to the next activity. Watching us communicate with music has encouraged my husband to sing and express in a more uninhibited manner. He now realizes that neither does one have to be a skillful singer nor know all the words precisely to convey in the universal language of music; it’s really the thought and the effort that makes all the difference. Now dad and son have a dedicated “music time” even after a long day at work. Even the bluest of the spirits and the dullest of the days get refreshed when there’s music playing along.
All one’s baby knows is their immediate environment so teach them to appreciate life through music and you will give them a gift for their life.

Sally-Ann - "Favorite Things" contest

Here is entry number four for the "Favorite Things" contest.

I have been thinking long and hard about what to write. I have been blessed with children that are very talented musically, so it is hard to narrow down any one favorite musical experience with my children. As I have been sorting through the cobwebs of my mind to come up with the "one" experience to share, I started thinking about my first experiences with music. My Mum always sang me songs. I remember sitting on my Mum's lap in front of the fireplace in our kitchen while she sang.......
"There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good
But when she was bad
She was horrid!"

Another favorite

"Sing a song of sixpence pocket full of rye
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie
When the pie was open the birds began to sing
Now wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?
The king was in his counting house counting out his money
The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey
The maid was in the garden pegging out the clothes
When along came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!"

Now for my all time favorite!

"Goosey goosey gander where shall you wander?
Upstairs and downstairs
In the lady's chamber
There I met an old man who wouldn't say his prayers
So I grabbed him by the left leg and threw him down the stairs!!"

My mother had a beautiful singing voice and I can remember her singing these songs to me. I cry when I hear "How Great Thou Art" because in my mind I can still hear her singing that beautiful hymn.
I sang these silly songs to my older children and I still sing them to Samuel. I have always sung songs to my children.
"I love Mummy, she loves me.
We love Daddy, yes sirree;
He loves us, and so you see,
We are a happy family.
I love sister, she loves me.
We love brother, yes sirree;
He loves us, and so you see,
We are a happy family."

I usually change the words around in this song a little so we use the children's names. With Samuel I made up a silly little song and started to sing it to him in the hospital just after he was born. It calmed him down then and calms him down now! The lyrics aren't award winning, but the song has stuck!
"I love Sam
He's my man
I love Sam
I love Sam
He's my man
I love Sam"
All this leads me to the moment I want to share. Sam was held a lot when he was little. We had waited so long for him, I didn't want to put him down, I loved the feel of him in my arms. I would sing and sing and sing to him. One evening I was cradling him in front of me and singing his strange little song. Sam wasn't very old and definitely couldn't talk yet, but he started to sing with me cooing and aaahhing. He kept in tune perfectly. We sat there singing for the longest time.
Sam is a little boy of few words, but at home he sings all day. He sings songs from Kindermusik, songs from Sunday School and our families made up songs. We sing at night before going to bed......"Hush little baby, don't make a sound", or, "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has given me an earthly home, with parents kind and dear."
There is no "one" favorite musical moment, life is to full of them to choose.

Dorinda - "Favorite Things" contest

Here is entry number three for the "Favorite Things" contest.

For my son, David Benjamin Frye 33 months old.
Sometimes when everything seems to be going wrong, especially in today's economy it's easy to start feeling stressed, and overwhelmed. But I need only to look at my husband, teaching our beautiful son, how to make music on the guitar and, all is right with the world, and, in that moment, everything is put into perspective. Music has always been so important to my husband and I, but since we had our son, it has taken on a much bigger and more meaningful role in our lives. Kindermusik has shown us new and exciting ways to teach out child about music, and how to have fun in ways we never thought of! We will forever have music in our hearts, because our son is the music in our souls.

Ross - "Favorite Things" contest

Here's entry number two for the "Favorite Things" contest.

It’s our time to tell a story, our time to tell a story, our time
To tell a story, how music has influenced us…

From the time we found out that we were pregnant with our first child Maddy, my wife and I began a power struggle over whose music would dominate her early life.
My wife Jewell loves Barry Manilow and I love Rush. Growing up she had big hair and also listened to The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, where I had long hair, wore a jean jacket covered with band pins and listened to heavy metal. How we ever got together is a story for another day.
After getting the good news that Maddy was on her way, we went to Babies R' Us to look for a speaker system to put against Jewell's belly so Maddy could hear music in the womb. After seeing that "in the womb culture" came at a very outrageous price, we decided to play music in the car and sing to her at night.
Maddy's first post-natal musical experience was Jewell singing "Hush Little Baby" to her. It would calm her down when she was fussy. Maddy remembered hearing that song so when Sam, our son, gets fussy Maddy will tell Jewell, "Hush little baby Momma, hush little baby". She sometimes sings along to help calm down her brother.
Barney also became an early musical influence. She took to it like a fish to water. In the car, hearing his sultry voice would calm her down and put her to sleep. She progressed from listening to Barney, to watching the purple dinosaur and Maddy began to sing along and also started to dance.
As she got older, more influences started presenting themselves to her. Another learning show, The Backyardigans, became her new favorite (as well as Daddy's) and Maddy really enjoyed dancing when she would hear the opening theme and also to some of her favorite episodes.
Maddy has several older cousins who are involved with dance and cheerleading. Maddy loves being around them especially when they show her their dance moves. They have also introduced her to dance and hip-hop music. Mom also likes this kind of music and since they spend more time together in the car, Maddy has begun to like the musical styling’s of Britney and Fergie. She has developed her own dance moves. We call it the chicken wing. She bends her arms and either flaps them like a bird or swings them as if she was singing a pirate song! Maddy has also introduced a couple twirls and a few sidesteps to her repertoire. We believe she will be ready for "So you think you can dance?" by 2014.
Maddy has really enjoyed going to music class with her Ya-Ya. When I come home from work Wednesday afternoons, I hear them singing the new song she has learned. From “Bow Wow Wow” to “We are clothes in a washing machine”, Maddy is using singing to really expand her language skills. Jewell and her often sing together around the house.
I love listening to music. I look forward to continuing Maddy’s music education and also teaching Sam the finer points of heavy metal!!

Tricia - "Favorite Things" contest

Here's entry number one for the "Favorite Things" contest.

One of my favorite moments with Landon that involves singing happened in a hotel bathroom. Yes, that's right, the bathroom. We had just gotten off the trolley in downtown Tampa and went into one of the hotels to use the bathroom. We were waiting for the handicap stall(we are potty training) and Landon started singing a song from Yo Gabba Gabba. It goes "Don't give up, don't give up, keep trying keep trying" We sang it about 5 times and and a little girl about three years old bounces out of the bathroom stall. She is cheering and she looks at Landon and says "I did it! Yeah!!" The mom explained that the little girl was also potty training and heard Landon singing and thought he was singing to her! It was a cute moment that involved music that I will always remember!

To Infinity and Beyond!

What's your favorite Disney Pixar tune? To celebrate their tenth animated film, Disney Pixar recently released the Disney Pixar Greatest Soundtrack, which includes music and songs from all 10 movies, from 1995's Toy Story to this year's Up. It's interesting to see both what was included and what was left off...

You can check out a full review of the Disney Pixar Greatest Soundtrack over at About.com.

Reaching our community - One child at a time

Kindermusik International recognizes that many Kindermusik educators make considerable efforts each year to reach underserved populations of children—those with physical, emotional, or economic challenges in their live. Each year they select certain of these educators to recognize with the Kindermusik Maestro in Outreach award. I am so excited to be named among the 17 educators worldwide to receive the distinction this year. Here is an excerpt from the letter I received from Michael Dougherty, the CEO of Kindermusik International.

"Congratulations on being recognized as a Maestro in Outreach for the 2009-2010 license year! Earning this distinction is a tremendous honor and know how personally proud I am of each and every one of you. You are the best of the best! THANK YOU for committing your life to reaching out to children who would not typically have the opportunity to experience Kindermusik. THANK YOU for sharing the gift of Kindermusik – quietly -- tirelessly – and -- oftentimes without payment or recognition. We THANK YOU and APPRECIATE YOU more than you can ever know."

I would like to personally thank the local businesses and individuals that have financially supported our efforts in providing the gift of music to these very special children! I am often overwhelmed by the children's progress which I am privileged to watch each and every day in my classroom. Thank you for reaching the WHOLE community with me one child at a time!

Sedaka is back!

At the very least, this is a cute distraction. At the most, it's a fun, super catchy introduction for the whole family to the talents of Neil Sedaka. Hopefully, Sedaka's kids' debut, Waking Up is Hard to Do, will lead to further exploration of his poptacular back catalog of hits. And I can pretty much guarantee that the line "Lunch, lunch will keep us together" will get stuck in your head for days!

My Favorite Things - music, children, and laughter

I have to say that I am so excited about the "Favorite Things" contest. It's been great reading your stories about what you love most in sharing music with your children. In watching our poll on time spent in music making, I am also excited to see how many of you are making a point of sharing in music-making daily with your children! It's so important on so many levels. Way to go parents!
I have chosen to extend the deadline for entries in the "Favorite Things" contest through this weekend since some of your are still putting finishing touches on your stories. On Monday, May 25, I will announce our finalists here, so be sure to check it out!

Row! Row! Row!

As summer approaches, it's a great time to focus on water songs, stories, and play activities. Iza Trapani wrote and illustrated a great book called Row, Row, Row Your Boat that we used in our toddler Kindermusik classes this week, Splash, and I am choosing it for this month's book of the month. Iza Trapani also illustrated several other nursery rhyme favorites and is sure to be a favorite in your child's library.

Get Fruity!

If Jonathan Richman or The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band made kids' music ... well, I guess they kinda did ... anyway, I think Apple Brains' "Apple x3" would feel right at home amongst such company. This tune is from Apple Brains' debut kids' album Get Fruity!

Apple Brains - "Apple x3"

when the going gets tough...

I recently received this email from a Kindermusik family. At first her daughter was not receptive to our music classes. She pretty much cried her way through the first one or two classes. I know this mother probably wanted to stop coming, but I'm so proud that she didn't. Because she stayed, I was privileged to watch an incredible transformation with this beautiful child! She soon looked forward to coming every week and participating with the other children. I think this mother's testimonial speaks of how important persistence can be when teaching our children new skills. Here's what she had to say.

"In the last 4 months I've watched a a very non-social non-verbal little girl with AS transform into a funny, happy and somewhat outgoing toddler who loves to sing and dance, and who is happy to be in other childrens company. I'm utterly convinced that a lot of her development has come from attending kindermusik, and both myself and Tony are thrilled with how she's doing. We sing the songs we learnt at kindermusik ALL the time, just last night she was singing "sweetly sings the donkey" in the bathtub and this morning she was singing "toys away....toys away" as she was cleaning up her playroom. The very fact that she now follows instructions and cleans up her playroom when asked is just mind-blowing for us."

Still not sure if a children's music class is right for you? Why not try one out for free and see for yourself.

Guilty pleasure of the week...

... the Top 10 High School Musical songs! Ok, everybody knows the High School Musical Soundtracks aren't beginning-to-end masterpieces, particularly High School Musical 2, but each album does contain a nice slice or two of tween pop. Check out the Top 10 High School Musical songs from the first three soundtracks, and let us know which was your favorite.

You learn something new every day...

Hmmm, I had no idea that Los Lobos, They Might Be Giants, indie rockers Tally Hall, composer Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Wicked) and Andy Sturmer from Jellyfish all had a hand in making music for the Playhouse Disney Music Play Date CD ...

Piano Pop Par Excellence

Remember those Billy Joel / Elton John solo piano concerts? Dude, I'd totally go see a kids' show with David Tobocman and Michael Rachap rockin' the keys. Dig it:

Readeez - "Tonight and Every Night"

{Pictures by Michael Rachap}

David Tobocman - "Home"

{Pictures by Valerie Walsh}

Believe in Music

So have you started writing for the "Favorite Things" contest? I certainly hope so! It doesn't have to by a lengthy story. I just can't wait to here what you love most about sharing music with your children. To tweak your interest, I decided to share an essay I wrote a few years ago about why I believe in music.

I am privileged to work with many children, including some who have been abused and now live in the custody of the state. I am only one music teacher, and, at times, I have questioned my ability to work with these children. I want to create something meaningful and lasting in their lives, but they have been stripped down to bare survival instincts. How do you reach past such a barricade and remind them that it is ok to just be a child, to laugh, to trust, to believe that life is full of wonderful possibilities?

These were some of the questions that haunted me on a return trip home from the foster facility recently. I had met a new child in class. She and her sister were the same age as my own two daughters. She sat sadly in a corner and wouldn’t even look at me. I tried every technique I knew to make a connection with her, but I couldn’t see that I even made a dent. As I was leaving, I overheard one of the other children remark, “She says she misses her mom! Doesn’t she think I miss mine too?” I cried for them all the way home. Did I believe in music anymore? What was I accomplishing there, anyway?
I did a lot of soul searching that week and here’s what I found. I do believe profoundly in the power of music. It is a universal language that invokes emotions and passions understood without words. It unites all of us in joys and sorrows. It brings us comfort when we are all alone and washes away our sadness. It stirs up hopes hidden deep within us, even hopes and dreams that we may have forgotten. Through music, we can express our innermost feelings, and the resultant melody moves those around us to share in those feelings. Sometimes a surprisingly beautiful harmony can be created in the process of dissonance, even the dissonance of an abused child.

I have come to realize that I can't change the world. However, through the power of music, I can change it one child at a time. Oh and by the way, that little girl was the first one through the door the next week, with a great big smile and an even bigger hug for me. I believe in music! Do you?


Here's the debut video from kids' music newcomer Billy Kelly and his band of Blah Blah Blas, from their album Thank You for Joining the Happy Club:

Billy Kelly and The Blah Blah Blahs - "Springtime: It's My Favorite"

For the moms

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's okay honey, Mommy's here."

Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.

And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see me, Mom?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.

For all the mothers who read "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then read it again. "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college ~or have their own families.

This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them.

For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good Mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips?

The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?

Or is it in her heart?

Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?

The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home?

Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?

The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... And mature mothers learning to let go.

For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.

Single mothers and married mothers.

Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. For all of us...

Author unknown


***The Dreamtree Shakers***

Chicago's Little Miss Ann tipped us off to a kids' band with one of the best names I've heard in a while, The Dreamtree Shakers. This Windy City ensemble's debut kids' album, Dream and You Will See, is actually a soundtrack of sorts of their live puppetry and movement show, featuring characters and landscapes of the forest.

Call it poppy folk, folky pop, or indie alt country americana, Jeremy Babcock and gang lay down some righteous, jangly tunes, the kind of airy, loping rock and roll that America and Neil Young were so good at. Babcock is the go-to guy in The Dreamtree Shakers, and he and fellow Shakers Shawn Schlag and Michael Doty play in the similar-sounding grownup band Third Wheel.

With song titles like "Her Sound is Sunshine," "Dream and You Will See," and "Watching the Leaves Fall," you can see at first glance where The Dreamtree Shakers are coming from. Very cool indie pop for kids, awesome kindie rock for adults, great CD for the whole family. But first and foremost, check out The Dreamtree Shakers' live show ... then you'll see what they're all about.

***Mary Poppins Soundtrack***

Hey, remember when soundtracks were more than just rehashed Top 40 songs or poorly-composed wannabe Broadway ditties? Yeah, me too. So, here's what may be the best example of how to make a family movie album: Mary Poppins.

The Mary Poppins Soundtrack was released in 1964 and spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts! And why not, with tunes like "A Spoonful of Sugar," "I Love to Laugh," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Let's Go Fly a Kite," and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." You have brothers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman to thank for those classics, along with other memorable songs like "Feed the Birds," "The Life I Lead," "Sister Suffragette," "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank," and the absolutely raucous "Step in Time."

Make sure to check out the 40th Anniversary edition that contains fascinating conversations with the Sherman Brothers about their songwriting process. Julie Andrews' voice, super songs by the Shermans, and Dick Van Dyke's ridiculous Cockney accent make for a classic kids' movie soundtrack.

These are a few of my favorite things! children, music and laughter

I'm waiting to hear from you. Yep, you sitting right there! In light of my last post, I have decided to have a contest. Send in your stories about your favorite musical experiences with your child. It can be something from a Mommy and me music class you've attended or something special that you've done at home, such as a favorite lullaby time or dance. Tell me what you've loved most about sharing music with your child! You can email them to me at Aimee@delightfulsounds.com. I will pick my favorite five, and on May 20, I will share them on the blog. You will then be given the chance to vote for your favorite story. The winner will be announced on May 30 and will receive a Kindermusik prize pack with a children's CD, instruments, and other goodies! I will also do a drawing from all of the contestants for other prizes. I can't wait to hear from you!

***Peter, Paul and Mary***

Let's revisit a classic today! Peter, Paul and Mary's 1969 kids' album Peter, Paul and Mommy was a groundbreaker of sorts, because it was the first instance of a major pop star or band making an album specifically for children. The trio covered Tom Paxton's "The Marvelous Toy" and "Going to the Zoo," Shel Silverstein's short and silly "Boa Constrictor," and Gilbert & Sullivan's "I Have a Song to Sing, O!" from Yeoman of the Guard.

The album included performances of the traditional tunes "Leatherwing Bat," "All Through the Night," and "Mockingbird," as well as Peter Yarrow's amusing "Make-Believe Town." Peter, Paul and Mary also covered themselves on "It's Raining," originally peformed on their 1962 debut album Peter, Paul and Mary, and, of course, their classic "Puff the Magic Dragon," a re-recording of a tune first heard on their 1963 album (Moving). Peter, Paul and Mommy also introduced two new PP&M gems, Peter Yarrow's "Day is Done" and Paul Stookey's "Christmas Dinner."

Peter, Paul and Mommy is, for the most part, a subdued acoustic affair, so the album would make a perfect backdrop to a rainy afternoon or a summer sundown.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Pete Seeger is 90 years young today, and he's as full of vim and vigor as ever. You can get a quick overview of Pete Seeger's biography over at About.com, or check out a review of American Folk Songs for Children, Seeger's first album for kids and one of the Top 5 Classic Children's Albums of all time.

photo copyright Christopher Felver

Listening and Dancing to Music is AWESOME!

So, who's your favorite Yo Gabba Gabba! musical guest from Season 1? Season 2 brought some bigger and better names, and I've heard crazy rumors about the third season, but let's look at Yo Gabba Gabba!'s first year on the tube. Here are my picks for Top 10 Yo Gabba Gabba! musical guests from Season 1.