Sharing and Showing: It’s All About Connection

Some caregivers are hesitant to let their child step up from Little Learners to Little Music Makers. We get it! You don’t want to miss out on the beautiful experience you have with your little one in class each week. You can to continue to be their partner and witness the joy they express at Kindermusik. But have no fear! Our drop-off classes still provide opportunity for you to partner and connect with your child.

The last few minutes of every Little Music Makers class, that’s Levels 3-5, include Sharing Time. This is when you join your child in class to learn about what they did that day. Every sharing time begins with some physical touch, eye contact, and an expression of gratitude from your child to you. This sets the tone for reconnection after your hour apart.

Then your child gets to show off a little to you about what they learned and what skill they developed. Not only do you get to hear about what musical concepts and vocabulary they learned, not only do you get to see and listen to the new instrument they explored, but you also get to share in a “connection activity.”

This is a carefully chosen activity specifically designed to promote connection and bonding between you and your little music maker. It might be an instrument play. It might be a creative movement activity. It might be witnessing your child’s mini-performance of a new  poem or song. It is a chance for you to validate them, show them your enthusiasm for their music learning journey, and to joyfully connect with them.

Sometimes, however, Sharing Time can be a moment of stress for parent and child. Your little music maker has learned routines and expectations and behaved beautifully in class. Your child’s educator is a master at classroom management, understanding that all behavior is communication, and can skillfully redirect any challenging behaviors your child might exhibit during class.

And then you enter the room and suddenly your child might be crawling up the walls, refusing to focus, and is disruptive to the rest of the class. Have no fear! This is normal for some children. The transition from the leadership of their educator to the return to their parent can be jarring and some children don’t yet have the skill to handle that transfer calmly.

If that is your child, just be patient. Trust the process. Talk to them before class about your expectations for when you enter the studio. Tell them beforehand that even though you’re there to watch them and pick them up, you still want them to listen to their teacher for a few more minutes. It will take some children more time than others to learn how to handle this transition gracefully. Some will take a few weeks. Some might take all year. But that’s what this process is all about: growth. 

So next time you come to Sharing Time, prepare to breathe it all in . . . and love it all out. Connect, witness the growth of your child, and share together in the joy of music making.

Cuddles & Stars

Our Little Learner classes ALWAYS include some cuddle time, with dimmed lights, and colorful “stars” on the ceiling. It’s a beautiful time to slow down and focus on the connection you’ve built with your child over the previous 30 minutes or so.

The benefits of cuddle time include giving both you and your child a flood of feel-good hormones, what Conscious Discipline calls “Joy Juice.” This hormonal cocktail is what calms your brain & nervous system, promotes bonding, and just makes you feel good.

Oxytocin is the “love” hormone, and it is produced when you engage in safe and loving touch with a loved one. It can be hugging, rocking, breast feeding, butterfly kisses, an I Love You Ritual, or our musical cuddle time. Any time you focus on and touch someone lovingly you this hormone bathes your brain. This love hormone also measurably decreases stress and cortisol levels in your body. It also has been proven to decrease the perception of physical pain.

Who doesn’t need more of that in their life?

This beautiful moment is often a favorite but can also be stressful for some parents. Maybe your child doesn’t calm easily. Maybe they are roaming about the room and vocalizing in loud tones. Maybe they don’t want to lie down, be held, and rocked gently to the music.

That’s okay too! Just by modeling relaxation for your child, they will receive benefit from this activity. Relaxation is a learned skill, and not one that always comes naturally to a toddler. So as you relax, breathe deeply, and calm your nervous system, so too can your child learn to as well.

So next time you come to a Little Learner class, lean in to this moment. Don’t let cuddle time just pass by without thinking about its intention and benefit. Engage in the I Love You Ritual that precedes cuddle time. Help establish a sense of calm and rest in the class by participating in the deep breathing and creating a “hush”. These cues will come to trigger a  calm response in both yourself and your child. Then you can fully connect and enjoy the two minutes you have to simply be with your child.

Bouncin’ Babies!

First comes Brain Gym.
Then comes Hello Song.
Then comes the LAP BOUNCE.

Every Little Learner’s class (those are our baby and toddler classes) has a lap bounce near the beginning. After our “activity to reduce stress” (Brain Gym) and our  “activity to connect” (the Hello song) we have our lap bounce.

This is always a sweet, fun, and short activity. It is an opportunity for you to trigger the giggles. If it goes as planned, your children will be begging “again!”

The first element is a rhyme or a song. Don’t make your educator perform a solo! Remember, she is the facilitator and you are your child’s partner. Sing or chant along so that your child can hear their favorite sound in the world: YOUR voice. Nothing makes them feel more loved or safe than you.

The next element is steady beat. This is crucial to early childhood development as well as early musical development. Learning to feel a steady beat lays the foundation for your child’s gross motor movements. It helps in smoothing their gait, making it easier for them to walk and run and jump with ease and confidence. It helps them organize and coordinate movements and develop coordination, which will benefit them when they learn to bounce and catch a ball.

It also helps with their pattern recognition, and in developing their auditory discrimination. This foundation will aid them as they learn to speak fluently and eventually read smoothly and with cadence. And of course this lays the groundwork for further musical skills, but in a developmentally appropriate way.

The next element of our lap bounce is, of course, the BOUNCE. This is the fun part. This is where you can play with up and down, side to side, wiggles, rocking, and always a big finish PLOP! 

Besides being fun, this motion stimulates your child’s proprioception. Also known as kinesthesia, this is the body’s ability to sense movement, action, and location. Simply put, it is your child’s awareness of where their body is in space, time, and in relationship to other people and objects.

It also develops your child’s vestibular system. This is their sense of balance and coordination. As the bounce sends their brain information about how their body is moving, it learns how to make compensatory movements. The brain then teaches the body how to regain balance, and as they do so they gain in muscle and core strength.

Who knew there was THAT much developmental work going on in such a little activity? 

But don’t forget that it’s also a great CONNECTION activity. All the lap bounces you learn in class are now in your parenting toolbox that you can use when you need to connect and play with your little one. After all, remember that children learn best through PLAY. So don’t forget to have fun with it!

Sing Away the Stress

Ahh, Springtime. It’s finally here! The forsythia and daffodils are blooming. The weather is maddeningly unpredictable. We’re shrugging off the winter blues and producing more Vitamin D. You’d think it would be all sunshine and flowers . . . but the modern parent knows better.

Spring also ushers in just the next busy phase of a parent’s life. You know what I’m talking about: Easter baskets, teacher appreciation week, planning your family’s summer schedule, supporting your students through standardized testing, finding the perfect Mother’s Day gift, getting the yard in order before the weeds take over . . . . All this on top of our regularly scheduled programming? It never ends.

Even here at Song of the Heart we’re feeling the crunch! We are continuing to provide you with stellar classroom experiences, but are also managing t-shirt orders and trying to provide you with your Heart’s Desire for classes next season. Lots of logistical things happening all. the. time.

So if you’re anything like us, you’re feeling a bit stressed. Well guess what? Kindermusik helps with that!

Did you know that music therapy studies with critically ill adults and children have shown that music can reduce stress, anxiety, and even physical pain by as much as 50%?


That’s right, every time you snuggle up for some musical cuddle time under the “stars”, your brain is getting a dose of oxytocin, the CONNECTION hormone. Every time you engage in creative movement around the room with your little one you are getting a shot of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Every time you see your child make a friend, put away that scarf, or master a new movement, you are getting a shot of dopamine, the JOY hormone. Kindermusik brings it all!

Here’s some ideas to musically battle the stress and helps your kiddos cope too:

KEEP THOSE ROUTINES IN PLACE. Sing that bedtime song. Keep coming to your Kindermusik class. Children thrive on routine and feel safe with predictability. It gives them a sense of security.
THROW IN A DANCE PARTY. Turn on a family favorite tune and dance with your kiddos for 3 minutes. The blood will pump, bathing your brain in oxygen and oxytocin. Cortisol levels will dip. You’ll all feel refreshed.
I LOVE YOU RITUALS: Sing that Twinkle Twinkle ritual we’ve been working on all year. Use it at diaper changes. Use it at bathtime. Use it before mealtime. Use it at bedtime. Take the time to slow down, intentionally touch, make eye contact, be playful, and connect with your little one through a simple song.
USE YOUR KINDERMUSIK AT HOME MATERIALS. Maybe you use them regularly. Maybe you’ve never looked at them. Open up your Kindermusik account and see what golden nuggets are there. It only takes 5 minutes, but it is the perfect way to connect with your child and reinforce their musical learning at home.
STREAM YOUR FAVORITE KINDERMUSIK PLAYLIST IN YOUR CAR. By now you have the whole year’s worth of albums in your app’s library. Which was your child’s favorite? Turn it on while you run errands and let them jam out and relive their favorite Kindermusik unit. Or maybe put on a playlist of your favorite music and educate your kids on popular music from your generation.

We hope you can integrate music into your daily lives in a way that is fun, joyful, and stress free.

Mamma Mia!

Here we go again . . .

And once again we find ourselves pivoting to online school, mask mandates, and doing our best to protect our loved ones and our communities from this virus.

But we have what we didn’t have two years ago when this whole thing started: some hard-won experience. We know what we’re doing. We’ve been there, done that. We’ve had live virtual classes. We’ve learned how to efficiently clean instruments between classes. We adjust our classroom rituals to be more distanced. And your JOY Team is fully vaccinated and are PROS at teaching in masks.

We have another new thing that we didn’t have two years ago: many of YOU. We have so many new babies that have joined our music family. Babies born into a world and at a time not of their choosing. A time of division, of complication, and of confusion. And most importantly to a developing infant, a time lacking in social connection.

We know that healthy and loving connection is the most important part of a new child’s development. And while we know your children are getting all the love and connection from you at home, there’s just no substitute for the socialization that can come from seeing their peers and going out into the world.

Our Kindermusik classes and curriculum are designed specifically to optimize the growth and development of your child. And during these covid-times we have re-designed our studio protocols to ensure your family’s safety.

We are so honored that you continue to trust us with your children and thank you for being part of this studio family. We wouldn’t be here without you.

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is upon us. This is the darkest day of the year. The day that we are farthest from the sun, and we have the least amount of sunlight. And now we experience a return of the sun, a little more light, day by day.

Symbolically, this is a time of sacred rest and reflection, before the awakening.

As you spend this time of year in reflection and preparation for the new year to come, what are you grateful for? What has challenged you? What do you hold dear? What do you want to preserve? What do you want to let go?

These questions of growth are personal, but also apply to what we wish for our children. As we raise these precious humans and prepare them for independence and adulthood, an investment in connection to them must be of the highest priority. What about your relationship with your child are you grateful for? How do they challenge you? What do you want to preserve in your relationship with them? What would you like to let go of?

Perhaps you’re grateful for the joyful way you interact with each other. Perhaps they challenge you with their intense needs that takes time away from your own needs. Maybe you want to preserve your bedtime routine of songs and books. Maybe you need to let go of the expectation that they’ll always listen and obey. Or perhaps it’s time to implement a renewed commitment to joyful connection with them. After all, connection breeds cooperation.

Whatever your goals for your child, Kindermusik at Song of the Heart can only assist them getting there. The growth and connection that happens here benefits every domain of your child’s development. The skills they (and you!) learn in class benefits them socially, academically, emotionally, physically, and more. We love being part of your child’s growth and development. We delight in watching them change and master new skills.

From your infants learning fine motor skills as they practice grasping a baby bell, to your school-aged child flexing their cognition skills as they master rhythmic dictation in our Young Child classes, every age of early childhood benefits from Kindermusik.

Enjoy these wintry days of rest, reflection, and rumination. After the holiday celebrations are over and done, we’ll be here. We’ll be ready to welcome your children back to our loving studio’s arms, to support them, and you, in the important work of joyful growth.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time . . .

. . . When we have our traditional Song of the Heart Winter Holiday class.

We’ve had fun ice skating on paper plates, playing our jingle bells, going on sleigh rides, spinning in dreidels, and creating snow storms. And when we say traditional, we mean traditional. We have one Song of the Heart Family that has been coming to our studio for 11 years. Four of their children have enjoyed our Sleigh Ride at the age of 2 years old. Unfortunately their oldest didn’t join our studio until he was 3, so he is not pictured here, but he still became a Kindermusik graduate! We simply LOVE being part of your children’s lives.

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This is where it all starts.

The solution to all your parenting woes. The starting place to solving your relationship conflicts. The key to understanding and resolving your child’s behavioral problems.

Whenever you or your child is struggling, go back to basics. Go back to connection.

Research has shown that humans are not capable of being rational, of making good decisions, of getting along with others, of handling stress, or basically ANY executive functioning skills unless two basic needs are met first: SAFETY and CONNECTION.

When you are threatened, your brain goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Your conscious brain is hijacked by the hind brain as you seek safety. When you are in this “survival state” you can’t respond to stressful situations with grace or empathy. Nor can your children. Your brain and body asks “am I safe?” If the answer is no, that need must be met before you can move up to the next brain state.

Let’s say you feel safe and can calm your hind brain into understanding that you are not under threat. The next thing your brain asks is “Am I Loved?” If you are lacking connection with a loved one or a trusted friend, you will have trouble having patience and choosing positive behaviors. The same thing goes for your child. If your child feels disconnected from you, they won’t feel loved. They won’t feel safe. They won’t be able to listen to you and respond calmly. They won’t be able to make decisions, follow directions, or remain calm.

So what do you do when your hind brain hijacks you? What do you do when your screaming toddler gets red in the face and fluids drip down their face?

You meet the first two needs. First, remind yourself that you are safe. So what if some judgmental person at Target is watching your child’s melt down. Ignore them. Take a deep breath. Release some tension in your shoulders. Next, approach your child.

Get down on their level. This is a non-threatening approach. Some children will want to be touched. Some will not want to be touched, even by Mom. Try for eye contact. Tell them they are safe. Tell them they are loved. Tell them that when they are ready, you are there to help them.

This is called coregulation. Children simply do not have the executive functioning skills or inner voice that is needed for regulating their emotions. You have to co-regulate with them. Show them how it’s done. Calm yourself first. Then help them calm themselves. This is all accomplished through CONNECTION.

So the next time you see your child’s behavior taking a turn for the worse, remember that their behavior is communication. Their tantrum or resistance is telling you that they are slipping down from the higher brain state and need help to feel safe and to feel loved. Spend some time connecting with them. Slow down. Take a breath. Be present. Be playful. You’ve got this.

5 Ways to Stay Connected as Your Children Grow

A familiar scene: your toddler clings to you, unsure of this new Kindermusik classroom environment. Then they excitedly leave your arms to engage with the activities, only to return to you for reassurance. As you see your little one cling to you for security and then venture off to explore, only to return to you again, you will notice them learning to assert more and more independence. This is a good thing! But as we are all about CONNECTION here at Song of the Heart Studios, we know that a strong bond with your child is what will give them the confidence to spread their wings and soar.

Parenting guru and child development specialist and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith has so much wisdom for both new parents of young children and veteran parents of growing children who are claiming more independence. In a recent Instagram post she shares her top advice for staying connected to your child as they grow. Read her wise words:

The early years of parenting can feel stifling, your child’s intense need for you – day and night – can leave you desperate for some time away from them. Your worlds revolve around each other, closely tied in the same orbit, as if you and they were one being – extensions of each other. Their need and love for you so strong. As children get older, that orbit grows. The pull of the outside world ever increasing. Until one day, you realise you miss that tight knit connection and begin to mourn it, wondering if things will ever be the same again, but there are ways to keep a strong connection as your children grow.

Here are my top 5:

1. Accept the change in need for you. It may seem counterproductive, but the more you allow your child to break away from you now – by giving them freedom, the more likely they are to return to you in the future. Recognise you are their ‘safe base’, that they will always return to, but their job now is to explore the world away from you.

2. Always be there to support them. Waiting in the wings, unjudgementally, to listen and ‘hold’ them when they need it.

3. Rein in the punishments (especially exclusion based ones). If your children feel safe to express themselves and tell you about their mistakes, they are far more likely to be open with you as they grow. If they are raised with fear of retribution and exclusion, you will push them away.

4. Work on your own feelings. If your child’s growing independence leaves you feeling a hole, don’t expect them to fill it. Now is the time for you to rediscover who you are, learn new skills and develop new passions. Learn how to feel comfortable being ‘just you’ again.

5. Connect on their level – if they love video games, ask them to explain them to you and play together. If they love making Tik Tok dances, ask if they can teach you one.

And here at Song of the Heart Studios of course we recommend you maintaining an active role in their Kindermusik experience by helping your Little Music Maker engage with your at home materials, help them practice their Young Child instruments, and do our special sharing time activities. It not only enhances their (and your) musical experience but it also maintains and extends your special parent-child bond.

Rainbow Connection

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our Rainbow Connection Week here at Song of the Heart Studios. Did you jump into your at home Parent Guides for the first time this past week? Or did you joyfully implement them for the nth time?

A lot of parents aren’t aware that Kindermusik can and should continue at home! Your in-class experience is only part of the fun. Sure, it’s the main feature. Our educators are positive and engaging and deliver the curriculum with joy and expertise. But all that brain growth and physical development and connection that is fostered within each of our Kindermusik classes is a launchpad for fun throughout your week.

We get it: parenting is exhausting. The last thing you want is another thing on your to-do list. Intentions to download your unit’s playlist on the app get forgotten in the daily business of parenting. That’s why we developed Rainbow Connection Week as a special invitation to engage with your home materials and we hope that it has brought you and your child an added measure of joy this week.

Not just for fun, when you utilize the home materials and engage with your child during the week you reinforce all the learning that takes place in the classroom. Remember, repetition is the GLUE for the brain. Children instinctively understand this, which is why they sing their favorite Kindermusik song or request their favorite bedtime book over and over and over again! Their need for repetition and reinforcement vastly outstrips our own.

Beyond the learning reinforcement, one of the most important features of the home materials is that it provides an opportunity for yet more CONNECTION between you and your child. You’ll have noticed that most of the activities are quite brief. It doesn’t take much time to remind your child through an engaging and playful activity that you are their safe place. Research has proven that connection promotes cooperation and decreases power struggles. Who doesn’t want that?