I Am Safe. I Am Loved. I Can Learn.

Those are the feelings we want your children to have when they come to Song of the Heart Studios and experience Kindermusik and our music clubs. And for that matter, it’s how we want YOU as the adult in your child’s life to feel when you are with us as well. Whether you drop your Little Music Maker off at one of our classes for older kiddos, or whether you stay to enjoy a Little Learners class with your younger child, we want everyone who joins us to feel safe. To feel loved. To feel welcome. To feel like here is a place where you can learn.

Here’s why this is a primary goal of the JOY Team and Song of the Heart Studios:

It’s all about brain science.


Our most primitive brain state is the survival state. The question our brain asks is “Am I safe?” This is when our brain stem and limbic system’s needs are met. If a person doesn’t feel safe, then they cannot function at a higher level. Only when you know you are safe from threat can a person (adult or child) move up to the next higher brain state. And so here we want you to feel safe.

We have a lot of safety protocols here at Song of the Heart Studios. Part of them include minimizing exposure to Covid. Part of them include never allowing children to be unsupervised. Part of it is having emergency kits in every classroom. Part of it is following fire code regulations. But it is so much more than physical safety.

We want your child to feel like they can trust their educator. We want you to feel like you can trust us. We have physical safety in mind, always, but we also think about emotional safety.

It’s why we give several weeks for new children to acclimate to our studio space and routines and rituals. Our routines create a sense of familiarity, which breeds feelings of security and safety. We are very intentional crafting our classroom routines, from where to put your shoes, to our gathering time and Hello song, to our closing Goodbye song and Wish Well. Knowing what to expect next helps all children feel safe and secure.


The next level up in our brain states is the emotional state. This is when the brain asks “Am I loved?”

Part of our culture of safety is to help you understand that everyone experiences Kindermusik a little differently, at their developmental level. And that is okay and by design. There is no comparison, no judgment. Only acceptance and affection in a nurturing environment. We appreciate every family that comes to us and love to see the individuality in each child.

When we look into your child’s eyes and sing to them “We wish you well . . .” we are letting them know that we love them. We hold you in our hearts. We delight in your presence. You are appreciated and loved here in our studio. Only when someone feels loved can they move up to the final, and highest brain state.

This is why we witness your child with “You did it!” and “I see you . . . ” statements. When they feel seen, they feel loved.


This is the state that can only be achieved when a person feels safe and loved. And this is the state where learning takes place. This is the place where self-regulation takes place. This is the place where decision making takes place. None of these executive tasks can take place until AFTER someone is secure in their safety and love.

This is when your child can truly thrive in the rich environment that we provide. This is when your child can make neural connections as we repeat a favorite activity. This is when they can explore safely with new props and instruments and learn new concepts through their senses and through gentle instruction.

Here at Song of the Heart Studios you and your child are SAFE. Here you are LOVED. And here, we hope, you can LEARN.

Feel Good Hormones – JOY Juice!

Have you started using I Love You Rituals at home yet? Or perhaps come up with your own? The reason we like to incorporate I Love You Rituals in class and encourage you to use them regularly at home is that doing so gives you and your child a shot of JOY JUICE.

What is Joy Juice? It is a hormonal cocktail that your body releases and bathes your brain in when you engage in a moment of connection with a loved one. It is comprised of dopamine, endorphins, and other natural hormones. It can have an equivalent effect on a child’s brain as a dose of Ritalin. But completely natural! And you have access to it ANY TIME YOU WANT.

Dr. Becky Baily of Conscious Discipline teaches “Joy Juice is a combination of positive brain chemicals that create joyful feelings literally wiring the brain for impulse control and willingness.”

Looking to add more joy to your family’s life and help transform challenging behavior? Add some Joy Juice!

The key elements to accessing your and your child’s body’s Joy Juice production and distribution facility are:

  1. Eye contact: Getting down on your child’s level, looking them in the eye, and using their name, is essential to building the connection needed for the release of these hormones.
  2. Touch: Placing your hand on your child’s shoulder or head, a gentle tickle, or a hug, signals to the child that they are safe. It readies them for connection and cooperation.
  3. Presence: Being fully present in the moment and with your child indicates empathy and comfort. It’s a way of signaling to them that they matter to you and that you are a safe place for them.
  4. Playfulness: A playful situation gives the brain a little break and primes it for more learning. A playful game can put us in a state called “relaxed alertness” which is optimal for learning and readiness.


The connections we build with others on the outside builds neural connections on the inside and give us this Joy Juice.

So when you’re in a challenging moment with your child, get down on their level, place your hand on their shoulder, use their name and say “Find my eyes.” Then be present and playful with them. It only takes a moment to connect, prime the brain, and promote connection and cooperation.

Here’s to more JOY!

Emotional Coaching

Co-Regulation. It’s a new buzzword in parenting circles these days. But what does it mean?

First, it’s important to understand that emotional regulation cannot take place without an inner voice. Adults have their reactionary, automatic, lizard brain self. But we also have an inner-voice and can talk to ourselves. We can tell ourselves to calm down. We can tell ourselves to regulate our breathing. When we are triggered into lower brain states and are struggling to manage our anger, or our frustration, we have the capacity to employ skills of inner regulation.

Children lack that inner voice. Developmentally their brains just have not yet developed it. That inner voice comes with maturity and development, just like other cognitive skills, such as concrete thinking leads to abstract thinking. And because children lack an inner voice they cannot self-regulate when they are young. They need to be taught, yes. But beyond modeling and overt teaching, they need to be guided through the process. You need to become not just their parent, but their coach.

That’s what experts mean by co-regulation. Some emotions are just too big for a child’s nervous system to process. Big feelings lead to big tantrums, misbehavior, etc. We know that ALL behavior is COMMUNICATION. So if your child is losing it, it doesn’t mean that they are misbehaving. It means they are communicating that they need help regulating their big emotions.

So how do we do it? We become their emotion processing COACH.

First, get your own feelings under control. If your child’s actions are pushing your own buttons, you have to first calm yourself. Engage that S.T.A.R. breathing you’ve learned about in our classes. You cannot help a child level up the brain states without doing it yourself first.

Second, notice their feelings. Validate their feelings. Label their feelings. Most children lack the ability to express in words what is wrong. They don’t know. You can give them this voice.

Second, connect. Get down on their level so you can make non-threatening eye contact with them. Offer some gentle touch. Tell them that when they are ready you will be there to help them.

Some kids will fall into your arms immediately needing physical touch and assurance. Other kids need time and space before they will be able and willing to connect. So you just wait and let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready.

It’s all about empathy and connection. Regulate yourself to co-regulate your child, so they can learn the skills of self-regulation. When we try to connect with our children instead of control our children, their behavior and your relationship with them will improve.


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.


Any parent who has had a toddler knows the power of a tantrum. Not only does it completely overwhelm your child’s body, it makes them irascible and unresponsive to any solutions to their problem that you might present. Not to mention it can also throw you as the parent into an emotional tailspin, overwhelming you with frustration, and you find yourself incapable of being your best parenting self.

Guess what? I have good news for you. There is a magical tool available to you that can take that tantrum and turn it into a teaching moment where you show your child how to manage those overwhelming emotions. This tool is called EMPATHY.

Simply expressing empathy to your child, instead of solving their problem, is the goal.

All conflict begins with upset. And you cannot solve the conflict unless you first address the upset. Empathy is the way to do that.

Here’s what that might look like:

Your child is in distress. Maybe they don’t like their dinner. Maybe they don’t want to put away their toys. Maybe they don’t want to give you that sharpie they’re using to color the walls.  Instead of trying to offer solutions, or putting them in time out, or explaining what they need to do, just get down on their level. Offer some gentle intentional touch. Validate their feelings. When you validate and notice their emotions that is called co-regulation.

Children lack the executive functioning skill of regulating their emotions. They require co-regulation from a trusted adult to show them how, so that as they mature they can develop the skill of emotional regulation. You co-regulate by offering empathy.

Next time your child is overcome with strong emotions and it’s triggering your own, take a breath. Notice how you are responding to them. How are you managing their emotions? Are you ignoring their feelings? Negating or minimizing their feelings? Even if their feelings are irrational or over something trivial, they are not trivial to the child. They are overwhelming for the child. So get down on their level, say “You seem sad” or “You seem frustrated” and just let their feelings be. Make space for those feelings. Validate those feelings. Your empathy will integrate their brain and help them to regulate their emotions. Only then will they be functioning in the executive portion of their brain and can accept help or find a solution to their problem.

Unless you were parented this way it may not come naturally to you. People tend to parent the way they were parented, but behavioral and brain science tells us there’s a better way. And it starts with empathy.

The Skill of Choices

Did you know that your JOY Team has been training in Conscious Discipline over the last year and are continuing to implement its practices into our classes? We have seen incredible changes in the behavior of our students and in our skills as educators. We want to pass on what we have learned to YOU.

This month’s post is regarding Conscious Discipline’s Skill of Choices.

When your child is starting to lose it just a little, and you can see their emotional and mental state slipping, employ the strategy of Two Positive Choices.

You see, when a person has some choice and autonomy, they feel in control. They feel safe. Their executive functioning remains intact. Many children start to exhibit negative behaviors not because they are bad kids, but because they are communicating that they have a need. And very often that need is for some control over their own lives. Even little children need control. So feed them a little power by giving them two positive choices.

You might see your Kindermusik educator use this in class. It might be something like responding to a child playing their instrument out of turn with “Sammy, do you want to put your drum in rest position, or put it back in your music tote?” Or perhaps when it’s time to put finger puppets away “Do you want to put the squirrel in the instrument tote, or give it to your grown up to put away?”

This is a fantastic tool to use at home and in your daily parenting.

This could look like “Do you want to clean up your toys by yourself or do you want me to help you clean up your toys?” Or perhaps “Do you want to brush your teeth before you put on pajamas, or do you want to put on your pajamas first?”

Both of these examples are structuring a choice that you, as the grown-up, can live with. Both of them will get the expected behavior done. But it’s giving the child a choice, some control, some power. And that feeling of power will help them feel good about themselves and promote cooperation.

Two positive choices are necessary because you don’t want the options to feel coercive. “You can put on your shoes now or you can miss Kindermusik today!” is not structuring the situation to enable your child to choose success. It’s punitive and coercive. Instead, try “Do you want to put your shoes on now, or do you want me to put them on for you in the car?”

“Do you want to eat your dinner or go to bed hungry?” is a classic example of a coercive choice. That’s not true choice. Instead, say “Do you want to eat your dinner, or put your plate in the dishwasher?” Same results, but less threatening and more empowering.

So when you see those facial expressions or body language start to show in your little one that signal “danger ahead”, stay composed. Offer them two positive choices. Give them the time and space they need to make the decision. And support them in the execution of their decision. Watch their emotional state rise back up.

Try it at home and let us know how it goes. We would love to hear how this tool strengthens your parenting skills.


The Power of Attention

What you pay attention to you get more of.

We learn this from Conscious Discipline and behavioral studies. Positive attention to positive behaviors will give you more of those positive behaviors. Negative attention to negative behaviors will give you more of those negative behaviors.

This principle is taught more eloquently by the great American poet, Mary Oliver.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”

Simply put, and so stunningly true. Our job in this life is to pay attention. And our job as caregivers of little people is to pay attention to them! When they feel noticed, they feel seen. They feel validated. They feel appreciated. That sets the best stage for them to learn and grow.

More words of wisdom from Oliver:

“Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

Ah, aren’t we devoted to our little ones?

When that child is first brought into our lives we notice every little fingernail and dimple. The beginning of devotion indeed. And they can feel it. When we notice, they feel loved. They feel secure. They feel safe.

Final words of wisdom from Ms Oliver:

“I simply do not distinguish between work and play.”

Pretty wise words coming from a grownup. Play IS a child’s work. And when we let them freely explore they will do their best work, and learn what they need in the most developmentally appropriate way.

One of the silver linings of these strange times is the opportunity for us to pay attention. We have a unique chance to slow down and really notice our children for who they are, rather than rushing them to the next enrichment activity. As we notice them in their play, that IS their work. Their work of growing, learning, developing, and becoming.

And aren’t we honored to be able to witness it?

Striving for Normalcy: Kindermusik at Home

How are you? Are you going stir-crazy? Are you feeling anxious? Are you having trouble managing the physical, social, and emotional needs of yourself and your family?

We get it. We’re feeling the same way! All our normal routines are interrupted and we are mostly stuck at home, unable to socialize and go to our regularly scheduled events. This is challenging for everyone, but as adults we at least have the executive functioning skills to help us cope. Our children don’t have the same advantage! They look to us for calm and a sense of normalcy.

At Song of the Heart Studios we want to stay in contact with you and your children to help aide in providing a sense of routine during these uncertain days ahead. The JOY Team has been working behind the scenes, preparing some special musical treats for your children to enjoy at home, so they can remain connected to their educator and to the routines that going to Kindermusik class brings them.

Here are some resources you can use and look forward to:


These activities, videos, and stories have always been available to you. They are included with your class. Every time we start a new unit in class, we push out new online materials to your Kindermusik account. Many of you have utilized these already, but many of our Heart-y families have not! Now is the perfect time to start.

Log in to my.kindermusik.com and find your current or past units. There are delightful activities you can do at home with your little one, to keep the Kindermusik experience going. Crafts, printables, short videos, dance-alongs, and other activities professionally developed to supplement the music and lessons you receive in class. Most families who look at them for the first time are pleasantly surprised at their quality and how much they enjoy them. Give them a try!


We have spent this last week preparing mini-classes and filming them to post on our Youtube channel. You and your child will be able to see YOUR educator teaching your current curriculum. You can pull the video up on your phone or tablet or laptop, get down on the floor with your little, and have class right at home.

You child will LOVE these videos. Each member of our JOY Team has brought their personal magic to the screen to keep your child connected to them and to the music. Complete with Hello Song and goodbye ritual, we’ll keep class going the best we can.

Besides watching your educator’s mini-class, you can watch the other educator’s videos and see what they have to offer. Each educator is unique and brings a special feeling to the Kindermusik experience. You can get a taste of what the next level is like, so you can know what your child will experience as you move up through the Little Learners and Little Music Makers levels.

In addition to mini-class videos, we have special Story Time videos for your family. These eleven (yep, eleven!) delightful videos will add just another option and layer of connection for you and your little one.

Please note that these videos are for currently enrolled families and you can find the links in the Weekly Reader.


This one is still in the construction mode, but please follow our Facebook Page and join our new, private Facebook Group so that we can host live events with your educator. Your child could see their member of the JOY Team live online. Wouldn’t that be fun? Moving forward we plan on adding more videos with instrument demonstrations and maybe even Conscious Discipline training for you parents! We know you’re stressed and your personal resources are thin. We want to impart the wisdom of Conscious Discipline to you to help you augment the personal skills you need to cope during this trying time.


Please use these resources to stay connected to Song of the Heart and our Heart-y Tribe. We hope you and your family are doing well during this challenging time. We hope that you are finding moments of joy and connection each day. May your hearts and bodies be safe. May your homes be a haven. May your minds be calm. May you find presence and peace. And as always, we wish you well.

Be a S.T.A.R!

“Be a star!” at Kindermusik means a very different thing than if you heard that phrase at a dance studio, or even a different type of music studio. Elsewhere that phrase might bring up imagery of stages, lights, sequins, practiced smiles, and scripted choreography.

Here at Kindermusik, we focus on process based curricula, rather than performance based rehearsals. Every moment in a Kindermusik class is carefully planned to promote optimal age-appropriate development. Focusing on process rather than performance allows your children the time, space, and safety necessary to learn through exploration. This promotes cognitive development, social development, fine and gross motor development, and emotional development. We’re about the WHOLE child, not just the cute part that looks adorable on a stage. Joyful music exploration is the vehicle whereby we promote growth, rather than perfect performances being our goal.

So at Kindermusik, when we talk about being a STAR, we’re not talking about being a great performer. We’re talking about breathing. Breathing is such a fundamental part of being human, we do it without thinking. However, in times of stress our breathing becomes shallow and our brains don’t get the oxygen they need to function in the executive problem-solving state. In those moments when our brains are in flight-or-flight mode, we need a tool to bring our brains back up to the executive functioning level.

Enter breathing. Balloon arms anyone? Or perhaps some S.T.A.R. breathing? Studies show it takes about THREE deep, slow breaths to calm the nervous system and bring the brain out of fight-or-flight and return to a state of problem solving calm and learning readiness.

S. – Stop
T. – Take a breath
A. – and
R. – Relax

S.T.A.R. breathing is a technique you can use as an adult when work and parenting overwhelms you. It’s a technique you can teach your teens and tweens to employ when their lives get to be too much. It’s a process that elementary aged children and preschoolers can do when they need help with emotional regulation. And you can even hold your screaming infant to your chest and breathe deeply, helping them feel your slowing breath, to help them to slow and deepen their own breathing.

Calm breathing can help your child feel safe. Empathetic breathing between you and your child will remind them they are loved. Only when they feel safe and loved can they return to learning, focusing, cooperating, and functioning.

How’s your S.T.A.R. practice going at home?

Mirror Neurons: Downloading Calm

Imagine this: you are sitting in a circle with a group of friends, family, or colleagues. One person is speaking, and everyone else is watching and listening. The speaker is caught mid-sentence with a yawn. Everyone observers the speaker yawning. Soon everyone else in the room is yawning, regardless of whether they felt tired before or not.

It’s a familiar experience. One you may or may not have been conscious of experiencing. And it’s a phenomenon that is the result of something called mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons are neurons that fire both when a person acts AND when a person observes the same action performed by someone else. The neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other person, as though they were acting themselves.

Aside from just being an interesting factoid, this is great news for parents and caregivers. You can utilize your child’s mirror neurons as a tool to help you cope with difficult behaviors and teach them emotional regulation. If you can approach your child in a moment of difficulty, with calm on your face and a relaxed demeanor, you have the power to help that child calm themselves and relax.

Daniel Stern, a prominent psychologist, has said “Mirror neurons ensure that the moment someone sees an emotion on your face, they will at once sense that same feeling within themselves.”

That means you have the POWER to affect your child’s mood and behavior. If you are angry and show it, that will signal to your child to also be angry. But if you can remember that even if your child has triggered your anger and frustration, you are an adult with emotional regulation skills and can calm yourself. If you can take a calming breath and approach them with empathy, that will signal to your child to breathe and relax. You just diffused a very tense moment in your relationship with your child, and cut the stress in half.

Dr. Becky Bailey, our discipline guru, teaches what this looks like:

Let’s say that your child is upset and throwing a tantrum. You reach for them out of a desire to comfort them, but they angrily pull their arm away from you and turn their back on you. They’re not looking at you, so you can’t use their mirror neurons to download calm into them. How do you get them to look at you?

In that moment you say “Your arm went like this . . .” and mimic their motion. Or “Your face just went like this . . .” and copy their facial expression. They will wonder what you’re doing and will look back at you to see what you’re doing with your arm or face.

In that brief second when they look at you, take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Their mirror neurons will kick in and they will be tricked into taking a deep breath as well. That will literally download calm into their brain. You still have to deal with the difficult situation at hand, but you are calm and you can handle it. And now your child is calmer, and they can learn from the self-regulation skills you are modeling for them.

So when your child is pushing your buttons and you feel yourself ill-equipped to manage a difficult situation, take your power back. Remember that no one can make you upset without your permission – even a screaming toddler. Take a deep breath to calm yourself. Use those mirror neurons to teach your child to calm themselves. Keep breathing. You can handle this.