Ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie. They forever go together; what a classic combination.
You’re thinking about Oreos now, aren’t you? Maybe you’re experiencing either a positive association (“Oh, I like Oreos! I have a hankering for some Oreos.”) or a negative association (“Yuck. I hate Oreos.”)
Let’s try another one.
Ba da ba ba ba . . . I’m lovin’ it.
You’re either picturing those Golden Arches in your mind or your mouth is watering as you think about salty fries.
These jingles are used in marketing because they hardwire the brain to trigger thoughts of their product whenever you hear that melody. It’s a pavlovian response.
Music is the ONLY stimulus that lights up ALL areas of the brain at the same time. This makes it an overwhelmingly powerful tool to train, hijack, or hack our brains.
Marketers use it to make us think about and therefore crave their products. Runners use it when they play their favorite playlist to get them through the mental wall that can happen on a long run. Television and film directors use music to manipulate the emotions of their audience and to enhance the story they are trying to tell.
Well you might have noticed that we employ this same technique in Kindermusik classes. One of our favorite class “jingles” is
Bells away, bells away, it’s time to put the bells away.
(For those musicologists among us, we sing our “clean up” song on the interval of a simple descending minor third, known in solfege as sol-mi. Why? Because this is the first and most commonly occurring interval in nursery rhymes and children’s songs. It is familiar and easy way to trigger that little brain.)
We SING the instruction to clean up instead of speak it because it creates an auditory cue. An auditory cue is a sound signal that represents an incoming sign, received through the ears, and interpreted by the brain. When used regularly in Kindermusik classes it signals to your child, even the nonverbal babies, that it is time to clean up. That it is time to put away something they are having fun with. At first many children will resist the transition of putting away the instrument they are exploring. But through time and repetition when they hear their teacher sing the cue “instruments away” they have a much easier time letting the item go, understanding that this activity is coming to a close, and it is time to move on.
We do the same thing with our Goodbye Ritual. We sing goodbye. We wish each other well. (This time we sing our wish well on a descending open fifth, or sol-do.) This simple auditory cue lets the children know that it’s time to leave the room, put on their shoes, and get in the car.
We see children ALL THE TIME who struggle mightily with transitions. They do NOT want to put away their shaker. They do NOT want to leave Kindermusik class when it’s over. But with time, they learn these cues, and its helps them in their transition.
Everything we do in Kindermusik has a developmental and pedagogical reason. Even our simple clean up tune.
You can try this at home. Every time you need to get your little one to put away their toys and put on their shoes to get out the door, start singing “toys away.” Or perhaps “shoes on, shoes on, it’s time to put our shoes on.” (You’re hearing our clean up melody in your head now, aren’t you?)
You will see your little one’s ability to transition from one activity or task to the next improve. See what parts of your day you can insert a little musical cue into and watch how it helps your child understand the routine and expect what’s next.
Have you noticed that our Kindermusik classes always start and end the same way? Even sprinkled throughout the class are little rituals and cues that give your child an expectation of what to do next. This is intentional. You’ll find these routines consistent from class to class, with creative variations between educators and level. We carefully craft these routines not just for fun, but to enhance learning and social cooperation.
Childhood is growth. And by very definition that means children experience change on a near-constant basis. Change is unsettling and can be hard for children to cope with. That’s why routines are so crucial. Routines have been shown to give children a sense of security and safety. It helps them know what to expect next and how to behave in certain circumstances. It sets them within a frame of predictability and comfort in which they can then explore, learn, play, and discover.
Structure teaches children how to control themselves and their environment. It facilitates constructive habits and life skills. From brushing their teeth, to feeding themselves, to cleaning up after themselves, routines make all these lessons easier to learn. In Kindermusik we have routines to wake up our brains and bodies, to focus attention, to add cohesion to the group, to foster cooperation, and to signal to you and your child that this is a place that is predictably joyful. With routines in place and expectations set, connection and growth will follow.
Is your little one having trouble with putting away their toys at home? Sing-song “Toys away!” will remind them of how we clean up after ourselves at the Kindermusik studio, and will give them instant information about what you expect. Turn any orders you might need to give your child (example: “Find your shoes!”) into a song, and you’ve just created a new neural pathway to help them understand and follow through. And always finish with an encouraging “You did it!”
Try adopting one of our little routines at home, or develop your own, and see if it helps make a bumpy part of your day a little smoother. We’d love to hear about it!