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.

Jingles: More than Commercials

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.