Tag Archives: Music Education

Dance Pants

We love music in this house. We sing almost everything from “where’s the milk” to “time for bed.”

It is perfectly delightful.

And at some point on almost every day we blast the techno. DJ Tiesto is a household name–Weasley even asks for it. Wiggles shakes her booty in a flurry of smiles and giggles and flailing limbs. In my eyes, nothing is more wonderful.

I was a dancer until I had children, my husband and I met ice skating and we love to go dancing on our nights out. Movement and music is part of us. And as such, it is part of our children.

In the parenting trend of Baby Einstein and The Mozart Effect, I diverge.

I spent Weasley’s babyhood immersing him in classical music and exposing him to every composer that would supposedly boost his intelligence. And you know what? Baby Einstein taught him how to sit in front of the TV and listening to Mozart pretty much bored him (except for Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca–that made him dance his funny little toddler pants off).

As a music major in college, I was convinced that classical music truly had the ability to “organize one’s brain.” But what I came to learn as a parent is that is just doesn’t matter. I honestly don’t have any control over my children’s intelligence level. And why would I want to control it anyway? We live in a society so full of messages that your kids don’t fit in a particular box. They move too much, they talk too much, they read too late, they walk too soon… It’s never just “your child is so good at who they are.”

Now, I am not saying I don’t have an appreciation for classical music. I spent my entire childhood dancing ballet to classical composers and went on to study music in college. I have a great amount of classical music education under my belt but I really feel that kids need a variety of music in their education.

Something that made me realize classical music isn’t the only thing your child should listen to is Kindermusik. I got my Kindermusik teaching license when Weasley was still a toddler. And I was shocked when I realized there were very few classical music pieces in the Kindermusik lessons. In fact, most of their music depended on what age the child was and how to get them interacting. Music + movement! This got me thinking. It doesn’t matter what music the kids are listening to as long it makes them move and smile.

For us, that’s techno.

And let me tell you, the kids love it!

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He’s A Big Kid Now

My Weasley is growing up. I just had a glimpse of him being his own person and living his own life–discovering and experiencing things as only he will.

He was playing outside in the spring sunshine and came running into the house whispering,

“Mom! I have a surprise!”

There was a sweetness and gentleness in his tone that made me completely attentive. The first thing that ran through my mind?

“Oh no, this is it, he has found some sort of wild pet and he is bringing it in the house.”

It was just something in his tone. It sounded very caring and tender. Next thought I had was

“Is it a mouse? A bird? A rabbit??”

He walked gently around the corner with his hands cupped together.

“Ok brace yourself,” I thought.

“Look mom! I found a caterpillar!!”

“Whew. Ok. Oh how cool, honey!”

I don’t know why I was so terrified of what he was delivering to me but the thought of a mouse or bird getting loose in the house was, well, ew. Then I realized that it was inevitable. He is finally a big kid–and a boy none the less. Creatures will find their way into my house. And that’s ok. When I was a six, I would bring newts and snakes into my mom’s house. (Maybe that’s why I was nervous!)

But what I really realized in the whole scene was that he is living his own life. He is discovering his own experiences with the world. I am not guiding him like I used to. Things like caterpillars weren’t a surprise before because I was there. I was guiding him in his play. We’d discover things like that together. In a way I miss it. I miss searching for ants and caterpillars and seeing the look on his face when we found one. But I am so thankful for having those moments with him. And I am thankful for him experiencing them on his own and for him growing up and having his own experiences. And I am thankful for him still wanting to share them with me.

I love being a mom!

Slime

Today we made slime.

Squishy, bouncy, stretchy, well, slimy slime.

It.

Is.

Wonderful.

I’m going to tag this as the best craft ever–after all who doesn’t want to make a craft you can play with???

Here’s how to make it:

1 cup glue
3/4 a cup warm water
Food dye
4 teaspoons borax
1 1/3 cups warm water

Mix together the 1 cup of glue and the 3/4 cup warm water in a bowl. Add whatever color food dye you want the slime to be and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix the 4 teaspoons borax and the 1 1/3 cups warm water. Now pour the borax mixture into the glue mixture. Do not stir. Leave it for one minute and then mix it together. It will have become a thick gel-like substance at this point. (The water and gel will not fully mix together)

Pull the gel-like portion out of the mixture and put it in a plastic bag. Close the bag and kneed the gel until it is one consistency. Now take it out of the bag and play with it! (This is where I got super excited about this awesome new creation and had a difficult time handing it over to Weasley.)

You can keep it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh but it seems more pliable when warm.

Do not let this get on the carpet or clothing–it sticks to most fibrous materials.

Have fun!

Reading Time

This picture brings me happiness. A six year old boy sitting on the stairs fully immersed in a book. He is engaged in another world. Images that he is creating in unison with the words on the pages make his experience and this written world unique to him and his mind. What could be better?

There is so much knowledge to be had in the written world. There are so many books that share insight and ideas into the world we live in. Books help form a child’s character. Fictional heroes can show a child how to act and behave toward others.

A few years ago we turned off the TV. We still watch things on Netflix and Hulu but at least I can limit the content to documentaries or selected educational kids programs. There is just something about having my kids stare at flashing light for hours on end that offends me. Especially when it comes to cable television, my kids are being forced media’s endless, pointless and in some cases harmful messages. TV seems to have the power to turn your conscious mind off and just be fed whatever is on the screen. Books are different in that matter as I think they actually turn your conscious mind on. There are very few books I have read that I have not thought about, considered or that haven’t changed my knowledge about something in some way.

Now I understand that there are, well, not so great books out there. But there are a wealth of books out there. Why read a poorly written one? Or one that doesn’t interest you? You aren’t fed anything when you read a book–you have to read it. It isn’t in front of you talking to you, you have to go to the effort to get the information off the page. You have to take the initiative to learn from what you are reading.

Yes, I love books. And yes, I love that without TV, my six year old is at a fourth grade reading level and sits on the stairs riveted in his latest book.

You Call This Security??

Ok, so as I said in my last post we traveled to Saint Louis last week. Travel these days implies going through security. Yup, the good ol’ TSA. Always something to look forward to. Luckily our airport security experience went as smoothly as is possible with young children. In line, however, Weasley wanted to know why we had to go through security. He wanted to know why we take our shoes off, he wanted to know why we have to put our bags through the x-ray machine, he wanted to know why we can’t take large amounts of liquids or our water bottles through security. My husband told him we don’t talk about those things in the security line (never say bomb on an airplane).

I wondered if he’d remember to ask again later. Well, he did. The answer? Fear. My husband explained that every hoop we are put through in the security line is because of one person that tried to hurt people in a particular way. Why do we take our shoes off? Because of one man’s attempt to blow up a plane with his shoes. Liquids? One man’s attempt to blow up a plane with a bottle of liquid explosive. And we all know the reason security is so tight in the US to begin with.

But where does it stop? Crime happens every day all over the world. At what point are we prisoners of our own fear and no longer prisoners of the criminals? At what point are we too afraid to question our own government? At what point does it go to far? Has it already?

We do not question. We cannot argue. This is where the first amendment turns into “freedom of speech except when you are told to shut up.” As is the case in the security line, if my husband had told my son “we have to follow these rules because of fear of bombs” would we have been targeted by security? You absolutely know that if we had argued with security about something we would have been targeted. A few months ago a women in Phoenix got targeted by the TSA for telling them she didn’t want her breastmilk x-rayed. She got put in a glass “holding cell” and missed her flight. (You can read about it here: http://exm.nr/gdk9NG) And thus the TSA earns our silence. Why question when it’s just going to make your life harder? Point made.

But it goes beyond that. See, I was raised in a world of minimal security as a kid. I have now become used to airport security but it isn’t normal. I have become accustomed to following the crowd, doing as I am told, teaching my kids to follow the airport security rules. But here’s what really set me off…

When we visited Saint Louis I took my family to see the Arch. It is a fun childhood memory for me and my kids and husband hadn’t been there. It was a beautiful day and we were in great spirits. Until we walked into the arch that is. As soon as we opened the door we were met by security. Really? Security? Again? Here? 15 years ago when I was here this did not exist. We would waltz right in and enjoy the monument. Not this time. Everyone is a suspected criminal these days.

But here’s the clincher…

It took us a good deal of effort to get Wiggles into her stroller before heading toward the arch. My first thought at having to take her out of the stroller so they could x-ray it? “There goes seeing the museum–we’ll never get her back in the stroller. She’ll be running around in toddler joy now!” Not so. She took one look at that conveyor belt and knew exactly what to do. She got out, sat on my hip and went right back into the stroller.

Then it hit me.

After three flights in her sixteen months of life, my daughter had been completely brain washed. She knew how to follow security guidelines better than she knew how to feed herself.

Next, we bought our tickets to go up into the arch. We were then escorted through the ticket line. After handing in our ticket stubs we were asked to stand up against a concrete wall to have our picture taken. No, you could not refuse. And no, it wasn’t a money making scam for them to get you to buy your family portrait. If fact, they didn’t really sell it at all. It was a record. A record of every person who walked into that portion of the building. Our family picture taken up against that cold wall was now part of the governments record database. Remind you of something? It did me.

The problem is that I am freaked out by this. For my kids it is normality. Is my generation the last one to remember a world without security? Is my generation to last to remember when the constitution meant something? My kids are going to have freedom of speech except when the government tells you that you don’t. (Did you see this? http://huff.to/g9NIL3 ) My kids are going to have the freedom to bear arms until the government says they can’t.

I usually stay completely out of politics. But I wonder at what point the bully becomes the one “protecting” the people from the bullies. Some people are expecting marshal law at some point in the near future. You know, that thing that happens some times in the movies where the government basically puts everyone under house arrest and mans the streets with tanks? Yeah, it’s always so dramatic. I don’t think that is the kind of marshal law we are heading for. I think marshal law is taking place slowly. In the airport, in the Arch, in our towns… Something is wrong. My kids won’t know what it is. I do but what am I going to do about it? I’m certainly not going to argue… that would make my life… well… miserable….

Saint Louis

Last week we took a family trip to Saint Louis. I spent my teen years there and it was like going home. Went to my best friend’s wedding, got to see old friends and childhood haunts. It was a great time. Here are some pictures I took of the Arch. It was fun seeing my kids enjoy places I did as a kid.


Looking straight down from inside the top of the arch


Tug boats are awesome!


That’s a lot of stairs!


At the top!


Bridge over the Mississippi River


Saint Louis has a lot of really amazing old buildings that are abandoned. Fun photo ops for sure.

Ingenuity Comes From Lack–Mom’s Turn

I posted a few months ago how my son gained ingenuity from lack. That taking away his toys caused him to create and find new and interesting ways to spend his time.

Well, now it is my turn to come up with something from seemingly nothing.

I used to teach piano and was a music major in college. The curriculum choices available for teaching children piano constantly frustrated me. I always wanted to change something about them. Usually something that caused frustration in my student.

Recently I went online to see if there were some online programs or games for my son to play with that taught basic music skills. I was shocked to find that there was nothing.

Nada.

Not a one.

Today, I gave my son a choice between the three instruments we had available in the house to learn to play one. He played with the flute for a while, got frustrated learning the breathing. Ok, I understand that–it really is tricky. Some day we will come back to that.

Then we pulled out my old violin. He gave it a good try but didn’t quite click with it.

Then we sat down at the piano. We sat there for about 30 minutes while he attentively learned the very basics of the piano keyboard.

(Quick note, this child is never attentive.)

Now the book that I used to teach out of I still have and pulled it out to teach him. And low and behold it frustrated both of us. Just not cool.

When I was teaching, it was the best I could come up with but now, it just isn’t enough. So for the entire afternoon I sat down at the computer and began constructing a new curriculum. One that I just might be happy with and one that just might teach my children to play the piano with minimal frustration.

Or so I hope.