As we enjoy the slower pace of summer, I hope you have lots of fun as a family! Remember your Musikgarten CD's and instruments continue to foster love for music throughout the summer, and also visit our website to register for Wonderful Wednesdays and Tuneful Thursdays from June 13 & 14 to August 1 & 2.
Wonderful Wednesdays and Tuneful Thursdays start June 13 and 14.
Visit our website for more details.
Summer deal: pay for six classes, attend up to eight!
Graduation is coming!
Summer is almost here!
The music you have enjoyed through this semester will live in you as you enjoy the summer, and beyond.
The benefits of the all the fun you have enjoyed will strengthen your child educationally, socially, cognitively, and kinesthetically.
Have a great week, and we hope to see you at graduation!
As the semester comes to a close, as we prepare for our graduation celebration, and the fun of the summer, I wanted to finish our series by talking about the lasting impact of Musikgarten in your child's life. This impact is greatest as you continue to walk together along the pathway to musical literacy.
Your child's singing voice will blossom. Active music making comes from hearing, remembering, playing, and singing. The early start that Musikgarten gives a child ensures that her singing voice will be developed by all the activities.
Listening skills are built. We have laid a strong foundation of auditory development through listening games, context listening, and the ability to focus and distinguish between sounds. This skill is SO valuable in many fields, not just music!
Movement and body control. Today our children do not get enough movement; screens and chairs have replaced outdoor games for so many. We give your child abundant opportunities to move, while learning to refine movement, control the body, and to express emotions and ideas physically as well as verbally. This skill, along with the listening skills I mentioned before, will delight educators in years ahead!
Playing instruments together builds social skills. Musikgarten affords multiple opportunities to work musically within a group - to play specific parts with defined starting and stopping points. The "beauty of ensemble" comes from children learning that cooperation produces harmonious results. This is both a big step on the pathway to musical literacy, and a great life lesson.
Finally, writing and reading music follows the aural and oral learning that begins our Musikgarten journey. Music is a language, and the transition from enjoying and repeating patterns to reading and writing musical notation parallels and enhances the process of language development. The advantage this gives your child in the years ahead will continue to blossom.
So we have reached a pause on our pathway, to be resumed during the summer with our Wonderful Wednesday and Tuneful Thursday classes (Pay for 6, attend up to 8). Then we will see you again in the Fall for another semester of our Musikgarten journey into the lasting impact of the pathway to musical literacy, where you come for the fun and stay for the education.
Here's to a great Summer!
As we draw to a close this semester, I want to summarize much of what we have learned over this past year together. Musikgarten is based on a sequential approach to musical literacy, and covers all stages of child development and musical development. That is why it forms such a strong foundation for future musical fluency, social confidence, and academic flourishing, as well as spin-off benefits such as sports skills and cognitive advancement.
Scientists map out a Skill Sequence Triangle and this is based on the work of Edwin Gordon at the Gordon Institute for Music Learning.
Following Gordon's stages of musical development, Musikgarten builds from birth to 9 years, leading each child into musical competence without pressure. In this journey we make much use of Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development (click the link to read the post about this from the beginning of this semester).
Gordon defined eight stages (called Gordon Terms) from earliest stages to musical competence. The first five cover PERCEPTION (they are sensory), and the last three are conceptual, they define COGNITION.
Let's start at the beginning:
From birth (Step 1) a child can hear and absorb sounds and song of the environment, but with limited vocal response. This is the Aural/Oral stage and it involves rote imitation of tonal and rhythm patterns. This is the heart of our Babies and Toddlers curriculum. Children hear and absorb. If music is all about apples, this is applesauce: it's enjoyable and it slips down without effort!
Step 2 is Verbal Association: this is Labeling the sounds and giving them identification. In Seasons we start to accentuate du, du-de and then sol-mi-do. This is the equivalent of holding an apple alongside seeing a picture of an apple and a card with the word Apple.
Gordon labelled Step 3 as Partial Synthesis. This is the ability to recognize familiar content aurally and to distinguish it from other material. We make big strides in this area during our Home Environments classes. To continue our apple analogy, this is the ability to distinguish between an apple and a banana!
Step 4 is called Symbolic Association. Now a child can write and read symbols in isolation from the sounds. This continues in Home Environments with our notation cards: the musical equivalent of seeing a card with the word APPLE and knowing the fruit from the word.
The final sensory stage (step 5) is called Composite Synthesis. This involves recognizing visually familiar content without hearing it. This skill is called audiation: mentally hearing and understanding music when the sound is not present. It is a another big step forward in musical fluency and is seen best between 5 and 7 years, during our World Travelers classes. Incidentally, this is why we encourage you to continue with Musikgarten even when other activities compete for your child's time; the gains from these years are just as significant (although less visible) as those in the early years.
Now we move to the Cognition stages, where musical competency becomes conceptual.
Step 6 is Generalization, or the ability to recognize unfamiliar content aurally or visually. Using our apple analogy, this is the concept of knowing an orange as well as an apple!
Step 7 is Creativity - Improvisation and composition. This is the skill of starting with a fruit bowl and making a pie! These skills are developed in our piano keyboard classes.
Step 8, the final step, is Theoretical Understanding, where the musician understands music theory and the process of learning audiation is complete.
Imagining this as ascending a pyramid, from birth to competence, gives you the Skill Sequence Triangle - the pathway to musical literacy.
Next week we will wrap up the semester by looking forward to the lasting impact of Musikgarten.
As we draw toward the close of the semester, we are focusing on the long-term results of the Musikgarten approach to musical literacy. And the one I value most is the way Musikgarten prepares a child to make choices and express his/her creativity.
In the same way as language develops best in a language-rich environment, so creative thinking is nurtured most in a climate of creativity. Our classes are an ideal way to model this because we take a child from imitating, to creating, to evaluating faster than most traditional music programs. By six or seven years of age, your child can be ready to compose, improvise, transpose, and express herself in music at the piano.
You will find your child starts to improvise on the familiar musical themes as you listen at home or in the car. Encourage this creativity! You will also see him being encouraged to compose and create in class, which will quickly spill over into home creativity if you make room for this.We are seeking to develop the whole person, and to foster personal expression, not just learn to repeat set pieces to an acceptable standard.
One of the reasons we are so successful at fostering creativity is that we offer each child the opportunity to delight in fresh ideas: inspiration from music and movement, learning musical forms, stepping out to improvise, welcoming the ability to choose and initiate, create and compose. We also encourage each child's decision-making from the earliest stages of the curriculum.
These mental abilities are lifelong gifts to your child, laying a foundation for lasting involvements in the arts as well as using creative thinking in every aspect of education and life.
To non-musicians, reading music can seem like an impenetrable thicket of symbols and patterns, but music is a language which is written as well as played. The written music is a representation of sound that enables us to recreate it later.
In Musikgarten we begin early, by introducing pictures of sounds on our graphic notation cards (the blue cards). Young children are not ready to work with all of the intricacies of traditional musical notation, but these "pictures of sounds" are an ideal way for your child to represent what she hears or imagines, in order to "write" it.
By using simple drawings, each child is able to notate duration, pitch and contour, and volume. This covers whether a note is long or short, high or low, what direction it moves, and whether it is louder (bold line) or softer (narrow line).
These graphic notation cards represent all of the musical elements, and are a great introduction to reading music. Bt actualizing the sounds represented on the blue graphic notation cards, a child turns symbols on the page into sound. This is exactly what reading music is all about!
And remembering creativity (from last week) your child is quickly able to compose using the same cards or by writing the symbols on a sheet of paper!
Later in the curriculum we move to actual music notation, and before long your child has transitioned from symbols to actual notes; traditional music notation that prepares us for our song pages in the keyboard classes.
-Musikgarten develops creativity is multiple ways. First we show each child how to fall in love with music. Starting with lullabies in the Baby and Toddler classes, and progressing through folk songs in Seasons, Home, and World, your child grows a love for the songs as well as the poems as they connect with feelings and emotions.
Next, we teach your child to compose! Imagine the value of this skill in wider life; figure out how to begin, how to develop an idea, how to end it well, and how to invite others to join in and play along! In a large poll a few years back, researchers discovered that 88% of postgraduate students and 83% of high earners ($150,000 or more) had extensive musical training. That may be a coincidence, but we think otherwise! There is almost certainly some causation within the correlation. From the beginning we teach children about musical forms. When a baby or toddler joins in with the welcome song or another repeated segment of the class, he or she is learning to copy musical form! As the children grow, we introduce them to composers and learn notation tools for writing down a composition. This starts with games but quickly leads your child to learning to read and write in school.
Finally, we teach your little composer, who loves music, to improvise! Dr. Dee Coulter, the renowned brain science educator, describes improvisation as "a special kind of intelligence, that gets lost in today's educational climate." Our schools tend to focus on "fixed intelligence" which is great for recalling correct answers, but lacks value in solving problems that have more than one right answer, or in coming up with new ideas. These require "fluid intelligence" which is best developed by improvisation. Improvising combines paying close attention to the form while coming up with new ideas, a combination called "flexible persistence". Fluid intelligence lets us think for ourselves and bring new ideas to old problems, so it is usually regarded as the highest form of intelligence we can offer our children. You may notice me incorporating each child's slight variations into our regular songs in baby and toddler class; these are the first steps toward improvisation. Later, open-ended songs that ask children to supply a word or movement build on these variations. As older children collaborate in groups on songs and compositions they learn to vary the pitches, rhythms, melody, dynamics and tempo consciously. This gives them a level of musical composition and improvisation that is rare for their age and gives them an advantage in the years ahead.
Surveys of parents reveal a short list of wishes for their children that parents share: Behaviorally, parents want each child to learn to a) relax and be calm, b) to wait, c) to control impulses, and d) to move with rhythm and grace. When it comes to creativity, parents want their child to be inspired a) to fall in love with music, b) to compose?create, c) to improvise and d) to love nature. Both these wish lists lead to the third: school skills! Parents want us to prepare each child a) to share, take turns, and speak up, b) to sit still and listen, c) to enjoy practicing, and d) to get ready to read.
Musikgarten has been designed with all these parental desires in mind, because Musikgarten is a partnership with parents. Today I want to build on last week's post and focus again on listening. Specifically the listening that matters most at school and in life: intentional, focused listening.
In a noisy, distracting world, the ability to listen is becoming more and more challenging. Filtering out peripheral noise to focus on important sounds is a skill that must be learned. Listening with focus is a voluntary function (we develop it through practice), so our Musikgarten classes incorporate this skill from the earliest ages. We start with familiar sounds (like a cat or a baby); this sets up a process for listening. I tell the children what they are about to hear, and ask them to be quiet while the sound plays. This establishes a "listening attitude". Then I ask them what they heard; their delighted responses often show so much surprise! We will often follow up with an opportunity to imitate the sound, adding more fun to the listening process.
You will also notice that, at least in the younger classes, I only give aural cues. This is because visual cues can be distracting (since the visual stimulus is stronger than the aural) as we mentioned in last week's post.
In later classes we widen the listening activities to include the sounds of individual musical instruments, followed by the sound of that instrument in a typical ensemble. In this way the ability to discern and focus listening grows naturally. We reinforce this by using different instruments in the classroom to replicate natural sounds such as wind, rain or thunder. We build ensembles and involve the children in distinguishing whether each sound is conducive to the effect we are seeking.
Throughout the whole curriculum, Musikgarten promotes aural development and practices active listening. This valuable skill is so often lacking today in a world where there is so much passive listening. By the time your child reaches our Piano classes, he or she will be able to audiate; that is to hear the sound and identify its musical symbol or notation, as well as to reproduce a sound indicated on a card without hearing it first. The intentional listening we have developed from the earliest classes is the foundation for this skill, which is of great value in the classroom (whatever the subject) as well as in future musical development.
Jane loves to share the background of the Musikgarten philosophy and pedagogy, together with the wide-ranging benefits of music in child development.