Check out Sing Music Studio’s new Website!

I have been waiting patiently for quite some time and now it’s finally ready! It’s Sing Music Studio’s new website! I’m very excited to announce it and with that, it means it’s also time to start blogging again because… well.. it’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged, lol! This new website format makes it so much easier so you can definitely expect more blogs from me in the future.

So what will you find on our new website? A more streamlined look and easier navigation. And yes the addresses and maps are correct! Our branding remains the same but I think you will find the site cleaner, easier to read and follow and you will also see some fabulous pictures taken by our resident photographer, Neal Burstyn.

So here it is… www.singmusicstudio.com… go ahead and surf

 

Special Needs + Kindermusik = AMAZING!

Throughout the 9 years I have been teaching Kindermusik and school music programs, I have most definitely worked with different special needs children. The majority of my experience has been in preschool and in-school settings where classroom teachers and one-on-one aides for the special needs children have been involved in the music classes. I’ve always been impressed with how music reaches these children.

This school year, I have been so fortunate to be working with 4 different special needs children in my Kindermusik classes at varying ages and stages – the highest number of special needs children I have ever had in my own studio space in one school year. Some of these children need aides with them, some do not. Over the course of a few months I have seen so many changes and improvements in all of these children, it really is mind-blowing. I was already so aware of what a strong impact music has on learning and development in ALL children. But seeing the incredible changes that have taken place in these particular special needs children (some in just 2 short months) just solidifies to me that much further how strong an impact music has on us. These children have come leaps and bounds in focused attention, social skills, language development, following direction and so much more. I adore having each of these wonderful children, along with all of the other completely accepting and wonderful children in my classes.
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Kindermusik Makes GREAT Active Listeners!

These students have come so far from where they began! Now in the fourth and final semester of the Kindermusik for the Young Child program, they grown, changed and learned so much! Thinking back to their first CRAZY class together, with short attention spans, barely being able to sit still throughout one short activity, everyone talking over each other and wanting to just run around, hardly able to contain their excitement… it’s pretty amazing to see how focused this group of children now is. In this video they clearly demonstrate their ability to listen, respect each other, help each other and respond to specific cues as they create the musical sound effects along with this somewhat lengthy story – lengthy for 7 year olds anyway! Great job kindermusik kids!

 

Christmas Recital – Truly Inspirational!

WOW! What a performance! Our Christmas Recital this year at Regency Retirement Home was our best show yet! The students worked so hard putting together performances and we had some excellent sibling combos this time around. Sisters and brothers playing and singing together – what a joyous occasion! Since our recital, I have had many parents contact me telling me how truly inspirational this show was. I have heard stories of students putting on at home Christmas Recitals for their extended families over the holidays. This truly warms my heart and brings me back to memories of me and my sisters putting on holiday shows for our family at Christmas as children/youth and teens. It makes my heart sing knowing that I have inspired that same love of music in my students and I cannot wait to see what future performances hold.

Here is a snippet of our recital. In this clip, one of our inspirational students sings and plays The First Noel. This student has been coming to lessons since she was in SK, now in grade 2, she has a beautiful touch on the piano, is beginning to find her singing voice and aspires to learn the guitar next. I know she was a true inspiration to other students at the show who now also aspire to sing and play. The mother of one young student in particular told me how her daughter went home and starting practicing singing and playing the piano after seeing this performance.

Watch and enjoy, truly inspired and truly proud of all the performers at the incredible Christmas Recital in 2013, Miss Mandi.

 

Watch out for those Treble Makers!!!

You’ve got to see this adorable rehearsal of the Treble Makers (minus one Treble Maker) getting ready for their first ever performance at our Christmas Recital. From the get go these girls were dying to sing some songs from Frozen, and, well, they did a great job on Do You Wanna Build a Snowman. Watch and see… so proud of these sweet girls!

Performance Anxiety

Performance…. oh that can be a scary word. People often ask me, how do you do it? Get up in front of all sorts of people and sing? My answer is simply, I just love it! It makes me feel incredible! But… that wasn’t always the case. I wasn’t a born performer and I definitely experienced my fair of jitters. I still get them from time to time… but they usually disappear the second I open my mouth and start to sing. 🙂

Overcoming performance anxiety is not an easy task and when it comes down to it, continuing to perform in front of an audience is the only way to move past that anxiety. Feeling confident in your ability and how well you know your song, being relaxed and not worrying about what other people are thinking are also ways to help manage performance anxiety. I would even go so far as to say that having a terrible performance experience is a good experience! If you can get through that, you can get through anything and you realize quickly that it’s really no biggie! Growing up and studying music, I often found myself feeling anxious about performing. Now, being an anxious person and worrier by nature certainly doesn’t help! Lol! Studying music throughout elementary school, high school and college, I often felt like I was being judged, because I was being judged and marked – and that made me NERVOUS! The day it finally clicked and I realized it really doesn’t matter what this teacher or that teacher’s opinion of my singing is, was the first day I did not feel nervous. And that was during my final performance of my final year at Humber! It took me a long time to figure that out! And that no mark any teacher could ever give me would make a difference as to whether I would get booked for this gig or that one or whether I would be able to go on to open my own successful music school.

Being a person who loves performing, learning and adores teaching, it’s been imperative to me to find a better way to educate students about performance and performance anxiety. Which is why I run 2 recitals a year, offering EVERY student, regardless of ability, the opportunity to perform at each recital. There is no judgement, no prizes, just a fun performance in a local seniors residence where children, teens and adults get the opportunity to show their loved ones what they have learned, in a supportive, nurturing environment! Performance skills are so important in building self-confidence and self-esteem and also in helping students gain the skills to do things like deliver speeches in school, perform solos or participate in school theatre, make presentations and even put up your hand in class to answer a question in front of everyone. Believe it or not, that was something I dreaded in school. And although I’ve always been musical, I just didn’t feel right or confident or that it was ok to make a mistake when I was performing as a young student. I want all of my students today to be set up for success, to learn performance skills and feel confident and be able to let it go if they make a mistake! Sometimes the best things happen from mistakes. 🙂

I’m excited to be offering a new option for working on performance skills for young students this year, the Treble Maker’s children’s choir. The Treble Makers will perform as a group at our bi-annual recitals alongside our private lesson students in singing, piano, guitar and drums! Here’s a little clip of me performing with my band, Side B Vibe! Enjoy my performance! Miss Mandi

 

Learning in a Multi-Age Level Class

This video is such a great illustration of so many wonderful learning components that take place in our multi-age level Kindermusik class. It begins with learning about what dogs do by watching Miss Mandi with a stuffed dog. Then takes the families through the same physical movements as the dog. In this activity, it is obvious that we are practicing active listening skills and gross motor skills, which are both incredibly important skills in life, learning and school readiness. But there are many other skills at play here as well. The children are learning about working together as a group, practicing spatial relations as they traverse throughout the room being mindful of the other bodies that are also moving, learning body awareness and inhibitory control as they discover or practice mastering different types of movements and also move to specific cues. All the while, these parents are extremely supportive as they all get right in there rolling on the floor alongside the children! Engaged parents set the stage for success! Children are more apt to participate and learn when parents actively support that learning! Take a look! New classes begin this September!

Listening Skills: Practice Makes Perfect!

Developing listening skills is definitely one of the most important skills you can teach your child. You want your child to listen to you, to other adults, to teachers, be able to follow directions and develop healthy social skills and all that begins with active listening – which is much different than hearing. We can hear things but not actually listen to them – sounds are around us all the time but it’s easy to tune them out.

Teaching your child to engage in active listening is an important step in the process to listening skills and we do this all the time in our Kindermusik classes. Active listening is more than just listening, we listen, discuss, imitate, repeat… the parents are just as important in this process too because as you as parents model listening behaviour you are also teaching you child to do so too. I love this video from our Wiggle & Grow toddler class that really illustrates all of these points. You will see me showing the children a picture of a squirrel, discussing what squirrels do and acting it out, listening to squirrel sounds and imitating it. The parents in this class deserve ample credit too because they are all excellent models of being active listeners and are fabulous at engaging with their children and being the supportive, nurturing parents and teachers that they are!

 

Terrible Two’s – How to make them EASIER!

Everybody dreads the “terrible two’s”. But have you ever sat back and thought about why this stage in your toddler’s life is so difficult? Did you know that this developmental stage is synonymous with being a teenager? And do you know how to make this stage easier on yourself and your child?

Toddlerhood is a constant struggle for your child between dependance and independence – hmm that sounds an awful lot like being a teenager. Your little one wants to be able to do things on his own but still relies on mom and dad for so many things, much like a teen. Providing more opportunities for your child to feel in control and make choices can aide your little one in feeling that sense of independence that he wants so badly, especially when there is opportunity for choice. Here are some examples:

  • Before heading outside: “Would you like to wear the green hat or the red hat?”
  • Bedtime routine: “Do you want to brush your teeth first or take your bath first?”
  • When crossing the street: “Would you like to hold my hand or for me to hold your hand?”

That last one is my personal favourite, LOL! But you can see that sometimes rephrasing what you want your toddler to do can really help him cooperate! Certainly there are times when no choice is possible and in those instances, it’s best to take a direct approach as opposed to asking a question. For example, instead of saying “Would you like to have lunch now?” you might say, “It’s time to have lunch now”. Asking a question leaves room for that looming answer, a hefty “NO”!

Toddlerhood is also an extremely emotional time. Does that remind you of what it’s like to be a teenager too? While teens struggle with new emotions, feelings, self esteem, self worth and hormones, toddlers are also struggling with new emotions and feelings, becoming self-aware and have the added disadvantage of not having the language to communicate with you. That sounds like a clear recipe for frustration, and potential disaster, if you have no clue how to handle it! However, providing your toddler with tools to communicate effectively with you as well as a better understanding of emotions can make both of your lives easier.

Sign language is an EXCELLENT tool for communication. Especially if you start signing with you little one around 6 months and continue to provide useful signs along the way at key times and when your baby/child is engaged. I can assure you that you are not replacing the spoken word by using ASL with baby or toddler – in fact you are doing the opposite. Most babies who sign speak sooner than babies who do not sign because they have a deeper understanding of language. Not only that but now you have provided a way for baby to communicate with you before he has the ability to put all the words together (for more info on the benefits of signing, check out this previous blog post). By adding signs for EMOTIONS into your signing repertoire, now you have the tools in place for your toddler to understand feelings and have the ability to describe to you how he is feeling – alleviating frustration. Wow, that’s pretty powerful!

Join us at Sing Music Studio as we delve into emotion signs in our next Sing Signing Series class: Emotions! This is a drop-in class, with no pre-requisite to have attended one of our previous ASL classes. Plus, you will receive a useful pdf of all the signs explored in class for at-home use. Just email me, Miss Mandi, to register: mandi@singmusicstudio.com.

Sign Language Benefits for Babies and Toddlers

Did you know that signing with baby/toddler has NUMEROUS benefits? That’s why we provide monthly drop-in signing classes at Sing Music Studio with useful ASL signs for interaction with baby/toddler. In class, you will learn how to sign realistically with baby/toddler, how to recognize signs and much more about signing with your little one.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the benefits reaped from signing:

  • Brain development – spoken language is mainly processed with the left side of the brain, by adding movement to language by signing, we also engage the right side of the brain creating a stronger connection between the hemispheres
  • Stronger understanding of language – think about how much easier it is for you to remember a song by adding actions to it – this works the same way with signing, heightening understanding of words
  • Spoken language begins sooner than babies who do not sign – research has shown that babies who sign often do speak sooner because of this deeper understanding of language
  • Increased fine motor skills – the main goal in life for babies and toddlers is mastering gross motor skills such as crawling, walking and running, however, fine motor skills are just as important. Learning to hold a spoon, turn a handle, press a button, hold a pencil, all take mastery of fine motor skills which we are constantly improving as we sign.
  • Increases communication and alleviates frustration – much of the frustration that toddlers face is due to the inability to communicate wants, needs and emotions because speech is still developing. Providing your little one with signs helps them communicate these needs with you and helping you deal with the “terrible two’s”.

Coming up this Friday – the next class in our Sing Signing Series: Park Play! In this class you will learn signs that are useful when you are out and about in the park and on the playground. Next month will feature our Emotions class! All classes are pre-registered drop-in classes with a maximum of 10 children and there are no pre-requisites to attend any class! Just contact us to sign-up!