Spotlight on Babies in Music Class

Babies in Kindermusik Village and Sign and Sing never cease to amaze me. Those babies really make me feel like I’m the star of the show! I like to keep an relaxed, natural air to our classes, providing some much needed time for the grown-ups to get to know each other. There’s certainly lots of time for that at the beginning and end of class and we trickle it in throughout our activities where it fits too. The babies let us know when they are ready for the next activity if they start to fuss. But I tell you, each and every time I open my mouth and sing the beginning of our next activity, they all stop, turn their heads and stare at me! It’s amazing!

I’ve seen so much growth over the years watching babies who have begun with Kindermusik as early as 3 weeks and move on up to the toddler music classes at our music school! One thing I notice time and time again is that babies understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Within a couple of weeks of repetition of an activity, at all stages, babies consistently anticipate what’s coming next. And wow, do they ever pick up those signs quickly in our signing class, like ball and bear! I’m equally impressed to see the babies at the beginning of an 8 week session who cry and carry on when they have to put away a toy or instrument easily put away those items at the end of an 8 week session! Not to mention the fabulous vocalization that occurs throughout our classes… but check out the blog on Baby Speak in Baby Music Class.

All in all, I love watching the changes that take place in the babies. Their familiarity with the classroom, their excitement to see me and Mokie, the smiles and giggles and vocalization and words…and oh how can I forget the first step that was taken in music class a few weeks ago by little Grayson! A first for him and a first for me! Just goes to show you how comfortable the babies are in class!

Wow – Paul Simon in Concert!

Feeling inspired! I was fortunate enough to get to see one of my musical idols in concert this past weekend, none other than Paul Simon. His music certainly touched my soul from a very young age. I can remember countless hours of listening to records of Simon and Garfunkel with my friends back in high school. And how can I forget my parents blasting the Graceland album throughout the house while all of us would sing along at the top of our lungs!

Paul Simon was definitely a strong musical influence in my life growing up and I love his music today just as much as I did then. His music is so beautiful, with rich harmonies, interesting melodies, fantastic instrumentation and unexpected nuances in form. What an inspiration. Seeing him in concert was a real treat – something I never would have thought would happen in my lifetime! Not only that but seeing him at such an intimate venue as the Sound Academy made it even better! And to make him even more iconic in my mind, he actually invited a young woman up from the audience to play with him! Wow, what it must’ve been like to be her in that moment! He played the 2 songs I most wanted to hear during his 2 encores – Kodachrome and Late in the Evening. He even played the first song that really made me fall in love with Simon and Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence (This tiny little pic is him playing The Sound of Silence).

Paul Simon - The Sound of Silence

Now that I’m back to reality and continue to have Paul Simon tunes float around in my head has prompted me to revisit my old Simon and Garfunkel music book. And pulling it out of my shelf, I am reminded again of my love for Simon’s music by the tattered book holding together by one little thread and a staple. Well used is an understatement. Perhaps it’s a sign I should be passing this amazing music on to my music students by teaching some of these amazing tunes in our lessons!

Signing Fun with Little Ones

Daddy SignDid you know that signing with your baby can actually help him to speak and understand language sooner? So many people believe that by signing with baby, they will inhibit their baby’s ability to speak as he will just rely on signing to communicate. Well this is simply not the case.

Signing can actually improve your baby’s language comprehension and ability to speak sooner. By signing with baby, we add a level of understanding that surpasses simply pointing and labelling. Not only that, but we are giving baby the tools to communicate with us long before their vocal chords are capable of producing language. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of muscle control to put the syllables together to create words. Certainly ample vocal play, as we do in our Kindermusik Village baby music class, can help strengthen those muscles and practice syllables. But your baby will not be able to communicate with you much sooner. No wonder both you and baby can experience so much frustration.

Signing can help to alleviate a lot of the communication frustration you both experience. However, it’s not as simple as just signing a few handy signs that work for you, like “milk”, “eat”, and “more”. Those signs are certainly useful for you, but not as interesting for baby. It’s much more likely that baby’s first signs will be something of interest to them, like “ball” or “music”. And it’s more likely that they will use signs more regularly if you know how to add them into your day regularly and naturally. Sounds tricky, but it’ easier than you think through some simple techniques incorporated into your playtime, bath time, reading, mealtime and everyday activities. In the Sign & Sing class here at the Sing Music Studio, you’ll learn all about how beneficial and easy it is to add signing into your day and find out, firsthand, how much signing can impact your communication with baby. New Sign & Sing class begins mid-May!

Baby Speak in Baby Music Class

It never ceases to amaze me how much the babies get out of our Kindermusik Village music classes! This morning was the loudest baby class I have ever experienced. Not in a negative way, in a super cute way! All the babies were full of conversation! Squealing with delight. Trying to converse with each other in their babbling, conversational way. And vocalizing with me just as much as they were vocalizing with each other! They were really working their vocal chords and practicing their conversation and socialization skills.

Since our music class is exactly halfway through the session, you can really see that the babies have the routine down pat! They’re are feeling comfortable and ready to explore the instruments and materials. Anticipating what comes next and flowing easily from one activity to the next. Of course it helps that we have a really involved group of moms, dads and caregivers that are terrific at participation, really getting into the groove of dancing and movement in class and even doing activities at home! Sure makes for more learning for the babies!

What a fun class this is! I’m enjoying every minute and can tell that not only are the babies having a blast, but they are learning more and more with each passing week! Can’t wait for our class next week!

Guitar Lessons

Miss Mandi's Guitar
Guitar lessons are the newest area of business here at the Sing Music Studio. I’ve played the guitar for many years but just haven’t taught it. I recently bought myself a new guitar (my 10 year old one was sounding pretty sad) and, due to the high demand from my students, shortly thereafter began teaching guitar lessons. I tell you I love it! Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching singing lessons and piano lessons and Kindermusik too! It’s just fun for me to tap in to a new part of my brain and teach a new instrument. I love learning and teaching too. Teaching, for me, can be just as much a learning experience for me as it is for my student – finding out what each student needs to work on and how to reach each student as we all learn and understand differently. Apparently my guitar students are enjoying it too because I received this cute picture from one of my students of us during our lesson. She even included Mokie! Guitar Thanks

Practice First + Homework Second = Smarter Kids!

Music is the only activity out there that actually makes use of the entire brain. Try this on for size. A study on brain activity was done on musicians. They were hooked up to a monitor that measured activity in each part of the brain. The musicians were asked to play a tune that they knew from memory. Every single light that measured every single portion of the brain actually lit up! So it’s science, brain functioning is actually improved by making music!

I don’t need the science to tell me that though, I know this from personal experience. Every time I play a gig, rehearse or teach a music lesson or music class, I feel energized afterwards. I am literally ready to take on the world and tackle any project that comes my way. It’s not just my mind that feels open, but also my body. It’s no wonder I am so productive after musical activity!

It’s for these reasons that when the parents of my music lesson students ask me about practice schedules, I tell them to practice first and do homework second! Spending that time being musical and working the brain and body opens up the mind to become more perceptive to homework. Your children will be more focused on homework and retain more information after practice than before. That’s certainly a key benefit from music lessons. Not only does music improve your brain functioning, memory skills, vocabulary, social skills, fine and gross motor dexterity, cognitive development, emotional development, mathematical skills and creativity, it can also help your child with their homework. That’s pretty impressive.

This spring at the Sing Music Studio, we’re offering a special on all of our music lessons: piano lessons, guitar lessons and singing lessons. Four lessons for the price of three. Here’s your opportunity to experience the positive effects music lessons have on you or your child’s brain development. We also have Kindermusik, music and movement, classes for children as young as newborn! The mind is never too young or too old to be enhanced by music.

Read more on how music affects the brain in this article from Scientific American.

Live Music for Japan

I was recently flattered to be asked to perform at a fundraiser for Japan at Shore 71 in Port Credit on April 5th.  I jumped on board at the opportunity to play for 2 reasons. One, of course, being for such a worthy cause. The devastation Japan has experienced is unfathomable. I cannot even begin to imagine how the people of Japan are coping with such loss and destruction. I know that my contribution is small by comparison to some. But my heart goes out to Japan. I’m glad to make my contribution greater by donating my musical abilities to help create an event that will hopefully raise enough funds to make an impact on Japan’s aide.

The second being my love of performing and, more specifically, performing jazz. Between music lessons and Kindermusik and running the Sing Music Studio, I hardly have time for my first love these days – live performance! Gigging certainly helped me get this music school off the ground. When I became an entrepreneur, it was a tough road and the many gigs I played gave me a financial footing to step up from. But, over the last few years, the music school has gotten busier, leaving me less time to work the gig circuit. An outlet that I greatly miss. So who knows, maybe this will be the start of something new, not only helping Japan, but also helping me get back to the place of reaching out to the world through both performance and teaching.

I hope you’ll join me and my duo, Lava, for this wonderful evening of music in support of the aftermath of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. We’re on at 9:30pm. Musical entertainment begins at 6pm and there will also be door prizes and a silent auction. Please visit this link for online registration and donation to the event.

For the Love of Family!

Family is so important. They are the ones that are there for you when you need a hand. They stand by you throughout your life and support you in your endeavors. They pick you up when you are feeling down and celebrate with you when you succeed!

Unfortunately, the saying is true, you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. It’s for this reason that I think it’s so important to spend the time nurturing your family unit right out of the gate. Setting aside that time to grow those family bonds is so crucial to strengthening the family bond. If you can make an effort to create family togetherness a part of your regular routine, and continue to do so as your children grow and change from babies to children to teenagers and adults – I really do believe that your children will always look to you and the strength of their families to help them through the ups and downs of life.

The reality is, in today’s day and age, we are so busy that sometimes it’s difficult to set aside time to focus on your family. How about adding a weekly game night? Or setting aside one night a week for a home cooked family dinner with no television? Is your family musical… what about having family sing a-longs? Or maybe your family loves doing activities. Consider a weekly family music class! A Kindermusik Family Time class is a great way to strengthen your bond and everyone benefits from music and movement together!

Why I Love Music

Music has been a huge part of my life since the day I was born. My mom has a beautiful voice and she used to sing to me all the time as a baby, not that I remember that in particular, but I do think that’s what began my love affair with music. I do, however, have extremely fond early memories of my family having these wonderful sing a-longs together. My parents would grab their guitars gather my 2 sisters and I in the living room or at my cottage and we would sing and play the night away! We jammed a lot of tunes including songs by Peter, Paul & Mary, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel. Hands down, the family favourite was Puff the Magic Dragon! My parents even took us to the Peter, Paul & Mary concert at the O’Keefe Centre – wow they were amazing!

I also have fond memories heading in to my teens of my Dad blaring The Nylons, Paul Simon, Hall & Oats, the Pointer Sisters, Tuck & Patti, Dire Straits and tons of musicals on the family stereo! And we would all sing along at the top of our lungs! And, since all 3 of us took piano lessons and were natural singers, we used to entertain the Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents at all of our family gatherings. It was the highlight of every event!

I studied music through high school and college and was lucky enough to forge some lifelong friendships due to our mutual love of music. Performing, studying and connecting with others through music was just a part of everyday life and seemed so natural.

As I grew into a young woman and made my way through the ups and downs of life, music was a constant that was always there for me. Music is so powerful. It’s my escape, my saviour, my celebration, my energy, my therapy. I don’t think there has been one break-up that I did not write a song about. In fact, once I wrote each of those songs, I knew it was over and found solace in that. Every time, without fail, that I grab my guitar or sit at my keyboard and spend hours singing my heart out (whether it’s by myself, jamming with friends, band practice and especially gigging) I feel like I am on top of the world! Every concern, every worry, every trial, every tribulation just melts away and all that exists is music.

So why do I love music? Because music is my true love.