At the dawn of the new year, I’m reflecting back and hoping forward. January is an invitation to rehearse the past and I find myself musing about the experiences that I’d repeat if I got a do-over and the ones I’d drive by and wave at second time around. It also invites me to imagine the potential of an even more generative future.
I’ve hit the bullseye of my fifties now and in the seasons of a life story, the chlorophyll is breaking down and I’m starting to blush. Some call the fifties a decade of depth because you’ve lived enough of your story to see a plot line, to recognize what you love and how you tick, to know what makes you feel most alive. The last quarter century of my story has been primarily invested in answering to “Mama”, with all of its rights, privileges and responsibilities, but another title I’ve cherished is “Miss Hope”. That’s the name all of my Kindermusik families call me.
I first connected with Kindermusik about 25 years back. I sat in a circle with my baby girl on my lap. We shook our bells together way up high, then way down low, really, really fast and then oh, so slow. I was a first time mom, and in love. Determined to do my best for my own little Angel. Kindermusik reeled me in from the first 45 minute class— the music, the instruments, the rituals, the cuddles, the vocal and imaginary play- the whole shared experience was absolutely delightful!
It wasn’t long until I trained to be a licensed instructor and that’s when I began to fully appreciate the method behind the masterfully written curriculums. Kindermusik uses a Montessori play based developmental educational model that supports maximum freedom in a prepared environment. Music is the medium by which young children learn to flex their brain muscles, building auditory processing skills, promoting memory, strengthening the executive function of the brain and increasing neural connections. Every Kindermusik class features a fun theme that integrates developmentally appropriate musical skills, fine and whole body movement, sensory awareness activities as well as language and literacy components. It sounds like work but it feels like magic!
As a mom and as an instructor, I’ve taken countless spectacular imaginary adventures inside the walls of a Kindermusik studio to exciting destinations like the park, the sea and the farm. We’ve travelled in pretend boats, cars, airplanes and taken leisurely walks splashing in mud puddles only to come back home for our make-believe bath. And it all happens while we sing and play with simple rhythm instruments and props. We practice in class what families can take-home and integrate it into their daily routines.
These days, I’m in a new classroom, working toward an advanced degree in psychology. I’m learning that the most compelling research on relational flourishing unequivocally points the direction of the formative experiences in the the earliest months and years of child’s story, even before they possess explicit memory or verbal language capabilities. Attunement from primary caregivers to their babies and toddlers lays the foundation for healthy attachment patterns over a lifetime.
Attunement occurs when we parents are emotionally available to our children and responsive to their needs, not perfectly but reliably. When we learn to read and understand their cues, to react with engagement to their expressions, to repair relational ruptures when they occur and to touch them affectionately. Then, they feel safe, seen and soothed, which wires their brains to recognize emotionally healthy bonds.
And that’s what I love best about Kindermusik. By design, the entire class focuses on attunement between young children and the ones they love best. Big and little people drop their coats, purses, shoes and most importantly phones at the door. We sit in a circle and sing hello to every single friend in the room. Then, mommies looking lovingly into their babies eyes, massage their arms and bicycle their legs. Tiny kiddos giggle as their daddies give them a playful tickle. Nannies imitate their little buddies playing sticks or bells or egg shakers. Grandmas find the most comforting way to rock or cuddle as their grandchild snuggles in close. Grandpas make silly sounds in a mirror as their grandkids look on with fascination. Favoritest big people clap, rub, pat, hug, bounce, jump and run playfully with their toddlers. And sometimes babies cry, so mommies soothe them or toddlers get upset because it’s time to put instruments away and daddies distract them. During class, there are moments of holding our children close and times designated to let go. Just like life, kids go exploring but they need to know you’re there to run back to for a hug, an ear, a smile or a secure place to land.
In a world where feeling safe, soothed and seen mostly seems out of reach, Kindermusik connects people. Regardless of our age or stage, in Kindermusik we look at each other affectionately, we touch one another gently, and in those moments, we know we are safe together.
The sparkly, white, swollen snowflakes are dancing around outside my Michigan window reminding me that the new year is bursting with possibilities yet to be discovered, but I have a good history too, years and decades of partnering with hundreds of families like mine, who live a better, more bonded story because of Kindermusik. And for that privilege, I just feel really, really grateful.
Past posts I’ve written about music, brain development and bonding:
Sending a shout out to the fantastic Maestro Kindermusik programs I’ve been privileged to be a part: Kindermusik of Rockford with Carol Hillman, Miss Lisa’s Music with Lisa Muratore and Kindermusik by Purple Nest with Molly Pieroni.