How Christmas and Holiday Songs Help Children

The holiday season has already started, and Christmas is almost upon us. With it, radio stations, streaming play lists, and retail establishments have been broadcasting familiar holiday songs and music. Many adults find that their most favorites are connected to some kind of memory of a Christmas past. Through classical conditioning, they experience a phenomenon known as the reminiscence bump. Science aside, there is a magical quality about holiday music, whether its secular or sacred. There is a reason that these holiday tunes are so cherished, and it provides a great tool for teaching in an early childhood music studio setting. 

  • Many Songs are Simple Melodies – Parents, family, and caregivers know that infants recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. The simpler the melodies, the faster infants will absorb them. Some of the most memorable and repeated traditional childhood songs are often the simplest, such as “Twinkle, twinkle, Little Star,” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” The same rings true for holiday music. Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Frosty the Snowman are just a few of the many examples of simple melodies in traditional holiday songs. Many providers of early childhood music curricula use traditional music for this very reason, among others.
  • Easy for Everyone to Sing – Simple melodies often mean simple range, and holiday music is no exception. With a few omissions (who of us can hit the high notes on O Holy Night!), many of the traditional holiday songs can be easily sung by parents, grandparents, and caregivers. This also makes it easy for smaller children to sing along. Holiday music also lends for very simple rhythmic instruments, such as sleigh bells and drums.
  • Repetition Helps Learning – Aristotle is credited with saying “it is frequent repetition that produces a natural tendency.” Throughout history, leaders, teachers, parents, and even marketers have known that repetition is key to learning, specifically the practice of spaced repetition. Holiday music, because it is so widely played throughout the season, provides the perfect support for this learning technique. A child may hear their mother sing Silent Night at home, only to hear it again at the grocery store, again at church, and perhaps even again at family functions. The spaced intervals and the different way the same song is presented creates a recognition and repeated pattern that improves long term retention.  
  • Culture and Community – Because traditional holiday songs are so widely known, it creates a larger sense of community for those who recognize and participate. Caroling, either in one’s neighborhood, at church, or at a family function, creates a sense of familiarity and togetherness through “tidings of comfort and joy.” Culturally, sacred holiday music is very important to several major religions, passing down cherished beliefs, traditions, and messages. This is especially true for Christians, with Christmas being one of their two most widely acknowledged sacred events. Hanukkah also has several sacred songs associated with it during the holiday season.   

Holiday and Christmas songs are some of the most widely known and recognizable music in the world. That familiarity has the ability to bring many people together, help to create a community bond, and teach many children to be better students while better understanding their culture. As we go forth to our family gathering and holiday festivities, think about how long these songs have been part of our culture and memories. 

Planning for 2020: Setting SMART Goals for your Children’s Music Studio

As 2019 begins to wind down and the new year approaches it’s important for business owners, especially small business owners such as children’s music studio teachers, to look forward and plan for the coming year. There has been so much research on the subject of setting business goals that it would take the entire year just to cover it. From these studies one thing is clear, goal-setting leads to better success for small business owners. However, more than 80% of small business owners on average confess that they do not track their company goals, even though they think it is integral to business success. This may be due in part to not understanding how to effectively create and set business goals.

Many of us may have heard of the acronym SMART when setting goals, but do we really understand how to apply those words into successful practice? While the words beginning with each letter sometimes vary slightly, their meaning is typically the same: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Here is a short example for setting SMART marketing goals for your children’s music studio.

Before you even start with SMART, there are two important ways to prepare. First, be reflective and analytical about your business over the last year. It is important to understand where you are before deciding where you want to be. Second, get out a pencil! Goals that are written down are much more vivid, helping us to better encode them into long term memory.

  • SPECIFIC – In order to remember, act on, and track goal success, they should be specific. “Do better in sales” is not specific enough, whereas the following is a much better start:

Increase overall sales by 40%

It’s important to note here that this is not an effective goal all by itself, because goals should be ALL of the SMART descriptors, not just one alone.

  • MEASURABLE – While it seems intuitive that by being specific about the amount of increase in sales (40%), should be enough, there should be an exact, tangible way to measure your success over the year:

Increase overall sales, measured in new revenue, by 40% ($ value based on last year’s total revenue)

  • ATTAINABLE – In larger organizations, business leaders tend to set unrealistically high goals in order to motivate their workforce. This approach does not work as well for small business owners. If your children’s music studio has never experienced greater than 20% growth in any previous year, you may want to adjust your goal to a more realistic level (this is why your pencil has an eraser!). It is, however, still ok to be a bit aggressive so as to do better than previous years:

Increase overall sales, measured in new revenue, by 30% ($) 

  • RELEVANT – Making goals relevant means “keeping them within your wheelhouse.” Don’t look for results in an area in which you are unfamiliar or does not apply to your music studio. For example, don’t include something unrelated like “paid performances” to your revenue measurement if you have not done so in the past. Again, we can be more specific:

Increase overall sales, measured in new revenue from tuition and materials, by 30% ($) 

  • TIMELY – It’s not a goal if there is no goal line! Set a specific time by which you would like to achieve your goal. Whether it’s a month, one year, or five years, make it date specific:

Increase overall sales by 30%, ($), measured in new revenue from tuition and materials, from December 31, 2019 through December 31, 2020.

Now that you have written a “macro” goal, it’s time to break it down into smaller goals using the same method. For example, Increase new revenue in material sales by 10% ($) through promoting a Materials Specials Day on the 15th of each month until January 2021, and so forth. Many successful entrepreneurs actually break goals down to action plans with daily tasks to help them keep on target.

Through practice, goal setting becomes easier and easier over time. When you have past successes and failures against which to measure new expectations, goals become SMARTER.

In addition to an award-winning early childhood music curriculum, Musikgarten offers its teachers Live Coaching in how to be successful business owners as well as music teachers.

How to Market Your Children’s Music Studio Over the Holidays

As the holidays approach and parents and students time is pulled by so many other activities such as holiday parties, family gatherings, special events, and shopping, many children’s music studio owners view the time between Halloween and New Years as a lull in their business. While it may feel like the perfect time to take a break and plan for next year, savvy studio operators know that the Thanksgiving and Christmas season are the perfect time to grow your studio.

The holidays are a critical time for retailers, accounting for up to thirty percent of their annual sales. Most of this spending around the winter holidays will be in tangible goods such as toys, clothes, and electronics, but there are ways to take advantage of this surge in spending that will benefit your studio over the holidays and the coming new year:

  • Think Like a Retailer – A mistake that owners of music studios often make is thinking of themselves as something other than a retailer. Many don’t consider their studios as a “brick and mortar” retail store because they often do not have tangible products on their shelves, or that they are part of the education sector instead of retail. While some of this is true, music studio owners should look at their services as something that a large part of the public would benefit from buying. Imagine that your music lessons are products on a shelf, and “present” them as any good retailer would. 
  • Window Dressing – It’s extremely hard to compete with all of the big retailers out there who “deck the halls” with lights, garland, wreaths, and sparkles. Keep in mind that they know a thing or two about presentation. A recent study shows that up to 90% of shoppers plan to do at least a portion of their holiday shopping in traditional brick and mortar stores this year. While retailers understand that making the in-store experience festive helps to both draw customers in as well as persuades them to purchase more product, successful music studio owners know that the holidays is a magical time for children, and their parents melt seeing the wonder in their child’s eyes. Decorations around the holidays not only evoke a joy in people’s hearts, but also have a psychological effect on purchase habits.
  • Music for the Season – It should go without saying, but don’t neglect to make great use of the large repertoire of holiday music in your lessons, whether sacred and/or secular. Most children have been hearing traditional holiday music since they were infants, whether it is sung by their parents, friends, at events, in stores, or on the radio. The familiarity of popular holiday songs that are also public domain such as Up on the Housetop, Jingle Bells, and Deck the Halls are fun for children and parents to sing together. A holiday themed party help children remember singing as a happy experience, and just think of all the wonderful songs that can be accompanied by sleigh bells! A field trip caroling activity with children and parents can be great fun for everyone while marketing your studio in surrounding neighborhoods.
  • Gift Wrap Your “Products” – Make it easy to give the gift of music! The winter holiday season offers music studio owners a great chance to provide their lessons and/or materials in a gift format. Consumers are always looking for a unique gift that will stand out, and music lessons are perfect for parents who want to participate in fun activities with their child. Create a holiday themed gift certificate or card that parents can purchase as gifts. Make your gift cards or certificates a dollar amount, so that they can be given to parents of various age children. While these are good ways to grow new customers, don’t forget to offer some value to your current clients as well. Holiday specials on musical instruments such as jingle bells and drums can increase your bottom line while serving as great stocking stuffers.    
  • Don’t forget Cyber Monday – Don’t underestimate the power of Internet shopping. Digital spending over the holidays is expected to grow over 14 percent over last year, and a great deal of that online shopping will be from young parent aged Millennials and GenXers. If you have the means to provide an online option for purchasing a studio gift certificate, provide that as an easy way for parents to get some easy shopping done from home. Grandparents may also want to provide more music lessons as a gift to parents and grandchildren alike. If you have an email database of current and past parents, send an eBlast with a “holiday sale” on lessons for 2020, while making it easy to share or gift it to others. It’s important to try and get this eBlast done well before Cyber Monday, so that it does not get lost in their inbox along with all the other online retailers.

While the noise of retail shopping and activities over the winter holiday season might seem to drown out your childhood music studio marketing efforts, just jump into the stream and go with the flow! Successful retailers know that while it’s a virtual jungle out there, the holiday season offers many great opportunities to grow your studio and future business for 2020.

Leveraging Unpaid Advertising to Grow your Early Childhood Music Program

Establishing a successful business can be costly, especially when you have a “brick and mortar” children’s music studio. With gross sales to rent ratio being as high as 20% in some markets, not to mention utilities and other necessary overhead, savvy studio owners take advantage of ways to market their business without spending. A good deal of marketing can be done at little expense other than good old fashioned “elbow grease.” It’s important to note that while your labor may seem free, there is an opportunity cost to any effort you personally put towards marketing your business. For example, time spent going out and visiting local pre-schools is time not spent teaching at the studio. However, if you can use some of your “downtime” to spend on the following unpaid marketing efforts, you can quickly gain return on your investment.

  • Social Media – Love it or hate it, social media has become a huge part of our lives. Young parents, and especially mothers, use social media for advice and support from their peers. With young mothers being a primary target audience of children’s music studios, this opportunity is hard to ignore. While an entire series of articles can be spent on social media alone, keep in mind that these various platforms can occupy a great deal of your time. Think about participating in just a few, and do them well.
  • Network and Post – Considering that the vast majority of your music students are going to come from your surrounding community, personally reach out and network with organizations that have common ground with your program such as Daycare Centers, Children’s Museums, Preschools, Libraries, Community Arts Programs, Mothers Groups, Churches, etc. Consider offering to teach a free class, where you can provide information on your business once parents have realized the value you provide to their children. If these organizations are not interested in a free class, ask if you can post a tear sheet or brochure on their premise that includes the special offer. 
  • Press Releases – While at first glance children’s music classes may not seem “newsworthy,” a well written press release can get attention with many media outlets. When preparing a press release, it’s important to write it from an “angle” that does not come across advertorial. For example, instead of Local Music Studio Offers Free Introductory Class, try something like How Early Childhood Music Programs Better Prepare Children for School.  Just by being the author of the press release, you can develop yourself as an expert on the subject, which in turn creates opportunities for your studio. In addition to the “angle,” there are other important elements of any good press release, such as subject line, brevity, contact information, boilerplate, etc.
  • One-on-one Marketing – Whenever and wherever you are, you should be prepared to explain and promote your business. While bringing up your children’s music program at a funeral would not be the best choice, you never know what kind of conversation may come up in almost any situation. Keep in mind that small talk almost always ends up with the question “so, what do you do?.” This is your opportunity to have your 30-second pitch ready, in a nonchalant way, to explain how your business delivers value to parents and children. You’d be surprised how many people will follow up with another question that allows you to expound and ask your own questions. Your sales pitch becomes more of a conversation than an advertisement for your studio. Always have a business card on hand if it seems like they are interested, and consider offering/mentioning a free introductory class on the back of the card as incentive.

Many of the most successful business entrepreneurs are very good at self-promotion. Not only is it a good way to establish you as an expert in your field, but also help develop rapport and trust with your audience while simultaneously building your brand. By always thinking about opportunities to mention or promote your early childhood music program, you will be making the most of your “elbow grease” during business downtime.

What Web Site Format is the Best for your Early Childhood Music Studio?

Small business owners understand that having a web presence is imperative in today’s market, both to provide a means of simple contact information and grant legitimacy to your business. Often times, the very first thing an interested prospect will do is Google your business to get as much information as possible to help with their purchase decision. This is especially true for Millennials.

 While there are way too many topics on organizational web presence to cover in one blog post, one that children’s music studio owners have constantly asked about is “What is the best kind of web site format for my business?” The options available can be daunting. When it comes to deciding on which format to go with for your music studio business, there are three major factors to consider – Budget, desired functionality, and autonomy/ownership. Typically, as desired functionality and autonomy increase, so does the necessary budget.

  • Social Media Profile or Page – There has become a trend of companies using one or several social media profiles in place of a web site. These pages are quick and free, making it perhaps the lowest cost option for businesses. It can also be a good way to build brand loyalty with customers. There are some downsides, however. For one, social media profiles offer limited page layout design, and have rules concerning content. Social media by nature also allows input from your audience in comments, likes, etc. This can be problematic if one disgruntled customer wants to badmouth your company on your own profile page. Lastly, smaller businesses, such as children’s music studios, can be eclipsed by the deep pockets of larger organizations that spend thousands to place numerous ads on your profile page.
  • Licensed Company Web Templates – Many organizations provide their dealers or franchise partners with a predesigned, web site template that is already branded with the corporate color palette, fonts, logos, etc. These often come at a small per month expense, including hosting, and are relatively easy to set up. Most also include Content Management Systems (CMSs), which provide password access to a Wysiwyg editor (simple toolbar of icons like in Word) so that content can be added and edited with copy, pictures, links, etc. Some of these sites also provide some functionality that are specific for the industry, such as children’s music class sign up forms and calendars. Also constrained by the template design, ultimate ownership of these sites belongs to the corporate entity that provides the license.
  • “Free” Web Site Builders – Web site builders have become very popular with start-ups and small businesses. GoDaddy, Wix, and Squarespace are popular providers of this format. While still considered “templated” web sites because the overall structure of the site is already provided, they tend to offer many options for different “look and feel” templates, depending on your particular tastes. Site builders also offer a large variety of Plugins, or modules that can be added for certain functionality such as online chat, class scheduling, or ecommerce. While they may come across or marketed as “free,” however, there are very often hidden costs to these sites such as hosting and domain fees, ad-free versions, and other upgrades such as email service and increased functionality. Finally, if you become unhappy with the provider of your site builder and want to take your business elsewhere, you have to leave your web site behind.
  • Open Source Templated Web Sites – Open source refers to a coding language that is available to anyone out there that wants to program a web site. There are several open source templated site platforms out there that are very popular, with WordPress being the most well-known. Offering virtually tens of thousands of pre-made site templates that can be bought at a relatively low price than custom programmed sites, they also offer a large amount of Plugins for all kinds of functionality. Being open source, these templates can be highly customized, tend to work well on mobile devices, and offer robust Content Management Systems (CMSs). Building these sites is not as easy as it sounds, as you must learn each template’s CMS with particular quirks. But because they are so popular, there are a lot of resources and programmers available for building and maintaining them at an additional cost. Having full ownership of these sites, you will be able to host and move them just about anywhere you like. However, also because they are so popular, open source templated sites are popular targets for hackers, so constant security patches must be installed.
  • Total Customized, Hard Coded Web Site – If highly customized design and functionality is what your organization needs, a hard-coded custom designed site offers the most flexibility to “stick build” a web site. These sites, depending on how much customization is desired, can run from the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for small to medium businesses. For industries that have very unique offerings that require unique functionality, this may be your only option. For example, a fabric company that wants to offer online customization of its fabrics, as well as showing inventory in real time might need a customized solution. Custom web sites also offer scalability of and security, which comes at a price.

While the multitudes of web site format options out there might make your head spin, for small businesses such as children’s music studio owners, it is often best to start by determining what kind of budget you have for your web site. It is often good to start small when launching a web presence. Weigh that budget against how important functionality and autonomy/ownership is to your business needs. Something as simple as a social media profile may not be enough to tell your entire story. Also keep in mind that on average, web sites need to be updated or redesigned about every 5 to 7 years in order to stay in step with trends in technology. So, starting small is a good way to learn about web technology without breaking the bank.

The Evidence of How Early Childhood Music Education Helps Students in School

Most parents will tell you about how music is engrained in many of the activities, games, and educational entertainment of early childhood. We may remember the songs of Sesame Street or School House Rock that helped us learn to count, form words, or learn history. Younger parents will remember playing Baby Mozart for their children in the crib, or how music was used in popular educational cartoons such as Sid the Science Kid. For a very long time, educators and parents have understood the value of exposure to music in the earlies stages of life, but an ever increasing amount of research supports that teaching children about music at an early age will give them an advantage as students:

  • A large-scale longitudinal study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that structured music lessons significantly enhance children’s language-based reasoning, planning, short term memory and other cognitive abilities. Children as young as 2.5 years old were assessed for academic performance as well as various cognitive skills. It found that children who had received music lessons suggested that cognitive skills developed during music lessons influence their abilities in completely unrelated subjects, leading to improved academic performance overall.
  • Moving in sync to music with others helps toddlers form stronger social bonds, according to a study performed by McMaster University. The study found that toddlers, some of which were as young as 14 months old, were more likely to help an adult pick up a dropped object if they had previously bounced together in time with music as compared to those whose movement was off tempo. This exercise was designed to help infants be better in tune with emotions through sharing songs and music.
  • Music improves baby brain responses to music and speech, according to scientists at University of Washington’s Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS), a series of musical play sessions with 9-month old babies showed an improvement in brain processing of new speech sounds. It is the first such study to suggest that recognizing rhythmic patterns in music can also help babies to detect rhythmic patterns in speech, concluding that engaging in musical experiences at an early age can have a more global effect on cognitive skills.
  • Just listening is not enough. While music has been known to soothe infants and help to create a bond between caregiver and child, a study from Northwestern University revealed that simply listening to music at an older age does not have the same cognitive benefits as being actively engaged in a music class. Researchers found that children who regularly attended, as well as participated in music classes showed larger improvements in how the brain processes reading and speech than less involved children. The role of music and movement in children’s learning and growth is well documented.

The scientific evidence of the benefits of early childhood music classes is continuing to support the consensus that even from the earlies stages of life, exposure and participation in music positively influence cognitive development in children, particularly in the areas of social, speech and reading skills. As a result, these children are better prepared and perform consistently higher in school than their peers.

Tips for Retaining Students in Your Childhood Music Studio

Owners and operators of children’s music studios will tell you that gaining new students is the most challenging part of their business. But often music teachers also struggle with how to retain those students once they take their first class. Any good businessperson will tell you that it costs up to five times more to acquire a new customer than to gain the same revenue from an existing one. But owners of children’s music studios often struggle with how to move an infant into the next stage of toddler classes, or toddlers into the next stage of pre-schooler classes. Of course, parents are the key, but exactly how do you get them to agree, or even better to desire, to keep moving through the program. In addition to running an effective and beneficial childhood music program, here are a few tips to help you move parents along to the next music class:

  • Begin each program with a Parent Orientation Class – The first class of any music program should set up proper expectations before classes begin, such as class policies, participation expectations, and class materials needed. Since new parents can be entering each new program or curricula, orientation should be performed in the first class of each program. This gives parents a frame of reference for all other parent education efforts throughout the semester.
  • Provide a personal testimonial about why you chose your particular curriculum – Professional marketers will laud the effectiveness of a good testimonial. Part of this stems from the psychology of positive affirmation. Consumers, and especially mothers, want to know that they have made the right decision for their child. By telling your own story of carefully selecting the children’s music curriculum they will participate in provides assurances that they have made a good purchase decision. Parents also provide a wonderful testimonial for other parents, so do not be afraid to ask for your more seasoned parents to provide kudos, either verbally or written.
  • Make Off the Cuff and Did you know? parent education remarks Creating anticipation is a cornerstone of good creative marketing, as is the reinforcement of a belief or message. By making “off the cuff” positive comments about what parents can expect when children move into the next curriculum level, an emotion of anticipation is created. One way to do this is with “Did you know?” statements, such as “Did you know that this pattern “ba-ba ba” (or du-de du) is the same as that yellow notation game up there on the wall? It’s the first pattern your child will read in music notation in the [Next Class Name] class!” It is often helpful to write down and memorize Did you know? statements for each class so that you can naturally mention them “Off the Cuff.” An average of two per class helps to reinforce the anticipation and affirm the value of your next program.
  • Use the end of your last class to sign up for the next – There is no better opportunity to market your next class than when you have a captive audience. At the end of your last class, provide an overview of the next class, along with the benefits the next class will provide to their child. Visual aids and class materials help to show these benefits. Announce that you have a sign-up sheet ready and ask who would like to sign up. To incentivize the parents, offer a special on the next class, such as discounted materials or class fees. Don’t be afraid to ask for the business, it is what is necessary to keep your studio going while providing valuable exposure to music to young minds.

While it is important for any business owner to think about retaining customers, it is also important to keep in mind that the first purpose of children’s music studios is to inspire a love of music in children. While these customer retention techniques are helpful in assuring the success of your business, remember that seeing their child having fun while learning music will encourage the parents to want to continue more than any marketing tactic ever could. So, be sure to spend the majority of each class simply having musical fun with the children and parents! 

How Music Helps Children Connect with Nature

Since the dawn of mankind, the sounds of the natural world have been an integral part of our culture. All the world is sound, or vibration. From bees humming to the sound of falling water, the same vibrations that make music surround us in nature. Aboriginal Australian tribes believe that humans actually sang the world into existence with Songlines as they walk the song lines crisscrossing land between natural spaces. Great composers often used nature as the backdrop for their works, such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or Johannes Brahms C Minor Symphony.  

It should be no surprise that exposure to music in early childhood helps kids make a connection with nature. Many traditional children’s songs such as Green Grass Grows All Around, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Teddy Bears Picnic, and Walking in the Green Grass sing of the natural world around us. We know how music has many benefits for the healthy development of a child from the earliest ages, but it can also help to create a connectedness to nature that will last their entire lives. Here are just a few ways that music helps kids connect to nature:  

  • It is often hard to express in words the emotions and feelings that being in nature evokes. Music helps express those feelings without words.
  • Experiencing music and nature helps kids learn mindfulness – how to be present and in the moment. This is why much Mindful Music used for relaxation, meditation, and personal healing is based on sounds in nature such as waves at the beach, a rain shower, or a babbling brook.
  • Like music, the sounds of nature help children to listen more carefully and intently. This helps sharpen communication skills and teaches perseverance.
  • Songs and music about the natural world help children to develop familiarity and empathy towards plants, animals, and elements in nature, encouraging them to spend more time in outdoors. This develops a sense of harmony and rhythm with nature, and thus a more caring attitude towards it.
  • There is a reason why outdoor concerts are so popular in all forms and genres of music. The scenery and smells provide additional stimuli to make the music experience even more enjoyable. Concerts are often scheduled at sunset to take advantage of the beautiful sky. Many religions have a dawn or sunrise ritual attuned to music or chanting to communicate new beginnings, new life, or hope.
  • The link between the pleasure that music brings and exposure to nature in early childhood helps to encourage a lifetime appreciation of the outdoors and environmental responsibility.  

It is well documented that exposing children to music at an early age helps their development in numerous ways. Science is also proving that time in nature provides kids with exercise, mindfulness, and the development of deeper social connections. It should not be surprising then, that the natural connection between music and the environment have been around since the dawn of mankind.

Five Ways to Gain New Music Studio Students with the New School Year

Summer is coming to a close, and with it comes the new school year. Parents are beginning to plan class schedules and lists of needed school supplies and clothes. This is a time where the mind changes focus from the more laid-back summer activities to a more structured schedule that includes school and other activities. While parents’ minds are focused on setting up the school year calendar and children’s schedules, it’s a great time to gain new students for your children’s music studio. Here are a few tips and methods to beef up your rolls for the new school year:   

  1. Make sure your online listings are up to date – While we may not all be part of the online generation or comfortable with technology, you can bet that your target audience is! First and foremost, make sure your Google Listing is up to date. Parents use Google for even the simplest information, such as phone number or driving directions. Make it easy for them to find your children’s music studio! It’s also a good idea to perform a Google Search on your own business to see if any other listings need updating. Many online directories create listings without notifying you, so it’s important that their information is also correct.
  • Social media is where parents find recommendations and support – Older generations of parents relied heavily on books and advice from their own parents or grandparents. Today’s generation tends to rely heavily on social media. While you don’t have to be a social media guru to be effective, having a presence is imperative for reaching today’s young parents. Instead of spending too much time trying to be on all social media, pick a few popular ones and spend more time on them to promote your children’s music classes.

  • Make good use of your current parent network – As school preparation begins to crank up, parents are spending more time online. Now is a great chance to speak with and/or email your current parent client list to ask them for reviews and referrals. Google reviews are highly regarded by your target audience, so ask your current parents to provide a simple review. To get referrals from parents, consider offering a discount or free class to encourage them to provide names of their peers that might also be interested in music classes for their children.
  •  Network with your local schools and parent organizations – With the school year beginning, there are numerous opportunities to network with parents, such as open houses, PTA meetings, booster clubs, etc. Consider creating a business card with a special offer on the back to provide incentive for parents to try out your music studio. For Kindergarten and Pre-K, approach some of the day care providers and schools and offer to do a free music lesson for the children. This is a great way to gain new students by getting parents and school administrators excited about your children’s music program!
  • Consider a mailing to prospective parents – While direct mail seems very “old school,” if done correctly, it still remains an effective way to get your name out there and gain new prospects. List brokers can provide affordable lists of local prospects in your area based on all kinds of demographic information such as geographic area, number of children in household (and approximate ages), home value, etc. To make your mail campaign more effective, provide a theme and incentive (coupon or voucher), such as Back to School Music Class Special! Keep in mind that consumers typically respond better to dollar amounts vs. percentage when pricing is not known. To save even more on your mailing, explore the different options provided by the USPO to get the best Return on Investment. Finally, keep in mind that sometimes direct mail programs require several mailings to the same recipients to be effective. Be patient and budget accordingly. 

Using all or any of these methods will help you prepare your children’s music studio for new students in the new school year. Take advantage of the change in focus that affects parents this time of year to become a part of their regular new school year schedule.

The Science of Music: Creativity Wish List – How Music Inspires Children Love Nature

The Neuroscience of Music series has explored way in which early childhood music education can help to develop skills from a Wish List that parents have shared regarding Behavior, School Skills, and Creativity. This fourth and final installment of the Creativity Wish List explores ways that music influences children to love nature.

As our environment changes in dramatic and unprecedented ways, many parents wish to instill in their children an appreciation for the delicate balance between our activity and its impact on nature. They wish to encourage a respect for nature that can be carried on to the next generation.  Nationally recognized Neuroscience educator Dee Joy Coulter points out that a nature-based early childhood music curriculum is an ideal way to provide inspiration for the wonders of nature through music, and “it offers a wonderful foundation for helping children take their place at the forefront of tomorrow’s environmental problem solvers.”

Musikgarten Founder, Dr. Lorna Heyge explains that through simply interacting with nature in simple ways such as feeling the warmth of the sun or the cool wind, children are turning sensory experiences into cognition. Complex concepts made simple through nature, such as the life cycle of a dandelion, are providing children access to vital pathways to learning. Here are some ways that parents and early childhood music educators can inspire their children to love nature:

How music can inspire infants and toddlers to love nature

  • Start by building trust in infants so that they become open to fresh experiences when their interest is high. Singing to them is a great way to do this. With parents, it is a trial and error process where they learn how their child best receives new stimuli, whether it is delight through surprises, bouncing and repeated movement songs, or soothing lullabies with gentle motions. Because children have different unique temperament, there is no one correct approach.
  • Taking cues about their comfort level gradually expose your infant or toddler to simple sounds in nature such as birds singing, the rustling of leaves in the wind, or the feel of sand on their hands at the beach. If the stimulus becomes overwhelming for them, a soothing song will often calm them down and help to ensure that it was not remembered as a traumatic experience.

Using music to inspire a love of nature in preschoolers and beginning school age children

  • With 3 and 4 year old children you can begin to place an element of time to their awareness of nature. For example, families can and often sing about the seasons, reflecting how nature changes along with those seasons and giving them a feel for how the way nature is organized. In addition to the songs you are singing about nature, think about visual and tactile elements to introduce, such as leaves, rocks, and even snowflakes.

Take opportunities to expose them to nature such as trail walks, going to the beach, or simply having a picnic at the park. This not only gives them the opportunity to enjoy nature at their own pace, but also has a great calming effect on parents. Learning to be mindful in nature is a gift that will last children a lifetime while making them better stewards of the environment when they grow older.

This final installment of the Neuroscience of Music series is fitting because of the profound inspiration that nature has had on Musikgarten and its curriculum. As summed up by Audrey Sillick, co-author of Musikgarten and whose vision of the role of nature in the lives of children that inspired Musikgarten , “There is no more meaningful time than early childhood to develop relationships with the living world of plants and animals – as well as to inspire the young human’s spontaneous response to music, dance, and the arts. This is true for the best of all reasons – it is who we are.” Dr. Heyge confirms the sentiment with the declaration that “Musikgarten has made an unparalleled commitment to instilling a love of nature in children.”

*Musikgarten Delivers: The Neuroscience of Music collection by Dr. Dee Coulter is available for $10 in the Product Catalog section of our Teacher Portal. Username and password are required. You may also contact Musikgarten at 800-216-6864 to purchase.