Monthly Archives: December 2019

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.