Tag Archives: Teaching Music

Social Media Marketing to Attract Music Students

Social Media platforms have transformed the way our world communicates. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70% of Americans have at least one social media profile. These platforms can be a highly effective means of reaching new music students and engaging them in a very meaningful way. And, when your followers engage with your form of social media, you have the opportunity to influence all of their connections as well. When considering if and which social media platforms to market your music studio, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Social Media Tips for Music Teachers

  • Understand your target market so that you select the social media platform that will reach the most of them with the least amount of effort. There are several social media platforms for families and mothers of young children such as Famster, Justmommies, Cafemom, and Disney Family Community, but keep in mind while these are highly targeted platforms, their population pales in comparison to the major platforms such as Facebook or Pinterest.
  • Rather than participating in all of the different major social media platforms, think about doing just a few of them really well. Social media can take a large amount of time, so you will want to budget your time wisely so that you can concentrate on other aspects of your music studio marketing.
  • Post often and with relevancy. If you do engage in social media for your studio, be prolific about posts, and make sure they will be interesting to your intended target audience of prospective young music students. Social Media authors can be very creative in what to post and how it links to their business or message. Don’t write all of your posts like an advertisement for childhood music program, so followers don’t get turned off.
  • When the platform allows for it, use pictures along with words. Color catches the eye, and eyes on faces also grab attention. Just be sure that if you do post a picture of a young music student on social media, that you have signed permission from their parent(s).  Also be sure that you do not provide the child’s name anywhere in the post.
  • Use links to references within your posts to add more relevance. Search engines like for social media content to have supporting evidence in the form of online articles, blog posts, and other data sources. These can be easily found by searching for industry leaders in childhood music theory, and placed as a link within the content itself.
  • Pay or not to pay. Often times you can build a group of followers from scratch with interesting, creative, and thoughtful social media posts. If this is the case, then you may not consider paying for ads or “boosts” in social media. However, these methods can be helpful to get a social media destination off the ground. Consider starting small and seeing what kind of results the buy gets you. Cost per new follower is a good way to gauge the effectiveness of an ad buy or boost.

There is a multitude social media resources for early childhood music teachers available online, if you do some digging. Start with a few platform(s) that best suit the target audience for your music studio, and learn as much as you can about effectively using those social media outlets.

 

Lazy Summer Days

The water is warm at the ocean; an August breeze rustles my hair as I sit relaxing at the ocean beach and pondering the upcoming fall music season. When I started teaching early-childhood music classes in 1992, not many people knew what “early-childhood music” really was, but things have certainly changed.  It is rare to find a child these days who has not had an early-childhood music experience, either in a pre-school or in a private studio setting.  This is wonderful news!  The earlier we reach children the more opportunity we have to help them reach their full music potential.

Thanks to a myriad of articles about the long term benefits of music in a child’s life, many who previously thought music to be a nice little “extra” are now clamoring to sign their children up for class to give them an edge on their SAT’s. On the one hand it is very gratifying to have the work of early-childhood music and movement teachers validated by scientific research. Seeing the value of music education highlighted in the media is truly exciting!  On the other hand, I find it rather sad that for many people in our society, music is only valued for its ability to improve a person’s math and science skills.

Music teachers have long known about the relationship between music and spatial awareness. We know that students involved in school music programs have better attendance records. We know that being involved in a music ensemble promotes social skills. While these are all good reasons for enrolling a child in a music program, they all point to the extrinsic value of music. What about the intrinsic value of music? What about music for music’s sake?

Imagine for a moment the Inauguration Day ceremonies without the Marine Band playing “Hail to the Chief”, or your child’s first birthday without the sounds of “Happy Birthday” being sung by your family, or a Christmas Eve church service without any Christmas carols. Music is a part of our lives and is an important part of the ceremonies that mark the milestones in our lives. It’s hard to imagine a wedding, a funeral, a graduation, a party, or a parade without music. Music is an essential aspect of our humanity that stimulates the imagination and nurtures the soul. Music is a source of joy and wonder and we all have the right to fulfill our musical potential. .

Our good friend, neuroscience educator Dr. Dee Coulter, says this about music and Musikgarten: “I would suggest that Musikgarten nourishes children in three ways: Their souls are nourished by the music itself, their bodies are nourished by the graceful movement, and their minds are nourished by the rhythm.”

All children are musical beings and are born with an aptitude for music. But that aptitude diminishes if it is not nurtured in the first nine years of life. By helping our children reach their full music potential we are helping them come into their own as well-rounded human beings.

The most valuable thing you can do for a young child is to keep him singing and moving.  Dr. Edwin E. Gordon, who was the leading researcher in early-childhood music and author of the most widely used music aptitude tests, states that a child’s music aptitude is in a developmental stage from birth to age nine. While a child can certainly learn musical skills such as fingerings, breathing, note reading, etc. after age nine, how musical a person he or she is –  how well attuned his or her sense of pitch and rhythm is – is set for life by age nine. Gordon divided music aptitude into tonal and rhythm aptitude and said the most effective means of nurturing a child’s tonal and rhythm aptitude is to provide them with a rich environment of singing and moving. What does this mean in terms appropriate early-childhood music and movement activities?  I believe there are four simple activities that should be kept in mind, whether you’re choosing a music program for your own child or integrating music activities into your daily plans:

  • singing simple songs
  • echoing tonal and rhythm patterns
  • moving in continuous and flowing movement activities
  • creating steady beat activities

Musikgarten programs do this in a weekly classroom setting. Musikgarten teachers choose the finest musical instruments they can get their hands on, ideally all made of natural material. Musikgarten incorporates a selection of music and movement activities drawn from the best of our cultural heritage. It was put together by master designers to be flexible and meet the needs of all young children and teachers.

My feet push into the sand as I watch children dig and create sand castles, happily humming to themselves and I envision all the activities we do in class that are based on large muscle movement – the root of all true learning experiences. The children follow the steps of musical fluency, intricately incorporated into my program and constructed to bring the children’s whole body into each music experience. Music flows from their toes to their vocal chords, movement and sound working together. It extends out from the mind to the tips of their fingers as they reach toward a keyboard or drum to play the music that they hear in their head.

A parent comes to help build and decorate the sand castle with their child. This parent/child relationship is integral to the development of the child.  Musikgarten classes provide families with a weekly parent/child time where you can rock, sing, clap, hug, roll, laugh and learn with your child. Every activity in class is an opportunity for you and your child to share a special moment that can be reproduced at home creating lasting memories.

I could sit alone on a solitary beach, yet I choose a spot in the middle of a lively beach crowd. Music class gives you and your child a choice to connect with your local community. Rather than watching music programs on T.V. or setting your child in front of a computer screen, you can make music among friends through song and dance.  Most importantly, by bringing your child to a weekly music class you say to your child that music is wonderful, it is shared with others, it is a valuable part of your every day experiences and it is a part of your daily family life. 

Now it is time to return to my studio and leave behind this summer beach day of reflection. I hope you will teach Musikgarten or find a Musikgarten music program that will fill your lives with music!

Instruments: In the Classroom and at Home

An essential part of a Musikgarten music class is playing simple instruments, like rhythm sticks, rattles, jingles, and drums. Children love to explore these instruments and I want to make sure I have a selection of the highest quality available for my students in the classroom. Since we, as the teachers, are models to the parents, parents often ask me, “What instruments should I have in my home for my children?” Parents value instruments that are not only fun to play but ones that will also last over time and make beautiful sounds. There are lots of instrument choices for parents to purchase on the internet but many of these choices are not appropriate for young children. If it looks like a toy, it is probably a toy.

When I create a list of instruments for parents to choose I consider:

  1. Instruments that have an excellent sound quality.
  2. Instruments that are made of natural materials.
  3. Instruments that are safe for children to handle.

In the classroom I mainly use instruments that Musikgarten offers, including their beautiful and simple drum. It has a wood frame, natural calf skin head, and is sturdy, but light weight. It is perfect to put on the floor and have the children play with their hands, but light enough to hold while standing.  I always make sure I have enough for everyone to have a drum.

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Musikgarten sticks are natural and have no varnish added to them so they can be mouthed by the babies and tapped by all the children.  These sticks need to be smooth and have no rough edges.  I like sticks that are small enough that they cannot become a ‘sword’ and heavy enough for hands to actively tap in various ways and roll on the floor.  Perhaps they may even become letters or houses.  I also have sticks with ridges so we can explore the sounds of insects, trains, rubbing or other imaginative sounds.

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Musikgarten rattles are also made of wood and large enough so they cannot be swallowed by the youngest baby, but are small enough to feel comfortable in little hands.  With these cylinder shaped objects we can tap, pound, and roll and, yes, create towers to crash to the floor in a noisy heap.

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A classroom can survive with only these instruments – great news for new teachers on a budget.  As the years have passed I have collected and adorned my studio with ethnic drums, band instruments my own children attempted to play while in school, bells found in antique shops and garage sales and other odd assortments perfect for a play-along time. These instruments are like flavor to a stew and can be used for a fun celebration at the end of class or at home.

I have also found it very helpful to give parents some instruction on how to store the instruments. My favorite suggestion is to collect all those instruments and place them in a music area in your home. As families participate in the Baby and Family music program they receive a home instrument with each unit including a set of sticks, rattles, bells and sand blocks.  These can go into a basket which is separate from the toy box.  Add a music player that children are allowed to control, place the basket of instruments on the floor and you have music time!

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Then when your music time is over, place the basket OUT OF REACH of the children. Why?  I believe instruments should be treated differently from toys.  They are tools to create sounds and are taken out and put away when the activity is done.

Remember, for both your studio and when advising your parents, to keep it simple. Choose instruments that have a great sound quality, are made of natural materials, and are safe for children to handle. I advise staying away from plastic instruments and those 20 instruments in a set deals that you can find on the internet.  Homemade instruments can also be fun as long as they are safe for the children.

Eventually the question comes up from parents, “When should I purchase a piano for my child?” This is a blog article in itself, so stay tuned for the answer!

 

The Magic of Finger Plays

Finger plays are songs or stories that are acted out using your fingers and hands. As parents and teachers, we all want children to experience and play with as many finger plays in their early years because they “focus on the aspect of identification of fingers and hands and experimentation with their various movements.” In Musikgarten classes, finger plays are an essential and fun part of every toddler music class.

Over the years of teaching toddler music class I have learned that I must be well versed in the finger play to be able to share it with a group of children.  As I present the activity I realize I am also presenting it to parents in the hope they will continue to play and share this play at home.

So where do we begin?

Like many finger plays, the raw material for a parent or teacher is usually a ‘head scratching’  little poem:

Five little birds without any home,
Five little trees in a row,
Come build your nests in our branches tall,
We’ll rock you to and fro.

Not much to go on…….

A parent started a discussion about finger plays in class the other day.  She asked, “How do I do finger plays? Is there an online source to show me how?  When can I do them at home?”  I realized that finger plays were not a part of her early life. As a child I was surrounded by finger plays, learning and enjoying them with my parents, my siblings, my Sunday school teacher, etc.  Finger plays were part of my everyday world as a child. Is it possible we have lost the art of finger play in today’s home life?

As a teacher a finger play is an immensely powerful tool to draw in my children and their parents to a close knit circle.  From this intimate space we will share a moment that brings smiles and giggles mixed with hugs and rocking.  Always a good plan in a toddler music class!

The experts say a finger play:

  • develops vocabulary
  • creates a stronger emotional link between parent/teacher and child
  • develops the motor facility of the hand
  • develops cognitive areas of the brain
  • creates a safe place for children and adults to explore together
  • creates a safe place for physical contact between a parent/child or teacher/child
  • connects culture from generation to generation
  • goes beyond the purpose of nurturing, caressing, comforting or feeding.
  • creates laughter and excitement and pleasure.
  • creates a place where a child wants to repeat the game and play more and more.
  • turns a hand into a toy.

The finger play, summarizes Jelena Sitar Cvetko, is the “shortest and simultaneously the most comprehensive form of Folk literature. Finger plays are pre-dramatic forms with fingers as players and the hand as the stage, completed within itself and created within the play itself.” **

Good stuff in a little activity.  But still, the question still begs, HOW do I do a finger play?

So I have created a “before children walk into the room” video of the finger play “Five Little Birds”.

With no children in the room, it appears that all you need are the words and the fingers.  Notice the pace of the poem, the vocal tone used and the expressive quality of my fingers.  I believe a finger play needs to be rehearsed before your families walk in  because when children are added to the mix, anything can happen. You need to be ready to adapt in the moment.

Here is a video of another finger play with children and parents learning side by side.  It is quite different in that  you need to engage the toddlers and the parents. Luckily it helps that you are building on the common bond of love between parent and child:

When can a parent/grandparent/caretaker use a finger play?

  • during a diaper change
  • before bed
  • during a waiting time in a doctor’s office
  • during play time
  • whenever you need a connection or just want to laugh and giggle along with a child

Finger plays are fun and can create special moments throughout a child’s day.  For the teacher, it can make a major fun moment in a music class.  For the parent, it is a break from the necessary routines of a child’s life. Yet both parents and teachers still express apprehension when it is time to actually share the finger play.

Here are some clues to help:

  • Memorize the finger play but don’t worry if you mess up a word or two. It is more about the tone of voice, the pacing and loving way you transmit the play.
  • Repeat over and over. Children love to repeat and will gladly help and correct you if you don’t repeat it exactly the same way you did it yesterday.  Believe me, they remember EVERYTHING!
  • Exaggerate the underlying emotion of the finger play. Emotional response (laughing, crying, gasping) create significant memory cues for the children.

Watch how I emote in “Five Freckled Frogs” as the frogs “disappear into the pond” only to all return at the end.

Finally, some finger plays, like “Whoops! Johnny” can be changed to include the child’s name.  I add verses which include each of the children and then Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, sisters, brothers, and pets. I had a mother say her child would go through everybody in her world before going to bed at night.  The list was quite long and she would diligently repeat all the loving people in her repeats.  And, yes, I was included!

I hope you will make finger plays a part of your repertoire as a teacher and as a parent/grandparent/caretaker. Use these whenever possible.  This magical moment will make a difference in your life as well as the child playing with you.

What could be better?

**Quote from the Paper of Jelena Sitar Cvetco, The value of Finger play as a form of Cultural Heritage in the Curriculum of the First Age Period: https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/222654

The Teaching Triangle

As a young piano teacher, I was taught that the most successful recipe for learning to play the piano was to encourage the triangle of support from student to teacher, teacher to parent, and parent to student.  When any of these sides become weak, the process becomes more difficult for all.  Then reality set in. I faced a problem many piano teachers lament.  The parent would drop off their student, hopefully on time, and later pick up their student, hopefully on time, but their involvement ended there.  Even though the child received a weekly written homework assignment of what to practice at home, more than likely the only one benefitting from this paper was a hungry dog.  I was entertained with threats indirectly aimed at me as the exasperated parent would lecture the sullen child, “If you don’t practice the piano, I am not going to invest any more money for lessons”.   Unlike an orchestral triangle, my triangle was thudding, not dinging.

TriangleWeb version

Adding Musikgarten classes to my piano studio makes this triangle so much more fun to manage.  By bringing families into my studio to share music with me, I could now direct appropriate music making. Families receive a marvelous CD, or digital download, of music for them to sing and dance with all week. Ultimately I form a lasting relationship starting in my early childhood classes and moving through the program and beyond into my private piano program.

In a Musikgarten class, a community is sharing music and magic is in the air.  Below are some of the benefits from each perspective of the musical triangle:

 

Teacher:

  • Gets to know the whole family in the music class setting.
  • Becomes familiar and can work with their high/low and out of tune voices, and can adapt the program to work with the laid back family or the families that giggle and jiggle along.
  • Long term relationships are formed in a Musikgarten class and the triangle is strengthened. This musical relationship can go on for nine years in the Musikgarten curriculum and beyond in traditional lessons. When that student finally graduates from high school and adds music to their college course load all can shed tears of congratulations.
  • Gets to share something once to a group rather than 8 times to individual lessons. And the punch of the content is much more effective in the group.  No more telling a student who may or may not tell the parent.

Parent:

  • Receives firsthand experience of what is happening when their child is learning music.
  • Learns alongside their child and may even relearn what they were taught as a child.
  • Receives a quality recording and doesn’t have to entertain their child with solo performance of singing.
  • Know they have made a sound musical choice for their child that will go well beyond the early childhood years and gracefully bridge their children on to formal lessons.

And Students?

  • LOVE having their parents and siblings alongside as they share music.
  • Know they can share this music at home and the family will be familiar with the songs and dances.
  • Can dance, sing, and play musical instruments along with their friends.
  • Freely fall in love with their music teacher, can dream of learning to play an instrument and get to share music throughout their whole lives (although they don’t know about this surprise yet!)

Teacher-kids low resThere are so few experiences in our culture wherewe get to really know the teacher the way a Musikgarten class can provide this access.

If you are a teacher, I hope you add these ideas to your list of talking points. If you are a parent, I hope you will see the lifelong benefits of Musikgarten

And if you have, share the benefits you have enjoyed.

15 Free* Tools to Help Manage Your Musikgarten

There’s more to building a successful Musikgarten studio than just making beautiful music. You’re growing a business, too! Today, there are a host of online business tools and apps that can help you to more quickly, easily, and professionally manage your Musikgarten studio. These tools can help alleviate stress, grow your business and give you more time to do what you love – teach! We’ve researched and vetted a number of trusted, top-rated business tools just for you. Each recommended tool below is user-friendly, free*, and is “just right” for small businesses like your Musikgarten studio.

Classroom Management
These programs and apps can help you manage your classes right from your laptop, tablet or phone!

TeacherKit

Many Musikgarten teachers have told us about TeacherKit, a simple, easy-to-use, and feature-rich app that “makes day-to-day teaching a breeze by eliminating the headache of routine class administration.” Teachers can organize classes and manage students, behavior, performance and progress.

 ClassDojo

Three million teachers use ClassDojo to keep students alert and on-task. You can improve student behavior and engagement by awarding and recording in real-time, with just one click. Engage parents and caretakers with instant messages, photos, and announcements. 100% free.

Find more Classroom Management Apps here.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
CRM software is designed to help businesses of all sizes manage client and customer data (name, contact information, family info, enrollment date, classes, etc.) and customer interactions (emails, invitations, attendance), access business information such as monthly sales reports, automate transactions, marketing and customer support. While some CRM software programs are very complex, there are a few that are specifically designed for small businesses and first-time users.

Salesforce is an all-in-one, cloud-based solution that has everything you need in CRM software. Although this software is typically associated with larger businesses, Salesforce’s small business edition lets you access the product’s sophisticated CRM tools with a 30-day free trial and an affordable, small-business-friendly monthly fee.

Zoho CRM is free. Yes, free. This software is best for very small businesses that require a simple CRM solution, specifically, those with no more than 10 employees. Because it’s free, Zoho CRM is a budget-friendly way for small businesses that aren’t sure about CRM software to test- drive one and figure out if it’s worth the investment.

Insightly is an easy-to-use, feature-rich CRM package that won’t break the bank. There’s a free plan that will fit even the smallest of businesses, and paid plans start at just $12 per month. Insightly comes with all the time-saving CRM capabilities a small business requires, such as contact and customer management, opportunity management and sales reports, all in a single solution. But it can also be scaled to meet your needs as your Musikgarten studio grows. And because it’s cloud-based, you can access your data anytime, anywhere, even from mobile devices.

Email Services
As your studio grows you’ll need an easy way to build and manage your expanding email list, send attractive and effective emails, and track email performance such as open rates. While many CRM software packages include email as part of their service offering, you may just want a simple email solution. Here are three great options:

MailChimp Wow! More than 8 million people and businesses around the world use MailChimp. The easy-to-use features and templates allow you to send emails, automated messages, and track your email performance – no design or high-tech skills required! You can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers for free.

GetResponse features a user-friendly interface making it one of the easiest programs help you get emailing in no time. Other free perks include: online surveys, inbox preview, auto responder, and social networking integration and excellent customer service. GetResponse offers a 30-day free trial and monthly pricing starts at $15 a month for 1,000 subscribers. Check out GetResponse here.

Campaigner has an entry price at $19.95 for up to 1,000 subscribers plus a 30-day free trial. They also offer 800 customizable email templates and an easy-to-use contact manager. Campaigner has one of the best reputations in the industry for customer service, offering free, 24/7 support. Check out Campaigner here.

Event Planning and Sign-Ups
Say goodbye to paper sign ups and invitations! No more back-and-forth emails to keep up with, either! This is the age of invitation automation.

VolunteerSpot is the fast, easy, and free way to plan events and sign up parents to show up, participate, or donate. Use it to plan demo classes, orientations, parties, performances, awards nights, fundraisers – anything! No passwords are required and it works on all mobile devices. The best part is, VolunteerSpot sends out email reminders automatically so you don’t need to pester parents to sign up or show up. VolunteerSpot is a favorite among schools, churches, teachers, and parents because it’s so easy for everyone to use!

EventBrite allows you to easily plan, promote, manage, and host successful events such as performances. You can sell tickets, allow people to register online, and even send out emails and reminders on social media. Check out EventBrite.

Social Media

HootSuite allows you to schedule posts, track, and manage multiple social media accounts from one place. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube (and more) are all covered under HootSuite. No more logging into multiple accounts – easy-to-use HootSuite ties them all together for you. Check out the free option!

Not using social media to market your Musikgarten studio? Here’s why you should – and how to get started

Online Meetings and Screen Sharing
Organize and host online meetings, webinars, demos, and share your screen easily and securely from your computer!

Join.Me is free and super easy to use! You can use this to share videos, too.

Google Hangouts is also another great option especially if you’re already using gmail.

Accounting and Expense Tracking

Shoeboxed helps you scan, record, and save receipts for business and personal expenses. You don’t have to scan each receipt yourself; either snap a photo with your smartphone right from the app or mail your receipts to Shoeboxed and they do it for you. There’s a free plan and a Lite plan for just $9.95 a month. Shoeboxed integrates with Quickbooks.

Freshbooks makes business accounting tasks easy, fast and secure. You can send invoices, track employee time and track business expenses such as rent and materials, in minutes. Freshbooks has live, fast, and friendly customer service, too. Try Freshbooks free for 30 days here.

Tell us what tools you’re using to grow your Musikgarten studio!

*Each of these tools offers a totally free package or free trial period. All are affordable and right-sized for your Musikgarten studio.

Five Reasons Why You Should NOT Become a Musikgarten Teacher

Five Reasons Why You Should NOT Become a Musikgarten Teacher

  1. You love rigid work schedules. As an independent Musikgarten teacher, you’ll set your own schedule and plan as many (or as few) classes on the days that work best for you and your life. Full-time or part-time, it’s up to you.
  1. You like a very strict curriculum with no room for flexibility. With Musikgarten, each class and semester is thoughtfully organized and well planned, however teachers can adapt classes to their strengths and to the strengths and interests of the children.
  1. Training? You prefer to just “wing it” and figure things out on your own. As you’ll find out, Musikgarten offers a variety of training opportunities such as webinars, live coaching sessions, workshops, and festivals as well as teacher support materials and a blog written just for Musikgarten teachers.
  1. You’d like to drive all over town searching for class materials. Musikgarten actually has everything available for purchase that you need to successfully run your studio, including music and instruments.
  1. You’re hoping to spend more time making marketing materials than making music. Musikgarten provides teachers with a variety of beautiful marketing and support materials as well as training, a bi-weekly e-newsletter and a monthly blog with marketing tools and tips.

As you can tell, we’re being a bit cheeky here! The truth is, there are so many great reasons to become a Musikgarten teacher, from setting your own schedule to finally realizing your dream of doing exactly what you love – teaching children the joy of music!

Take it from Musikgarten teachers:

“I would recommend teaching Musikgarten to anyone because the teacher training and support gives you the opportunity to be your own boss and confidently teach others to love all that music has to offer.” Erin Meats, Hilliard Community Music School

“As a teacher, you set your work schedule, but it doesn’t feel like work, since you’re doing something you love!Heather McEndree, Musikgarten Teacher with Cumberland Valley School of Music

“Teaching Musikgarten is a fabulous way to create a little extra income, or a lot of extra income! If you want to make a full-time position for yourself, Musikgarten training can open doors into preschools, into rec centers, into community arts centers!” – Mary Rekers, Musik Kids Director

“I love owning my own business, setting my own hours, setting my own calendar for the year, being able to take weeks off when I want to … I love that Musikgarten is responsive to their teachers and are always pleasant to work with. And I love the research that has gone into the Musikgarten curriculum so it’s all developmentally appropriate!” Lynelle Vogel, Music for Life Musikgarten Studio

“The teaching of children, who are playful by nature, is great joy! The joy of being creative and becoming a better teacher is another source of great satisfaction. Each and every day, as a Musikgarten teacher, I have these magical moments while I teach – I share my love of music, my love of piano and my love of nature with the children!Mary Rekers, Musik Kids Director

Teach music on your own terms.  To realize your dream, attend this FREE online Meet Musikgarten webinar to learn more about:

  • Musikgarten’s curricula and business model
  • Musikgarten for the professional musician
  • Musikgarten as a home-based business

A very special thanks to this month’s contributing Musikgarten teachers:

Questions? Click here or contact Denise at 1-800-216-6864 or email her at event@musikgarten.org.

What Makes Music So Special? A Sneak Peek with Dee Coulter, Ed. D.

Sommerfest is coming up soon and we’re thrilled that our longtime friend and professional adviser, Dr. Dee Coulter, is presenting this year! Dr. Coulter is a nationally recognized neuroscience pioneer with a master’s degree in special education and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education. She has studied the Musikgarten curriculum and has helped shape it into the program you know today.

We wanted to share a sneak peek of one of her sessions, What Makes Music So Special? in which Dr. Coulter explains the deep emotional, cognitive, and developmental gifts that music, and Musikgarten, offer to children and how to help parents discover its true value.

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This informative session is designed to help you grow as a teacher by deepening your understanding of how music and Musikgarten work. “Teachers who understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind the Musikgarten curriculum are more effective and have a greater impact. I’ve seen it time and time again; when teachers truly understand the neurological concepts at work they breathe a different kind of life into it…they teach with a different level of wisdom and confidence,” explains Dr. Coulter.

To experience What Makes Music So Special? for yourself, please join us August 21st in Charlotte, North Carolina for Sommerfest.

Attend this session and you’ll learn:

  1. How Musikgarten classes capture a child’s attention through a mix of high- and low-energy, visual, auditory, language and movement activities.
  1. About the neurologic and cognitive integrity of the Musikgarten curriculum and how music awakens different processes in a child’s developing brain.
  1. Why understanding how Musikgarten works will make you a better teacher and your classes more successful.
  1. How Musikgarten creates important mind-body awareness and can help build and improve impulse control in young children.
  1. The influence of music education on a child’s emotional intelligence and why this is important.
  1. The ways in which music helps develop positive character traits that have a lifelong impact.
  1. How music helps to “organize” the brain and why this matters.

Intrigued? Want to learn more? Join us at Sommerfest August 21st in Charlotte, North Carolina. You’ll meet, mingle, and expand your mind with Dr. Lorna Heyge, Dr. Dee Coulter, Musikgarten trainers and teachers. Here’s just a small sample of the exciting sessions we’ve planned for you:

  • What Makes Music So Special? and Putting Musikgarten on the Map with Dr. Dee Coulter
  • Mindful of the Past, Pointed Toward the Future with Dr. Lorna Heyge
  • Effective Teaching in Music Makers =
Putting the Musikgarten Philosophy Into Practice with Mary Louise Wilson
  • Convincing the Parents to Re-enroll: 
The One-Two-Punch of Parent Education with Jill Hannagan
  • Involving Parents Emotionally, Intellectually and Musically with Leilani Miranda
  • Helping Your Garten Grow: Building Your Musikgarten Program, the First Five Years and Beyond with Betha Christopher

Click here for more info on Sommerfest: Musikgarten in the 21st Century!

Ready to book? Click here or call 1.800.216.6864 to RSVP. Hotel rooms must be booked by July 22!

About Dee Coulter, Ed.D.

Dr. Dee Coulter is a nationally recognized neuroscience pioneer with a master’s degree in special education from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in neurological studies and holistic education from the University of Northern Colorado. In addition to 14 years as a special education teacher and program director, she served on the faculty of Naropa University for 20 years. Click here to read more about Dee and her work.

Big, Bad Behavior Problems Solved! Top Tips from Musikgarten Teachers – Part 1 of 2

What are your biggest behavior challenges? Fidgety kids? Disruptive outbursts? Parents who seem oblivious to their child’s charming antics?

Last month, we asked Musikgarten teachers for their best advice on classroom management and dealing with disruptive behaviors. The number of responses was overwhelming, so we’ll tackle this topic as a two-part series. This month, we’ll address behavior issues; next month we’ll cover clever classroom management methods.

Let’s talk behavior problems! When it comes to behavior, it’s not that kids are either good or bad. All children act up from time-to-time, some more than others. It helps to understand why kids act out:

  • They’re tired or hungry
  • They’re not used to participating in structured or group activities and don’t know “the rules” yet
  • They’re shy, nervous, or feeling insecure
  • They want attention
  • They’re not ready for a class just yet; children mature at different rates
  • They may have a special needs, such as autism, ADHD, or a behavioral, neurological or sensory processing disorder

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Remember, it’s your studio, your rules, and a little structure goes a long way toward making sure parents and children have the best experience possible.

A few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to behavior issues:

  • Do let families know your class expectations from day one. Hang a poster. Post class rules on your website. Remind children often or ask them to remind you of the rules.
  • Do address severe or ongoing behavior problems promptly and privately with the child’s parent after class. The longer you let a problem persist, the tougher it will be to correct.
  • Do let parents know you want to work with them to help their child have the best experience and get the most from your class

 “Parent cooperation only comes out of good relationships with the families you serve. Good working relationships, where the people know that you care, are the first step in handling any misbehavior.” – Robin Bishop, HappyHeart Musikgarten

  • Don’t ask if, imply or suggest a child has special needs such as ADHD or autism – those are specific medical diagnoses that should only be made by qualified professionals.
  • Do reward good behavior openly and often. Let other children set an example.
  • Do politely ask a parent to temporarily remove an unruly child to help them calm down.
  • Do try to understand why a child may be acting up and work with parents to find a solution. If a child is always cranky during a mid-morning class, he may just need a nap at that time and a later class.

 Now, some tips from real Musikgarten teachers!

  1. Great Behavior Begins with Mom & Dad!It all begins with parent education. At the very first class of each semester, I go over what parents can expect from their child and how I would like the parents to participate. I want the parents to model what I do, and the children will learn from them. I tell parents all children participate differently in class: some will just watch, some will be active elsewhere in the room, etc. I continually remind parents of these ideas through out the semester.” – Jennifer Anderson, Music Time Studio
  1. Call on Mom or Dad. If a child starts crying, screaming, or melting down during a class, take a note from Kendra Beagles of KB’s Musik and address it directly to the parent. She’ll politely say, “You’re welcome to take Suzy to the bathroom if she needs a break. Please come back and join us as soon as she’s calm.” Make sure the parent knows you’re encouraging a brief cool down for the child, not asking them to leave.
  1. Use Body Language. No child likes to be reprimanded in front of a class. And as a teacher, you don’t want to interrupt a song or dance. Try this: Stand up and deliberately position yourself next to the child or in between the children being disruptive. “By moving yourself and continuing the song, you show them that you’re not going to let their behavior interrupt the activity that the others are enjoying.” Shannon May, Apple Tree Arts 
  1. Stop Disruptions Before They Start.  My studio is as free from distractions as possible. There is nothing for the kids to get into. There are very few “no’s” in my studio.  I save “no” for when something is a danger to the child or someone else (e.g. hitting or throwing instruments).” Jennifer Anderson, Music Time Studio
  1. Call Out Good Recognize children who are following directions with verbal praise and positive attention. Say, “I really like how Mason and Ella and Audrey are sitting in the circle. Who else can sit in the circle? Good!”
  1. Redirect Unwanted Attention. Use the child’s name and clearly remind, invite, and encourage him or her toward the positive and desired behavior. Offer praise when they follow directions. For example, “Claire, we need you over here to help us sing this song. Thank you!” or “Jacob, show us how you make circles with the scarves. That’s right! Who else can make circles like Jacob?”
  1. Teach Children to Respect Instruments. We love this input from Kendra Beagles, because it incorporates three important behavior management concepts: 1) Set expectations 2) Follow though with consequences 3) Positively reinforce the desired behavior. “Set children up for success before passing out instruments so they know how to treat them with care. Before I pass out rhythm sticks, I announce ‘Who can tell me what happens if you throw your sticks?’ The children reply, ‘Mrs. B gets them!’ If a child does throw the sticks, I immediately go pick up the sticks and say ‘Wow! I have more sticks to play with now!’ I then place the sticks on the floor behind my back. This lets children know I mean what I say and will follow through with my actions. The child will usually pout or cry, but I continue with my class activity. After a few minutes I’ll motion for the child to come get his/her sticks. If they throw them again, I take them and don’t give them back. At the end of class I’ll go over to the child and let them know that I enjoy having them in my music class and am very pleased when they respect my instruments.” – Kendra Beagles, KB’s Musik
  1. Offer Simple Choices. Very young children have a difficult time with open-ended questions such as “Where do you want to sit?” or “What should you do?” This can frustrate them and exacerbate the disruption. Instead, give them a very simple either/or option. For example, to let a child know running around is not an option, you can ask, “Do you want to sit on Mommy’s lap or mine?” or “You may join us in the circle or sit over there.” – tip courtesy of Jane Burlinson, Coastal School of Music 

Wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for Part 2 next month, where we share teachers’ top classroom management tips to keep things running smoothly (even large classes).

Thank you to our awesome contributing teachers for their time, talent, and wisdom!

What do you think? Share your questions, thoughts, ideas, and advice with us here.

Shore Up Your Enrollment All Summer Long!

Summertime means hot, sunny days and chillin’ by pool, but for some Musikgarten studios it can also mean a not so cool dip in enrollment and attendance. Here are 11 HOT ways to keep your studio humming all summer long…

  1. Talk to parents about their summer plans so you can better anticipate your summer enrollment and plan accordingly. Ask parents if/when they’ll attend during the summer, why or why not, and when they’re away on vacation. You can create a simple, free survey using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey, and send it to parents via email.Happy children on a green meadow.
  1. Start sending emails or notes home now to remind parents that Musikgarten is just as fun in the sun! Let them know now if you’re planning an alternate summer schedule so they don’t miss a beat.
  1. Talk to parents about summer learning loss and how participating in Musikgarten provides an enriching learning experience. You already know music instruction boosts academic performance; this article recommends enriching, less-structured activities as one way to help keep kids’ minds sharp all summer. Consider this from the National Summer Learning Association: “When school closes for the summer, what do kids face? For some, it’s a world of interesting vacations, music lessons, and library trips. For others without these enriching summertime opportunities, the break can lead to serious academic consequences—and the disparity can be dramatic.”
  1. Consider adding a few extra daytime classes for parents, sitters, and summer camps looking for ways to keep little ones busy. They’ll thank you!
  1. Reach out ASAP to nearby camps and churches, YMCAs, and day care centers offering summer programs. Camp directors are always looking for local, affordable activities; they may bring you new students by the busload! If space is an issue at your studio, take your Musikgarten to the camp and be sure to supply take-home information.
  1. Offer summer specials and limited-time promotions. Consider an exclusive summertime rate for current families to encourage them to stick with your studio all season.
  2. Consider adding a flexible, drop-in class for parents and sitters battling boredom and rainy day blues – your studio can be a real sanity saver!
  1. Spring and summer means lots of family-friendly outdoor events and festivals popping up in every town. Check with your local paper, convention and visitors bureau, or city website for a calendar of upcoming events. Then contact the organizers about hosting free, interactive music activities for kids; be sure to bring flyers or cards for parents!
  1. If you have the space and resources, consider offering a half- or whole-day Musikgarten camp. Musikgarten curriculum can be one part of the daily schedule; you can fill the rest of the time with music-themed arts n’ crafts, games, activities, and even movies. Here’s a list of age-appropriate musicals and musical movies.
  1. Don’t stop marketing your Musikgarten! It can be temping to take a break, but keep up your marketing and social media efforts: a new summer student may turn into a year-round enrollee! Need new marketing ideas? Click here!

11.  Go outside! Plan aChildren playing in the parknd promote a few classes “al fresco” – have parents meet you at a local park or under a shady tree near your studio (of course, get permission if it’s not your property.) Ask families to bring picnic blankets or beach towels, and water bottles. Encourage children to listen to the music of nature, like birds singing and leaves blowing in the breeze. You can even have an impromptu summer parade!

Are you ready for summer? We are! Tell us how you keep your Musikgarten growing all summer; email us here.