|It Takes a Village - And More!|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on January 29, 2016|
1. Making friends through music and learning
2. Seeking out organizations for like-minded parents
3. Getting involved with the community
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|The Tao of Music Together®®|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on November 08, 2015|
Many thanks to our wonderful teacher Emily Lopater Smith for contributing this month's blog post!
“The past is a story we tell ourselves.”
You’ve probably heard this axiom before, and it probably feels true. We tell all kinds of stories about ourselves: the story of the first time you fell in love, the story of your wedding, your child’s birth, your first job, the day when you met your best friend, the time you were brave enough to do something you really wanted. Sometimes the stories aren’t so happy – most of us have plenty of stories about past wounds or old insults – but we continue to tell them. Added together, these stories become our identity. After all, who would we be without our stories?
Some of us – many of us! – tell a three-word story about ourselves: “I can’t sing.” Maybe something happened in the past to make us believe this, or perhaps we are afraid of other people’s judgments about our abilities. But what if this story isn’t true after all? If we let go of “I can’t sing” as a story we tell about ourselves, we become more free to make music – and that is something all humans are meant to do.
As Music Together®’s first philosophy reminds us, all of us are born musical; music-making is a birthright. If you stop telling that three-word story about yourself, even if it’s for the 45 minutes a week you spend in music class, you may find that you can sing after all. Perhaps that particular story was never true.
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|Music-Making and the Rhythm of Life|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on August 22, 2015|
Music-Making and the Rhythm of Life
Thank you to Miss Emily for contributing this month's blog post!
Do you remember the song "Sandpiper" from the Flutes collection? My daughter Louisa and I haven't forgotten it — because we have been singing it on our way into preschool almost daily for the past two years! Sometimes it's hard getting out of the car and into school, but as soon as one of us starts singing "Sandpiper, sandpiper, running through the sand," off we go. It never fails! We make it on time, she doesn't feel rushed, and I don't feel irritated. Parenting win!
Any of the other myriad songs you may know from Music Together® or your own musical collection will work!
Many families turn on favorite music during transitional times, such as bedtime, because they find that their children have an easier time settling down. Why does music work so well in these moments?
Why Our Brains Love Music-Making
One reason is that when we sing together – with a parenting partner, our children, friends, family, anyone! – the brain responds by releasing "feel-good" chemicals. (Incidentally, this is why we almost always feel better after music class than we did before.) When we make music, a brain structure called the striatum releases dopamine, creating a feeling of pleasure similar to what we feel in response to sex or good food. This neurological reward system tells us that music is important and adaptive, particularly when we experience it in community.
Research also suggests that music-making stimulates the production of oxytocin, associated with feelings of relaxation and well-being. As a parent, I can testify that there are certain times of day when those relaxed, happy feelings are in very short supply! Those are the best times to change the mood through music.
A Natural Response
When we use music to change the mood, we are practicing musical entrainment. We naturally respond to external rhythms through an autonomic mechanism. (Think of how, when one person begins clapping or marching, we experience the urge to clap or march along). Making music together causes this autonomic mechanism to occur in tandem with our natural emotional and neurological response to music. In this context, think how powerful music-making must be to a young child who has been bonding musically with parents or other caregivers!
If you aren't already employing musical entrainment at home, give it a try. Use music that speaks to you, or that you know your child responds to. If this works well for you, or if you have any other musical stories to share, please bring them to class! We are a community, and we always love to hear about your music-making experiences.
What are your family's favorite songs?
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|On Breathing, Part 1|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on July 26, 2015|
By Kapila Love
"Breathe, you are alive!" -Thich Nhat Hanh
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|Celebrating Mom - And Mother Nature|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on April 30, 2015|
Celebrating Mom — and Mother Nature
Everywhere we look this time of year, we see motherhood being honored and celebrated. Back on April 22, we celebrated our "mother planet" for Earth Day, and on May 10, we'll be honoring our own moms for Mother's Day.
This season also offers us some of the nicest weather of the year, with April showers (mostly) behind us and the summer heat still a few weeks off. So as you take time to celebrate the mothers in your life, why not take the celebration outdoors while you share and enjoy the Music Together® repertoire?
It has been my experience that children naturally break into song when they have freedom to be without constant instruction for adults. I suggest going outside as often as possible and giving your children free play time (no instruction). This is a wonderful opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your children's interests as you observe them in their natural state.
Just last weekend, I went to the beach with my children. I told them we were on our way to Galveston by singing "Agarra tu sombrero y pontelo." This line from the song "Maria Isabel" is about grabbing your hat and going to the beach to enjoy the sunshine … and we did just that! When we arrived, the sky was teeming with seagulls, so I broke into "Birds in the sky, singing songs, flying high" from the song "She Sells Sea Shells." I just started the song, and then my son took it and ran with it. Literally!
Music Together offers us so many songs that help us better appreciate the wonders that Mother Nature offers us every single day. Here are some of my favorites:
Two little blackbirds
sittin' on a hill,
This is a wonderful song to sing at the park. Let your children notice the sounds of nature — especially the birds — and sing with them about it. While you share this special moment, you're also helping them to improve their attentiveness and enhance their listening skills.
Drip, drop, drip, drip
Have you ever tried singing in the rain with your children? It might sound crazy, but I must tell you that singing in the rain (especially hard rain!) has been a source of great laughter and fond memories for my family and me. Enjoy the experience and really notice the rain: What does it sound like? What does it feel like?
Ladybug, she creeps
along, and as she creeps, she sings her song.
Now that spring has sprung, our friends the ladybugs will be coming out to play. The next time you see one, try breaking into song as you let it crawl onto your hand. Let your child notice how she "creeps along" and maybe even how she "spreads her wings." Better yet, let your child hold the ladybug and enjoy the experience on his or her own.
There is so much in our beautiful world to sing about, and I encourage you get out there and enjoy it. Children need outdoor time every day. If it feels natural to break into song, go for it! Music Together provides many songs about nature that you can enjoy with your children. How about we enjoy them outside too?
Today I want to leave you with a quote from Richard Louv's wonderful book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder:
We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children's memories, the adventures we've had together in nature will always exist.
What is your favorite way to enjoy musical play outdoors? Leave a comment and tell us about it!
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|The Joy of Vulnerability|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on March 26, 2015|
The Joy of Vulnerability
"Sing? ME? Oh, no — I have a terrible voice."
I'm amazed at how often I hear comments like this from parents when they first bring their children to Prelude Music Classes. Many of them share with me that they haven't sung — really sung — since they were children themselves, and most of them can't explain why.
I believe it's because when we sing (and dance and play), we let ourselves be vulnerable. We let our guard down and risk showing who we really are in the moment. Children have little problem with this. But as we grow into adults, many of us take on the idea that vulnerability is dangerous, that we need to keep that invisible suit of armor on to avoid "looking stupid" or facing possible criticism — even with our own families.
Recently I read Brené Brown's excellent book Daring Greatly, and every page reminded me so much of our experiences here at Prelude. Brené talks about how, during vulnerable times, we often grow the most and therefore are capable of loving all the more. I especially love this passage:
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Isn't that a beautiful thought? It reminded me of so many stories from Prelude Music Classes.
One story in particular stands out in my mind. One day, one of our students came to class accompanied by Dad instead of Mom (who had just had a baby), and I could tell immediately that the father was uncomfortable. A successful businessman, he had clearly never done these kinds of activities with his son — singing, dancing, wiggling, waving scarves, banging on drums — at home by themselves, let alone in front of 11 other grownups and their kiddos.
After we said goodbye that day, I thought we might never see him again … but he kept coming back, week after week. Slowly I began to see him open up — singing along, moving his feet to the rhythm, clapping to the beat of the music.
Then one day after class, he told me something that moved me to tears. "Miss Ana," he said, "I just want to thank you for all you do. This class has taught me how to play with my son."
What a beautiful thing to share! By allowing himself to become vulnerable, this dad was now able to share the joy of music with his son and connect with him on a whole new level.
That's exactly what Brené Brown is talking about when she says
"Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance."
So if you are new to Prelude Music Classes and feel a little awkward taking part, please know that your feelings are perfectly normal. I also want you to know that this is a safe place, and that we only ask four things of you:
· Show up
· Be engaged
· Don't try to be perfect
Be patient with yourself, and before you know it, those inhibitions will start melting away, allowing you to discover the true joy of vulnerability.
As parents, allowing our children to see us being vulnerable is one of the most precious gifts we can give them. Through our actions, we send the message that it's okay to be yourself, to embrace the moment and let the spirit of music take you wherever it will.
I want to take this opportunity to extend a huge THANK YOU to all our Prelude parents for taking the time to sing and dance with your children — inside and outside of class — and to let yourselves be vulnerable in front of them! On behalf of the children, thank you, thank you, thank you!
Has your experience at Prelude allowed you to create a deeper bond with your child by embracing vulnerability? If you're comfortable sharing your story, we would love to hear it!
|(1 comment - comment on this)|
|When should my child start formal music lessons?|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on February 26, 2015|
What is the best age to start formal music lessons?
When should my child start formal music lessons?
This is the most frequently asked question from parents! I have a strong opinion about this as I really care about children and their love for music making. I highly suggest waiting until the following elements are ALL there:
1. Wait until your child has basic music competence. This involves having the ability to sing in tune (in any key for an entire song) and to keep an accurate beat (in duple, triple and asymmetric meters).
2. Make sure your child has 30 minutes of solid focus. 30 minutes is a long time for a child — 30 minutes without talking to the teacher about the frog they saw in school, or 30 minutes without leaving the piano to go do something else. Most children do not develop this focus until they are 6 years old.
3. Wait until your child has great eye-hand coordination and excellent fine motor skills. Can your child hold a pencil correctly? Does he or she have enough strength to throw and catch a small ball?
4. Wait until the child ASKS for lessons. If the request comes from the child instead of from you, there’s great excitement for everyone. I suggest taking your children to as many live music performances as possible and talking afterwards about the instruments and pieces you heard. At Prelude Music Classes for Children, we put on more than 10 family concerts a year, where your children can sing along to string quartets, harps, and wind or brass ensembles. Your children can also talk to the musicians after the concert and ask them questions! And there are lots of other performances in our city for children: Take a look at the family series by Mercury — The Orchestra Redefined, The Houston Symphony, Musiqua, and more!
5. Once your child has met all of the above requirements, be sure to find a teacher who understands early childhood music development — and childhood development in general. This is MUCH more important than signing up with a famous teacher. What children need is encouragement to PLAY their instruments and to enjoy the process! The product (performance) will come from great encouragement and joy for music making. If you need help finding teachers in Houston, please contact us. We have a list of teachers who meet this criteria.
Unfortunately, many students who start lessons too young end up quitting or hating the process. It is, for example, too difficult to play an instrument without having a solid music foundation, and that is basic music competence (see #1 above). And if your child’s hands and eyes are not ready (see #3 above), it is too difficult for them to be joyful trying to do something their body can’t do yet.
If you expose your children to music making — and live musical experiences — from a young age, chances are high that they will ask for lessons! They also love to see other children making music, so once you find some teachers or schools that have recitals with 7- through 10-year-olds, take your child to those performances!
Our goal in a Music Together® class is to help young children achieve basic music competence. This process takes years of singing, dancing, and feeling the beat in their bodies. We do this is in a playful, non-performance-based environment using repertoire that is musically rich. Young children are not developmentally ready to perform, and if they are forced to do so, they might quit forever.
If you do not have a Music Together class near you, sing with your child every day, and sing and listen to music from all over the world — not just songs in major mode, but songs in all kinds of tonalities and meters. This will help your child’s musical development.
Playing an instrument can be such a pleasure and a joy. In our home, we often have “musical desserts” after dinner. When my children were younger, we would make music as a family singing and or dancing to one or two of our Music Together songs. Now, we play, sing, or dance with and for each other. You too can do this!
Our daughter started piano at age 5 and our son at age 6. They both enjoy their lessons and their short daily practice. Our daughter also started violin lessons at age 6, and our son is just exploring with violin now (he’s 6-1/2). They both LOVE to make music and PLAY! That said, I have many professional musician friends who started lessons much later in life. A child is NOT behind if they start playing an instrument at age 10 or later! What’s important is having basic music competence prior to starting any instrument.
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|Holiday Music For All|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on December 18, 2014|
Wow, the holidays are upon us already! As you gather with friends and family to honor this special time of year, it's a great time to learn and enjoy some of the musical traditions around the many celebrations happening across the globe.
This year Hanukkah began the evening of December 16 and continues through the evening of December 24. Also known as The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration honoring the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of the 2nd century BCE.
As part of this celebration, it is customary to play games with a dreidel, a pointed, four-sided top that can be made to spin on its pointed base. To accompany this game, families sing "The Dreidel Song"; check out this wonderful rendition by the a capella group Shir Soul (http://youtu.be/DtlLHwk9_Rw):
Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends on January 1. This celebration honors African-American culture, and the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest."
During this week-long celebration, families decorate their homes with African objects of art, colorful African cloth such as kente, and fresh fruits to represent African idealism. To get in the Kwanzaa spirit and learn more about the holiday, enjoy this performance of "The Kwanzaa Song" from the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir (http://youtu.be/kS9d9eGAo2g):
Christmas Day is December 25. This is the annual holiday on which Christians honor the birth of Jesus Christ. As described in the Christian Bible, Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, who had traveled to town of Bethlehem with her husband Joseph for a census. As there was no room at the inn, the young mother gave birth to Jesus in a manger, above which a great star appeared to herald the coming of the Savior.
Christmas is the source of a rich musical tradition, and one of the most beloved carols is "Silent Night," as performed beautifully by the a capella group Pentatonix (http://youtu.be/sme8N2pzRx8):
Your turn! What is your favorite holiday musical tradition? Please leave a comment and let us know what you're thankful for — we'd love to hear from you!
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|Why We Are Thankful|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on November 26, 2014|
By Rachel Parker
Happy Thanksgiving! This is one of our favorite times of the year — a time when we come together with friends and family to take a break from the stresses of daily life and focus on what we're grateful for.
As a team, we want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all our Prelude families.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share the gift of music and to watch your children grow and thrive.
Thank you for being a part of our community and for sharing the journey that has made Prelude what it is today.
And thank you for the singing, the dancing, the playing, the belly laughs, the silly moments, the learning, and the heartfelt connections that allow us to look forward to every single day with you.
With that, we're going to "pass the mic" to our marvelous teachers as they share what they are personally thankful for during this wonderful season of gratitude:
Sage Holli Bara: "I am thankful for life and for all the wondrous ways that we can share, feel and connect through love."
Allann: "I am thankful for the most enjoyable, peaceful, pleasant work atmosphere I have ever had. I am surrounded by loving, caring people all day, and they truly make the day brighter. I am also thankful for my sweet husband and the new season of life we are embarking on together. The creating of our life together gives me so much joy, and I am reminded daily of how truly blessed I am."
Jonathan Godfrey: "I am grateful for the gift that music is in my life, and the peace, joy and love it brings to all."
Chrissy LaHair: "I am thankful for my wonderful husband and daughter — for my amazing family and for the wonderful opportunity I have been given to teach again!"
Francyne Jacobs: "I am thankful for so many things, but most importantly: for my family, who keeps me grounded and in the moment; for my work (which doesn't feel like work) and allows me to shoot for the stars, and for all of the love, happiness and blessing which flows from them and all that surrounds me."
Emily Lopater Smith: "I'm thankful for the family I grew up in and for the family my husband and I have created together. I'm thankful for all that's good in my life and for the opportunities to learn from the not-so-good. I'm also thankful that music and laughter are part of each day!"
Kapila Love: "I am grateful for music. I am grateful for singing. I am grateful for my singing life and yours."
Priscilla McAfee: "My deepest gratitude is for family, friends, faith, nature, music, and joy-filled work with Music Together® at Prelude and its outreach."
Jenn Moore: "I am thankful for my close-knit family, including my husband, Greg, my two young children, Lucy and Jimmy, my mom, my father-in-law, and my sister-in-law. I am thankful for the love of my extended family and for the support and fun of my dear friends. I am thankful for the opportunity to sing and dance at Prelude with so many endearing children and wonderful families."
Ana Treviño-Godfrey: "I am grateful for life. I am eternally grateful for my family, for the gift of motherhood, and for the opportunity to make music with children, parents, grandparents and all kinds of grownups! I'm grateful for the best job ever!! I give innumerable thanks for my team, and for Music Together."
Your turn! Please leave a comment and let us know what you're thankful for — we'd love to hear from you.
(Quick note: There will be no classes during the week of Thanksgiving (November 24-28), and registration for the Winter session, which begins January 5, is now open.)
|(0 comments - comment on this)|
|Why Music Together® and Prelude Music Classes for Children Mean So Much to Me|
|By Ana Trevino-Godfrey on February 26, 2014|
By Prill McAfee
Music changes the world, because it connects us all……. our hearts, our feelings, and its intrinsic means of drawing us together.
What this long-researched program does is it simplifies complex music.
It does not restrict itself to simple tunes and simple rhythms, nor does it confine itself to music found only in one language.
The songs are chosen to be accessible to children, and also to adults.
The spectrum of the Music Together curriculum spreads over three-years.
There are nine collections, in which the only songs which repeat are the beloved Hello and Goodbye songs.
During the summers, there are three additional collections, which include “favorite” songs from the collections.
The GOALS for these three years is to bring-out the innate music in each child, so that they can achieve what we call “basic music competence”.
They will have the life-long skills of singing in-tune….in any key, and will sing and move with accurate rhythm……in any meter.
Learning music is a process. Consider the time and practice it takes for your children to learn other life-long skills: sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running, jumping……. in other words, discovering, using, and controlling their bodies.
Consider again, the process of language: making sounds, creating recognizable patterns of “mama”, “dada”…….. it takes time and a spiral of development. The connection back and forth, communicating patterns, evolves into speech. It takes time and practice.
For children to learn music at this fertile, receptive time, the teaching needs to be playful and engaging, geared to them.
That is why we use props, such as colorful scarves, which appeal to their unique learning styles of being visual, aural, and/or kinesthetic.
It is why we use movement to help “put the music into their bodies”.
The precious bonding time in class, allows the beauty and delight of music to connect you with your beloved children.
The together time instills and strengthens your foundation of love. It offers tools for communication through the inexplicable power of music.
Making music together is an experience which becomes an indelible memory which lasts forever.
It doesn’t happen overnight, nor in one 10-week session. This program is made of building blocks.
Each block needs the underlying blocks, and it takes time and practice to see how they all can fit together.
The Growth Chart, which was handed-out recently, shows you the process, and how learning music takes time.
From my personal perspective, as a life-long professional musician (French horn player), a mom, and grandma, this program is miraculous.
The joy of seeing families (including my own!) bonding together with music excites me the most. Hearing the children sing notes and parts of songs on-pitch, and watching them beating/clapping/moving in rhythm, is awe-inspiring. I notice this acutely in the classes I visit which have been together for several years. Music pours out of the children, and Communities built on making music together have formed in the classes.
It is truly remarkable.
Prill McAfee received her Masters' and Bachelors' degrees in Horn Performance from The Juilliard School, in NYC. A frequent performer with the New York Philharmonic, she moved to Minnesota to join the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and remained with them for 20 years. She participated in the Aspen Music Festival, Spoleto (Italy) Festival of Two Worlds, Tanglewood, and Grand Teton Music Festivals. While in Minnesota, she was Horn Instructor at St. Olaf College, taught Horn privately, sang soprano in Choir, and had a business "music making joy", teaching piano, guitar and voice to all ages. Prill recently relocated to Houston, to be near her two young grandchildren, both of whom participate in Prelude Music.
|(0 comments - comment on this)|