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Kindermusik: A good beginning never ends

| June 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Cheryth Robertson

On 16 April 2014, the Kindermusik movement celebrated its 18th year of existence in South Africa.

I discovered Kindermusik 20 years ago, when searching for a music resource to enrich the experience for a weekly playgroup I ran for my own three-year-old and her friends. My studies in music education had made me aware of the power of music to stimulate the brain and growth in many areas of childhood development. Furthermore, my own mother had raised me to believe that each day “you ought to read a good book, hear a good poem and listen to some good music!” One of Kindermusik’s earliest curricula, ‘Growing with Kindermusik’,1 was the answer to my search. It comprised a wide variety of carefully selected, newly composed and freshly arranged pieces, performed on acoustic instruments, and an experience-based approach to music teaching and learning.

I was ‘growing musically’ with my child, and the weekly playgroup with its strong musical emphasis soon became the Kindermusik class at our local school (Yellowwoods Preparatory School in Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape).

A musical miracle

Kindermusik is an international music and movement programme for children from birth to seven years of age. It stimulates brain development and all other aspects of early childhood growth, by equipping a child with early skills in musicianship. The programme, which originated in Germany in the late 1960s and was brought to the US in 1978, has over the past 35 years expanded its offering into 70+ countries worldwide. Kindermusik South Africa (KSA) has its headquarters in Klerksdorp, in the North West province of South Africa, and the currently 140 licensed educators in this country fall under the excellent supervision of CEO for KSA, Dr Heidi Twilley, and her assistant, Mariaan Steenkamp, who ensure ongoing training through regional partnerships and conferences. Kindermusik is based on the research of many experts in the fields of early childhood music and behaviour.2 The programme provides a variety of musical and sensory experiences to the child, in the classroom and at home, and develops skills in singing, active listening, playing age-appropriate instruments, movement and dance, creativity and, in the final phase, music literacy.

Two curricula

Kindermusik offers two curricula: one for the studio, and one for schools. The studio curriculum is designed for small groups (eight to 12 children), with parent participation in the class. Until a student turns three, a parent/caregiver accompanies them to class and the teacher facilitates musical interaction and gameplay between the adult and child. From the age of three, parents attend only the last part of a lesson, the ‘Sharing Time’, fostering the child’s emerging independence at this stage. The studio programme was Kindermusik’s first. To witness the joyous, strong emotional bond and understanding created between a parent and child, when a parent can drop their busy work schedule to dance, sing and play with their little one on a weekly basis from babyhood to the age of seven, is a very beautiful thing indeed. When all the toys of childhood are long gone, this is a gift that remains for a lifetime. The school curriculum, ‘ABC Music & Me’, was launched by Kindermusik International in 2005, in response to a need to provide quality music programmes in childcare centres and preschools. This curriculum is designed for larger groups of children, without parent participation in the class.

‘Home Materials’

Kindermusik believes that every child is musical, that every parent is the child’s most important teacher, and that the home is the most important place for learning to take root and grow. To this end, Kindermusik International has developed its unique ‘Home Materials’ (a set of materials comprising audio, story books, instruments, visuals and manipulatives) to accompany each course in both the studio and the school curriculum. Some of these materials are available digitally, whilst others are shipped to South Africa from the US in hard-copy format. These products enable the parent to ‘take the learning home’ and encourage repetition and practice of musical skills between lessons. I believe that in ‘Home Materials’ lies the power of Kindermusik to stimulate and transform the young brain.

A good beginning never ends

Kindermusik teachers bring to the classroom the unique combination of a passion for music and an interest in working with young children. Whether a young parent, a prospective music teacher or a school administrator, investing in Kindermusik is a guarantee that ‘a good beginning never ends’, and it is an opportunity that comes only once in a child’s lifetime. Everyone should experience the joy, fun and learning which music brings to life.

Category: Winter 2014

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