Wednesdays With Wendy - Music Together with Music and Me

Tis the Season to Celebrate Everyone!
By Wendy DeAngelis on December 02, 2020

Hello Everybody,

I hope you, your family, and friends had a meaningful Thanksgiving! I have heard from many, that there was a silver lining via zoom.  People from all over the world who may not have been able to be at the same table in years part, were together this year via Zoom.  So many things are so different, and yet, in my opinion so many of the most important things remain: the power of love, connection, purpose, and joy.  Please add on to your list, as I know this is just a start.....OH....Yes, Music!

So what can you do with your child, in a musical way to share love, connection, purpose, and joy? 

Here is a gift idea for your friends and family! Send a custom song of you and your child singing a song for that person. 

Music Together® Songs are ideal for making up verses and inserting names.  THIS IS NOT A PERFORMANCE! it is a moment in time of your child singing about or to someone they love.  If your child is a baby and cooing sing a lullaby to the grown up and your baby, a toddler who can find the resting tone, you sing and have them find the resting tone, or have your child sing their favorite song if they are older.  

For movers and shakers, record yourselves dancing and jumping with a special message of Holiday Love!

Feel free to reach out to me to brainstorm ideas, based on what stage of music development your child is experiencing. Thank You! -Wendy

Ignore your child!
By Wendy DeAngelis on November 18, 2020

There, I said it! Ignore yor child!...Well, of course knowing they are in a safe spot, or using your super grown-up senses of their proximity making them think you aren't watching them.

Put on some music you love, and start to dance, without asking your child to join you.  Your baby, will watch and enjoy.  Your toddler, or preschooler may just join you, or try to get your attention as they will be making their choice to see what is all this fun that Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, or caregivers are having. Enjoying music for music's sake is everyone's birthright!

So instead of trying to get your child to DO something, do it yourself. Enjoy it yourself.  Depending on their temperment, they may just watch for a long time, or they may try to stop you, or they may join in.  You may catch them doing what you do, dancing with their toys, or stuffed animals.  

Trust that you are providing the stimuli to create their neuropathways, and as they develop the information will travel.  

So go ahead and (safely) Ignore your child, and see how that leads to making Music Together! Thank you. -Wendy

Benefits of Musical Routines! What are yours?
By Wendy DeAngelis on November 11, 2020

What is a musical routine? Many of you know that a routine is something that you do, practice, or experience in a specific way, and in a specific time frame that you decide, and may or may not alter depending on unlimited variables unique to you. 

When I performed professionally as a singer/actress my musical routines revolved around voice lessons, scales, warming up vocally daily, before auditions, rehearsals, and performances.  Routines involved listening to new music, finding new music, learning new music for auditions and performance.  Always breathing, growing, learning, and singing.

Growing up, there was always music playing, my Dad was always singing, and my sister was a professional singer/actress as well.  Our Mom, loved music and loved to sing.  Mom, had great pitch and rhythm. My favorite early childhood pastime was banging pots and pans. Those were our routines.

The benefit of any routine first depends on keeping it a routine.

We know that babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners through age 5 benefit through Musical routine as the variety of stimuli literally help build their neuropathways and support neuroplasticity. Routine supports musical development and social and emotional learning.  Are you more confident entering a room, (even via zoom for now), when you know who will be there? Do you prefer attending a meeting and getting an aganda? Do you enjoy whatever work you do with a solid understanding of beginning, middle, and end of processees? Guess what, this is exactly how confidence is built in young children.  Being able to understand begining, middle, and end, and to anticipate activity and sound, and have free play exploration. Audiation is the ability to hear music in your head when it isn't here.  When you child sings a resting tone of a song if you stop singing on the note before, they are knowing what is next.  It is extraordinary when you think about it.

So, what are your musical routines? Here are some ideas to try: Lullabye, bath time, free play music, dancing in the kitchen, galloping to the car, music free play of call and response, getting out the kitchen instruments, freeze dance, sound discovery around the house, ie: running water, sound of the wind, make up asong to a story book, sing about counting,  the possibilities are endless. Tell me about yours and enjoy! Thank you. ~Wendy

Music IS a common denominator!
By Wendy DeAngelis on November 04, 2020

Today the United States of America continues to tabulate, count, or complete the tally of each vote cast according to every state's election laws.  We are still a Democratic Country with Election Laws.

It may not yet be clear who won this election, but it is very clear that we live in a very divided country.  This saddens me deeply because all of our children deserve better.  OUR CHILDREN DESERVE BETTER!

So, what brings us together?  MUSIC! I look at every child and see beauty, curiosity, joy, potential and love.  I look at every parent, grandparent, and caregiver and I see how they interact with each beloved child; seeing beauty, curiosity, joy, potential and love.  Let's start there. Let's hold onto that for a minute and then build upon that.

I believe that Basic Music Competence, the ability to sing in tune with accurate rhythm is a right that belongs to every child.  That love of music and the ability to experience world music is what brings us all together.  

Let's look for common ground outside of our beloved music classes, holding in our heart's that it exists.

In the meantime, let's continue to sing, dance, play and learn together as we make Music Together. Thank you! ~Wendy

Heartstrings and why some babies cry hearing songs in minor keys
By Wendy DeAngelis on October 28, 2020

Have you ever not done something for so long that you forgot how much it fills your soul?

Last night, I was watching a special live stream of a reunion episode of The West Wing.  Everyone involved did an excellent job.  What pulled most at my HEARTSTRINGS was the music. I had forgotten the underscore of the series, the music that was as much of a character moving the story, as any dialogue or silence.  "They" say a picture is worth a thousand words, well in my opinion, so is silence, in dialogue or music. That moment before the resting tone.

I miss live orchestral music, I miss live choral music, I miss a live broadway musical.  I miss the palpable energy between cast, orchestra, and audience, whether I am in the cast or in the audience.  I miss it all.  It pulls at my HEARTSTRINGS.

What I still get to witness is the sound of early childhood music makers and families making music in ways that pull at my HEARTSTRINGS.  Seeing moments of joy while connecting through music, knowing that we are all laying the foundation for future enjoyment and participation in the lifelong experience of music making and active listening.  Thank you all for that!

So back to HEARTSTRINGS.  My HEARTSTRINGS greatest reaction was the first time I heard our daughter's cry at birth.  Wow!

Have you ever noticed your Baby cry during a lullaby, or a particular song.  If the song is written in a MINOR KEY, that is likely why.  Composers know that songs written in Minor Keys, pull at those  heartstrings.  Think of FAR FROM THE HOME I LOVE, from  FIDDLER...., Minor Key=heartstrings=tears.

So as we wait patiently to be able to create music together in the same space one day soon, we continue to experience it and make it in our own homes, and still together! A blessing for all of our HEARTSTRINGS! Thank you. ~Wendy

Music Together at Home, once a Goal, now the Starting Line!
By Wendy DeAngelis on October 21, 2020

Imagine a time before smart phones, computers, itunes, television, radio, air planes, cars, and even electricity!  There was much to take care of, but free time looked very different.

There were families with voices, and bodies, and musical instruments. Music making in the home was a major pastime. People would harmonize, play instruments for each other, with each other, and of course there was the lullaby. Where there was music, there has always been learning.

Fast forward to 2003, when I became a Music Together Center Director, my goal was to bring early childhood music and movement education to as many famiies as possible, apprenticie new teachers, and be true to the philosophy and training of Music Together. Our classes were always high energy, highly interactive, filled with joy, song, laughter, and of course movement.  The greatest compliment was when a parent didn't realize that I used a lesson plan. It was so much fun, that the experience for many grown-ups and definitly the children, was that of spontanious play.  That was the environment we created, because that is how children learn best. I can assure you that every single element of our classes was based in years of research, practice, concept and response evaluation, and play.

OUR GOAL: was always to have the families in our classes bring the music back their homes.  We could model and suggest using the songs throughout the day, but with so many other demands, and so many other things to do, could there be room for spontanious music making at home? Would families actually sing in their living room, during bath time, diaper changes, while building blocks, while cooking in their kitchen, or jumping on their beds?

HERE WE ARE TODAY: Our classes ARE STILL high energy, highly interactive, filled with joy, song, laughter, and of course movement.  Via ZOOM I see the fun, the experience for many grown-ups and definitly the children, is still that of spontanious play.  This is the environment we still create, because this is still how children learn best. I can assure you that every single element of Music Together Online class is based on years of research and months of continued examination of what is working best and how we can keep engaging your family and children in learning and growth. I celebrate what we are all able to do together. short, I never imagined that we would have this much time to practice and enjoy making Music Together Online at home, BUT I can say that you are definitely each ROCK STARS when it comes to creating musical experiences at HOME with your children, pets, and multi-generations of family! Until we hug again in person, it is an honor to be able to do so at the end of every class. Thank you. ~Wendy

Your Child Will Likely Ask: What Did We Do In 2020?
By Wendy DeAngelis on October 14, 2020

We are living through a time that will  be written about in History for decades to come. Your children will likely ask, what did we do? What was it like?

I remember asking my parents if they remember where they were and how they felt when specific historical events took place. What was life like for them during wars that had great impact on societies and especially the brave military and families where communities have come together, to work together in every way possible for the greater good? Both of my parents were born in America, but my Grandparents and many Aunts and Uncles were immigrants who travelled to America and entered their new Country through Ellis Island.  What was that like? 

In my lifetime a sample of what stands out is: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights, Watergate, AIDS, 9/11, the Recession, and now THIS.  All of THIS. Regardless of anyones politics, there is alot of THIS in 2020!

So when your children ask you, "What did we do in 2020 during the Covid-19 Global Pandemic and all THIS?", you will be able to tell them that you looked into each other's eyes, and made sure to spend some time singing, playing, and dancing.  We connected with other families using computers and a thing called Zoom! We wore masks ouside, and always found ways to keep growing, and learning, and laughing. You changed from a tiny baby, to a toddler, and preschooler before our very eyes.  You found your inner drummer!  It was singing together that gave us the joy and strength to do all the other things we had to do in new and different ways.  ...And you my child, gave us all hope and reason to do the absolute best we could to make things better for everyone!

I know that you will be able to say that, because I am fortunate enough to be both a witness to this music making, and an instigator.

It is with extraordinary gratitude that I thank you for choosing to welcome us into your homes with joy and music at these extraordinary times. I thank Nini, Dulce, Adrienne, Alexandra, Joy, and Ginny, each instigators with their unique talents. As small businesses continue to close, we are able to be here because you have joined us.  Thank you. ~Wendy

Is Grown-up "performance anxiety" FOR my child a thing?
By Wendy DeAngelis on October 07, 2020

I must confess that when our daughter was the ONLY 14-16  months old child sitting outside the circle play area of our Mommy and Me class, I did ask the teacher what she thought was going on.  I had not yet begun my initial Music Together training and was a first time Mom, with only the other kids in class with whom to compare. She wisely assured me that our daughter was an observer, and was choosing to sit on the step for an overview of all that was going on. Looking back I can light heartedly say that I had performance anxiety about my child's type of participation in class. I had performance anxiety about my child's performance. After all these years, it feels good to confess!

At the time, I did not understand that observing is an active part of early childhood development. Today, with so much documentation about visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners, along with 17+ years with over 10,000 families, it is easy for me to recognize different learning styles and assure families that their participation with music will truly support all learning.  These years also provide invaluable insight into the type of learner your child is. 

I also fell into the trap of comparing my child's behavior to others.  There is a WIDE RANGE OF NORMAL! In terms of musical behaviors, to those enrolled in our classes, please take a look at your Red four page handout: Growing and Learning with Music Together®. You will see the range of musical behaviors to look for and see how what you are doing in class supports and builds upon those behaviors.

So to answer my own question, Is Grown-up "performance anxiety" FOR my child a thing? Yes, it was for me at that moment, and I am so grateful to the teacher who pointed out that I was witnessing the power of early childhood observation as part of their learning style.  I encourage you to ask yourself the same question, take a deep breath, refrain from moving your child's arms for them if they are able to clap, and enjoy the time making musicwith your child. 

Of course, if you have any concerns or questions about your child, I encourage you to contact your Pediatrician. Thank you. ~Wendy


Lullaby's are for Grownups and Children!
By Wendy DeAngelis on September 30, 2020

It is Wednesday and I am cranky, tired, and overwhelmed with what is going on in this world.  Usually, I know what I want to discuss and all I could think of is - what it must feel like for an infant, baby, toddler or preschooler to be held, and sung to by their beloved Grown-up.  

The gentle power of the lullaby.  Dr, Lili Levinowitz, co-writer of Music Together with Kenneth G. Guilmartin, has said that bringing back the lullaby to families has always been her guiding force.

Most Grown-ups know two or three lullabys: Rockabye Baby (with gruesome lyrics, I recommend singing  -"...and I will catch you, cradle and all"), a cultural specific lullaby sung to you by someone you loved, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  

If you are a Music Together family, you learn at least 2 new lullabys every semester and learn how to make any song you love to be a lullaby, by slowing down the tempo.Slowing down the tempo, slows down breathing, heart rate, and calms down the nervous system.  Grown-ups, I encourage you to enjoy the lullaby youself.  Let it sink into your own body as you sing with your child.  

Many of you are now working from home, juggling childcare, work, online learning, inperson learning, without a moment of personal time.  

Take a few deep breaths, sing yourself a lullaby, and see what happens. I'd love to hear about your experience.

I plan on taking my own advice. Thank you. ~Wendy

Early Childhood Musical Development = My Child does _______!
By Wendy DeAngelis on September 23, 2020

Good Morning! Today is Wednesday and I begin with a heartfelt THANK YOU to every family who welcomes us into their homes via zoom for Music Together with Music and Me classes. You see, for me, and I know Nini, Dulce, Adrienne, Joy, and Alexandra agree, we take the curriculum of MUSICAL PLAY very seriously.  Yes, the Bongos song collection is based in INFORMAL music and movement education because that is developmentally appropriate, and it is also very DELIBERATE! Deliberately fun, deliberately based on the modelling and engagement of primary caregivers, encourages free movement, and literally helps build pathways in your child's brain on which information may then travel.  

I see it in your child's eyes, I see it in their movements, I hear it in their voices. 

You see it too! So, what to look for? What is a musical behaviour?  Look at how their bodies move to the music, listen for when they sing the resting tone. Play with them musically throughout your day.

Your child's rhythmic development and tonal development, are uniquely their own.  You, are actively nurturing that development towards - basic music competence, the ability to sing in tune with accurate rhythm, every time you make music with them.  I encourage you to read chapter 3, Music and Your Child, A Guide for Parents and Caregivers by Kenneth K. Guilmartin and Lili M. Levinowitz, Ph.D. You already have this book if you have been taking our classes.

Today, after class, a Mom stayed on Zoom to talk to Dulce and me about how their child started to match the slower rhythm of the lullaby in class with their gentler sway side to side, while holding their shakers.  Brava to Mom for noticing and recognizing that that is a major milestone in the shift of rhythmic development that happens separately from tonal development.  It is thrilling to behold.  It is organic. Your child initially is stimulated and excited by music which is the the time you may first notice their characteristic gesture. Do they bounce, move their arms, bop their head, kick their legs, shake their torso? Rhythmic development will then reveal itself  as your child moves more in time to the music for part of the song, or are able to feel the tempo and slow down or speed up. That is the beginning of feeling rhythm.  During class notice all the different ways we help you support your child's rhythmic development through your actions!

What is your child's characteristic gesture? Thank you. ~Wendy