Roets' Notes

Music for Babies
By Jane Roets on October 04, 2017

Music IS for Babies

Once in a while someone will ask me how old babies should be before they begin Music Together® classes. The answer I always give them is old enough that YOU feel comfortable bringing them to a social situation. The fact is babies have begun learning "music" long before they are born. Around 4 months gestation, the auditory system of  baby in utero is developed and they are taking in and beginning to process sounds. All sorts of sounds! While they are hearing those sounds through their watery world, they ARE hearing them. 

When a baby is born and it's mother says "hello! I'm so glad you're here!" that baby will turn to look - they recognize that voice! They have been hearing the ebb and flow of their mother's voice from the beginning and they are comforted by the familiarity. When a mother has been singing through pregnancy, baby will soothe to familiar songs ~ they think to themselves "I know that voice!"

Another way to think about it is that we don't wait until a child is ready to talk, to talk to them. We talk to them from before birth. In fact, it's how they will learn how to speak their native language - they are immersed in it! If a child isn't speaking words and beginning to form sentences by certain ages, we get concerned and begin to intervene to make sure that language development is being properly supported. Could you imagine if we did the same for music development?? Instead of saying we'll do music when my child is ready, we simply made music all along, immersing children in the language of music, how many more of us would be comfortable music makers?

We are born sounders and movers! We are born with the capacity to be musical in the same way we are born with the capacity to talk and to walk and to move. When that capacity, or aptitude, for anything isn't support, it drops off! Children who aren't spoken to, don't learn to speak. Imagine if all children were supported in their musical development the way they are support in their language development?

Music is a birthright. Being musical is something unique to humans and we all have the capacity to participate in the music of our culture in some way. Why would you wait to introduce your baby to the world of music for even a moment? 

The answer to the question at the beginning of this post is that as soon as you are ready to bring  your baby out into the world, they are ready to become a part of a Music Together class ~ what a wonderful community to introduce your child to as they begin to grow and learn!

Music holds our memories
By Jane Roets on November 26, 2014

A few short weeks ago we honored our Veterans on Veteran's Day.  In lesson planning for that week I thought it would be fun to use a Military march for the play along and loaded a few into my iPad to choose later.  My first class of the week was on Veteran's Day itself and without really thinking about it I put "Stars and Stripes Forever" into my playlist.

The first class embraced the play along with vigor, quickly turning it into a parade of parents and children!  I found myself tearing up, NOT because the volume was deafening, NOT because it was a beautiful moment in a beautiful class, but because of the flood of memories this song brought to me!  

When I was in college, the band always ended their concerts with a rousing performance of this timeless piece.  I wasn't in the band, but from the time I was a child and had the opportunity to hear them, I loved it!  I remember concerts where it was the piece that woke me up when I'd fallen asleep, tired after a busy time visiting my Dad's Alma Mater.  I remember being a new 4th grade flutist, dreaming of playing the piccolo solo!  Over the years that my entire family attended Luther College I was always quick to clap along with the audience when the band stood to play the final refrain!

As a student at Luther I traveled to the USSR in 1989 with my choir.  Upon returned from a visit to countries where there were few personal freedoms, I felt a strong sense of pride for my country.  Despite the intense frustration I feel  with our politics etc, I still feel the stirrings of a patriot when I hear the band begin to play!

My daughter now attends Luther College and while like her mother, she is in a choir rather than the band, she will hear this piece over and over.  As I watch my little ones parade around, I thought of her living in a place I love, experiencing some of the same musical traditions her Dad and I did.

MUSIC HOLDS OUR MEMORIES

What songs hold  your memories?  Music is present at some of the most powerful times of our lives ~ there is a reason that the song on the radio brings a tear to your eye or a wave of nostalgia...

When I run into children who have long outgrown my classes at the grocery store or the library, their parents will say "Don't you remember Miss Jane?"  Most of the time they don't.  If I sing a little "Hello, Everybody!"  the look of recognition blossoms!  Our auditory memory is SO DEEP.  While your children will most likely not "remember" the experiences of being in a Music Together class as a baby or toddler, they will "remember" the feeling of joy and happiness they felt making music with you.  When they become parents they will find themselves singing a lullaby, but won't know why they "know" it.  They just will.  It will emerge from their subconscious to create a sweet nest to hold their child's new memories.

MUSIC HOLDS OUR MEMORIES

 

For a more in-depth look at the power of music and memory, read Karl Paulnack's, Dean of the School of Music at Ithaca College, welcome address to incoming students to the Boston Conservatory of Music.  https://www.bostonconservatory.edu/music/karl-paulnack-welcome-address

Music in Community
By Jane Roets on March 20, 2013

I haven't blogged here for almost a year, but after this morning's classes, I decided it was time!  

People come to Music Together classes for all kinds of reasons.  Some come because they feel they "should." Some come because a neighbor or family member said it was fun and decided to try it.  Some come because they want to expose their young children to music.  Some come because they believe that music is important.  Some come because it is fun.  Some think that involving their children in music will help with other kinds of learning.  Some want the social experience.  Most families come for a combination of these reasons.

A reason that often isn't on the initial list, but becomes more important over time is to engage musically with a community of friends!  

I teach ten Family Music Together classes a week.  Each one has it's own unique personality and most of the time that shifts from semester to semester as families drop out, add in, move to a different class, get older, add new babies etc...  They evolve and change.  Often a particular day and time will have some of the same families from semester to semester, but there are usually some changes.

This year, Wednesday 10:15 has been made up of the same families since September, and they are all coming back for the Spring.  Don't try to register for it 'cause it's full!  There is something magical about this particular combination of families.  Don't get me wrong - I love ALL my classes and this one has it's share of tears, collisions, and all the other drama that can come from being with a group of young children, but this class isn't a CLASS.  It's a community.  It's a family.  At this point in the year, grownups laps are interchangeable and other grown ups get as many hugs as I do!  With the consistency of participants, there is no need to "get to know each other" before feeling safe and comfortable.

The MUSIC that is being expressed is icing on the cake for me, and boy is it delicious!  See here is what happens.  The more comfortable children are in any given environment, the more ready they are to share what is inside of them with that environment  and the people in it.  This is why it is not unusual for children to take in the music and activities in class and then go home and "play" them out.  That is their comfort zone ~ that is where they feel safe to express what they have inside.

When families make the choice to continue semester to semester over time, they get comfy and familiar.  The children who have been expressing only at home (which is typically many of them!) feel comfy in class and begin to express more there.  

I often have families who will take a semester off and then return.  Life happens and sometimes you just can't do everything. What this means though is that when you return, there is a natural need to re-acclimate to the class and the people and even me!  Even a few short months can impact on a child's comfort level. 

All this is simply to say two things... I love the community that making music together creates, and if you're not sure if you are going to register for the Spring semester, hop to it!   This could be the one when your child says "ok, I'm ready to sing with my friends now!"  Wouldn't you hate to miss it?

Music soothes the soul...
By Jane Roets on May 21, 2012

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I last posted an entry here!  I was inspired to begin blogging here again after attending the 2012 Music Together Annual Conference in Princeton, NJ this past weekend.

What an amazing time!  Getting together with colleagues from around the world reminds me how very important and joyful the work I do really is.  Some things I learned this weekend...

1)  Music soothes and energizes me!  The last two years since I attended the 2010 Conference have been full of ups and downs, but no matter what, music has been present.  Music is one of the things my children share with me ~ even my soon to be 19 year old son frequently sends me links to songs or artists he thinks I might enjoy.  I love this connection to him!

2)  No matter where you live, music and the arts are almost always under attack by people in control of the money.  Schools regularly have to deal with budget cuts and what often suffers are music programs despite the fact that research shows over and over that Music Learning Supports All Learning®.  Despite these assaults on the arts, there are glimmers of hope!  This video of what they are doing in Elkhart County, Indiana is one example of the possibilities when people who care about children and music and people with the purse strings can get together!

3)  Music Together, LLC's commitment to sharing music making with all children is as strong as ever!  In addition to the In-School Department that oversees Music Together Preschools, there are staff dedicated to Music Together Outreach and Music Together in Therapy.  Both the Big Kids (ages 5-7) and the Babies (infants under 8 months) programs have been refined to better target those special age groups while the Mixed Ages curriculum remains as rich and dynamic as it has always been.

4)  After 11 years of teaching, I thought that maybe I was ready to move on in another direction with my life, but at least for now, I'm reinvigorated, re-inspired, recharged, and ready to continue sharing The Joy of Family Music®!

 

Thanks for sharing the love with me...

love songs for babies
By Jane Roets on June 14, 2011

So last Sunday my son turned 18.  I've known for a long time that the day was coming that he would be ready to head out on his own.  I just wasn't ready for it yet.  I got all weepy and stepped away from the dinner festivities to get myself together.  My 12 year old (also much older than I thought she could be!), passed a book under the door and said "I think you need this mom."

She had passed me the book I used to read to Andrew every night before bed.  A book with a song in it.  "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.  "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be."  Seeing the cover of the book brought the tune I'd made up for the song back like a tidal wave and I completely fell apart!

While it knocked me flat in the moment, I've been reminded that while he is leaving us to move on to his next adventure, he's not leaving us behind.  Hopefully he'll bring us along in his heart as he has adventures and makes mistakes.  Hopefully he'll know that regardless of how far he goes, we will always be here for him to come home and touch base when he needs to.  

 "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, As long as I'm living my baby you'll be."

Sing a song...
By Jane Roets on November 03, 2010

Random thoughts about the state of our world...

We spend millions of dollars on horrible, nasty political campaigns, but can't provide basic healthcare to all who live in our great nation...

 We  spend hours on technological devices, but can't take the few seconds it requires to say please and thank you to the clerk that cashes us out at the grocery store or the young woman who makes us a cup of coffee...

We spend energy hollering at the guy who cut us off on the highway, but are too tired to sing a song or read a book with our child...

We spend our financial resources on "junk" and then make excuses when we get a phone call asking for support from a charity doing GOOD things in the world...

This November, I'm going to try to say good things about others and to others, turn off my computer and phone more often, remember my P's and Q's (as my mom would call manners!), maybe send a thank you note to someone just because, smile, take a deep breathe and wave when someone cuts me off, read a book, sing a song...

I'm going to THINK about how I use all of my "resources" and make sure that the choices I make are good for me, my family, and the world..  I think I'll start with a song...

Why Music?
By Jane Roets on September 15, 2010

I could never say it better than the following address someone shared on FB this morning, so here it is!http://www.bostonconservatory.edu/s/940/Bio.aspx?sid=940&gid=1&pgid=1241

Happy Reading and Music Making!!

The Joy of Family Music "Vaaler" style
By Jane Roets on July 13, 2010

So my family is a singing family.  I know that's "shocking" to those of you who know me...  I started singing from birth, did my first "solo" during a family Christmas program and was shocked when I discovered that I could actually get paid to make music~ I thought it was just what people did.

In a few days, I'm leaving to journey across the country to Iowa and Minnesota.  While I'm there, we'll sing, dance, eat, drink, sing some more and generally have a great time with the 3 generations of my extended family.  My parents, my siblings and their spouses and 12 grandchildren ages 4 - 20.  Now this is no easy feat, as we are spread across the world.  My oldest sister and her family are in California, the second sister is in Minnesota with her family (and Nana and Papa), we are in Connecticut and my brother and his family are in Finland (soon to be Moscow!).  As you can imagine getting everyone together is a challenge and happens every 1 and a half to 2 years.  This summer though, we are getting together to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents.  A part of this celebration is a musical "event" which I'll share more about after it takes place ~ there are elements of surprise and I know Papa reads my blog:-)  The important thing to know is that is will be musical.  Music has been a central part of my life and the lives of my family members forever.  We sing when we are celebrating, when we are mourning, when we are hanging out and when we are talking on the phone (it really does happen...).

The "Joy of Family Music" is more than just a tag line used by Music Together; it sums up why I do what I do.  I want families to sing, dance and be merry.  Yes, music learning helps children learn all kinds of things and Yes, that's important.  My reason for music is MUSIC.

Big Changes on the horizon...
By Jane Roets on May 20, 2010

Hello Everybody ~ So glad to see you!

I've been hibernating since my last blog post in December; when so much is percolating in your head and heart, it's hard to get it down on paper or the keyboard!  

Much of the winter I've been mulling about what direction I want my work to take as I prepare to begin my 10th year of sharing Music Together.  For a long time, I've had this idea that I have to grow and expand and offer different programs and develop a whole big buffet of EVERTHING.  The more I tried to figure it all out, the more tired I got and the less I felt good about what I was doing.  hmmmmm..... what to do?

 In January, along comes a phone call from Mike, the owner of Kiddy Korner Mercantile, LLC.  "I'm creating an event room and was wondering if you'd like to offer some classes there?"  

After much conversation and thought, I realized that Mike was offering me the opportunity to be a part of the kind of community I had been wanting to create!  He has a lovely space designed for young children, with plans to offer all sorts of classes and programs in this new community space. 

I made the surprisingly easy decision to re-focus my dedication to early childhood music and to let the thoughts of business growth and afterschool programs etc... drift away.   If opportunities cross my path in the future I will explore them, but being able to do what I do best in a space that eliminates the running around and furniture moving (as well as reducing the driving!) that I've spent the last 9 years doing, is really EXCITING!

 I am excited to look forward to the next year when I will teach as many Parent/Child classes as I can fill in Ellington, continue teaching Music Together Preschool at three lovely schools in Tolland, CT and support Rebecca, Laurel and Pat as they explore new ways to share Music Together. 

I will pass along information as things develop, but suffice it to say, Music Together will continue to spread throughout the area as they begin their own adventures as business owner/teachers!

 I'm energized and ready to dive into a summer of music making fun in Ellington ~ I'd love for you to join me!

musical thoughts
By Jane Roets on December 07, 2009

I love the month of December!  As soon as Thanksgiving is done, I load up the CD player and iPod with Christmas music of all types and listen through the month ~ hearing a new song on the radio sends me home to search for it on iTunes so I can add it to my collection.  While my classes have wound down with just a few here or there happening through the next few weeks, singing is in high gear ~  Caroling, prepping the Sunday School for the Christmas Pageant, practicing for Christmas Eve, music fills my heart with such joy I feel like I'll burst! 

The dark days of winter are rough for me in general ~ the dark mornings coax me to oversleep and the early sunsets send me to bed early.  There are days when knowing I have things to do and people who depend on me is not enough to get me moving.  Luckily, the music of this season keeps me going.  My family has always had a special relationship with Christmas music.  The question was never "if" we would sing during Christmas, it was "where, when and what".  My first solo (that I remember) was singing "Away in a Manger" on the stair landing of my childhood home at about 3.  Every year the kids were instructed to prepare a "program" while my Mom and Aunt cleaned up the kitchen.  Only after performing could we open presents so there was a pile of incentive under the tree to inspire us!

Some years we did a play, some years a recital - every year there were some very musical moments along with the painful ones:-)  The best part though, was that no matter how good or bad anyone was, we were all applauded and adored and we all opened presents.  It wasn't the quality of the presentation that was praised, it was the fact that we did it!  When I am singing or performing, someone will inevitably ask me if I get stage fright.  I can honestly say that most of the time I don't.  I think so much of my lack of fear goes back to the many opportunities I had as a child to perform or simply participate without the pressure of being perfect.  It was just what we did.  No body made a huge deal out of it, we just did it.  We sang at home, we sang at church, we sang in the community, we sang in the car.  We just sang.  My parents didn't tell me to sing, they didn't "teach" me to sing; they sang to me and with me and I will treasure this gift forever.

 Enjoy the music of the season in your own way ~ share it with your children ~ share it with me ~