Roets' Notes

Aiden's Waltz
By Jane Roets on November 18, 2009

So last Saturday morning in class, I was reminded how music finds its way into the mind.  Cathy, my teaching apprentice, was leading a free dance.  It was one of her favorite songs to dance to with her own daughters and was a nice waltz.  Now, she didn't say it was a waltz; we just all started moving around the room and enjoying a lovely moment of dancing!

My friend Aiden, who is three and has multiple challenges due to a rare syndrome, says to his mom, "It's a waltz!"  Now Aiden has visual, auditory, speech, and physical impairments.  His parents have worked so hard to learn all they can and to advocate for his needs so he can grow and develop to his potential.  He has made amazing progress from when I first met him and is part of a beautiful loving family.  He is engaging and funny and the whole class falls in love with him everyday.  Not because of the challenges he faces, but because he's a charming, loving little boy who shows everyone that each child is perfect in their own way.  He is truly a child with a disability, not a disabled child. 

How did he know it was a waltz? There were grown ups in the room who couldn't have said that!  His mom said that she'd been waltzing with him since before his birth and he learned through her body to his how a waltz feels.  I tell parents in class all the time to move to the beat and allow their children to choose if they are dancing on their own or being held.  "On the floor they watch our feet - in our arms they feel the beat" Either way we are modeling and they are learning. 

Thanks Aiden for reminding us how very important it is to sing and dance WITH our friends and family anywhere and everywhere!

The Magic of the Bum-Bum
By Jane Roets on November 05, 2009

We are such creatures of routine!  Over and over again, we sing Bum-Bum as we clean up our instruments or put away the eggs or sticks or scarves or bells.  Over and over I say "don't tell the children to do it, SHOW THEM!"  When we make it a directive, they know we are up to something!!  When we simply go about our business and sing Bum-Bum as we put our things away, they see us singing our way through life and join us by their own choice.  The other day a mom in class said "We tried the Bum-Bum's but they didn't work."  I said "how many times?" she said "Once."  

Kids are so smart!  They know if we believe in something and will commit to it when we do.  In class and at home; those little ones are watching us and when we are half-hearted about singing, dancing, picking up, cooking, playing, whatever we are doing  THEY KNOW!  I can see their little minds thinking "If my mom doesn't think this is fun, why would I?" or "If this makes my dad uncomfortable, I'm not going to try it!"  They look to us for cues about life.  

We spend so much time trying to instruct our children to do what we want.  "Teaching" them to do things.  While formal instruction is appropriate at certain ages and for certain tasks, there are so many things our children can learn better and more cooperatively by watching our example and then choosing to try it out.  When my kids were little and I didn't expect them to be helpful with things like dusting etc... They would follow me around with their own cloth and "help."  While they were marginally effective, they were so involved and proud and committed.  Flash forward to now; I never really nurtured that natural desire to help so they got bored and now when I want help I have to formally instruct.  SO NOT FUN!

Now I'm not saying that informally instructing is magic for everything, but I'm curious to know if the more we simply live the way we want our children to live and do the things we want them to do, will they learn the same lessons we are working so hard to "teach" them.  

If you want your children to sing, sing; if you want them to dance, dance; if you want them to be caring, care for others; if you want them to clean up after themselves, do it yourself, with a joyful BUM BUM!  At the very least we'll have a good time! 

Piano lessons and lockdowns
By Jane Roets on October 23, 2009

So these are not usually topics that go together, but just a quick post on my surreal night last night... Dropped daughter Katy off at Trinity College for diving and headed to a friend's home for my first piano lesson since college.  Now many people think it odd that I'm a music teacher who doesn't play piano, but the truth is I can if I try really hard or practice a lot.  Knute is actually teaching me fake piano~  I'll keep you posted on my progress; just know that one of my first songs is "Wild Thing!"

I head back to pick up Katy and the Campus is on a lockdown due to an armed robbery nearby.  2 hours later we are allowed to leave after the suspect shoots himself...  I don't know how to put this all together, but I know that it is so sad that this 21 year old was so desperate that  he robbed a McDonald's and then shot and killed himself when he was pursued.  He was someone's child and maybe a brother...

 Love your children - love other people's children - love each other - no one should ever feel so desperate or alone that they die alone in the woods at their own hand... 

Crazy Days and Mondays....
By Jane Roets on October 20, 2009

So this week, I've noticed that there is something in the air... Week 6 of a semester (I've noticed over time) is either magical or crazy!  This semester week 6 is crazy!!  Running, screeching, tumbling, egg throwing etc....  My favorite part is that I can just keep singing and know that either the caregivers will deal with them or the kids will get bored and come back for the fun.  Early Childhood Music is never dull:-)  Just when you think you have a particular child (or class) figured out, they change it up!  It's like parenting... when my kids were small I would get very smug when I thought I had figured out how to deal with the behavior of the day; just in time to see what the new one was!

Really my kids just kept growing and changing and learning how to interact with the world appropriately in spite of me, not because of me!  I look at the parents and caregivers in classes and somedays I feel wise and all-knowing, while other days I feel completely clueless and wonder what I'm doing with my life.  Most days I am just grateful that I get to be surrounded by life and joy in my work.

If I could (and I do!) say one thing to new(ish) parents, it's that "this too shall pass." again and again and again...  Our job is to be there consistently and lovingly while imposing the occasional boundary for safety's sake.  As little ones know that they are safe and loved, they are free to learn and grow and become the fabulous adults we are raising them to be.  Remember that~ we aren't raising children, we are raising people... happy, caring, musical people. 

Hello Everybody!
By Jane Roets on October 06, 2009

"Hello Everybody, you're so glad to see me!"  This is how my little friend Lexi greeted  her parents at the dinner table one night.  When her mom, Amy, told me the story it just made me smile~  This is how I get to feel everytime I teach!  I am so lucky to be doing work that brings me not only personal satisfaction and a paycheck, it brings me joy~  I get to live my bliss!  When I was first out of school I remember reading articles about finding work you loved and not worrying so much about the paycheck.  What was that book?  "Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow"?  Unfortunately for so many of us the money comes first~ we have to house, feed, clothe and shelter our families and maybe have some fun too, so we want to do work that will pay us enough for what we need AND want.  But, what if everyone focused on "living their bliss?"  Would the money really follow?  

I am fully aware that I couldn't do the job I'm doing the way I'm doing it if I didn't have spouse with a good job and benefits.  But, I would hope that if circumstances were different I would still find a way to do what I love.  My previous professional life involved counseling and working with families who were really struggling~  important work but really exhausting draining for me.  In retrospect I think a lot of that is because I was also starting my own family and as those of you with babies know, I was tired and wore my heart on my sleeve all the time!  The other piece though that was missing for me was music.  I was so wrapped up in working and caring for my young family that there was no time for music~  no choirs, no dance classes, I didn't even sing with my children as much as I thought I did.  

When I began singing and dancing again, a big black hole in my soul was filled up - I didn't even know it was there!   I had no idea how important it was for me to be expressing myself musically in order to be a happy fullfilled person~ finding a way to work that allows me to sing and dance all the time just makes everything better.  I still have a crazy busy life and never enough time to do anything; I don't make a lot of money, but do make enough to help support my family; I do make a difference in the lives of the children and families who are "glad to see me" everyday and that is why no matter what, I will always find a way to make music with as many people as I can as long as I live!

What's your bliss?  Are you living it? If you are, tell me about it; if you're not, why?  When we live our bliss, our happiness can radiate out to those around us ~ the happier we are as individuals, the happier the world will be as a community...

Glee!
By Jane Roets on September 29, 2009

I don't know about you, but I've been completely hooked by the new television show "Glee" on Fox at 9:00 pm on Wednesdays:-)  My husband, 16 yr old son and I have begun watching it faithfully ~ not only is a great show, but it is a new way to connect with a young man who is growing and changing everyday.

If you don't know anything about the show, it is set in a high school and centers around a teacher who is working at resurrecting the show choir out of a small group of misfits (with amazing musical talents!).  My husband teaches at a high school where he also directs the theater program.  I grew up singing in choirs and in high school sang in the "Swing Choir" (like a show choir, but more jazz oriented).  Now my world revolves around singing (or helping others sing) every chance I get!  Teaching Music Together®, singing at my church, leading choirs in various capacities, singing with my girlfriends Jessica and Shelley as the Music Makin' Mamas... Lot's of reasons why this show would click with us.  My son, while he can sing, chooses not to unless he is in the privacy of his own room.  He is however developing excellent taste in music:-)  For the last several years, he would put something on for me in the car and then look to see my reaction, sure that I would hate it and tell him to turn it down or off.  Much to his surprise, I generally like much of what he shares with me.  Sometimes I even ask him to load it onto my iPod!

 "Glee" presents a world we can share - excellent, really funny writing, fabulous music, both a capella and not, and a high school world the three of us can each understand and enter into in our own way.  

The fact that it gives us an excuse to hang out together for an hour in the middle of our crazy weeks is a bonus gift ~ Music connects ~ I feel such Glee!

Music makes me happy...
By Jane Roets on September 28, 2009

No matter what is going on in my life, I am always healed and nurtured with music~ over the last week or so since I last wrote, a Music Together friend of mine (3 yrs old) was diagnosed with Leukemia.  The first thing I thought of was "I need to send some new music!"  When I'm sad, I sing... When I'm happy, I sing... When I'm working, I sing... The worst thing in the world for me is to lose my voice to the occasional case of laryngitis!  I would love to hear how music heals and nurtures you ~ are there particular songs?  Do you listen or sing along? Do you dance too?

The other morning I headed off for my Saturday class and was looking forward to seeing "my" families, but was also wishing I didn't have to rush off on a beautiful Saturday am.  Shortly after arriving, I was so glad I did!  The love and sharing of music and friendship is so amazing ~ many of the children in this class haven't seen me or their other friends since last Spring, but you wouldn't know it!  They jumped right into class, singing and dancing and sharing hugs with all at the end.  Music gives us a way to connect as a community and when we remember that it is about love and fun and not so much about "learning," the actual "learning" that takes place is amazing!

Tell me your stories, share your musical moments, feel the love!

music is timeless and transportive
By Jane Roets on September 17, 2009

I woke up this morning to hear that Mary of Peter Paul and Mary had passed away... What a rough week; Patrick Swayze and now Mary.  I don't ever remember a time where I didn't know Peter Paul and Mary.  Their songs are embedded in our musical history ~ "Puff the Magic Dragon", "Inch by Inch", "If I had a Hammer"; the list goes on and on.  they are songs we have been singing for 40 odd years and will continue to sing long into the future (or should!).  Just thinking of this trio triggers a soundtrack in my mind that has always been there, sparking memory after memory.

I can see myself lying on my twin bed as a little girl listening to "Peter Paul and Mommy" on my portable record player.  I can see the picture of the three children on the cover of the album and the beautiful girl with the long blonde hair ~ why were they calling her Mommy? was it a mistake?  hmmmm...

Next I'm a nanny in Ridgefield, CT and word in the park is that Mary has been seen sitting on one of the park benches along the main street through town.  What if I see her?  Should I say Hello?  Ask for an autograph?   What if I annoy her?   I never do see her, but wish I had so I could tell her how her songs and love of music, children and justice have inspired me in a gentle persistent way.

Fast forward a few years and my husband Jeff and I are excitedly buying a CD of "Peter Paul and Mommy" for our first born.  We both remember it fondly and agree that every child should have it in their collection.  At the same time we see "Peter Paul and Mommy II" and have to buy it as well.  "Hush Little Baby don't say a word..." singing to my sweet little boy ~ sharing these songs with my child is a treasured memory long forgotten, remembered today.

I've spent the week starting up a long schedule of family classes and preschools.  100 preschoolers in 2 days... I'm tired and cranky ~ this work is exhausting.

If the work I do means that children of generations to come will continue to sing the songs of Peter Paul and Mary along with all the other artists who have given songs to the world, then it is worth all the exhaustion in the world.

Peace to you Mary ~ your work goes on...

 

 

 

 

Dirty Dancing...
By Jane Roets on September 15, 2009

So one of the things I love most about the work I do is that I get to sing and dance anytime i want!  As a teenager I had big dreams of being a professional dancer and wanted to BE Jennifer Grey  in "Dirty Dancing."  Seeing that Patrick Swayze had passed away made for a sad evening last night.  I heard a brief interview with him where he was talking about dance and the role of dance in his life~  i don't know if I remember exactly how he put it, but what I took from it was that dancing comes from within you.  Being a dancer isn't something you learn, it's something you are... You can take class after class after class, but there is something inside that needs to exist and the technique gives you a way to expand your expression of that primal need to move.

I love getting to see all the little bodies in class wiggling and jumping!  The pathways we lay down in early childhood help to support all the music and movement "learning" that is to come.  Nothing annoys me more that grown ups telling small children to sit still!  Seeing a child (or adult for that matter) moving their head or feet or body during a concert brings me such joy~  music makes me want to MOVE!

It's all about the love!
By Jane Roets on September 11, 2009

So here I go with my first Blog post!  For years I've been thinking about how to share some of my thoughts on music, children, dancing, and how all of that together can save the world.  OK so that's a little lofty, but there are times when I really think that's what it's all about!  My tag line for the last few years has been "It's all about the love..." It originally started as something I'd say when I was having a hard time with someone and it would remind me how important it is to just love and accept those around me.  No matter how frustrated I get, if I can remember that what it all comes back to is love, I can get through almost anything.  What does this have to do with music and families?  Everything!  Hopefully over the next little while, I'll remember I have a blog and will try to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you (whoever you are!) and hope that you'll write back and share some with me. 

Today, I've been thinking (as many people are) about 9/11.  Coincidentally, I began teaching my first Music Together classes that week and for a brief moment thought "how can I sing and dance when the world is crashing down?"  I quickly realized that the real question was "How can I not?"  Singing and dancing is how we as humans have come together throughout time ~ I can't imagine a world without music ~ it's too horrible to  contemplate!  It is hard to hate or even remain angry with someone when you are creating harmony with them or dancing with them.  We really do have the power to change the world, even if it is one family at a time.  Today, sing a song with a friend, do a dance with a child; you'll be glad you did!