Roets' Notes

Imagine a world without music
By Jane Roets on September 11, 2018

Today I started writing a blog about 9/11, but it turned into a blog about music. Sharing for you here.

The gift of music
By Jane Roets on December 22, 2017

Every Thursday, I lead a "Generations" class at a Senior Living Facility. Residents create a circle and families gather within it. The magic that happens in the sweet community is a gift to witness. "The babies are coming!" That's what I hear from residents as I walk through the hall to the area we gather in. "This is my favorite day of the week!" "I love the babies!" The children in class are babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but to the Grandfriends, they are "the babies!" As everyone gathers, there is chatting, handshakes and hugs. There are a few residents who I introduce myself (and the program) to every week. Each week they are as delighted as before - "what a wonderful idea!" 

Most of the songs we sing are from whatever Music Together® collection we are using that semester, but we also incorporate songs that are a part of our Grandfriend's memories. "You Are My Sunshine" and "My Bonnie" are favorites at lullaby time. There are several Grandfriends who have sung all their lives and they have shared songs with us ~ taking over leadership of the lullaby, or like yesterday, teaching us an old silly song! We learned "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?" including barks! 

When we first began coming, the assumption on the part of the Grandfriends and their aids was that we were coming to "entertain." We quickly clarified that we would be singing "together." The assumption was that we were doing something for them, but the reality is that what they offer us is just as important. So many children live away from their grandparents, and vice versa. In our communities we isolate people by age groups. "Generations" works to counteract this using music as a beautiful bridge. Grandfriends who can't remember what they just had for breakfast can remember a whole catalogue of songs from a lifetime of making and listening to music! Grandfriends who's bodies have failed them can sing to children who are just trying to figure out how theirs work. Just like the children, they get to participate at whatever level they choose. While some might doze off for a nap, we have a few who regularly join us for dancing, and then there is a range of engagement in between. 

While it is clear how both Grandfriends and children benefit from Generations, the parents and caregivers benefit as well. WE ARE NOT ALONE! The love and support they receive from the Grandfriends is judgement-free! There is laughter at the antics of active little ones instead of judgement about behavior. There are kind words spoken about what a good job is being done raising these little ones. With so many eyes watching, I see caregivers relax a little and just enjoy the experience.

Music is one of the few things in life that we can all share, and it can be engaged in from birth to death. There is no such thing as being too young or too old for making music! It is a life-long gift. In a world where young and old alike are dismissed, set aside until they grow up or until they die, music brings them together to grow, to share, and to thrive. 

May music be a gift to you and your family during this Holiday season.  Much love,  Jane


Happy Thanksgiving!
By Jane Roets on November 16, 2017

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and we've been having fun in classes creating songs full of turkey's, mashed potatoes and PUMPKIN PIE! Aside from the food, I love that we have a day to focus on giving THANKS! Regardless of the origins of the day, it reminds me every year to give a little extra attention to being thankful. 

We are so thankful to all of you for sharing your families with us throughout the year AND for being a part of our musical revolution~ making the world a better place by making it more musical! No matter what is going on out in the world, I'm convinced that what we do with all of you can only make things better.

This Thanksgiving, take a moment out of the day, step away from the cooking and the traveling and the football, and make some music with your family.  I bet there are a few other family members who know "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," or you could teach them the Thanksgiving version of "Down Under." (Thanks, Thanks, giving, giving, giving, giving....).What ever you do, enjoy the people you love and know that you are appreciated by all of us at Arts from the Heart.

Warmly,  Jane, Rebecca, Amy, Sarah and Brian

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.


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.



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.

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!

Happy Reading and Music Making!!