Roets' Notes

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 ~



By Jane Roets on November 30, 2009

I am so thankful for the many people I have the opportunity to sing and dance with!  The last week and a half has been a whirlwind of traveling due to a death in the family and then the Thanksgiving Holiday, but through it all, the love and good wishes of our wide circle of friends and family have kept me energized! 

As I begin a few weeks of downtime (relatively speaking), my brain opens itself up to all kinds of different things... Am I doing what I'm supposed to do with my life?  How can I contribute more to my family and others?   Can I just sleep in one day?   Why do I love applause so much?  How can I be old enough to be looking at college's with my son who can't possibly be the over 6 foot tall giant sleeping in the room down the hall???  

I think I'll go sing a song...

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...

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!