Kindermusik: Music, rhythm classes for young children give moms, tots special time to bond
December 13, 2010
STUTTGART, Germany -- Enraptured, Jane Ellsworth, 2, stood looking up at the "music machine," listening to recordings of the sound of footsteps gradually fading away, while in a recent "Kindermusik Our Time" class.
"She's walking slowly, huh'" teacher Jennifer Buxkemper asked her young student, and she nodded in response. "Do you think she's going to go faster'"
Jane and her three classmates, each holding hands with their mothers, "walked to the grocery store" in a circle as Buxkemper rhythmically hit a wood block with a stick to duplicate different speeds of footsteps. It was an exercise teaching the musical terms of allegro (fast) and adagio (slow).
The Kindermusik Our Time class for ages 18 months to 3 years is one of three that Buxkemper teaches for varying age levels from newborn up to 5 years through the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Child, Youth and School Services SKIES (Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills) Unlimited program.
Parents or caregivers sing, play, listen, dance and learn musical terms along with the children in the music and movement program, Buxkemper said. Creators of the more than 30-year-old Kindermusik program, designed for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, say that it helps in their language, cognitive, emotional, physical, social and musical development. All Kindermusik educators are trained and licensed.
The offerings in USAG Stuttgart also include the eight-week "Kindermusik Village," for children newborn to 18 months, and "Kindermusik Imagine That" for youngsters ages 3 to 5 years old.
Both the "Our Time" and the "Imagine That" classes are 15-week sessions.
Parent Darlene Hatfield, who was a marching band clarinetist in high school and college, attends the Kindermusik Village class with 9-month-old son Caleb. Noting that music seemed to be among the only things that calmed her infant, Hatfield said the class seemed the perfect choice for a mother-son activity.
"I get to have fun with my baby, and I love watching him start to recognize music," Hatfield said. "When I play the music at home, he bounces up and down. I hope he will learn to love music as he gets older."
Buxkemper, a 30-year music educator, has taught Kindermusik in the Stuttgart area for more than 10 years and described it as a family affair in which her husband Alan, director of the Stuttgart Entertainment Branch, and sons Andrew and Peter "...have taken part in all levels of the Kindermusik curriculum."
Parent Laura Ellsworth, whose daughter Jane is in Buxkemper's Kindermusik Our Time class, is no stranger to the music and movement program. When her son Michael, now 7, was a toddler in Hong Kong, he also participated in Kindermusik. "It's nice that it's global, so that when you move from place to place, you can stick with it," she said.
Shelly Marston, whose 18-month-old daughter, Brooke, is enrolled in the Kindermusik Village class, plans to continue participating in Kindermusik or a similar program when the family relocates from the Stuttgart area to Florida in the coming weeks.
"This is a special activity for us," Marston said of the mother-daughter time. "We dance and listen to music throughout the day, and it's the part of our day that lifts our moods."
Enrollment for Kindermusik is ongoing throughout the current semester, and children and their parents or caregivers can start the classes at any time.