In Amy Miller’s Kindermusik class, one can find little ones singing, clapping, dancing and tapping wooden rhythm sticks with their parents and grandparents.
Kindermusik provides several different classes for children from newborn to 7 years of age, with Miller offering the program to Waxahachie families since January at First United Methodist Church.
“I first heard about (Kindermusik) when the boys were 2,” said Miller, whose twin boys are now 5 years of age and kindergarten students.
Miller had enrolled her sons in a class taught by Kindermusik educator Kristi Hassell.
“The boys and I took a class with her and just loved it,” Miller said. “Two years later, we attended a Kindermusik birthday party in Dallas when I thought to myself, ‘I could do this.’ ”
Miller said she enjoys the flexibility that being a licensed Kindermusik educator allows her.
“I set my own schedule and I do what I love,” Miller said, who received her license in January after several months of training.
A graduate from North Texas State University, Miller holds a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in choral. For seven years, Miller was a music teacher for grades kindergarten through five for Plano ISD. She also directed the Plano ISD Children’s Chorus, an all-district, audition-only, select choir made up of fifth-grade students from 40 Plano schools.
Miller and her husband, Alan, moved to Waxahachie in 2000 because of their desire to raise their own family in a small town atmosphere, similar in that of the towns where they grew up.
“Waxahachie is in between Burleson, where I grew up, and Corsicana, where Alan grew up,” Miller said.
She believes Kindermusik doesn’t just teach music development, but encourages whole child development.
“Each activity we do is carefully researched and crafted to help them learn the six different areas of development: language, cognitive, emotional, physical, social and musical,” Miller said.
As an example, Miller explained how literacy - cognitive development - is incorporated into the classes for preschoolers.
“We have a story time. The kids sit down on the story blanket. I read the story and the children and parents are actively involved,” said Miller, who explained the importance of children seeing the print on the page, are actively involved and own copies of the book so that they can also read it at home.
“It is so much fun,” Miller said. “It is so exciting to witness the nuggets of magic that happen in class.”
Another activity that takes place during a Kindermusik class is rocking time at the end of each class.
“It’s a special parent-child bonding time. I tell the parents to have the child face them and I turn down the lights. It forces them to slow down. It is a special time,” Miller said.
In the “Imagine That!” class for 3- to 5-year-olds, the first 45 minutes of class is a time for the kids without their parents. During the last 15 minutes of class, the children’s parents - and sometimes grandparents - join the children.
“They are so active, so alive, so creative. They eat it up,” said Miller, who told of one such activity where the children take a pretend trip to “Grasshopper Park.”
“We pretend to play on the see-saw, the slide, the swing,” said Miller, noting each piece of playground equipment has its own song.
She said she uses every opportunity to present new concepts in a fun and age-appropriate way in order to create an environment for learning. While pretending to slide, for example, children are taught the musical term “glissando.”
Homework assignments can include making recordings onto a blank cassette tape and learning about glissando using a slide whistle.
Parents are given materials - including a CD, a family activity book and other items - to take home with them.
“The role of the parent is to reinforce the lessons throughout the week,” Miller said. “I’m just the facilitator. The parent is the teacher.”
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