Toddler listening to music
When my older son Nico was a baby, I remember having hours of time to just stare contentedly at the dimples on his elbows. With my younger son Luca, it’s different. My days are filled with taking Nico to and from school, picking up small plastic toys (this activity takes up a disturbingly large chunk of my time), and spreading lots of peanut butter on lots of bread. With everything else going on, I often feel that I have very little time to really focus on Luca.
Mind you, I’m not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. Someone once told me that in order to produce a mentally healthy child, you should treat them as though they were the seventh of nine children. But then again, I grew up in Utah where people have to buy special big cars to accommodate their large numbers of offspring. Anyway, the point is that Luca does get less of my undivided attention than his big brother did at the same age.
This is one of the reasons that I decided to sign us up for a Kindermusik class with Monica Kruger at The Playhouse in Gràcia. This way, we’d get to spend some quality time together without any of the typical sibling or household distractions. The other reason I decided to sign us up for the class was to Get Us Out Of The Apartment. You see, the post-nap late afternoons around our place tend to get a bit tedious.
“Up! Up! Up!” Luca will screech. I pick him up. “Down! Down! Down!” he yells. I put him down. “Elmo!” he shouts. “You’ve already had enough Elmo today,” I say. “Cookie?” he questions. “No, no more cookies...” I wearily mutter.
After this exchange has been repeated three or four times, both his vocabulary and my patience are at an end and we pretty much have to leave the premises before one of us starts screaming.
I recently interviewed Monica about Kindermusik and why she thinks it can be beneficial for both children and their parents. Here is what she had to say:
Tell me a little bit about yourself
My name is Monica Kruger. I’m from England, via Edinburgh, I first arrived in Barcelona in 97. I’m married to a Catalan, we have two small children.
What is Kindermusik?
A worldwide community of music teachers committed to sharing music with mothers and small children. Kindermusik educators are enabling children to tap into a rich seam of culture and enjoy it as they gain physical, cognitive, vocal and social confidence.
Why did you decide to become a Kindermusik teacher?
I believe music is a key ingredient of life, akin to a vital antibody or vitamin. I’ve always been passionate about many aspects of music; through listening, performing as a child and teenager and later through working with musicians. I really rate the Kindermusik ethos, classes are not about performance but exploration.
And I haven’t stopped learning, www.kindermusik.com in the US make vast amounts of excellent educational material available to their licensed educators as well as information including the latest scientific studies on music and the brain.
What I really find so exciting about this programme is that I can’t imagine a better way to spend my day than helping children and their parents learn something fundamental together which will help them to bond with each other and to tackle some of life’s challenges. For practical reasons it also works well, I’m self employed and chose my timetable—flexibility is key when you are a mother.
What do you feel that your classes have to offer to children?
A golden opportunity to move, listen, learn and laugh in a safe and creative environment. As very young children discover their passion for music, it is the best time to start building a rich and varied mental database of music which they’ll keep adding to throughout their life. It’s also a time during each week when children hear English spoken (and sung) in a homely social setting. But music is the key: music is joyful, it is educative, it’s structured, it’s consoling—an ideal medium for toddlers to begin to explore the physical world around them as well as connecting with complex emotions such as empathy.
What do you feel that your classes have to offer to parents?
It’s liberating and uplifting to set aside the endless chores and just focus on your small child learning. It re-ignites your sense of wonder— a child’s enthusiasm and energy is all-embracing. Classes empower parents to unpack their musical skills—rhythm and voice—and find new and creative ways to interact with their child through music. I also explain the reasons behind our instinctive behaviours; mother/child vocal interaction, why we rock them, dandle them, tickle and stroke them… Also, peer groups are vital to mothers with small children, especially when many of us don’t have roots and family here. There is an intimacy in singing and dancing together in a small group which engenders trust, security and well being in adults and children alike.
What classes are you currently teaching? Where are they located and what ages are they geared towards?
I teach at The Playhouse in Gràcia on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and at Buena Onda music school on Wednesday mornings. Classes are for infants 0 to 18 months, toddlers 18 months to three years, and their parents.
You are also involved in 'Grapevine'. Can you tell me a little about what that is?
I founded Grapevine two years ago with Emma Grenham from www.kidsinbarcelona.com primarily as an excuse to get out, leave childcare to someone else for a change, have a drink and talk to other English-speaking mothers one evening a month. I’ve just started a second group, Grapevine Teatime, for mothers with babies and toddlers in The Playhouse in Gràcia. I really struggled after the birth of my first child in Edinburgh as I didn’t have family or friends around, I learned how vital peer support is—it can save your sanity and bring things into perspective!
If someone is interested in signing their child up for a Kindermusik class, how should they contact you?
Just email me at email@example.com
Thanks Monica! By the way, if any of you readers have other fun mother/child classes to recommend, please do so below in the comments section!