Tag Archives: music for kids

Music Matters: Benefits of Music for Young Children


By Pam Wolf, Founder & CEO, NY Kids Club

I became pregnant with my first child in 1991, the year the “Mozart effect” sent millions of ambitious parents running to CD stores. The theory was coined by psychologist Frances Rauscher, who claimed that listening to classical music boosts a child’s brainpower. As a mother-to-be I joined the cult following, holding headphones with twinkling and melodious sonatas to my belly.

Now, the question is: Did it work? Did Mozart make my daughter smarter? While studies since have shown mixed results on Wolfgang Mozart’s particular brain-enhancing qualities, the link between music and childhood development is indisputable.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, a child’s musical intelligence is of equal importance to their logical and bodily intelligence. Gardner states that engaging with music and sound play heightens a child’s day-to-day cerebral abilities such as language, numerical skills, memory, attention, and problem-solving.

Since babies and toddlers perceive the world around them through colors, shapes, and sounds, Gardner’s theory on music intelligence holds significant truths. Think back to being taught that blaring sirens warn of emergency, a dog goes “woof”, and a doorbell ringing signals an arrival. Music and sounds are a relatable medium from which a child can recognize rhythmic patterns, melodies, and the diversity of instruments—skills that set the foundation for everyday activity and elevated brain functioning.

A further study at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience laboratory concluded that music particularly enhances speech and communication. The study found that the level of precision used in processing music (discerning, pitch, key, and instruments), is even higher than that of processing speech. Therefore, musical studies can lead to earlier literacy and the ability to communicate at an earlier age, whether that be through language, body signals, or sounds.

I used music as a means of communicating emotion with my children. With my baby in my arms, I would dance around the living room to The Beatles to convey upbeat happiness, a Bob Dylan ballad to communicate sadness, or a James Taylor tune to evoke contentment. These were unique moments with my children where we could connect emotionally on a non-verbal level. As my children grew older I encouraged them to make their own music on pots and pans, produce at-home renditions of Les Miserables, or have a dance party with friends. They used music as a means of expression.

I built NY Kid’s Club from the experiences I had with my own children. Since music was an integral part of my parenting method, I infused NY Kid’s Club curriculum with dance and sounds. In our Musical Tots and Musical Kids classes, a professional guitarist and talented singer introduce children to jazz, rock and roll, nursery rhymes, and sing-alongs, for example.

Take every opportunity to introduce your child to music early in life. It not only contributes to future success—it makes for a more joyful journey.

From the Enrichment Experts at NY Kids Club:

Pamela Wolf founded the NY Kids Club and NY Preschool in September of 2001, which have grown to become the premiere enrichment centers for children two months to12 years. Ms. Wolf has been recognized as a Business Mentor of the Year, Best Entrepreneur, and one of the top female entrepreneurs of the year by Entrepreneur magazine. Ms. Wolf’s extensive business background and simultaneous experience as a mother of four have allowed the NY Kids Club to successfully expand to sixteen locations in New York and twelve in China. The company received INC 500/5000 list recognition in 2014. Of the several successful businesses Pamela Wolf has owned in New York, she is most proud of the NY Kids Club.

Why Music Is Important For Your Child’s Development

 Why Music Is Important For Your Child’s Development

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Most kids respond innately to music—whether they’re dancing, singing along to a song, or covering their ears. As your child grows and develops, their musical world will expand—the sounds they notice will be more specific, their fine motor skills will allow exploration of smaller instruments, and they may even be able to listen to an entire song (most days!).

From the simplest lullaby to the most complex sonata and everything in between, music holds many possibilities to help your child connect with themselves and others, express themselves fully, and attain developmental milestones. Even if you don’t consider yourself a musician (or you only sing in the shower), here are three reasons to make music in your children’s lives:

Music is organizing. Rhythmic patterns, melodies, and tempos all combine to make a cohesive whole. A certain song might help your child get out of bed in the morning or they might always dance to a particular song or genre of music. Have you found your child is more responsive to upcoming changes if you sing about them? (Use a simple melody like “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Row your Boat”). Listening to a specific kind of music at a specific time can help your child anticipate and prepare for what comes next (i.e. a Beatles song after dinner to transition to bathtime).

Music is calming. Lullabies at bedtime are always a great place to start. You might also sing with your child—try one song, progressively slower and slower, so they can really feel their breath and body relax. Be open to trying different kinds of music—Classical, bluegrass, New Age, slow jazz, the possibilities are endless. Another fun idea is to ask your child to find one little sound and listen to it until it goes away. As long as this is approached playfully, any sound will do—a bird outside, the elevator’s rumble, or music heard down the hall.

Music is playful. Dance, play, sing with your child! it’s not about being “perfect” or “doing it right”, it’s about connecting with your child in a stress-free way with no expectations. Music provides a way to be creative and explore, and will give your child the confidence to try something new and improvise. When we improvise—whether in life or in music—we learn how to adapt to changes, initiate new ideas, and be present in each moment. So grab some maracas and play along together with some recorded music, use some scarves and dance around to the beat, or see who can hold a note the longest. It’s all about fun, connection, and spontaneity.

In the spirit of recognizing the power of music that has been around for so long, here’s a quote from Plato: “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

By Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT. Maya is a board-certified and licensed music therapist with an NYC-based private practice, where she works with children of all ages and needs and their families. Her holistic, child-centered approach utilizes individualized music-based interventions to address social, emotional, and developmental needs. For more information, visit Maya’s website, follow her on Twitter or like her on Facebook.

10 Relaxing Naptime Songs for Babies, Toddlers, and Moms-to-Be

10 Relaxing Naptime Songs for Babies, Toddlers, and Moms-to-Be

Listening to quiet music at nap time helps children relax and prepare for restorative sleep. In addition to singing a few lullabies, adding some classical music to your daily nap routine can improve the quality and length of your child’s sleep! A good nap means a better day for Mom and Dad too, so if you’re searching for a way to calm your child, music is the place to begin.

It’s never too early to start: Introducing music during infancy helps in “wiring” your baby’s brain for learning. Daniel Levitin, (cognitive psychologist, neuroscientist) elaborates in one of my favorite books, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession: “Music’s function in the developing child is to help prepare its mind for a number of complex cognitive and social activities, exercising the brain so that it will be ready for the demands placed on it by language and social interaction… Music processing helps infants to prepare for language; it may pave the way to linguistic prosody, even before the child’s developing brain is ready to process phonetics.”

It’s a winning combination- not only does it release the “feel-good” chemical dopamine, soothing and relaxing your baby, but it also engages his or her developing brain!

Here are the Top 10 recommendations of relaxing classical pieces for naptime, including works by great composers like Chopin, Debussy, and Brahms.

NOTE: This is also a great list for expectant mothers.  A baby’s auditory system is fully functional within the womb about twenty weeks after conception, so make sure to fill your third trimester with a mix of gorgeous, soothing classical music and your favorite upbeat, feel-good songs. Alexandra Lamont of Keele University in the UK found that, one year after birth, children recognized and preferred the music they heard in the womb!

1. Meditation from Thaïs (Massenet)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

2. The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saëns)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

3.  Aquarium from The Carnival of the Animals (Saint-Saëns)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

4. Une Larme (Rossini)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

5. Songs My Mother Taught Me (Dvořák)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

6. Waltz in A Flat, Op. 39, No. 15 (Brahms)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

7. Clair de Lune (Debussy)
watch on YouTube | Listen to iTunes

8. Arabesque No. 1 (Debussy)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

9.   Songs Without Words (Lieder Ohne Worte) Op. 30, No. 1 (Mendelssohn)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

10. Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2 (Chopin)
watch on YouTube | listen on iTunes

Carina Zimmerman is one of the co-founders of TLB Music, a children’s music studio and indoor playspace located on the Upper East Side. She is also the author of The Bird Feed NYC, TLB’s blog filled with family-friendly music to share, free printables for kids, NYC history, product recommendations, and nostalgic photo collections.

Follow TLB Music on Facebook and Twitter
Follow The Bird Feed NYC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

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Is My Child Ready for Flute Lessons?

Your child loves music, you’ve tried piano lessons and you bought that plastic recorder, but the interest seems to be fading and the musical community and fun you hoped for is nonexistent –now what?

Playing the Flute – What Age is Best?

A child as young as three can start the violin, so why not the flute? The answer is complex, and I do have colleagues that begin students as young as three, but I think five or six is a perfect starting age for flute lessons.  A youngster at this age will respond very well to the mix of familiar pattern and open-ended creativity to be found in learning to play the flute. They will be able to focus for short bursts of time.  And of course, the benefits of music and instrumental instruction to the developing brain are well documented — click here for more: 6 Benefits of Music Lessons

What kind of flute?

Jupiter Prodigy Flute – ideal for very small children

Jupiter Prodigy Flute

Trevor James 10x flute comes with both curved and straight head joints

10x flute curved-resized

A young flutist can usually handle a “real” instrument –that is, one with a curved-head joint that fits the child’s hands and body.  There are several flutes on the market geared towards young children. Although there are instruments available with only a body and head-joint (such as the Jupiter Prodigy pictured above), I recommend getting a complete flute (such as the Trevor James or similar), as it can be played for many years without need for a step-up or replacement instrument.

Posture, breathing and hand position.

A young flutist learns a series of movements not unlike a little dance –we stand, smile, bow, adjust our feet, and float the flute above our heads before even playing a note. Performing this ritual before each song instills a sense of calm, steady relaxation and sets up the child in an attitude of openness and readiness to play.

boy playing the flute

Developing the practice habit.

Parents, you must take up the gauntlet here! It is a rare child who will set their own schedule and find time for regular practice sessions.  Just as you set up play dates, dinner time and transportation to school, it is your responsibility to create a little space for music in your busy family life.  That could mean having books, stand, instrument, etc. set up in a corner of the living room, and making sure there is time during day for practice. You can listen to your child play their songs and count their repetitions, or ask them to explain a new concept that only they understand. Or you could do a flute set-up with them –  keep an eye on their pinky to make sure it’s going to the right place.  A partnership is needed here – practice time only takes about 15-20 minutes a day, and will add incalculable benefit to your child’s musical life. And when grandparents come to town imagine their delight when they get hear a new piece!

Group classes Available Through KidzCentralStation.com:

Flute lessons at NYC Flute provide a built in community of peers –there’s always someone to look up to, and someone to show off for in group class! During private lesson the young flutist learns one-on-one according to their own particular strengths and needs, but in group class a whole new set of music-making skills come into focus that can’t be duplicated in any other way: Listening, ensemble skills, performance confidence –and getting to play with your friends, what could be more fun?

Book a class today on KidzCentralStation.com, here!

 

Kids Music School – Bringing Music Into Your Child’s Daily Life

kids music school

Cultivating an enjoyment for music with your child is no overnight success. In fact, it takes many different activities with parents, a sort of kids music school, to help the youngsters to stay interested in music. Basic and simple ideas will go far, and here are some ways:

Kids Music School – Bringing Music Into Your Child’s Daily Life

1) Take a familiar song and make up completely irrelevant lyrics.

Children love being silly and getting a giggle out of it. Start with a familiar tune such as Old McDonald. If you are talking about food at the moment, sing something like, “Daddy loves to eat broccoli, mommy wants tofu.” The more random the better. Watch your child get creative and be prepared to laugh nonstop.

2) Boogie down to a CD.

You do not need to limit your child to only children tunes. That Beatles CD you have will work perfectly fine. Switch it up between jazz, country, pop, classical, anything you have in your library. Dance accordingly to the music. Move faster when the music is faster, and vice versa. Or you can really have fun by doing the complete opposite!

3) Paint a story with the music you hear.

Instrumental music is better suited in this scenario. Does that flute sound like a bird tweeting? Or perhaps all those low sounds from the bass players sound like elephants stomping? Create a story based on all the different sounds and see how many different versions you can come up with.

4) Be a drummer.

Tap on a tabletop or any hard surface along with the music. Make up rhythms that either match the music or do not match at all. Let them go at it and see how much your child enjoys this. Note: probably not the best activity to do if you have a headache!

5) Make music with your surroundings.

With all the leaves falling off the trees, you can make different pile sizes from the leaves and jump between the piles. It may not be your standard melodious tune, but it sure creates a new kind of sound. Or, gently tap on the mugs that you are drinking out of. The more family members that have a mug, the better. Get resourceful and see how many different things you can make a sound with.

Just a couple of ides to get you going. Music isn’t about just listening to a concert or playing a musical instrument. Weave all these different ways into your child’s daily routines. You will be amazed on how they will begin to take the lead and come up with new ways of making music themselves!

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NYC kids come from one of the coolest musical cities on the planet. Our city is home to a diverse history in so many genres: Jazz, Hip Hop, Broadway, and Punk are just a few styles that reached important milestones in the Big Apple. New York City is also the hometown of musicians such as Simon and Garfunkel, George Gershwin, Barbra Streisand, Jay Z, and the Beastie Boys.  Being surrounded by such a rich music history and culture gives NYC parents the perfect opportunity to raise musically inclined and diversely cultured kids.  So many options are just a subway ride away!

Here are 8 must-see music landmarks and locations in NYC:

8 NYC Music Landmarks & Locations to visit with Kids1. Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater is located on West 125th street in Harlem. Many famous musicians got their start at The Apollo, including several prominent Jazz musicians. Ella Fitzgerald made her singing debut there at age 17! Other Jazz greats who played at the theater: Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and the Count Basie Orchestra. Motown stars to grace the stage: The Supremes, The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Little Stevie Wonder. The Apollo has an education program with shows and workshops designed especially for families!

2. New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center
The New York City Ballet makes it easy and affordable to introduce your kids to ballet. Visit Lincoln Center on one of their “Family Saturdays” with children 5 and under for only $20 per person! The program features short works appropriate for young audiences and teaches kids about music, choreography, and classical dance. The NYCB also hosts pre-performance children’s workshops for children ages 5-8.

3. Washington Square Park
The caliber of NYC’s street and subway musicians is extraordinarily high! Some of my most vivid music memories from my past 9 years in NYC are of subway performers, musicians in the park, or the a-cappella group that sings in my neighborhood. Washington Square Park is a vibrant hub for local artists and musicians: bagpipe players, bluegrass bands, jazz trios, pianists, sitar players and solo guitarists are just a handful of the types of musicians I’ve listened to in this Greenwich Village park. Visit on the weekends and you’re guaranteed to experience a variety of performances!

4. Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center
Although you should wait until your kids can comfortably sit through a long performance, don’t be scared to introduce opera to your kids! Explain what it is in this simple way: opera is a kind of theatre in which the story is told through music and song. Elements that help tell the story: stage and scenery, costumes, the lyrics that are sung, and the music played by the orchestra. Also, to make for the most rewarding experience, learn about the story of the opera with your kids before attending! Mozart’s The Magic Flute is an excellent first opera and returns to the Met this December.

5. Theater District
New Yorkers love Broadway and the passion starts early. There are so many kid-friendly shows to introduce musical theater to your children! A few great options out right now: Annie, The Lion King, Matilda, Peter and the Starcatcher, and Wicked. Musical theater elements to discuss with your kids before attending: the story, costumes, makeup, scenery, lighting, lyrics, and music. Also, don’t forget to explain what to expect at the show: finding your seats, the theater’s darkness, watching quietly, reading the playbill, intermission, and applause.

6. Lower East Side
The LES is home to many intimate performance venues filled with talented, emerging artists. In the late 1960s/early 1970s, the punk scene grew in Lower Manhattan in clubs like the famous CBGB on Bowery. Although CBGB is no longer open, there are still lots of places to check out live music with a low (sometimes free) cover charge and relaxed dress code.  The Living Room on Ludlow Street is family-friendly and offers special kids shows appropriate for all ages. They are moving in October- so hurry to visit them at their current location!

7. Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is one of the most prestigious and celebrated concert venues in the world but don’t let that intimidate you! They have a special program called Carnegie Kids that presents shows that are appropriate for kids ages 3 – 6.

8. Radio City Music Hall at Rockefeller Center
Radio City Music Hall opened its doors on December 27, 1932 and has been one of NYC’s most popular entertainment venues since. The perfect show to attend with children is the famous annual Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. The Rockettes were originally formed as the Missouri Rockets in 1925 and in the early 1930s were brought to NYC by Samuel Roxy Rothafel to perform at his Roxy Theatre. When Rothafel opened Radio City Music Hall along with Rockefeller and David Sarnoff, the group followed, were renamed “The Rockettes” and even performed on opening night!

 photo Carina|TheBirdFeedNYC_zps2022d693.jpg

Carina Zimmerman is one of the co-founders of TLB Music, a children’s music studio and indoor playspace located on the Upper East Side.  She is also the author of The Bird Feed NYC, TLB’s blog filled with family-friendly music to share, free printables for kids, NYC history, product recommendations, and nostalgic photo collections. 

 Follow TLB Music on Facebook and Twitter
Follow The Bird Feed NYC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Children Approach Museums with Excitement and Know-how!

Claire’s Creative Museum Adventures Brings Children’s Art Education to NYC’s Museums and Galleries!

Are you a NYC family wanting to expose your children to the fascinating world of art around you that they can enjoy?  Do you have friends or family members traveling through NYC seeking a truly memorable cultural experience together?

We all know that New York City is known for its culture and the arts.  It’s world-class museums and galleries provide an extraordinary opportunity to learn!  So how can your child take advantage?

Creating unique professional artist or theme-based visits that are educational AND entertaining is not an easy feat!  First, children tire easily.  Even getting to the artwork can be intimidating in large museums, especially those like the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  And how do you know where to begin?

There are ways to demystify not only the museum, but also the art processes, while making them easy to understand and fun to learn!  Following a few simple rules can help.

For many museums, just getting to certain galleries can be a hike.  First, know where you are going before setting out.  You don’t want your child to see it as a chore if you have to cover too much ground.  Pick a small section each visit to explore more fully.

Next, select just a few pieces that are in close proximity with each other, which provide ample learning opportunities based on one theme. Locating the artists with something in common helps to bring home specific ideas, without wearing out your child.

Many artists may seem too sophisticated to share with kids.  Not so!  Breaking down the art processes of artists and making them easy to understand and fun to learn can be exciting!  Of course ages and special interests are important to consider for each visit; Explaining color theory to a 4 year old by using the Impressionists may be too much, however, Ellsworth Kelly or Roy Lichtenstein is a great start.  Balance and line exploration using Calder’s mobiles, or even metal-working with pieces from David Smith and John Chamberlain, is a pragmatic way to teach.

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Kids don’t want a lecture!  Since there is no teacher like doing, actually making artwork in front of a piece of art is instrumental for kids!  Knowing what materials work best, and which ones are appropriate in a public space, is also not easy.  That’s often where experts come in.  You may not feel comfortable bringing in recycled materials to discover El Anatsui’s magic, however, you can never go wrong with pencils, colored pencils or wire for your first endeavors as a parent.

Be sure to switch it up:  construct, collage or create colors with separate visits.  Since a child’s attention span is short, each project needs to be divided into simplified steps, and include more than one simple hands-on project.

Some great first galleries I would suggest are the modern painters at the Met.  There are beginning discovery lessons in line, shape and color here like no other!  Then those lessons can be applied to more artists, once digested.

Keep it simple and fun.  You want your child to be eager to not only go to see art, but excited by the process…  and if you become a learner with your child along the way, you’ll see them making connections and coming to their own conclusions you would never have thought of!

Don’t miss out on the amazing educational opportunity to discover art with your child by using your city’s resources.  You may also wish to take advantage of an experienced and engaging tour leader to illuminate your experience.

By Claire Munday, Founder of Claire’s Creative Adventures, LLC for kids ages 2-12.  Museum and Art Adventures uses NYC’s modern, contemporary and multicultural art resources to go beyond school curricula to “demystify” artists and their processes. Children (and their accompanying adults) are introduced to modern and contemporary artists as well as diverse cultures, based on current exhibits from the myriad of NYC museums and galleries, providing all of the supplies, education and entertainment while actively engaging the children in the fantastic world of art from museum arrival to departure… Click here to book your next tour or class!

 

 

5 Classical Pieces to Share with Your Kids

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Listening to music with your kids benefits their development and allows you to connect and communicate with them, even before spoken language is learned! As infants and toddlers, it stimulates their brains, soothes nerves, and inspires creativity. When your children get a bit older, music is particularly helpful with verbal expression, emotional expression and auditory development.

Encourage imaginative thinking by creating music-inspired art or making a storyline to follow the music. For example, in our classes, our students listen to live classical music while drawing with crayons in response to what they hear! You can support verbal and emotional expression by giving your kids a music vocabulary. Begin with simple language to describe musical terms: is the music high or low (pitch), slow or fast (tempo), loud or soft (dynamics) happy or sad (emotion)? Graduate to trying to identify particular instruments and composers.

It’s easy to see why early introduction is so important when you look at all the parts of the brain activated when listening to and playing music:

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Remember: you don’t have to be a musician to introduce classical music to your kids confidently. You just have to love the music you are sharing! Here are my picks for five fantastic must-hear pieces of music to share with your family:

click on the links below each song to listen to and learn more!

1. In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg)

Heavily used in film and television, this song from Norwegian composer Grieg’s Peer Gynt is familiar to lots of non-musicians. The accelerating tempo keeps you listening on the edge of your seat in suspense and is perfect for creating music-inspired art or a storyline!
Featured instruments to listen for: Bassoons, Basses, Cellos, Violins, Clarinets, Cymbals
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

2. Arabesque No. 1 (Claude Debussy)

Debussy’s mesmerizing composition is ideal for relaxation, daydreaming, and naptime. To me, the trickling piano notes sound like a waterfall gently flowing into a babbling stream. Ask your kids to describe the types of nature scenes, animals, and people they imagine when hearing the music.
Featured instrument to listen for: Piano
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

3. Flight of the Bumblebee (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov)

This orchestral interlude from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan is very fast and short- most performances last only about a minute and a half! A great way to use this composition is as a “clean-up” timer. See if your kids can clean up before the music ends.
Featured instruments to listen for: Violins, Flute, Clarinet, Horns
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

4. The Habanera (Georges Bizet)

You’ll easily recognize this aria from Bizet’s opera Carmen– it is one of the most popular and most beautiful of all time. In class, we use the setting of the opera (Seville, Spain) as inspiration and snap castanets and dance flamenco-style in response to the music. Teach your kids some basic flamenco moves- hand clapping, foot stomping, wrist twirling – and get dancing!
Featured instruments to listen for: Strings, Flutes, Horns, Bells, Triangle, Cymbal
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

5. Aquarium (Camille Saint-Saens)

The shimmering glissando in this movement from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals is completely entrancing and calming. It’s one of our favorite classical pieces to play in class! Before listening, ask your kids what they might see in an aquarium. (Fish swimming, sea grass swaying, coral, shiny rocks, bubbles rising, etc.) This is perfect for naptime and creating music-inspired art.
Featured instruments to listen for: Piano, Violins, and Flute
View on YouTube | View on iTunes | About the Composer

 photo Carina|TheBirdFeedNYC_zps2022d693.jpg

Carina Zimmerman is one of the co-founders of TLB Music, a children’s music studio and indoor playspace located on the Upper East Side. She is also the author of The Bird Feed NYC, TLB’s blog filled with family-friendly music to share, free printables for kids, NYC history, product recommendations, and nostalgic photo collections.

Follow TLB Music on Facebook and Twitter
Follow The Bird Feed NYC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

 

“Music & The Brain” source