Tag Archives: Music

A Love Song For the Ages: Science Confirms Power of Music for Bonding With Babies

f229646b-84aa-4287-876d-b516101f5cd7-oBy Renee Bock

Sometimes science confirms what we know already on a gut level, a truth that we live by every day. I’ve been singing with young children for over a decade. Babies, three year olds, five year olds. They come to me as strangers and immediately connect through song. I don’t yet know their names, but they relax, they trust me, they are present as a group.

This week, scientists at Oxford University revealed that singing bonds people together more quickly than anything else. Over seven months, researchers studied the adult relationships forged in singing groups vs. creative writing or craft making experiences. They found that music makes people feel closer to each other faster and has tremendous power as an “ice breaker” between strangers.

Scientists have long debated the evolutionary value of music to humans. What contribution does singing make to our survival as a species? It doesn’t help with reproduction or self-defense. Is it nothing more than “auditory cheesecake” as cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker asserts?

Here we begin to carve out an answer, one that reminds us as parents, teachers, and caregivers, that singing is an incredible tool for bonding with children from birth, creating deep attachments and expressing love even before spoken language emerges.

Yes, classes in creative writing and craft making brought people together. Adult students shared stories, learned about each other lives, and relationships evolved as familiarity blossomed. Not so with music. When people sang together, they didn’t need time or stories, they just felt connected. Imagine what this means for tribes in early human history, large groups newly interacting, needing to forge immediate ties to find food, build shelter or fight enemies. They’d skip a lot of steps if singing inspired immediate affinity. Congruence, alignment, agreement, harmony, synchronization—the building of social networks. We don’t need to speak the same language to be a force, a community that moves and acts. Perhaps this is why religion is so often accompanied by song, and why we make music as we go into battle. Certainly this is why throughout human history we continued to sing and enjoy singing today.

As someone who sings with babies, this study feels like old but welcome news. We’ve known for a long time that singing generates good feeling, aligns our heart rhythms and produces endorphins. Singing changes our brains and makes us happy. Now we know that singing provides immediate glue between strangers. Babies, who can’t yet talk, share stories of their lives, communicate feelings in words, can bond immediately through music. It’s part of being human. Way more than “auditory cheesecake,” a dessert or afterthought of human evolution. Singing is elemental.

For those parents or caregivers who feel they can’t sing or who simply get embarrassed, the Oxford study reminds us to put those feelings aside and jump right into singing with children to deepen our relationship right away. Your special face, your special smell, and now your special song, will let them know that you are their special someone. The impact will be immediate, a love song for the ages.

Renee Bock is the chief academic officer at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan. She has a master’s in early childhood education and more than a decade of experience in the field.

Resources:
1) http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/10/150221
2) http://mic.com/articles/127865/new-study-finds-singing-brings-people-together-better-than-anything-else
3) http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/
4) https://theconversation.com/how-music-helps-resolve-our-deepest-inner-conflicts-38531
5) http://mic.com/articles/124457/science-shows-how-singers-brains-are-different-from-everyone-else-s
6) http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334/abstract
7) http://mic.com/articles/110628/13-scientific-studies-prove-music-lessons-were-the-best-thing-your-parents-did-for-you

 

 

 

5 No-Fail Entertainment Ideas for Your Child’s Next Birthday

So you’ve picked a birthday celebration spot, a beautiful cake, and the perfect party theme, but a party isn’t a party unless there’s great entertainment! No matter your child’s age, there are tons of great options—and we’ve all been to enough NYC birthday parties to know that if you can dream it, it can be done! For your child’s next birthday, check out our five birthday entertainment ideas below—they’re sure to make your child’s party a blast for all who attend!

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Music.
 Fun, upbeat musicians can entertain kids of any age—and adults love them too! From a one-year-old birthday girl who can shake and clap to the music to a four-year-old boy who can jump around, sing, and dance, all children will appreciate an entertainer who can sing their favorite songs, strum the guitar, and make them feel incredibly special on their birthdays. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, entertainers like Music with James or Jam with Jamie are great NYC options—or you can search Kidz Central Station by “musician” for more options!

standard_FullSizeRender_1Face Painting. Kids love pretending to be their favorite characters, and a little face paint can go a long way toward getting them in the spirit! From adorable puppies to jewel-laden butterflies, the sky is the limit to what a face painter can create. And a program like Art Party NYC will come to any party venue of your choice to paint your little ones into whatever they choose!

Tattoo Art. For older kids, tattoo art is a great option. Children can get creative with whatever tattoos they choose, and sport a cool artistic creation on their arms for a day (favorite characters, hearts, or stars—sky’s the limit!). You also may be able to find a tattoo artist who also does face painting and combine two great party ideas into one!

standard_421814_10150654732224259_174468608_nCharacters. Especially when they’re little, kids gravitate toward certain characters from movies, books, TV shows, and more (think Elmo, Elsa and Ana, Mickey Mouse, etc.). So what better way to celebrate your child’s birthday than to invite a special character to his or her birthday celebration? A program such as A Princess Visit lets special characters entertain party guests with songs, activities, stories, and more, and will make the day a very memorable one for your child.

Balloon Making. You know those cool balloon animals that you’ve see street performers whip up in just minutes? These awesome entertainers can also come to your child’s birthday party and create whatever creatures and characters your tiny guests would like. Not only are these artists entertaining, they’ll provide a great favor for kids to bring home at the end of the party.

Add These 6 Fall Drop-In Activities to Your List

While it’s great to enroll your kids in a handful of semester activities, it’s also nice to have a free day (or two) for play dates, relaxing at home, and drop-in activities. Our lives are so scheduled these days, it’s nice to not always have to plan so far ahead!

If you’re looking for an activity or two that doesn’t require scheduling months in advance, here are a few of our picks for drop-in classes—from unique activities that are new to the site this season to favorites we’ve had on Kidz Central Station for some time now.

The Brand New:

Krav Maga Experts
If you’ve never heard of it before, Krav Maga is a self-defense style based on Israeli military principles—and Krav Maga experts, located in the East Village and Upper West Side, offers classes for kids! Sessions here help children improve balance, self-esteem, discipline, and focus, and sharpen insight and intuition when avoiding and escaping potentially-harmful predicaments. This class is great for kids age four and up!

Manhattan Fencing Center
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Let your child take a “stab” at fencing this fall! Manhattan Fencing Center is home to the Olympic Silver Medal Saber Team (Beijing), three top eight finishers in the London Olympics, and many members of the U.S. National Men’s and Women’s Saber Team—so the instructiors here really know what they’re doing. With an intro package here, kids age seven and up will learn the basics through two private lessons and two group lessons—plus equipment! Classes take place in Manhattan Fencing Center’s Midtown West location and can be scheduled when it’s convenient for your child.

RESOBOX
This Long Island City program offers an array of unique drop-in classes in the Japanese arts. Kids as young as five can pop in to learn awesome skills such as Manga Drawing and Animation, Crocheting and Amigurumi Making, and Japanese Classical Dance—classes you can’t find just anywhere! The program also offers traditional Japanese Karate classes taught by an expert instructor, for those interested in martial arts. Most classes are scheduled for after school, so they will fit perfectly into any child’s school schedule.

The Good Old:

standard_silviya_12_10_classEvolution Enrichment Center
If you’re looking for a drop-in class and live downtown, this place truly has it all. Located on the Lower East Side, Evolution Enrichment Center offers some great and interesting classes for kids age two and up. From a music class focused on songs around the world to Rhythmic Gymnastics—their signature class—there is so many different activities for kids to try. This fall, they are also offering a Gifted and Talented test prep class that uses SMART Boards, touch screen technology, and hands-on manipulatives to prepare little ones for entrance into the G&T program.

Music with James
Music with James is just what the name implies—small, intimate music classes with James Humphrey, a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist, who for the past ten years has been performing at children’s events and leading music classes throughout Manhattan. At each class he plays a variety of different musical styles and instruments, while children age four months to four years sing, dance, shake maracas, and play along. Classes take place in Murray Hill and can be bought one at a time or in packs of ten—so you can sign up and drop-in as you please.

The Art Farm in the City
The Art Farm - Birthday Party
While The Art Farm is known for it’s awesome semester classes, luckily for all of us, they also offer two different drop-in sessions at their Upper East Side location—Open Play Time and Fun Fridays on the Farm! Open Play Time is offered Monday through Thursday afternoons and includes animal time, arts and crafts, and creative play in the playroom, and, as the name implies, Fun Fridays on the Farm is on Friday mornings, and kids can enjoy baking, arts/crafts, music, singing, and plenty of cuddling with animals. If you live in Midtown there’s a class for you as well—The Art Farm has teamed up with Creative Dream Parties for a drop-in Play Time with Animals class on Thursdays!

NYC’s Best Summer Programs for Kids are Here!

Yesterday marked the first day of June and the beginning of the summer season (ok, the first day of summer is June 21 but we’re definitely not counting). Many new classes and camps in NYC are starting this week and throughout the month, and there are lots of summer programs for kids of all ages, whether your little one is dying to get outside for soccer in the park or hit the gym for tumbling and strengthening. See some of our summer picks below, and check out Kidz Central Station for a full variety of classes!

standard_Teeny_Tumblers_2Jodi’s Gym. This Upper East Side program has it all when it comes to gymnastics for little ones. These weekly classes will get kids running, jumping, singing, and tumbling all summer long, and offer just the right exercises and activities for every age and skill level. There are three different summer sessions available to accommodate busy summer schedules, and classes are for kids age eight months to five years. The first session of summer starts this week!

Evolution Enrichment Center. Whether you’re looking for summer drop-in classes or a weekly camp for preschool-age kids, Evolution Enrichment Center has it all. Classes include unique offerings such as Science Ninjas, Yoga, Jewelry Design, and their signature class, Rhythmic Gymnastics, or you can opt for their Preschool Summer Program, which includes a variety of these fun activities as well as daily lunch for campers. Starts June 29.

Kids ‘n Codingelementary school students in computer class. In today’s world, coding is an important skill to have, and the earlier you learn it, the better off you are. Kids ‘n Coding is a great kids’ coding program located in downtown NYC, where your little ones can get a leg up and learn all of the coding basics. During the month of July, the program is offering two one-week sessions for kids as young as six years old on Coding Robots—basically a step-by-step coding intro through fun games and activities with robots!

Music for Aardvarks. Music is always super fun for kids, but when it’s outdoors during summer in one of NYC’s beautiful parks it’s even better! Music for Aardvarks’s summer session of outdoor music classes starts June 23, and it includes the same singing, dancing, instrument jam sessions, and music storytelling found in all of their upbeat classes. You can find them everywhere from uptown in Central Park to Rockefeller Park in Tribeca, and there are tons of times available so you’re sure to find one that works.

Tennis Innovatorstennis boy. The perfect choice for sport-loving kids, Tennis Innovators’ Summer Camp session not only includes tennis lessons (with stroke development, private instruction, fun drills, and games), but its daily schedule also incorporates soccer, basketball, and baseball on nearby outdoor fields! Camp starts June 15 and runs through September 4, and parents can register kids for weekly sessions in the morning, afternoon, or all day long!

Wait, there’s more! Visit Kidz Central Station and search summer programs by age, location, date, neighborhood, and more!

Beyond Twinkle Twinkle: What Do I Sing Next?

Mom Singing to BabyWhen my three sons were little, we spent hours singing together. Songs like Little Black Bull, Leatherwing Bat, Old Blue, and Abiyoyo were just a few of our favorites. Each day, whether my kids were sitting in high chairs or walking down the street, I’d sing and they’d pay attention, giggle, and ask for more. It was a daily ritual and one of the most intimate activities we did together.

New moms and dads may know that singing to their babies is important, but many are stuck singing the same old songs over and over again. Twinkle Twinkle, ABC’s, Wheels on the Bus, and Itsy Bitsy Spider—these are like “old friends” that we learned from our parents and pass along to our own children. But there’s a whole world of children’s folk songs waiting to be discovered that will bring you and your baby hours of fun!

The Seeger family—Pete, Ruth, Peggy, and Michael—is the “first family” of American folksongs for children, and their albums are a treasure trove of songs to sing together. Pete Seeger, who passed away this year at 93, spent a lifetime teaching songs for young children, and his recordings are filled with vibrant melodies, a range of emotions, and rich vocabulary and story. Several recordings focus exclusively on children’s music, such as Pete Seeger Children’s Concert At Carnegie Hall; Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes Little And Big: Animal Folk Songs; Stories and Songs for Little Children; and American Folk Game and Activity Songs for Young Children. I would start with Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes—that was always our favorite!

Here are some other great artists and collections to consider:

Smithsonian Folkways Children’s Music Collection: An assortment of artists, such as the great Ella Jenkins (whose work is worth exploring on its own). You’ll also find songs in Spanish, Yiddish and Swahili. Such a treasure!

Songs from the Old School: A funky, soulful collection by Ivan Ulz, which includes the new favorite tune “Fire Truck” and musical accompaniment to the classic Ruth Krauss book, The Carrot Seed.

Leadbelly Sings for Children: This album features the sounds of classic blues master Leadbelly, who plays the twelve string guitar for adults and little folks too.

Going to the Zoo: Tom Paxton’s wonderful world of soothing kids’ songs for kids, which is also a great book written by Paxton and Karen Lee Schmidt.

Peter and the Wolf: Narrated by David Bowie, this is can’t-miss album is a great way to expose your child to classical music and great storytelling.

So go beyond Twinkle Twinkle the next time you sing to your children—although I wouldn’t erase the classics from your repertoire. Whatever you choose, music is crucial for well being and language development and a simple pleasure your children will enjoy for years to come.

Make Musical Memories: Sing To Your Baby Every Day

The Benefits of Soothing With Song

02.000One of the greatest pleasures parents can have is singing with their babies. This was certainly true in my case. Some of my most vivid memories with my children include singing to my three sons in the nursery. There’s something magical about singing while holding a baby’s gaze and dancing with gusto while they’re in your arms. Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits provided many hours of enjoyment in my house, as well as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Pete Seeger’s animal songs. I always tried to learn new tunes to keep my boys interested and connected. Ultimately, sing what you love and your baby will love what you sing.

 

Besides being a fun, intimate experience, soothing your child with song has amazing benefits. If you sing to your baby you will:

  • Nurture brain development when the brain is growing the most
  • Provide visual stimulation to help babies focus
  • Strengthen loving attachments, which is crucial for emotional health and lifelong learning
  • Introduce mathematical rhythm and teach new vocabulary
  • Express mood through melody and expand emotional intelligence through exposure to new words

As children grow and develop, some songs will work better than others. Great baby songs feature repetition and also offer possibilities for hand motions—which is why The Itsy Bitsy Spider works so well. Babies can make eye contact, listen, watch your face and mouth, and observe your hands as you sing. What’s great about these types of songs is that you can make up words, add your own hand movements, and be free with your interpretation. Here are some of my favorite songs to try with babies (but really the choices are endless!):

Moon Moon MoonLaurie Berkner
Here Is A BeehiveRachel Buchman
By’m ByeMike & Peggy Seeger
The Little Black Bull, Pete Seeger
Jelly Man Kelly
, James Taylor,

So sing to your baby every day—whether you’re in the nursery, in the car, on line at the grocery store, or with family and friends around the table. Singing provides lots of enrichment, hours of fun, and meaningful time together.

By Renee Bock, a dedicated early childhood educator and the educational director at Explore+Discover, a social learning center in Manhattan committed to setting the standard for infant and toddler care and education. Learn more about Explore+Discover on Kidz Central Station!

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.

Piccolo Picassos, 74th St Magic, NYC drop-in class

3 Great NYC Drop-In Class Options This Week!

We are excited to have 74 St. MAGIC join us at Kidz Central Station!  74th St. MAGIC is one of the NYC’s most comprehensive enrichment programs with a wide array of classes in their Mini MAP program (early preschool enrichment), MAP program (preschool alternative classes), and MAGIC program (music, art, gymnastics and cooking classes). This week, we wanted to share with you some fun drop-in class options that you may want to try and it’s easy to register!

Tumblin’ Kids: Age-appropriate gymnastic skills for ages 3.5-4 years old, are taught through a progression on all apparatus and tumbling circuits in MAGIC’s spacious, modern gym. Olympic equipment includes bars, balance beams, vaulting horse, rings and in-ground trampoline. Low student-to-instructor ratio ensures personalized instruction and safety. This popular drop-in class is offered Mondays at 1:30 PM and Wednesdays at 4:45 PM.

Music, Art & Storytime: For ages 2-3 years old, this favorite encompasses hands-on art projects and interactive musical activities. For every child under 3 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Each class begins with a story, which is imaginatively and dramatically told, and then progresses to a themed art project, which may include painting, collage, easel work or drawing. The class wraps up with musical activities such as singing, finger plays, rhythm instruments and other forms of self-expression.
This drop-in class is available on Tuesdays at 10:15 AM and Thursdays at 9:30 AM.

Piccolo Picassos: For ages 2-5 years old, children explore various art mediums and materials through creative hands-on projects. For every child under 3 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and visual/spatial processing are addressed alongside creative exploration. Children are encouraged to express themselves without worrying about making a mess! This drop-in class is available on Fridays at 9:30 AM.

To learn more on 74th St. MAGIC & see even more of their drop-in classes offered throughout the week, visit them on Kidz Central Station!  If these classes don’t fit your schedule use KCS to search by date, time, age, location or class type to find the perfect class.