A boogie down for the barely walking
At first glance into Beijing’s Kindermusik program, you can’t be sure if you’ve wandered into a children’s band, a dance class, or a small miracle – 11 babies, and not one of them crying.
Practiced in over 66 countries, the Kindermusik program is aimed at children ages 7 and younger and combines music and movement to help develop a variety of skills: singing, rhyming, object identification, sound imitation, listening and coordination. The Beijing program was started in September 2006 by Canadian Sarah Peel Li, a licensed Kindermusik educator. “We never make up what we’re doing,” she says. “There is always a real reason behind what we are doing in each class.”
In the classes for younger children, parents or caregivers accompany their children and sit in a circle around a room. Class begins with the singing of songs with lyrics that encourage creative movement, like “The Wheels on the Bus,” or perhaps something that helps them learn how to identify body parts, and parents are encouraged to lift and carry their kids.
Most of Sarah’s Kindermusik class involves a variety of different motions – lying on stomachs, scuttling across the room, jumping – and low-key activities, such as parents slowly rocking their children to music. Sarah also reads from a book filled with colorful illustrations; she asks children to point to pictures of an animal or an object and has them emulate the noise it might make.
Perhaps the noisiest part of the class occurs when an array of musical instruments are handed out. Bongo drums, djembe drums, hard drums, castanets, bells, shakers – more than enough for each child and durable enough to withstand rough handling. In this assorted instrument exploration activity, there is never a dull moment! Adults keep a steady beat with instruments, while children engage themselves in their own musical world. “To learn, children can’t just see something. They must do it, feel it, say it,” says Sarah. “When the children see other children doing something, it also helps them learn.”
Kindermusik classes are also renowned for providing a fun social atmosphere for both children and parents. “It’s a good way to interact with other babies and other parents,” says Lord Bantoto. He and his 18-month-old son Lucas have been attending Kindermusik for nine months. “He likes it, and he likes Sarah,” says Bantoto. Sharla Murray brings her son, 2-year-old Daniel. “He loves the music, and it gives me a chance to put aside other things and focus on time with him,” she says.
Parents have also observed a noticeable positive difference in their children. Melanie and Stefan Hofman have just started bringing their daughter, Eva, to Kindermusik. “She loves it,” says Hofman. “She dances and makes more music at home than before.” Furthermore, the happy laughter that resonates throughout the classroom speaks volumes about the benefits of Kindermusik. It is a relaxed atmosphere that fosters participation, not performance. “It’s not how you do it, but that you enjoy making music together,” explains Sarah.
Kindermusik with Sarah offers eight versions of Kindermusik classes, depending on age, as well as family classes. Parents also go home with a guide to help facilitate musical development from home. Enrollment for the summer program begins in May. The first class is free, and making a reservation is recommended. For groups of six or more, Kindermusik educators can host private lessons.
Kindermusik with Sarah
501C Hongjiu Building, 27 Xidawang Lu, Chaoyang District
Classes held at Eton (Central Park, Pinnacle Plaza, and Palm Springs campuses) and Candian International School
139 1062 5983
For class types and schedules, visit www.kmwithsarah.com.cn