Monthly Archives: March 2024

A Remembrance – Audrey Sillick – 1921-2014

Audrey Sillick was born in 1921, and was 92 years of age upon her death.  She had been ill for some time, but was able to live in her apartment in Toronto throughout the last years.  Friends accompanied and assisted her in the last days.

Audrey was born in England, and spent her childhood and youth in England, India and Switzerland.  Audrey’s years in India influenced her life greatly – learning to play by herself, outside in the wonderful world of nature; studying at a fine teacher’s college and meeting Maria Montessori during her time in India; spending countless hours observing, especially of the world of animals and children.

Audrey Sillick

After moving to Canada and spending years in the United States, Audrey joined the Montessori movement, becoming founder and director of the Toronto Montessori Teacher Training Institute in 1971.  Her particular areas of expertise concerned the role of movement in learning, the process of language acquisition and the understanding of the child in nature.  Audrey influenced innumerable Montessorians through the Institute, but also through speaking and teaching engagements throughout the Montessori Community. This included Renilda Montessori, granddaughter of Maria, who taught with Audrey and Lorna at the TMI.

Audrey’s teachings are central to Musikgarten, indeed her work has influenced countless early childhood music teachers and Montessori teachers. I met Audrey in the early 1980s. Having moved to Toronto after my recent marriage, I soon was asked to teach at the Toronto Montessori School and was sent to hear Audrey’s lectures at the Teacher Training Institute there, to become better acquainted with my new environment.

What a life-changing event that turned out to be!  Audrey’s lectures were fascinating, although at first, the approach was such a new world for me, I could hardly take notes fast enough!  From the beginning of our acquaintance Audrey’s message became a stronger and stronger component of my work in early childhood music.

For the authors, teacher trainers, and teachers in the Musikgarten community, our work is unthinkable without her.  She was the central influence that has made Musikgarten such a balanced curriculum.  Through Audrey we learned about the child, we learned about nature, we learned to observe, to include movement in all of our teaching … we learned to tell stories, to reintroduce poetry to young children …. We learned! 

Audrey believed in what she called ‘subversive’ education.  With that she meant was that you have the greatest influence, when you observe where your learner stands, and offer an environment of small steps to help the learner move forward.  I often tell the story of this ‘subversive’ effect on me.  In the 1980s I knew that what I learned from her was important –so I wrote it down and included the ‘Audrey speech’ in all of my workshops.  After a few years, while teaching in Panang in Malaysia, my husband was in the room for one of my speeches.  Afterwards he said to me, you are no longer talking about what Audrey says, it has so influenced you, the knowledge has become yours to also impart.  Audrey’s influence was slow and sure!

What are my favorite memories of Audrey?

  • That very first speech I invited her to give for the very first international meeting of early childhood music teachers which I held in 1984 in Toronto – the forerunner of the ECMMA! 
  • Working on our first publication in the late 1980s.  As Audrey always told the story, I stopped by her house one afternoon shortly after she had retired, and asked her to guide me ’a little’  That positive answer turned into a working gig = shared authorship –  which we enjoyed for over 20 years!  For the first publication we worked on a very early, very cranky computer!  But had much more fun training the blue jays to come to our window to get their supply of peanuts!
  • Celebrating Audrey’s 80th birthday together with the Musikgarten Teacher Trainers in Sedona, Arizona! 
  • Audrey’s young-child-in-a-snow-suit story, through which she had us laughing and crying at the New Jersey Convention in 1988.
  • Sitting on our deck in Greensboro, deciding what kind of sandwich we would each take along on our pretend picnic? And this was going to be in our new Musikgarten curriculum?

Audrey treasured the natural world and went to great lengths to help preserve it.  Audrey’s legacy is contained in the many teachers she trained, mentored, and through the Musikgarten curriculum.

Lorna Heyge, Musikgarten

Learning to Love Music as a Family – A Parent’s Guide

Music has the remarkable ability to enrich our lives, touch our emotions, and provide a source of joy and inspiration. But, how do you learn to love music as a family. For parents, introducing their children to the world of music at an early age can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Not only does it foster cognitive growth and other developmental benefits, it also instills a lifelong appreciation for the arts. Here are just a few practical ways parents can actively participate in nurturing a love for music in their children, creating a foundation for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

How Parents Can Encourage the Love of Music in their Kids

  1. Start Early with Musical Exposure – Begin by exposing your child to a variety of musical genres from a young age. Play different styles of music in the house, whether it’s classical, jazz, folk, gospel, or pop. This exposure helps children develop a broad musical palette and openness to diverse sounds.
  • Enroll in Music Classes – Many communities offer music classes for young children. These classes should incorporate singing, movement, drumming and the opportunity to play simple, age appropriate instruments. Parent participation in these classes is important for modeling and reinforcing the love of music.
Musikgarten Class - Children Taking Turns
Musikgarten Toddler Class
  • Provide Access to Instruments – Offer your child the opportunity to explore different musical instruments. Consider starting with simple, child-friendly instruments like maracas, sticks, or bells. Encourage creativity through musical play with your child, let them experiment with creating their own rhythms and melodies. This not only boosts creativity but also helps in developing a sense of musical expression.
  • Attend Live Performances – Take your child to live music performances, whether it’s a local school concert, a community band, or age-appropriate shows. Experiencing music in a live setting can be magical and captivating, sparking a deeper interest in the art form.
  • Become a Musical Advocate – Support music in your local school(s) and music organizations in your area, and have your child participate in volunteer events. Help music teachers with volunteer support and donations to help cover items not included in school budgets.

Nurturing a love for music in your child is a gift that lasts a lifetime. By incorporating music into their daily lives, providing hands-on experiences with instruments, and exposing them to a diverse range of musical styles, parents can cultivate a deep appreciation for the art form. Remember, the key is to participate to make the journey enjoyable and encourage your child to explore the vast and beautiful world of music.