Tag Archives: Children with Special Needs

Big, Bad Behavior Problems Solved! Top Tips from Musikgarten Teachers – Part 1 of 2

What are your biggest behavior challenges? Fidgety kids? Disruptive outbursts? Parents who seem oblivious to their child’s charming antics?

Last month, we asked Musikgarten teachers for their best advice on classroom management and dealing with disruptive behaviors. The number of responses was overwhelming, so we’ll tackle this topic as a two-part series. This month, we’ll address behavior issues; next month we’ll cover clever classroom management methods.

Let’s talk behavior problems! When it comes to behavior, it’s not that kids are either good or bad. All children act up from time-to-time, some more than others. It helps to understand why kids act out:

  • They’re tired or hungry
  • They’re not used to participating in structured or group activities and don’t know “the rules” yet
  • They’re shy, nervous, or feeling insecure
  • They want attention
  • They’re not ready for a class just yet; children mature at different rates
  • They may have a special needs, such as autism, ADHD, or a behavioral, neurological or sensory processing disorder


Remember, it’s your studio, your rules, and a little structure goes a long way toward making sure parents and children have the best experience possible.

A few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to behavior issues:

  • Do let families know your class expectations from day one. Hang a poster. Post class rules on your website. Remind children often or ask them to remind you of the rules.
  • Do address severe or ongoing behavior problems promptly and privately with the child’s parent after class. The longer you let a problem persist, the tougher it will be to correct.
  • Do let parents know you want to work with them to help their child have the best experience and get the most from your class

 “Parent cooperation only comes out of good relationships with the families you serve. Good working relationships, where the people know that you care, are the first step in handling any misbehavior.” – Robin Bishop, HappyHeart Musikgarten

  • Don’t ask if, imply or suggest a child has special needs such as ADHD or autism – those are specific medical diagnoses that should only be made by qualified professionals.
  • Do reward good behavior openly and often. Let other children set an example.
  • Do politely ask a parent to temporarily remove an unruly child to help them calm down.
  • Do try to understand why a child may be acting up and work with parents to find a solution. If a child is always cranky during a mid-morning class, he may just need a nap at that time and a later class.

 Now, some tips from real Musikgarten teachers!

  1. Great Behavior Begins with Mom & Dad!It all begins with parent education. At the very first class of each semester, I go over what parents can expect from their child and how I would like the parents to participate. I want the parents to model what I do, and the children will learn from them. I tell parents all children participate differently in class: some will just watch, some will be active elsewhere in the room, etc. I continually remind parents of these ideas through out the semester.” – Jennifer Anderson, Music Time Studio
  1. Call on Mom or Dad. If a child starts crying, screaming, or melting down during a class, take a note from Kendra Beagles of KB’s Musik and address it directly to the parent. She’ll politely say, “You’re welcome to take Suzy to the bathroom if she needs a break. Please come back and join us as soon as she’s calm.” Make sure the parent knows you’re encouraging a brief cool down for the child, not asking them to leave.
  1. Use Body Language. No child likes to be reprimanded in front of a class. And as a teacher, you don’t want to interrupt a song or dance. Try this: Stand up and deliberately position yourself next to the child or in between the children being disruptive. “By moving yourself and continuing the song, you show them that you’re not going to let their behavior interrupt the activity that the others are enjoying.” Shannon May, Apple Tree Arts 
  1. Stop Disruptions Before They Start.  My studio is as free from distractions as possible. There is nothing for the kids to get into. There are very few “no’s” in my studio.  I save “no” for when something is a danger to the child or someone else (e.g. hitting or throwing instruments).” Jennifer Anderson, Music Time Studio
  1. Call Out Good Recognize children who are following directions with verbal praise and positive attention. Say, “I really like how Mason and Ella and Audrey are sitting in the circle. Who else can sit in the circle? Good!”
  1. Redirect Unwanted Attention. Use the child’s name and clearly remind, invite, and encourage him or her toward the positive and desired behavior. Offer praise when they follow directions. For example, “Claire, we need you over here to help us sing this song. Thank you!” or “Jacob, show us how you make circles with the scarves. That’s right! Who else can make circles like Jacob?”
  1. Teach Children to Respect Instruments. We love this input from Kendra Beagles, because it incorporates three important behavior management concepts: 1) Set expectations 2) Follow though with consequences 3) Positively reinforce the desired behavior. “Set children up for success before passing out instruments so they know how to treat them with care. Before I pass out rhythm sticks, I announce ‘Who can tell me what happens if you throw your sticks?’ The children reply, ‘Mrs. B gets them!’ If a child does throw the sticks, I immediately go pick up the sticks and say ‘Wow! I have more sticks to play with now!’ I then place the sticks on the floor behind my back. This lets children know I mean what I say and will follow through with my actions. The child will usually pout or cry, but I continue with my class activity. After a few minutes I’ll motion for the child to come get his/her sticks. If they throw them again, I take them and don’t give them back. At the end of class I’ll go over to the child and let them know that I enjoy having them in my music class and am very pleased when they respect my instruments.” – Kendra Beagles, KB’s Musik
  1. Offer Simple Choices. Very young children have a difficult time with open-ended questions such as “Where do you want to sit?” or “What should you do?” This can frustrate them and exacerbate the disruption. Instead, give them a very simple either/or option. For example, to let a child know running around is not an option, you can ask, “Do you want to sit on Mommy’s lap or mine?” or “You may join us in the circle or sit over there.” – tip courtesy of Jane Burlinson, Coastal School of Music 

Wait, there’s more! Stay tuned for Part 2 next month, where we share teachers’ top classroom management tips to keep things running smoothly (even large classes).

Thank you to our awesome contributing teachers for their time, talent, and wisdom!

What do you think? Share your questions, thoughts, ideas, and advice with us here.

21 Reasons Everyone Is Going to Sommerfest 21!

At a Musikgarten Festival there are high-quality, rewarding workshops taught by master teachers. Beloved music activities come to life.  You will learn to give new creativity, shine and refinement to the Musikgarten activities, songs, and dances you teach. – Amy Abbott Pappageorge, Owner, Musikgarten Oak Park.

Do you remember your 21st birthday? The excitement, meeting up with friends, the fun, and the memories! Well, Musikgarten turns 21 this year and the FESTIVAL is planned! Are you in?

Here are 21 reasons to book your trip to Sommerfest 21!

1. Our founder, Dr. Lorna Heyge, will reflect on the past and share her vision for the future of Musikgarten: “Turning 21 is a big event in our lives. It’s a turning point. I want everyone to be mindful of all we have accomplished in the past but also feel a sense of excitement and promise as we look toward the future!” – Lorna Heyge, Founder of Musikgarten

2. You’ll learn the art of Communicating the Neurology of Music Effectively, presented by Dr. Dee Joy Coulter, Neuro-Science Educator. Amy Abbott Pappageorge, owner of Musikgarten of Oak Park, is especially excited about this, “Dee Coulter’s presence promises to be galvanizing with regards to gaining richer understandings of the neuroscience of music.”

3. Musikgarten Teacher Trainers will tackle hot topics requested by teachers, such as…

4. Vocal Development Through the Curriculum, and…

5. Parents as Partners, and…

6. Nuts and Bolts Sessions covering many curricula, plus…

7. Your Business – Build it for Lasting Success

8. More speakers and general interest sessions offer something for everyone including Family Music for Toddlers, Cycle of Seasons, and all levels of Music Makers.

9. Veteran teachers will share timeless wisdom and tried-and-true instructional methods.

10. New teachers will show how they’re successfully growing their studios.

11. You’ll connect with other Musikgarten teachers who share the same challenges and joys. Merrill Marshall, owner of Merrill’s Musikgarten told us, The best part is being with so many other kindred spirits, teachers who do exactly what you do, and to connect and learn from each other.”

12. You’ll feel inspired and re-energized with ideas you can use right away. “I was overwhelmingly pleased with the whole Festival weekend. It was not only the opportunity to attend talks about different teaching techniques and ideas, but also an amazing place to sit down with other teachers and gain insight on everything from classroom management to pricing structures, scheduling classes, and online marketing. Every time I attend, I have more information than I can hope to use in the coming year!” shared Betha Christopher, owner of Betha’s Musik.

13. We’ll tackle your trickiest questions, from how to teach a tough dance to dealing with difficult parents.

14 You’ll learn new business-building marketing and networking ideas to grow your studio.

15. You’ll sing. You’ll dance. You’ll play. You’ll laugh.

16. You’ll reconnect with old friends, meet new friends, and make lasting memories.

17. You’ll return home refocused, refreshed, and ready to go-go-go! Says Amy Abbott Pappageorge, I never stop reaping the benefits of each and every festival I attend. The festival always exceeds my expectations; incredible learning and enjoyment abounds. I return to my studio with new vigor and commitment.”

18. The date, August 21-23, 2015, is perfect timing for a back-to-school sign-up season recharge.

19. It’s in Charlotte, North Carolina, conveniently located at the DoubleTree by Hilton Charlotte Airport.

20. It’s affordable! Your fee is just $135. Shuttle service to and from the airport and hotel parking are free.

21. We only turn 21 once!

Sommerfest 21 is on! Are you in?

Click here for details or call 1.800.216.6864 to RSVP now. Don’t delay! Hotel rooms must be booked by July 22!  

**Extra-special thanks to Dr. Lorna Heyge, Betha Christopher, Merrill Marshall, and Amy Abbott Pappageorge for sharing their experiences and contributing to this article.**

Tell us about your experience at past Musikgarten Festivals → Share now!

Going On In The Musikgarten

Click the red links below to learn more about upcoming events, webinars, and continuing education training workshops.

  • Training Sessions
  • Musikgarten Coaching Live!
  • Meet Musikgarten! – Interested in becoming a Musikgarten Teacher? Awesome! Attend this FREE session with Jill Hannagan, Executive Vice President of Musikgarten, veteran Musikgarten teacher and studio owner, Teacher Trainer, and coauthor of the Music Makers: At the Keyboard Series.

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Never miss a single note! Click here to receive your FREE In The Musikgarten e-newsletter (If you don’t already get it. Check your SPAM folder.)

How Does Your Musikgarten Grow? 11 Ways to Market Your Musikgarten.

March 15, 2015

In Rick Townsend’s ECMMA.org series, Dr. Lorna Heyge: Growth of a Vision, we learn how in the early 1970’s, “…Building an early childhood music studio was different. (Lorna) simply sent a note to the newspapers that it was going to start, and the phone rang off the hook.”

Wouldn’t it be great if it were still that easy? A note to a local newspaper may have been enough to spark interest among families in 1974, but promoting your Musikgarten studio to busy families in today’s hectic, digital, distraction-filled world isn’t quite as simple!

Like most of us, you probably became a Musikgarten teacher because you love music, not marketing. But let’s face it, Musikgarten isn’t the only option for families, so marketing is a must if you plan to grow your studio. Here are 11 Ways to Market Your Musikgarten – no MBA or million-dollar marketing budget required! Be sure to click on the red links for more information and teacher resources.

  1. Order Up! – The New Musikgarten Parent Brochures are here! Updated with fresh new copy and images, it’s been getting rave reviews from teachers and parents.
  1. Log In! – To the Musikgarten Teacher Portal. We offer a variety of free and affordable professional marketing materials including colorful brochures, flyers, postcards, signs, emails, a personalized website, and customizable co-op advertising. So easy!
  1. Get Social (Step 1) – Time to get serious about social media. It’s free, and it’s a great way to show what your studio is all about. Start a Facebook page for your studio; if you use Facebook, consider adding Twitter or Instagram. Need a reason why? Your audience is using social media: 65% of Moms learn about products and services through social media and 89% of moms use their smartphone to check social media. Also, moms with kids under 5 are more active than any other consumer group on social media.

Not sure where to begin? There are plenty of resources like this one, this one, and this one. Not sure what to say? Follow Musikgarten on Facebook and Twitter, sign up for e-newsletters, and read our monthly blog for plenty of content you can simply share.

  1. Get Social (Step 2) – Once you’ve set up your social media pages, start inviting parents to the party! Share links in emails, mention it during class, and encourage parents to follow. To keep parents engaged, post interesting, relevant content at least a few times a week such as studio schedules, photos and videos from your classes, coupons and contests, relevant news articles and local music events, and fun activities families can use at home. Get inspired at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts, Musikgarten By The Beach and Sound Beginnings Musikgarten.
  1. Launch Your Website – Musikgarten offers a special website program to our licensed teachers through Helios Webhosting. For only $14.95 per month, Helios will launch and help you maintain a website that is complementary in look to the Musikgarten corporate website complete with class descriptions, scheduling grid, pictures, and a coupon for free preview classes. The website can be customized and comes with top-notch tech support. Contact us to learn more.
  1. Be Inviting – Offer parents plenty of ways to sample a live class and turn “warm leads” into “hot prospects.” If a parent expresses interest—via a call, an email, or in response to an ad or social media—invite them to participate in an existing class or open-house night for free. If you don’t relish the idea of drop-ins, schedule a weekly “demo class.” Fill it up by offering it free to friends and neighbors, and make this the one class where prospects are always welcome to drop in to sample the fun!
  1. Maximize Word-of-Mouth – Happy customers are the best marketing your money can buy! Create a referral program or a “Share The Music” monthly promotion: encourage families to bring a friend for a free class. Snap and share photos with the family to show them how much fun their child had in your class.
  1. Get Outside! –As the weather warms up, community calendars fill up with family festivals, fairs and outdoor music events. Check with your local chamber of commerce and community events websites to find opportunities for local businesses and to learn how you can sponsor a free music class during these family-filled events. Bring plenty of brochures, flyers, postcards, and business cards, and invite folks to attend your regularly scheduled free demo class!
  1. Advertise – Either online or in print with your local parent magazine or weekly paper. To find out if your area has one, just Google your city, county or region with the words “parent magazine” or “family magazine.” You can find downloadable ad templates on the teacher portal.
  1. Email Marketing – Use email to stay in touch with current customers and to send news they can share. Encourage new website visitors to sign up for your emails or newsletter by offering a coupon, free class or chance to win a prize. Start your email campaigns with a free email marketing service like MailChimp.

Bonus Idea! Make Strategic Partners – Connect with other local businesses and organizations that also cater to families, such as tutoring services, restaurants, birthday party venues, libraries, and children’s museums. Invite leaders to an informal gathering to brainstorm ways you can work together to reach more parents in your community. It may be as simple as swapping stacks of business cards and flyers to hand out at your individual locations, or you may come up with more creative ways to collaborate and co-promote each others’ businesses.

Tell us how you’ve grown your Musikgarten into a blooming success. We may share your idea in an upcoming newsletter, blog or on Facebook and Twitter. Share now!

Going On In The Musikgarten – Find links to upcoming events, webinars and continuing education training workshops you need to be the very best Musikgarten teacher.

Last reminder! Sign up for the In The Musikgarten monthly e-newsletter if you don’t already receive it.

Five Things Every Parent Needs to Know about Musikgarten

First, why is parent education important? (After all, the benefits of Musikgarten are soooo obvious!) With many activity options for babies and toddlers available, parent education is your #1 defense against the natural tendency of families to try Musikgarten for a while and then leave to try something else. Parent education helps parents to feel included and it will separate your program from others out there.

Make sure every parent in your program understands the benefits of Musikgarten. The key to parent education is to do it early and often! Send out parent emails or newsletters weekly, post reminders in your studio if you’re able, and host free parent orientation, education sessions or webinars. Here are some lessons you should share:

  1. Class is for children AND parents. The words “music lessons” can conjure strict teaching methods or repetitive practice sessions that don’t exactly scream “fun!” Heather McEndree of Music for Me! at Cumberland Valley School of Music in Chambersburg, PA told us, “I share in my promotional materials that the classes for babies and toddlers are for parents and their children to experience and share music together, through singing, dancing, bouncing, and interacting with the music. The instruments at that level are at the appropriate developmental level for the children: rhythm sticks, shakers, and drums.”
  1. Parental involvement is key! Teacher Bobbi Morgan shared her observation, “I teach the same Family Music for Toddlers lesson for 7 different classes each week. When parents participate joyfully in a musical activity in class and continue the activity at home, the child comes to love it and know it.” To encourage parents to stay engaged at home Bobbi advises, “I ask parents to pick an activity that they and their child enjoyed in class and assign them to practice it daily as ‘homework.’” Let parents know how important they are to their child’s enjoyment and success in Musikgarten.
  1. Musikgarten is 100% KID-approved! Parents want to know their child is having fun, so let the kids do the talking! They’re ultimately your best testimonials. Share what you hear students say just like Cindy Freeman, an Early Childhood Music School Director in Williamsburg, VA, who sends out a parent newsletter with a unique feature she calls “From The Mouths of Babes.” Last month, Cindy included this observation, overheard in her Keyboard 2 class:

“Is class over already?” asked one of Mrs. Freeman’s students. “Wow! That was so short!” chimed another. “It just seems short,” explained Avery, “because we’re in a magical, musical place!”

What have you overheard that would help parents appreciate the benefits of Musikgarten? Share your idea with us and we may include it in an upcoming newsletter, blog or on Facebook!

  1. Musikgarten is more than just learning songs! Backed by scientific research, Musikgarten benefits children at each stage of early childhood development – cognitive, physical, social, and emotional. “When children are immersed in the magic of live music making they leave the environment not only craving more but also feeling a sense of well-being and wholeness,” notes teacher Cindy Freeman. Remind parents that studies show music education positively impacts language and literacy development; improved pattern recognition skills which are the basis for mathematical learning; and social and emotional development.
  1. Music Literacy is the cornerstone of Musikgarten. Even if you are just teaching Babies and Toddlers, remember that we are doing important work in terms of the children’s music aptitude and their potential to become musically literate. Talk about this often, as it is what sets your Musikgarten program apart from every other early childhood music program available.

Attend the next Musikgarten Coaching Live! Parent Education session  to learn more. Register now!

Why Musikgarten Teachers Have The Best Jobs In The World

Launching a blog is a lot like raising a child. It takes a village. It takes patience. And everyone has an opinion. But we actually wanted everyone’s opinions! After all, In The Musikgarten is your blog, written expressly to help you better enjoy, manage and grow your own Musikgarten.

This month, we reached out to Musikgarten teachers with a quick survey to gather ideas for the In The Musikgarten blog. Incredibly, we received hundreds of thoughtful ideas, suggestions, and personal stories that touched our hearts. We’ve spent hours poring over your responses, reading them aloud, making notes and planning posts that will cover the topics, stories and issues that matter most to Musikgarten teachers.

Here’s a preview of the topics we’re working on for you In The Musikgarten:

  • The latest news in music education research and science
  • Major business-building tips for minor budgets
  • Making beautiful music with social media
  • Classroom and behavior management methods that work
  • Teaching children with special needs and different abilities
  • Lessons learned from new and veteran teachers
  • “Shoring up” your summer enrollment
  • Interviews with Musikgarten leaders, teachers and families
  • Inspiring success stories from Musikgarten teachers

(… And so much more!)

Of course, we just have to share some of our favorite responses to one survey question, “What are the greatest joys of being a Musikgarten teacher?” (Hint, grab a tissue!) These are just a few reasons why we believe Musikgarten teachers have the best jobs in the world…

  • “It’s not just about kids and music or even teaching music. We’re educating and nurturing the whole child, mind, body and spirit.”
  • “I love seeing how children grow through each level of the program. Of course, the little hugs I get during class are an extra bonus!”
  • “Seeing children accomplish things that their parents had no idea they could learn so quickly.”
  • “Teaching, especially parents, that music is not just for a select group of people with specific talents, but it is for everyone.”
  • “As a professional musician, I am far too serious about measuring up to my often-unreasonable standards. Teaching children with Muskigarten reminds me of the joy of making music with others, not just for others.”
  • “Knowing that I’m fostering a lifelong love of music…”
  • “I always wanted to teach music, now I also have the freedom to make my own schedule.”
  • “Seeing the happiness in children’s eyes as they sing and play with quality music!”
  • “The number one thing is the interaction between parents and their own children and the other children in the class. It’s like we’re one big family!  I love watching the moms, dads, grandparents and caregivers ask each other for advice about many other things beside Musikgarten. I love this program!”

Why do you think Musikgarten teachers have the best job in the world? Share your comments below or tell us on Facebook!  Use the hashtag #musikgarten and we may use your inspiring comment in a future In The Musikgarten newsletter or blog post!

Mark Your Calendar!

Learning In The Musikgarten

Musikgarten Coaching Live! sessions are a one-hour, online interactive learning experience. Join us from home! Sessions are first come, first serve, and fill up fast! Learn more and register:

  • Getting Started – How to find students and get the word out about your classes. – 2/9
  • Meet Musikgarten – Find out more about Musikgarten, FREE. – 2/12
  • Parent Education – How to teach parents why music education matters. – 2/19

Blooming In The Musikgarten

March In The Musikgarten

Informative Webinars

  • Keyboard 2 – A continuation of the Music Makers Keyboard Book 1 webinar and will complete your certification for Music Makers: At the Keyboard. – 3/2 through 3/5
  • Dance with Me – This 3 hour-webinar is a continuation of the Family Music for Toddlers – Sing with Me webinar and will complete your certification for Family Music for Toddlers. – 3/16

Musikgarten Coaching Live!

  • Parent Education – How to teach parents why music education matters. – 3/9
  • Meet Musikgarten – Find out more about Musikgarten – FREE session. – 3/18
  • Getting Started – How to find students and get the word out about your classes. – 3/20

Celebrating In The Musikgarten:

March is…

  • Music in Our Schools Month

Thinking about becoming a Musikgarten Teacher? Terrific! Join us for a Meet Musikgarten session to find out more. Meet Musikgarten sessions are a chance for you to hear about Musikgarten from Jill Hannagan, long-time Musikgarten teacher and studio owner, teacher trainer, coauthor of the Music Makers: At the Keyboard Series, and Executive Vice President.