Thursday, January 21, 2010

For the Love of Music and Munchkins!

Music, like language, is one of those things that is sooooo much easier to learn as a child than as adult, or even a teenager. Whatever the little miracles happening in the brains of toddlers and young children, it amazingly enables them to just grasp and learn the concepts so effortlessly! That’s a great motivator for teaching music. However, what if you don’t have any skills in the music realm, or a limited budget that just won’t stretch to private lessons?

Well, let me introduce you to Kinderbach! They are an online or DVD provider of early music instruction that requires very little from you. A computer, a printer, and a basic keyboard with 36 to 48 full-sized keys (or piano) are the only tools you’ll need to get your child heading in a musical direction.

My daughters have been playing piano for years and are certainly no longer preschoolers (hallelujah!) but we all sat and viewed quite a few lessons together and found ourselves really amused at the creative ways that founder Karrie Gregor has put together the musical concepts.

In a rather “Blues Clues” setting (Ms. Gregor instructing from an animated set) Karrie introduces students to fun songs, rhythms, and keyboarding basics. With the help of her animated friends, (whose names correspond to the notes on the keyboard), she allows students to successfully grasp small increments of music. The lessons are short, yet not bland --nor are they just for entertainment’s sake.

One of our favorites were the “left hand” and “right hand” football teams (one was the Blue Team, one was the Red), that had little talking finger announcers (think Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) and a fun song that taught some “strategy” on the keyboard. The “play” was called and the football fingers had to play the keyboard in a certain order, with a fancy motion of the thumb, tucking under the other fingers to play a note. Very creative and yet it also accomplishes what it set out to do!

Another favorite was “Balk Talk” in which an animated Yohan Sebastian Bach talked with Miss Karrie about composing music. Kids actually get a chance to make up some songs of their own. I thought it was really clever!

Karrie Gregor is not only a talented musician but also an accomplished artist and she has provided the illustrations and animation for the fun lessons. Furthermore, she sings along and interacts with the characters in a way that is cute without being cheesy (for the age group she is teaching to!). Most lessons have a worksheet that can be printed out to coincide with what is being learned, and there are also coloring pages of concepts and different characters that are a part of the lessons, as well.

Kinderbach will engage little minds and allow that musical part of the brain to be stimulated and developed in the formative years. Research continually affirms the correlation between music and brain development in preschoolers. This product is recommended for ages 3-7. There’s also a program for preschool groups available if you teach a coop or have a ministry to children.

For the individual lessons, there is a choice of using the online lessons or ordering DVD’s to be used at home (that would come with CD’s to print out the material and coloring pages to go along with the DVD’s). The prices vary depending on the method preferred, however, you will come out way ahead of the cost of private lessons. Furthermore, all of Kinderbach’s products come with a 30 day, no hassle, money back guarantee and all DVD’s have a lifetime replacement offer in the event that they are damaged. For all the information you need to get started, click here and check out Kinderbach for yourself!  From the home page, you can try some free lessons as well as print out various pages in order to see if this program is a good fit for your family. And a one and a two...

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.