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The Benefits of Music Education in Childhood Development
By West Music Company
4/13/2017 3:50:00 PM  
baby having music fun

While hearing music is enjoyable in its own right, the benefits of taking part in it highly outweigh those of just listening. Musical education during childhood can positively impact cognitive development, improve social skills, and increase academic achievement. And you don’t have to wait until your child is older — music education has been shown to have positive effects on babies and toddlers!

 

West Music’s History of Supporting Music Education

Since opening our doors in 1941, West Music has strongly supported music education. In fact, our founder Pearl West taught in the music department at Iowa City High School. Today we work directly with thousands of school music programs across the county and support many more with charitable donations through our membership with NAMM (The National Association of Music Merchants). In our stores, we offer Early Childhood Education for children as young as three-months. Supporting music education is an integral part of our mission to “Play now. Play for life.”

 

Music and the Brain

Being exposed to music throughout childhood has profound impacts on the development of the growing brain. A 2016 study at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experiences during these crucial years accelerates brain development, especially in the areas of reading skills and language acquisition. It has also been found that learning how to play an instrument can improve mathematical intelligence and even boost academic achievement.

 

Music Education Benefits for Infants (birth up to age 1)

Recent research has found that babies benefit from music education long before they can even walk or talk. One study found that one-year-olds who participated in interactive music classes with their parents smiled more, communicated better, and showed more sophisticated brain responses to music.

An excellent way to incorporate music and movement with infants is through soft and colorful scarves. You can manipulate these in the air while singing soft lullabies and nursery rhymes. They are also great for sensory play, so be sure to let your infant feel the softness of the scarf on their hands and feet. While your baby might want to hold onto them forever, please note that movement props are not toys’ they are to be used under adult supervision.

 

Music and Movement for Toddlers (ages 1-3)

One of the biggest benefits of having toddlers engage with music is in language development. Recent studies have found that musical training can wire the circuits of the brain in different ways. This development is specifically seen in parts of the left side of the brain, which contributes to processing language.

The key to music with toddlers is repetition. Children at this age crave consistency and routine, which is why they love reading the same books and listening to the same songs over and over. Repeating songs together promotes memorization and helps them to predict what comes next. Sound Exploration Books are a perfect fit for this age!

Toddlers also love being able to move and dance to the beat, so encourage them to explore with using instruments. Instruments specifically designed for small hands, such as toddler shaker instruments, are the perfect way to introduce them to creating and playing music.

 

Early Childhood Music Education for Preschoolers

Researchers in the field of brain development are quick to point out that the brain of a musician is wired differently than that of a non-musician, even a very young one. Preschoolers who were involved in making music showed larger brain growth in neural activity, so, simply put, being a musician makes your brain work harder.

Preschoolers love to sing and let their voices be heard. They enjoy nursery rhymes about familiar things, and they like songs that have repeating words and melodies.  Plays using puppets are great fun for this age, and learning rhymes together is the perfect musical actives for preschoolers and their parents!

 

Child Recorder Music

Music Learning for School-Aged Children

A study published in 2007 at the University of Kansas reported that students in schools with superior music programs scored approximately 22 percent higher in English and 20 percent higher in math on standardized tests. This reveals how music impacts many aspects of a child’s life and how vital it is to school performance.

Elementary school may be the first time some children really begin to have an interest in taking music lessons for a specific instrument. Many school music programs start with a musical recorder. Lightweight, simple, and capable of producing a charming sound, recorders are an ideal pre-band instrument to lead children into a lifetime of music-making.

 

Let Our Music Experts Help!

There are many things you can do as a parent to cultivate and grow a passion for music in your child, no matter their age. Remember, it’s never too early, or too late, to enjoy the benefits of music! Shop online or contact West Music at 800-397-3978 for suggestions and assistance.


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10 Holiday Gifts That Your Kids Will Love
By West Music Company
11/14/2016 5:04:00 PM  

With the holidays fast approaching, many parents are thinking about what to give their children. Musical instruments and music themed gifts make wonderful presents for youngsters. Not only is making music fun, it helps develop growing minds! Below are 10 gift ideas, all available at West Music, that your kids will be sure to love.

Over the River with Sleigh Bells Bundle

This classic winter song comes to life in this beautifully illustrated children’s book. Sold in hardcover, so it’s durable for many trips to grandmother’s house. Buy the bundle and receive a set of sleigh bells, so your kids can jingle along with the story.

 

Kala Makala Dolphin Bridge & Shark Bridge Ukuleles

Simply the best entry level ukes on the market! Sound and playability usually suffer at these affordable prices, but not with Kala Makala.  With their brightly colored head and body and a playful dolphin or cool shark cutout at the bridge, these ukes are sure to be a big hit.

West Music carries over 16 different colors, so pick your child’s favorite!

Kala Makala Dolphin Bridge & Shark Bridge Ukuleles

 


Drummer Boy Bundle

In this charming Christmas story a toy drummer boy embarks on a journey on which he plays his drum and warms the hearts of everyone he meets. Richly illustrated by beloved children’s author Loren Long.

The bundle also includes a PlanToys 7" drum and sticks for added fun!

Instruments for Ages 3 and Younger

Shakers, clappers and castanets! These seeming simple instruments help develop sensorimotor skills and hand-eye coordination in babies and toddlers, as well as instill a life-long love of music.

West Music has a full line of instruments and toys for children under 3.

Percussion

Shakers

Castanets

Mini Rainmakers

Our early childhood educators love the Mini Rainmaker for babies and toddlers.  Only 8” tall, the Mini Rainmaker is perfect for small hands.

West Music’s child educator Melissa says, “In teaching early childhood music and movement for over 15 years, I’ve never found an infant or a toddler who wasn’t fascinated by these rainmakers.”

 




Westwood Beginner Guitar Pack

Don’t play Guitar Hero, be a guitar hero! Buy a beginner guitar pack for your child and let them explore the world of music.  Guitars are available in half, three-quarters and full size. The pack also includes My Guitar, multimedia lesson software that teach your child basic chores in a fun and playful way. The pack also includes a gig bag, guitar strap and strap end pin.

½ Size Beginner Guitar Pack  for ages 5-8 or height between 3'10" to 4'5" tall

¾ Size Beginner Guitar Pack for ages 8-12 or height between 4'6" to 4'11" tall

Full Size Guitar Pack  for ages 12 & up or height of 5' or taller



Children’s Literature

The value of children's literature is immeasurable! Not only does reading encourage a vivid imagination, it stimulates the part of the brain that deals with developing language.

West Music carries a full line of music-themed children’s literature that will sure to delight your child as they clap, stomp and sing along with the characters in the books.

Remo Drums

Remo Drums are some of the best on the market. Available in a variety of styles and designs, you are sure to find the right percussion for any age group, from pre-schoolers to adults.







Harmony Traditional Style Soprano Recorders

These bestselling recorders are the perfect way to introduce your child to wind instruments. Available in a variety of bright colors and sold at a great value, these are the perfect gift for children ages eight and up. West Music also sells a variety of music books to help your child master their first song before the New Year!

 




Ornaments

Hanging ornaments is a tradition everyone in the family enjoys. Show your love of music by decorating with these beautiful ornaments available now for the holidays. You will be amazed at their level of detail. For just one example, the piano ornament featured here has a fallboard that actually opens and closes!


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Categories: Kids & Movement
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Brent M. Gault On Listen Up! Fostering Musicianship Through Active Listening
By West Music Company
7/8/2016 8:00:00 AM  
Author Brent M. Gault explains the concepts behind his book Listen Up! Fostering Musicianship Through Active Listening

All individuals respond to music through listening. Since music listening is such a universal part of life, and the skills fostered through critical listening to music can transfer to many other areas, making listening an area of focus in a music curriculum is logical.
In elementary general music settings, children learn actively through direct experience with given concepts. As a result, it makes sense to approach listening instruction actively by using other musical behaviors (singing, moving, chanting, creating) and aural, visual, and kinesthetic learning modes as a way to develop a deeper connection with musical material while fostering musical skills and introducing or reinforcing musical concepts.

Listen Up! provides sample experiences that utilize music excerpts as a means of not only providing an opportunity for children to listen and experience given pieces of music, but to also foster musical skills and reinforce given musical concepts (rhythm, melody, form) that are prominent in the chosen selections. In addition to providing an overview of the planning process for developing these types of lessons and providing sample experiences for 23 specific pieces, a companion website includes Power Point presentations to accompany each experience that provide visual material students can view and respond to as they listen. The site also includes sample videos demonstrating some of the listen experiences and a link to a Spotify playlist that includes musical recordings.

The listening lessons in this book developed through my own exploration of active ways to introduce wonderful music to children. I have spent the last 20 years developing these ideas and utilizing them with children and teachers. Having the opportunity to put these together in one collection is extremely exciting, and I hope the book serves not only as a resource for existing lessons, but can also provide ideas that can be applied to other pieces of music.

-Brent Gault

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Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources
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Active Music Making with Interactive Technology
By West Music Company
5/7/2016 9:58:00 AM  
Author: Manju Durairaj

Technology can be an aid to facilitate learning and teaching without compromising active music making. That is the core of effective general music instruction. Thoughtfully created PowerPoint, Word, or Notebook visuals and/or sequentially processed activities that use IWB and/or iPad/tablet can help develop, not limit the 4Cs: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication Skills.

Elementary music students can sing, move, dance, play instruments, notate, listen, create, and improvise in their music classes, even as the teacher uses technology-based medium to optimize and enrich student learning. Using PowerPoint or Smart Notebook application for Smartboard, one can create and edit images and pathways for vocal exploration. Animation features in PowerPoint allow students to vocally track a snowflake swirling in the wind, a bee buzzing from flower to flower, or a witch on a broomstick flying around a bonfire or in search of her cauldron of witch’s brew.

On the Interactive Whiteboard, one could create or insert an object such as a snowflake, leaf, bat, an owl, or a witch image. A contextual background and a series of related pathways may be created for the object. In a conscious effort to facilitate reading, most of the vocal or melodic contour explorations could begin on the left. Initially, the teacher may create the pathways and students may take turns coming to the Interactive Whiteboard, dragging the object along the pathway while vocalizing. Later they may create their own pathways for themselves or for their peers and work collaboratively. This is a great opportunity for quick formative assessment.

Interactive xylophones, recorders, hide and reveal activities, and smart response applications are all wonderful time saving, comprehensive, formative assessment tools. Images of objects, pathways, 2, 3, or 4 beat and pitch reading flash cards, maybe sent to iPads/ tablets via Dropbox, email, or QR codes may be accessed in the photo browser of the iPads/ tablets. Students may use whiteboard apps like Educreations (free) or Explain Everything (paid-upper elementary) to access and manipulate these images. These apps may be used to create rhythmic and melodic compositions that may be extended to movement, Orff instruments, and recorders.

Students can create, record, evaluate, and save their compositions onto student folders. The teacher may create digital portfolios for each student. These may contain screencasts, pdfs, video/audio etc. of student work, and can be easily retrievable for review for assessment, during parent conferences, and for grading purposes.

Technology is your friend!

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Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Education
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Vocal Play with Young Children
By Lorna, MT-BC
9/29/2015 11:13:00 AM  

Music is a great way to enhance development in young children. Anyone can use music, whether they are parents, daycare providers, teachers, or therapists. One aspect of singing that is important with young children is vocal play. Vocal play can be used from infancy through preschool.

With babies, engaging in vocal play is very validating to them. Think of “motherese” and the natural lilting way that your voice changes when you speak lovingly to a baby. This is a natural way of speaking that enhances development. If they make noises at you, imitate them back. Make your noises sound like questions and answers. Have a “conversation” with them. It’s never too early to teach them how to have a real conversation someday. Don’t worry about feeling silly, babies love this!

With toddlers, you can play imitation games to work on listening and speech skills. For example, play a sort of my turn/your turn game with singing. Sing something easy like “la la”, using the first two pitches of “Ring around the Rosy”. You may need to tell them, “You sing: la la” Once they understand the game, use different word sounds, like “bee bo”, “da da”, “mi ma”, etc. Add different pitches and words for a fun vocal play game. You can also help toddlers feel validated as communicators by imitating the sounds or pitches that they initiate. Try using vocal play while riding in the car, waiting for dinner, or changing a diaper. 

With preschool-aged children, use silly songs with rhymes to explore language. Songs like, “Down by the Bay” provide opportunities to learn about rhyming words. Kids can suggest animals, and you can help them come up with rhymes, even if they’re silly nonsense words. This kind of vocal play contributes to language and literacy development. 

Enjoy singing with your child in a new way-try vocal play!


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Tags: Music Education, Infants and Music, Infants, Babies, Babies and Music, Youth Development, Infant Development, Toddler Development, Toddlers and Music, Vocal Play
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music Therapy
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New School Year, New Inspirations
By West Music Company
8/5/2015 8:32:00 AM  

A new school year is right around the corner. New classes, new teachers, and new friends can all be great sources of inspiration. Channeling this inspiration through a musical instrument is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding way to express yourself - and there is little or no experience required! Hand drums, bells, and chimes are relatively easy to get started on, and you get instant satisfaction.

A set of bongos, like this pre-tuned set from Remo, is an inexpensive way get the musical juices flowing and build a sense of time and rhythm. Or try your hand at playing a recorder – a great, unintimidating instrument to start on! Shop Recorders

If you’re drawn more toward the melody of a song, then a chime or bell instrument might be more your style. Try this Basic Beat 8-note Glockenspiel, or this Chromatic 7-note Handbells Set.
It’s never too late to pick up music. Why not learn a skill that will stick with you the rest of your life!


Shop Kids Drums


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Tags: back to school, bts, b2s, new school, inspiration, kids percussion, kids and movement, bells, glockenspiel
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Dances of the Seven Continents
By West Music Company
4/23/2015 12:02:00 PM  
Author: Sanna Longden

Many of you have heard me say that, even though I am a dance educator, I really teach (here come all my “C’s”) civility, cooperation, community, creativity, consideration, communication, cultures, and character development.

Recently, a new set of “C’s” has come into our lives—the Common Core Curriculum (CCC)—and I’d like to suggest that my world dance CDs will help you to connect to this current criterion. And (moving on from the “C’s”), so will my DVDs. You’ll find many useful, educational, and enjoyable cultural dances and music games on my entire FolkStyle Productions series of five CDs and seven DVDs. However, here are some specific curriculum connections you can help your students make with my two CD-DVD set, Dances of the Seven Continents.

The title itself leads to Geography: There are actually only six continents—one big land mass is officially named Eurasia. Have the students find out why, and then locate their dances on the world map. Another idea is to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with “Waves of Tory” and find out where Tory is, and how the dance simulates these well-known waves. You can support World Language with dance titles and songs in Armenian, Bulgarian, Caribbean, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Romanian, Spanish, Tahitian, Taiwanese, and Tibetan. Children from these countries would be thrilled to help with their languages.

For Science, the “Penguin Dance” could elicit much information about these amusing birds, as well as about snow, ice, and the Southern Hemisphere. Traditional dances from U.S. History are “Goin’ Down to Cairo,” “Here Comes Sally,” the “Yakima Round Dance” and “Haliwa-Saponi Canoe Dance,” and, of course, “Swing Dancing.” There are even ways to do Math with meters, measures, phrases, and formations. There’s lots more, especially the most important one, the Humane Curriculum—teamwork with “Mexican Clap Game,” “Thady You Gander,” and others, and humor in “Gustav’s Skøal,” “Ox Dansen,” and “Ach Jah.”

I hope you and your students will enjoy using these CDs and DVDs!

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A New Day for Music Education that Ensures ‘Every Child Achieves’
By West Music Company
4/13/2015 11:48:00 AM  
Author: Catherina Hurlburt

RESTON, VA. (April 7, 2015) – For the first time in education history, music has been recognized as a core subject in draft federal education policy. This is an unprecedented enumeration in proposed federal legislation.

Early this year, NAfME mobilized music advocates to send more than 10,000 letters to their lawmakers—and the result is a new bipartisan Senate Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) proposal, the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015,” that retains the core academic subject section from No Child Left Behind, and, additionally, adds “music” as a specifically enumerated core academic subject (page 529 in this document). The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced the bipartisan agreement on “fixing ‘No Child Left Behind’” on April 7.

“This is game-changing news,” said NAfME Assistant Executive Director Chris Woodside. “This is an enormous achievement, and the DIRECT result of the incredible grassroots advocacy efforts of our members over the past few months. Today we are celebrating our members as we celebrate this crucial step forward.”

“The benefits of listing the arts as core demonstrate the importance of recognizing our nation’s education priorities at the federal level,” Woodside wrote recently in Roll Call. “The elimination of core academic subjects from ESEA would jeopardize national efforts to ensure that all students, regardless of race or economic status, have access to high quality school music programs. . . . music advocates . . . must engage with Congress to urge the inclusion of music in federal statute.”

As the Senate HELP Committee marks up this new proposal next week, NAfME will be present during those deliberations, standing for our members, in order to ensure that this crucial language is preserved in the draft.

NAfME has been the National Voice for Music Education from the beginning. Founded 108 years ago this week, in 1907, NAfME today represents 140,000 student and teacher members who are members of our middle/junior- and senior-high school Tri-M Music Honor Societies, Collegiate NAfME chapters on campuses around the nation, and particularly our more than 60,000 PreK-12 music teachers, who work daily to ensure our students receive a quality music education—which prepares them for the 21st century workplace. Our Broader MindedTM campaign, the result of recalibrated efforts in music education advocacy requested by our members, explains further those extrinsic and intrinsic benefits of music education.

National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association orchestrates success for millions of students nationwide and has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 60,000 members, the organization is the voice of music education in the United States.

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A Song In My Heart
By West Music Company
4/10/2015 9:00:00 AM  

Authors: Peter and Mary Alice Amidon

A Song in my Heart
is a compilation of the best of our children’s music CDs recorded over 25 years with 7 additional new songs. It is a celebration of singing and dancing with children in elementary schools, music festivals, and dance camps, and with our own family. The songs reflect the riches of the folk repertoire, both traditional and contemporary. Here are singable choruses, lovely melodies, poetry and ballads: a wealth of songs which make connections with literature and with the universal themes of love, the seasons, and nature.

Many of the elementary schools in southern Vermont’s Windham County hold an All School Sing: a weekly gathering of staff, students, and some parents. Many of the songs on the ‘Song in My Heart’ CD were sung at the All School Sings we led when we were music teachers. Some songs marked the year: Martin Luther King for his birthday, Harriet Tubman for Black History Month, "Silver Rain" for Thanksgiving, "This Pretty Planet" for Earth Day, and "Mail Myself to You" for Valentine’s Day. We always enjoyed singing the song "Country Life", a rousing traditional English song from the Waterson family which sings of the joys of the seasons. "Now It’s Time to Go", Peter’s round, would often mark the end of the sing.

We composed two of the songs on Song in My Heart to deal with conflict resolution and bullying. My "Say What You Want" was inspired by a Responsive Classroom workshop on conflict resolution. Peter was commissioned by a school in Lititz, PA to write a song for their school about "Celebrating the Differences” and to include a verse about bullying, so he wrote "Brotherhood and Sisterhood". John McCutcheon’s wonderful song "The Kindergarten Wall" deals so well with social themes as well: “don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess!”

Song in My Heart includes our song settings of poems: Peter’s setting of "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear and my "Johnny Appleseed" by Steven and Rosemary Vincent Binet. Both of these poems have been published in picture book version, so one way to use the songs is to ‘sing’ the poems to the children or show them the picture books to the songs on the CD. “Singing” a book creates an opportunity to make a strong connection with literacy; "What a Wonderful World" and "I Miss You Everyday" (a companion to the Woody Guthrie song Mail Myself to You) are available as picture books. A kindergarten teacher once remarked to me that young children are intimately connected to a song, more so than to the written word, and therefore a book of a song is a dynamic tool for literacy learning. Big books and charts of songs also augment the experience of both written and oral language.

Orff teacher Judith Thomas remarked on the importance and integrity of “universals” in selection of repertoire. Sun, moon, stars, nature, and the seasons are reflected in many of the songs here. "Mr. Moon" and "Great Big Star" are elegantly simple tunes and examples of this both great for solos by children. Raffi’s "All I Really Need" is a hymn to universals: the sun and rain, food and a loving family as what we really need. My song "I’m Growing Up" was written to compliment a study of the life cycle. "The Seed in the Ground" by Connie Caldor is a celebration of the growth cycle of the seed into the flower and beginning again.

One second grade teacher used the song "Gentle Heart" to celebrate a child’s birthday: “If you want your dreams to be, take your time, go slowly, do few things but do them well, heartfelt work grows purely”, wise words to live by. We hope that this CD will both inspire many and fill children with songs in their hearts.

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Tags: Peter Amidon, Mary Alice Amidon, A Song In My Heart, children's music
Categories: Kids & Movement, Music, Books & Resources, Music Advocacy, Music Education
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Ring, Dance, and Play
By Griff Gall and Paul Weller
3/11/2015 11:02:00 AM  
Choirchimes are a versatile instrument found in many classrooms. This instrument is frequently used in an ensemble setting, similar to a traditional handbell choir. However, many educators are quickly discovering their value as a classroom instrument. Ring, Dance, and Play is the first resource of its kind to treat Choirchimes as an Orff instrument, incorporating them into the type of lessons and activities music educators will find familiar. This was our main objective as we sat out to create this resource. We wanted to create lessons that would demonstrate how Choirchimes could be seamlessly integrated into the general music classroom. To achieve this, we created lessons that utilize Choirchimes in an elemental style associated with Orff Schulwerk. This book contains lessons based on folksong arrangements, traditional Schulwerk source materials and original compositions for recorder and Choirchimes. Many lessons incorporate movement as well as improvisation or composition components. We hope that Ring, Dance, and Play inspire music educators to explore the value of Choirchimes as a classroom instrument.

Shop for Choirchimes here!

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Tags: griff gall, paul weller, choirchimes, handbell, orff, schulwerk
Categories: Orff, Kids & Movement, Music Education
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2017
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Rhythm For Good
 



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