Neuroscientist: Think twice about cutting music in schools |

“Playing an instrument may help youngsters better process speech in noisy classrooms and more accurately interpret the nuances of language that are conveyed by subtle changes in the human voice,” says Nina Kraus, Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology and Communication Sciences at Northwestern University.

“Cash-strapped school districts are making a mistake when they cut music from the K-12 curriculum,” says Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in Northwestern’s School of Communication.

Kraus will present her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.

“People’s hearing systems are fine-tuned by the experiences they’ve had with sound throughout their lives,” says Kraus. “Music training is not only beneficial for processing music stimuli. We’ve found that years of music training may also improve how sounds are processed for language and emotion.”

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Neuroscientist: Think twice about cutting music in schools |

Musical Mom has Oxford Kids Grooving

Local Kindermusik program ranked among world’s best

By Alexe van Beuren
The Oxford Enterprise

Parenthood changes your life forever. But often who you were evolves into who you are — and the two bear a distinct resemblance.

Jeanne Lippincott has always been musical. She’s earned two degrees and most of a doctorate in the music field and taught at a conservatory in Chicago. But it wasn’t until she moved to Oxford in 1999 with her classical pianist husband and her five-month-old son that she threw herself into the world of Kindermusik.

“I didn’t want to drive to Memphis every week for classes,” Lippincott says. So she signed up with Kindermusik International, underwent training and launched her own studio: Kindermusik with Jeanne.

Oxford seems to appreciate her efforts. “When I first started, everyone was thrilled,” Lippincott says. “And they still are. They keep signing up again and again. I’ve had people come from as far away as Tupelo and Grenada.”

Kindermusik is a musical curriculum for children that was formed from research done by teachers in West Germany during the 1960s. It found its way to the United States, and today, Kindermusik is an actual company headquartered in North Carolina, dedicated to exposing children to music when they’re as young as newborns and up to seven years old.

More than 5,000 teachers now offer Kindermusik instruction around the world. And according to Kindermusik International, Kindermusik with Jeanne is one of the best. Lippincott’s studio has been ranked in the “Maestro” level by the parent company, placing it in the top five percent of Kindermusik programs offered worldwide.

A mother of three herself, Jeanne teaches nearly eight hours of classes a week, primarily out of a small studio in her home. Her current schedule includes the “Village” class for those under 20 months, the “Our Time” program for toddlers, and “Imagine That!” for the slightly older children. She’s also teaching a short-run “Sign & Sing class” that spans six-month-olds to toddlers.

The rationale behind Kindermusik seems like balm to many parents’ ears: phrases like “develop early literacy,” “increase self-control” and “acquire reasoning and early math skills” are sprinkled all over the Kindermusik promotional materials.

But the classes themselves look less like lessons and more like, well, fun. There are scarves, noisemakers, kids clapping and dancing to everything from the classics like “Wheels on the Bus” to world music like African, Israeli and Latin styles.

Despite the brightly colored-shakers and boppy music, some problems can arise, understandably. “Toddlers very often don’t know how to behave in a group,” Lippincott says. “Sometimes it’s their very first group experience. So if a problem comes up, we send them out into the hall — with their parent — for two minutes or so.”

Usually, the time-out is all that it takes. “Kids are smart,” Lippincott says. “They want to stay here and not miss the fun.”

The children aren’t the only ones having a good time. Since Lippincott hosts classes for children as young as newborn babies — the youngest ever was two days old — new parents find Kindermusik a great resource for bonding with other parents — and getting advice — during those heady first months with firstborns.

“Some of these little problems that come up, somebody at class probably has some experience with what you’re going through,” Lippincott says. “It’s a great place to meet other parents.”

Writer’s note: She’s got me convinced. I’m planning to sign my two-year-old up for “Our Time.” She’s a self-possessed and coordinated child who gets plenty of socialization at her nursery school, so I’m not so much interested in the educational aspects of Kindermusik. Honestly, it just looks like a whole lot of fun; bring on the drum sets.

Jeanne’s note: This wonderful article appeared in the Oxford Enterprise Sunday newspaper on February 14, 2010. Thank you ALexe for your wonderful words. I look forward to meeting you and your children in person soon!

New Class Announcement!

Please pass this info on…. I’ve had several calls in the last few days about starting a new Village class (newborn – 20 months) in the evenings. Contact me NOW if you want in on the 8 week class. 513-4994. We may follow this class with another round of the Sign & Sing class as there seems to be lots of interest in that as well.