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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Follow us on Twitter!

Whatever that means - ha ha.  Yeah, we're joining even more of the fray.  HARMONIZENJ is now on Twitter!  Join us!

Tweet, tweet.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Follow Us!!

HARMONIZE is listed on Montclair Patch, Verona/Cedar Grove Patch, and West Orange Patch.  Follow us!  You may also become a fan on FaceBook.  Twitter coming soon - maybe.  Woo hoo!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Street Fair

HARMONIZE will be at the street fair today on Willow Street.  The fair is hosted by Jeanette at Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats.  A portion of the proceeds from the fair will go to relief agencies in Haiti.

Please come by and say hello!  I'll have CDs for sale, and I'm giving some special discounts on classes.

Happy Autumn!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A typical Music for Aardvarks class presented by HARMONIZE

Hello Song The Hello Song, in addition to providing a definite beginning to class, also provides continuity. Each child knows that the song will be sung at the beginning of each class and that he/she will be sung to individually. Eye contact is always attempted and often made. Each child is encouraged to feel a part of the group.  Further,because it is sung at every meeting, the children learn all of the words, and most are able to sing along.

Gathering Song This song is important to gain the class's focus. As a familiar “sit and sing” song to gather the families, it is usually one with hand motions.  A sense of community is fostered and the energy level is set.  Examples: Taxi, Head to Toe, I’m a Thumb, What’s in the Bag?

New Song Depending on the timing during the session, this song will introduce something new (or somewhat unfamiliar,) or reinforce a new-ish song to the group.  This song may be a chant (see below), an “Old Faithful,” or a song that was previously sung in the rhythm section (see below.)

Large Movement Song This segment of the lesson plan is selected to “get their wiggles out” and have some fun. We dance/march/slide/walk around the room in time with the music, sometimes using a prop such as a scarf. There may be some simple choreography. We wave our arms over our heads, we jump up, we crouch down, we generally act silly – in a “big” way. Examples: Runaround Kid, Ready to Go, Move Your Feet, Big Boom Whacker

Shaker Song Shaker songs provide the children their first opportunity to play a rhythm instrument and to keep a beat. We have many different types of shakers, some are loud and others are soft. The tempo and beat of the song, together with its message, determine the type of shaker used.  Examples: Bagel, Miami Grammy, Caboose, Bellybutton Song

Theme Songs In the beginning of the session, these are songs from the current session’s CD. There are usually two or three of these. Later in the session, these songs could be similar to the gathering song, as noted above. Examples: Splashin’ in the Tub, Brush Teeth, Take Me to the Park, I Love You, I’m a Thumb

Rhythm Song This is usually a stick song. On some CDs, these are floor-slapping songs. Or, we may also use the jingle bells or the egghead shakers during this segment.  Examples: Jackhammer Joe, Been There/Done That, Spaceman, I Crack Me Up

Chant/Fingerplay A chant is not done every class, but often. A chant teaches that the voice is the most varied instrument of all. With it we can be melodic, or rhythmic, or both. Chants teach meter and rhyme, and they usually have a hand movement for small motor development. They enhance the memory, because they are short, clever rhymes that are repeated over and over. Mostly they are silly and bring a smile to most faces. Examples: I’m a Snake, My Cat, Tough Day, Pancake, Funny Hair

Dance The dance number is a second large movement segment. The goal here is to interact with each child individually at first, and then “get out of the way” and let the adults interact with their children while enjoying the music. This song is usually one that the adults enjoy as well, so the energy in the room is often upbeat and joyful.  Classic tunes work best, but occasionally an unfamiliar tune will be used. This song is the chance for the families to “make the class their own” by bringing in their favorites.  There are often surprises here! Three minutes works best.

Jam Session A myriad of concepts are at work during the jam session -- some interpersonal and/or group dynamic, some musical. Taking turns, trying something new, “you can’t always get what you want,” putting things away, etc. are group dynamic concepts that are often reinforced during this segment. Musically, this song has a good, strong beat, is usually a favorite of the adults, and generally spreads smiles throughout the room. At three to four minutes, the longest of the entire class, this song gives ample opportunity to interact with children and adults alike.

Lullaby After the jam session, it is often necessary to calm everyone down.  This song provides a soothing, calming closure to the class. We turn off the lights.  The children come to depend on this song as a winding down period. It is a signal that we are about to leave.

Goodbye Song The Goodbye Song is sung every class, just as the Hello Song.  It provides the same continuity and dependability, and it is a signal to the children that music time is almost over. Each child is sung to individually, again making eye contact. It promises that “we’ll see you soon” so that they know they will come again next week. The goal is that each class it is a fond farewell, hasta manana.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Press Release from Fred Astaire Dance Studio - TESTIMONIAL


Music for Aardvarks Enrolling Now at Fred Astaire

The Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Upper Montclair has teamed together with Harmonize to present MUSIC FOR ARDVARKS (and other Mammals).  The class is geared toward children aged 6 months through 5 years and their parents or care-givers, and incorporates a variety of musical activities including singing, dancing, story telling and instrumental jam sessions.

 “We were excited about their philosophy, which provides musical experience, self-expression through music and movement with gentle guidance” states Carrie Babcock, owner of the Fred Astaire Studio of Upper Montclair.  Babcock attended a class with her 2-year-old daughter Emilia back in January, and opened up her studio to the class. “Our first class brought tears to my eyes,” says Carrie, who grew up with a very active musical theater hobby and was once a professional actress, earning her Equity card in theater and her AFTRA card from TV.   “I love that the children learn in ways that are right for them.  It’s a lot like the way we teach dancing.  And Emi is such a free-spirit, she can dance around, play with others or stay in the circle and sing.  I'm so excited there are programs like this for tiny children!”

This semester, classes are every Thursday and Saturday at 10 AM at the Fred Astaire.  The sessions start in early September.  Call to schedule at 973-655-0103 or Fred Astaire at 973-783-8999.  Be sure to mention this article when you call. or

Fred Astaire is located at 604 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, NJ.  973-783-8999

Monday, September 6, 2010

BaristaKids Back-2-School Bash!

baristakidsnewflyerforstory.pngBarista Kids Back to School BashSunday, September 19, 2010 - from 2 pm – 5 pm
Soccer Domain, 14 Depot Square, Montclair, NJ 07042

Our Back to School Bash is really coming together. We're working really hard to make it a great event for families of all ages. There will be bouncy houses, awesome juggler, Jen Slaw, face painting from Faceart by Jan, concerts from Mr. Ray and School of Rock Montclair and lots of local vendors. Here's the list of participants so far:
Woolly Boo
The Sewing Loft
Sports Domain Academy
Montclair Cooperative School
Aunt Jean's Toys & Treats
School of Rock Montclair
Watchung Booksellers
Harmonize featuring Music For Aardvarks & Other Mammals
Stella & Dot
The Goodees
Montclair International Film Festival
Transition Haven
Starseed Yoga
We're still getting more people involved. Want to participate too? Email us here.
We've made it easy to purchase advance tickets. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Babies under 12 months are Free. Click here and order them at Brown Paper Tickets and mark the date on the calendar!
Barista Kids Back to School Bash
Who: All ages.
What: A super fun party to celebrate going back to school. Bouncy houses, live entertainment from Mr. Ray and School of Rock Montclair, fun activities, yummy treats to buy and much more!
Where: Soccer Domain, 14 Depot Square, Montclair, NJ, 07042.
When: Sunday, September 19 from 2 pm - 5 pm.
Cost: $5 in advance / $7 at the door / Babies 12 months and under Free. Order online here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Now THIS is a "Daddy"

Dad Catches Foul Ball at Phillies Game Only to Watch Daughter Throw it Back

PHILADELPHIA — A father made a nice grab on a foul ball at a Philadelphia Phillies game Tuesday night, only to watch his toddler daughter toss it back.

Steve Monforto attended the game against the Washington Nationals with his wife Kathleen and two little girls Emily and Cecilia. After Monforto caught the ball in the fifth inning, he gave it to 3-year-old Emily — who tossed it back in the direction of the field.

When she looked at her dad for his reaction, he just hugged her.

“When she first threw it over, I kind of laughed and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, there it goes,'" the Laurel Springs, N.J., father told "But then the look on [Emily's] face was like she might have done something wrong, so I just wanted to let her know that she didn’t do anything wrong."

The entire scene was caught on videotape.

Monforto called his catch "lucky" and said that later in the game, a Phillies representative brought him a new ball to take home.

Today in New York City


We were hoping for a snow day, but we got a delayed opening instead. The phone rang at 5:20AM, but I was already awake. I always am. The recorded message gave the quasi-good, but not-good-enough, news that there would be a 2 hour delay due to the snow.

Today was the day I had the privilege of chaperoning a trip for Eva's 7th grade "house" of 100 children. Shall I reiterate that? Let me just stop for a moment and let that information sink in: one hundred 12- & 13-year-olds, in the snow, in Manhattan.

I looked forward to it so much, and I am grateful to have been able to go. I had some crazy experiences, however, and the day left me feeling differently than I had anticipated.

We were supposed to go to the South Street Seaport to see the BODIES exhibit; but, we couldn't, because of our delayed arrival into Manhattan. [The bodies are cadavers that have been preserved in polymer. It allows observers to see inside the human body at its wonders, fostering understanding and respect for this most amazing of God's creations.]

The bus dropped us off at Columbus Circle, at the southwest corner of Central Park. We walked through Central Park, in the snow, across town to the east side. Mr. Gill pointed out landmarks and statues along the way. We saw the horse-drawn carriages that await the tourists, and we looked sadly at the Plaza Hotel - how desperately it needs a face-lift! From there, we walked down Fifth Avenue past Bergdorf Goodman, Bvlgari, Sax Fifth Avenue, St. Patrick's cathedral, etc., on the way to Rockefeller Center. We watched the ice skaters for a while and snapped pictures.

[My pants kept (practically) falling off of me, and I had no belt. The only pants that fit me anymore are the ones I wore yesterday, so I was a mess - pants dragging the ground, sloshing in the snow. And, I ruined my favorite boots! Darn it!]

We hit Times Square for lunch and fed 100 hungry teens on barbecued chicken, ribs, french fries, coleslaw, cornbread, and ice cream sandwiches. That was quite an undertaking, but it flowed smoothly. The most notable event that occurred during lunch was the adults around me watching me struggle with cutting the meat from the ribs with a steak knife. (Sloppy, bone-sucking, finger-licking dining and ME? Uh, not so much.)

As I was leaving the Powder Room, an obviously confused, elderly gentleman entered the women's lounge area. I slowly and quietly approached him. (My father has Alzheimer's, so I know a bit about approaching people with dementia.) I put my arm around him to direct him back to the lobby. He was compliant, and walked easily with me. Just as we reached the door, he, um, grabbed, um, well, he grabbed me. I wriggled away and moved his hand, and so he used his other hand to find one of my other girly parts a little higher up. I returned him to his son, who was beyond embarrassed. I briefly explained that I understood, because of my own father's illness, and the son apologized profusely. He also told me I was "stunning" - haven't been called that for a while - and asked for my number, but that's a different story. ha ha (WAIT? Do you think the dad was his "wing man?" ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Of course, I'm joking.)

We then walked over to the Imperial Theatre to see the 2 pm matinee of the Broadway show, "Billy Elliot." (Yes, that's the correct spelling - I know, right? Threw me off a bit, too.)

It is the story of a boy who wants to be a dancer, yet his father wants him to be a boxer. His mother is dead, but she "visits" him periodically to encourage him, and to help him to "be himself."

Billy Elliot shares an old letter with his dance instructor that his mother wrote to him before she died. After the reading, the dance teacher responds with, "...she must have been a special woman." Billy replies, ", she was just me mum."

I don't think I've been hit quite so powerfully with a line from a show. "She was just me mum." I have thought about that since, and I've decided that, of all things, I want to be remembered as a "mum."

Of course, I want (and have) a satisfying career; I run my own business as well; I have opportunities to express my talents as I perform at various venues. My songs have been played on the radio. I write, and I've been published. I absolutely desire the warmth and joy that the love of a devoted man can bring. I want friends, I want close relationships with my family. I want good books, fine music, and gourmet dinners. I want all of these things. But, if I had to choose one, just ONE selfish, earthly thing that I wanted out of life on this telestial planet, it would be this: to be honored by my children as a good mother.

I want them to love themselves, and be kind to themselves. I want them to be comfortable to speak up, loud and proud, at injustices heaped upon them or upon others. I want them to be equally as comfortable being meek and tender as they are being bold. I pray that they will accept their failures and successes as an essential part of life, and move on, leaving the past in the past.

I want them to view me as a fallible, imperfect, human woman who has issues; a woman who succeeds and fails; a woman who laughs and cries; a woman who loves so passionately that it's sometimes too much; but, also, a woman who shines as an example to them of goodness, justice, and mercy.

I hope I teach them how to offer others empathy and understanding. I hope I have shown them how to stand by a loved one while she grieves. I strive to teach them, by example, to demand respect for themselves and others; and, conversely, how to properly and thoroughly take responsibility for their own actions when they are wrong. I have harped on them about "proper" apologies since they were little, because I think there are few social skills more important than the healing power of a proper apology.

I want them to know I loved them even before they were conceived. I want them to feel my absolutely UNCONDITIONAL love for them. I want them to feel handsome/beautiful, because they have been taught to appreciate themselves as they are, regardless of what others might think. I want them to know that they are smart, capable people with good ideas and unique, powerful insights.

In short, I want to be a perfect mother.

Guess what? I'm not. I'm SO not. All I can do about my parenting failures is own them, apologize for them, and do WHATEVER IT TAKES FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES to correct them. I can only practice what I preach and pray that the grace of God will make up for wherever I have failed.

Billy Elliot and his mother share three scenes in this Broadway show. The last time she appears, he knows it is the last time. He tells her goodbye, and she knows her "work is done" with him. How she longs to be able to hold him, but she can't. She just wants to be able to touch her baby - that's all she wants! The audience wants her to be able to leave her realm and be "on earth" for just a moment, so she can hug her boy one more time. It is heart rending.

So, what does this mean to me?

I've decided that I want to leave a legacy. I, too, will die one day; and, when I do, I hope I won't care if folks thought I was a good singer, a gifted teacher, a great cook, or a beautiful woman. I hope I strive each day to be a wonderful mother.

Life has shown me that a husband comes, a husband goes, that the love of a new man may or may not be on the horizon; but, my babies are FOREVER.

Please, dear God, please, give me everything I need. Please close the gap on things I lack. Please let me be part of the SOLUTION, not the PROBLEM. Please help me to live worthy enough that, when I do pass away, we will have such a special bond between each of us that they will WANT to honor my memory. Maybe one of them will say, "she was just me mum."

I believe that's what I learned today in New York City.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Modeling: Children Learn What They Live

In the early part of the summer, I was a guest at a convention in the Gulf.  Amid the tar balls on the beach and the oil in the water, I learned something that I've thought about many times since.  A speaker related how we attract people who are mirrors of ourselves.  Using his viewpoint to encourage the class participants to evaluate the people with whom they associate, he taught that "the importance of associating with good people is paramount to success."  He said (and please pardon the crass word choice) "...if you look around and all of your friends suck, maybe YOU suck.  Do something about it!"

We are never too old to be influenced by negativity to which we are exposed; neither are we ever too old to embrace innocence and purity in all of its forms.

I was immediately reminded of this timeless prose ~ 

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
-Dorothy Law Nolte, PhD

As a mother and a teacher, I've learned that our children become US.  Just like the "modeling" I do in music class with my students, what I "model" for my own children in life is what they will become.

If children end up in trouble, the Universe must ask the question: "What did they witness all of their lives?"

It is imperative to be a good example to children, for children, and with children. Everyone wins when we can all "walk in the light" together. Everyone loses when we can't.

Joining the Fray

A blog.  Wow.  I've been writing for years - essays, poetry, articles, songs; but, I have not, until now, written a blog.  It's not a big deal - millions of people blog - so I don't think it makes me special or anything.  It just makes me join the Digital Age, albeit being dragged, kicking and screaming.

My purpose in writing HARMONIZE is to share my joy.  I have two jobs: the best job in the world, and the second best job in the world.  First, and foremost, I am a mommy.  I consider it an honor and a privilege, and I believe that it is the most critically important job on the face of the earth.  Second, I am a teacher of young children.  Pure, innocent, sweet, lively, uninhibited, blatantly honest little kids.  I am blessed to serve both typically-developing children and children with special needs.

Of course, typically-developing children and special needs children are more alike than they are different.  And, because children develop at vastly different rates, the 5 wonderful years I am allowed into their lives is pure magic to me, regardless of the way each makes his or her way along the path.

As if that wasn't enough for which to be grateful, I am blessed to have added music to the mix.  Music is my second great love in life.  To be able to teach, share, and learn from little children, using music as the vehicle, is my every professional dream come true.  Remember the old Steve Martin schtick: "...I get paid for doin' this...?"  I know what he meant.

I'll be posting some general thoughts about what I do, and I'll share the personal journey that brings me to this point.  I plan to include some useful information about music, children, performing, and parenting.  Last, and I DO hope least, I'll weave what my business has to offer into the tapestry of this endeavor.

I promise to be honest and vulnerable; I promise to protect the innocent; I promise to share my joy.  My hope is that I learn through the catharsis of writing, my readers will learn from the fruits of my labors, and we'll both be edified together.

Come along for the ride!