Kindermusik, giving new appreciation for music

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Hensley
  • Special contributor
When most people think of stimulating brain development in their toddlers, they don't typically think of singing silly songs, stomping feet and experimenting with musical instruments.

But that's exactly what one class at Yokota Air Base is all about.

The core curriculum of the Kindermusik class at the West Youth Center is all about music, movement and fun, fun, fun.

Kindermusik is a concept that began in West Germany more than 40 years ago. Educators wanted to develop a program that allowed young children to experience music before formal instruction could be implemented. The program became so popular that the creators translated and adapted the program for American families in the 1970s.

Since then, instructors around the world have been using the program and its concept to promote cognitive development in children under the age of five.
For Yokota teacher Mie Fujimori, the Kindermusik program is something that's very near and dear to her heart.

"I was looking for tools to teach music to my son," she said. "I found information about Kindermusik in an educational magazine and decided to check it out."

A music teacher since high school, Ms. Fujimori was looking for something rhythmic that allowed her son
to feel the music, not just hear it. Since Kindermusik's philosophy is centered on that very concept, it was a perfect fit.

She bought the materials and became a certified instructor. Six years later, the program is running strong.

"I love to see the development and changes in children who participate in the program," she said with a wide smile.

Each class is less than an hour in length. Parents and their children literally kick off their shoes (and socks) and get silly with songs, props and simple gestures, all designed to promote coordination and thinking skills in children aged 18 months to three years.

Diane Burch, mother of Maggie, thinks the class is ideal for toddlers.

"Maggie loves music and other kids, so the class is right up her alley," said Ms. Burch. "I thought the class was a great place for children to be exposed to music while interacting with other children. I really like how they were encouraged to pretend."

In addition to the hands-on learning the class provides, Ms. Burch was also happy to see that such a class was offered at Yokota.

"My older son attended a similar class back in the states," she said. "I was happy to see that there was something similar here for toddlers."

Instructor Fujimori gets almost as much out of the class as the participants do.

"I love to watch how the children become independent when they take the classes," she said enthusiastically. "The first time they sing is such a joy."

When asked about her favorite part of teaching Kindermusik, Ms. Fujimori said it's hard to narrow it down to just one thing, as she gets so much pleasure from teaching the toddlers. "It's amazing to see them feel as they learn," she says. "They don't know they're learning because they're having fun. I love it."

Kindermusik classes are available at the West Youth Center. Classes are Fridays and taught in 15-week increments. The next class begins Friday.

For more information about Kindermusik classes, call the West Youth Center at 225-6397.