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Early Childhood Music Program Expanding Preschoolers' Minds Throughout the State

Updated: 02/28/2014 10:20 PM
Created: 02/28/2014 3:19 PM KSTP.com
By: Todd Wilson

Class is in session for teacher Amanda Breininger. She is teaching early childhood music. An on-line video conference from MacPhail Center for Music allows her to lead two pre-school classes.

"Last spring I tried it and it worked. I was very surprised to see how responsive they were," she said.

Two hours West in Sunburg, Minn., teacher Jamie Moe mixes music with the Norwegian language. Her preschoolers love the mixture.

"If their parents ask them no. but if they are playing by themselves in their room they hear them singing a song they don't understand, it's Norwegian," Moe said.

Here is how it all works: Breininger gets a list of the developmental concepts from teachers of schools participating in the pilot program. She then tailors her lessons to skills they are working on.          

"Managing behavior, building empathy, collaborating all of these skill sets that they are building at this age," she said.

MacPhail's online partnerships started in 2011. They teamed up with the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg Junior and senior high school. With the addition of early childhood music this school year, MacPhail's Executive Director Kyle Carpenter says, the entire set up now serves 1,500 students weekly in band and orchestra programs in 17 school districts throughout the state.

"Kids are just over programmed, schedules are difficult, travel is tough and it becomes a really good mode of delivery, affective and efficient." Carpenter said.

Victoria Guillmard is practicing her cadence on a musical score. MacPhail music teacher Nina Olson impresses upon Victoria the finer points of the piece. Guillmard says, she was nervous to try out the program. She says, it didn't take long to see improvement.

"And it was about after two lessons that I learned about a billion ways to improve my sound," Guillmard said.

Three years ago KMS was the test pilot for the online music lessons. Band Director Pam Diem says, 140 students from 7-12th that get to be involved in the program throughout the year. she says, overtime the students growth is noticeable.

"They are becoming more committed, they're becoming more responsive, more in touch, more in tuned, more refined," Diem said. 

Both sides of this collaboration agree, the act of giving music its proper value is a life long journey. A journey best started as a little one to gain a musical appreciation. 


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