We are honored to present this guest blog post from Kelly Heinze of Music and More with Kelly. Anyone who has ever taken one of her music and dance filled classes and experienced her infectious energy and positivity will agree that her classes have a special style.
As a fellow small business owner focusing on childrenʼs education, Kelly and Donna of The Messy Artist have a strong bond, cemented by complimentary philosophies on teaching young children. Kelly graciously took some time out from her busy teaching schedule to answer some interview questions.
What was your background before Music Together with Kelly?
Before teaching Music Together I had a career as an actress, singer dancer. I performed in many musicals across the nation and abroad.
Please tell us how you started Music Together with Kelly.
After I had my first baby, I started to contemplate retiring from professional performance to teach. I wasnʼt sure in what capacity I would teach, so I returned to college to get my Masters degree in secondary education with an emphasis in English Literature. During that time, I happened to take my child to a Music Together class in Brooklyn, NY. The teacher noticed that I was a singer and said that I should look into it. My family moved to Maplewood, NJ and I took the Music Together training and before I knew, it 2 classes turned into ten. I became a corporation and had to learn how to be a business person within one year. It was overwhelming, but so satisfying on many levels.
Kids learn music the same way they learn anything! Active participation from strong role models as well as information being imparted to encompass a variety of learning styles. In our mixed age music classes, the caregivers are the most important people in the class! Without them there would be no consistent, musical role model for the child. I always tell my caregivers two things:
- 1. It doesnʼt matter if you are musical. Your active, enthusiastic participation is teaching the child the joy of music and this will last a lifetime.
- 2. I am only with them one time per week for 45 minutes, you are with them 24/7 or close to it! You are their role model for every kind of learning.
I believe that music learning supports all learning.
In fact, children learn better and more quickly when music is incorporated into their learning environments. I’m not talking about the passive consumption of music, rather actively incorporating music into daily lessons. I am a huge proponent of Music Together in the classrooms. Our preschool program uses the Music Together curriculum to enhance learning in the classroom by incorporating art projects to match themes in the song collections, by using the songs to work through daily transitions, and to build the rhythm and tonal skills of the children on a daily basis.
How do you see children develop throughout your classes?
What keeps me going 18 years later, is watching the effect that Music Together has on the development of the child as a whole. Not only do I marvel at the musical development I see in infants and toddlers, but also the cognitive and social gains I see every day. Children who consistently take my classes from infancy through toddlerhood learn how to keep a steady beat and sing in tune, but they also learn how to share, socialize, clean up, and be an enthusiastic learner to name a few things.
As we all know, there seems to be many issues affecting children these days from sensory integration problems to central processing disorders, autism spectrum and a variety of other physical and or cognitive delays. One of my greatest feelings of accomplishments is when I am able to work with parents to help a child who was not successful in class to become successful. Figuring out what the problems are and coming up with a plan and implementing it successfully is very satisfying for all parties involved. I have helped children to overcome fears of groups and loud noises. I have also developed behavioral plans for parents desperate to prepare their rambunctious toddlers for preschool.
What are the best parts of running your own business? The worst? The most surprising?
The best part to running my business is being in the classroom and interacting with children and their families. I am a people person and although cliché, I absolutely love children. My requisite for becoming a teacher of mine is to have the natural ability to engage children through an innate, true love of teaching. The only things I really dislike about my business is the paperwork! I donʼt like billing and even advertising. It is time consuming and just not fun! The most surprising part of my business to me is that I can say I am still in business 18 years later! This means I am doing something right!
Music Together is an international booming program across the world! Some people donʼt even know that they can do the Triangle song collection (This Springʼs collection) right now in Tokyo or India! I donʼt see Music Together ever ending! I hope to continue offering this program well after I am unable to physically jump up and down in the classroom! There are always new lovely, vibrant teachers ready to give their all to my families! I see the program in the next five years as holding strong and steady. Would I love to see growth in my individual centers, yes of course, but I am happy that within the communities I service ( Maplewood/South Orange, Millburn, East Hanover, Springfield, Union) they are going strong.
What advice do you have for parents for their children to get the most out of enrichment classes?
The single most important thing that parents should think about with regards to getting the most out of their enrichment classes is this: ask yourself what YOU as the adult want out of the class. Are you looking for a place that is for you to socialize, and/or for you to bond with your child? Should it be educational or just fun? I have four children and when they were young, I was mostly interested in meeting other moms with kids my age as well as taking a class where my child would actually learn something. I always found that classes without educational value left me with a stinging feeling in my pocket book! I became a Music Together mom before I ever taught it. I sent every one of my children through the program from birth through age 4. (with the exception of my first who started at 1 and he finished a little earlier, well, because he was a hitter!) All of my children are incredible math students and musicians. I think there might be something to that research! I credit Music Together for their incredible musical ears and their auditory and visual/spatial skills. I have 2 sons, one of which who at the age of 17 is a professional jazz musician. My 15 year old sings and plays jazz as well as classic rock guitar. Both are on the honor roll and in advanced classes academically. My twins are 10 year old girls and they are fantastic musicians, playing clarinet and piano! “Music learning supports all learning”.
.Personally speaking, most people know me as the Music Together lady, full of educational wisdom for babies and toddlers! Maybe some of you donʼt know that my favorite food is Five Guys and the candy, Dots. In my spare time, which is never, I just want to read trashy novels on the beach!
Thank you, Kelly, for your wonderful insights into music education and running your own business! We hope you got to spend some time this summer reading trashy novels on the beach!