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  What is Musikgarten
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Photo by Frank Pinc

Studio Protocol

Please remove shoes at the front entrance area.   This is not only to keep our music area clean, but it is also to help us feel the beat through our feet and experience the music more fully in this way.  However, for the sake of hygiene, we ask that all children and grown-ups make an effort to wear socks during class. At times we may roll our rhythm sticks with our feet or the children may step on sandblocks to mimic skating, etc., and we wish to keep our instruments clean and help thwart the spread of germs!  

No food or drink allowed while participating in the music class. No peanuts allowed in the studio.

Grown ups, please set an example of focused listening and enthusiastic participation. Please wait until the end of class to enjoy conversation with others.   

In order to avoid parental distraction and in order to practice being present, we highly encourage you to leave your phone in your bag - or even out in your car! Please enjoy this time focused solely on your child and the people around you. Should you desire to take a couple of quick photos of your child during the course of the session, please do so sparingly and discreetly. Please avoid including other children's faces in these limited photos, especially if you hope to share them on social media.


Please honor your child’s need for autonomy. Allow your child’s spirit to lead the way. You need restrain or lovingly redirect your child only if he/she is heading for trouble.

During this early childhood phase of musical development the emphasis is on play and not performance. We never want to put pressure on the children to perform music a certain way. Your example of full participation and attentive listening is powerful. Count on that. 

Some children wish to be held during circle dances and movement activities. Please do hold them at these times. Music class is a time of family bonding and sweetness.  
Understand that all children learn at different rates and in different ways. Some will simply observe and will not directly participate in the classroom activities. Some will do everything perfectly at home, but not in class. You will find that your seemingly uninvolved child is absorbing everything in his/her quiet way. How often parents tell me that their children love to try out the musical activities at home.  Yes, they have incredible powers of attention.  As a parent you know that every child is unique, so check your comparisons at the door and let the music work it's magic! 

Severe weather conditions
Please note that Musikgarten will update the website in the event of a studio closing due to severe weather.   As a private studio, we usually keep our studio open.  Please check the home page of our website to confirm if classes are cancelled.  

There is a $50 Registration Fee which is part of the total cost of each class. This fee is not refundable.  A student who withdraws before the start of the session is entitled to a refund of the remaining tuition only.   A student who withdraws before the fourth week of class is entitled to a 50% refund of tuition only.  There are no refunds after the 4th class. 

If it is determined that the student is not able to succeed in the class, or is a disruption to other students, the remainder of your unused tuition will be refunded.

There will be no credits or reduction in fees for missed classes. 


In general, we encourage our families to consistently attend their weekly class choice, as consistency is so key for young children - both consistency of class attendance and joining the same families in class each week. However, we do understand that life happens, and at times a class must be missed. Two make-ups are allowed per session. 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Please be aware that makeups are only allowed within the same session as the missed classes and only in a select few classes according to class sizes.  Please contact Katy Lineberry at musikgartenoakpark@gmail.com to learn the current options and to arrange a make-up.  


Sibling Participation 

Babies under 1 attend for free when accompanying an older sibling to a Family Music or Cycle of Season’s class.   All siblings between 1 and 5 who participate in the class must be registered.  Families with more than one child between ages 1 and 5 generally join the Family Music class.  We sometimes make exceptions and allow younger children to register for a Cycle of Seasons class with the older sibling.  But this requires unusual focus on the part of the toddler.  Most toddlers are not developmentally ready for the more sophisticated activities that take place in the Cycle class.

Older Siblings

Holidays or school closing or institute days are acceptable reasons that may require you to bring your older child.   Usually this happens only once or twice a session. If you feel the older child will enjoy the experience, he/she is certainly welcome to participate in the class.   Older siblings (5 years and under) who attend a Family Music or Cycle of Seasons class and participate with younger siblings must be registered. The older children love the Family Music class, too.  They love to lead the way and act as exceptional role models in the class; it is a big boost to their confidence as they get a kick out being the senior class member.  Our teachers call upon them to take a leadership role with specific activities. 

Holiday Schedule

Please read your schedule and make a note of holiday dates on your calendar.

Holidays or school closing or institute days are acceptable reasons that may require you to bring your older child to class. Usually this happens only once or twice a session.  If you feel your older child will enjoy the experience and not disrupt the class, he/she is certainly welcome to participate in the class or to sit on the couch and read or draw.

Free Previews
Though we sometimes offer free previews before the start of the session, you are not guaranteed a spot in a Musikgarten class of your choice.  Indeed, many classes fill up before the start of the session.  We know that many families wish to be reassured that the class is the right fit for their child. (Especially since our Fall and Winter sessions last for 14 weeks.)  Please be reassured: if you are not completely satisfied after your first class, you will receive a refund of your tuition, minus the non-refundable registration fee.  To receive your refund, you must notify the teacher immediately after the first class. Keep in mind that some children are anxious if this is their first group class experience.  We are happy to work with you as you ease into the wonderful world of music making at Musikgarten.  


Parking is available on Lombard Avenue and area side streets near the studio. Please be aware of and observe all parking restrictions, especially those between 8-10 am.

Please note that it is important to observe the snow ban restrictions on designated streets in Oak Park. Harrison Street is considered an emergency route and the parking fee is $100 if you are in violation of the 2 inch snowfall restriction. If you need to verify a snow ban, please call 358-SNOW.  At the start of classes, I will be sure to notify families if the snow ban is in effect. 

Studio Closing due to severe weather conditions. 
Please note that Musikgarten will update the website in the event of a studio closing due to severe weather.   As a private studio, we usually keep our studio open.  Please check the home page of our website to confirm if classes are cancelled.  


Musikgarten Recordings Make Classes  More Successful!

At the start of each session we announce to our parents and caregivers: Grown-ups, do you know that here at Musikgarten we think of you as our primary students?  Your enthusiastic and focused participation in class is the all and the all. To be sure, your bright shining example lights a fire in your child’s heart and is the grand impetus for their joyful musical discoveries and play.


We encourage everyone to share Musikgarten’s excellent music all week and all session long. Day in and day out you will find ways to bring music to life in your home.  To that end, we encourage you to learn the music by heart and to find a hundred and one ways to integrate the songs, dances, poetry, stories and musical activities into your daily life with your children.  The home materials, especially the recordings, will be a key component in facilitating the musical and dramatic play you accomplish with your child throughout the week. 


What are the varied and wonderful attributes of the Musikgarten recordings?  Below is a fine Musikgarten article that highlights the reasons to use your recordings at home.


Familiarity breeds success: Children love to hear a song over and over and over again. They will request the music on every car trip. When they enter the classroom they embrace the activity because they KNOW the songs from listening to the recording at home.


Children singing on recordings: All Musikgarten recordings have children singing several of the songs, sometimes in a children’s choir and other times as a solo. This is magical for children because they love hearing other children sing. They can easily sing along because the vocal range is optimal for their voices.


Expands the classroom experience: So often I have parents share how their children are “practicing” their songs. This could be a baby or toddler singing the songs on a syllable like la or bam in their crib or in their car seat. Or an older child singing a complete song while dancing.


Develops vocabulary: Songs, especially the folk material that Musikgarten uses, are rich in words. When children sing with the recording or later by themselves, they are developing their growing vocabulary.


Parent’s important role: Parents are the model the child will follow. I notice more parents sing in class when they have listened to the recording with their children or on their own.  How many times have I heard parents say they continue to listen and hum along to the music long after they drop off their children to school or other activities?  Parents love the music!


I always encourage families to listen to many different types of music, and I embrace the tremendous variety of musical choices in our society that we can access 24 hours a day. However, I want to emphasize the strengths of the Musikgarten recordings that are created specifically for young children:


Instrumentation is diverse: This is so important! So many children’s CDs limit their instrumentation to drums, guitar, piano and voice.  But take a look at a typical Musikgarten CD. The listener will experience a children’s choir; instruments from the woodwind family like the clarinet, oboe, and bassoon; large orchestras, brass instruments; folk instruments like bamboo flute and jaw’s harp; plus the traditional guitar, drums and piano. Oh, and did I mention an ensemble of Renaissance instruments? When it is time for a child to choose the instrument they wish to study, teacher and parent can be sure they have heard a wide selection of musical instruments before they make that lifelong choice.


Tempo: The tempo of the music is just right for children. I have found when I listen to CDs that are labeled for children they are just too fast. In my classes I am constantly slowing down the speed of the songs we sing to match the speed of the children singing.  At the same time, I want the tempos on the recordings to be lively and catchy and the CDs have the speed that is ideal for the children.


The singers are often children: This needs to be repeated! This means a child has a model of singing that is just like their voice. They hear a sound that they can easily understand and recreate.


Music includes activity: Remember in class we don’t just sing a song, we sing and MOVE to the song, whether it is tapping the beat on our knees, rocking to and fro, marching through the room, folk dancing or playing along with sticks. This brings another dimension to the song, something a recording by itself cannot do.


May you find a myriad of opportunities to play your recordings and to make them a part of their daily life.

Musical Play at Home and in the Car

Make music an integral part of your daily life.  Lullabies at bedtime make an ideal family ritual that creates lasting joy and precious child/parent bonding times.  Make up songs as you work and play.  Use songs to transition from one activity to another, one setting to another.  If possible, play or learn to play an instrument, take voice lessons, join a drumming circle.   As you express yourself musically, you set a fire in the heart of your child.

Make music a time of playfulness, discovery and family togetherness.  Warning: some children do shush the singing parent.  Indeed, my youngest daughter Sophia often gave my arm a strong bop and shook her head, “No way!”  This was the daughter who came into the world just before I began teaching Musikgarten.  Of course I found ways to be musical around her.  I find that most children have a season or two of pokiness.   I notice this in my teaching, too. So if your child shushes you in class, try not to take it personally.  The art of surrender and going with the flow comes in handy with creative endeavors.  And with parenting in general. 

Happy music-making!                          

Amy Abbott Pappageorge


Patrice Stribling Nelson
1.      RELAX AND HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME! This is not about the beauty of your voice, or your dancing ability, or how quickly you can memorize words to songs – this is about your relationship with your child and helping them develop the wonderful musical beings that they are. Everything that you do will be perfect and beautiful in your child’s eyes, so have fun!
2.      FEEL FREE TO FOLLOW YOUR CHILD’S NEEDS. If you need to feed your baby or change a diaper or step out of the singing circle with a crying child, do so with complete comfort and confidence. Yours and your little one’s comfort is first and foremost. Just please don’t leave – come back into the circle and rejoin the activity as soon as it feels comfortable to do so. 
3.      STAY IN CLASS! If on a particular day your child doesn’t respond favorably to a certain activity or stimulation, don’t push it. Lack of participation on the child’s part is common, depending on their level of development at that moment in their life. Babies often just observe, and don’t join in for months. Toddlers normally opt out, get distracted, run off to explore and experiment. Preschoolers always participate, but go off on wild tangents as their wonderful imaginations take over. It’s all good! THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART: As long as the parent stays actively engaged in the class activity, the child sees the example being set and gradually begins to learn better focus. You may gently redirect your child back into the activity, but above all else, keep on doing it yourself – keep singing, tapping, marching! Children respond positively to continuity and consistency, and they will learn to refocus into the class activity if they see you doing so, and gently guiding them to do the same.
4.      THESE CLASSES ARE ABOUT YOU, YOUR CHILD, AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP! I as teacher am simply a model to guide you and your child through the developmental program. For that reason, I will not interfere with your interaction with your child, but I do ask that each parent takes responsibility for how their child’s behavior affects others’ experience in the classroom. Children are naturally curious about one another, and the older babies sometimes like to crawl over to touch or interact with another baby. Toddlers and preschoolers love to connect with one another. This is fine! However, if I sense a child’s actions are interfering with others’ enjoyment of the class, please understand if I gently return your child to your side.  
5.      PLEASE BE ON TIME! These classes are short, and are designed to achieve a certain flow so the children can become absorbed in the activity. When someone enters late, everything can grind to a halt by the distraction and that flow might be disturbed.
6.      One of the joys of Musikgarten is the friendships that parents, caregivers and children form with one another. This is a wonderful part of the Musikgarten experience! However, actual class time is specifically for focusing on the bond between you and your child.  Socializing is perfect for before or after class, but once the class begins, please put all of your focus on your child, the bonding experience you two are sharing, and your music making. Please do not interrupt the bonding another mother might be experiencing with her child. But please feel free to socialize before and after class!
Music Brings Us to Life!
Dear Parents,
At the start of a new session, I love to share the following words of wisdom that my Musikgarten friends put in circulation:
"As we look forward to a new season of music making there are a few things regarding your child’s participation that I would like to mention. A child needs to feel comfortable in order to learn. The single most important factor in establishing comfort for a child is a sense of familiarity. In order to become familiar (and ultimately comfortable) a child needs to be given time and space in which s/he can explore, observe, absorb, and then assimilate all that is surrounding him or her. Each child approaches this task differently. Some need to remain in the comfort of a parent’s lap, or held in their arms when dancing, while others will be cruising around the room in an attempt to investigate (and therefore get to know) every person and every inch of the room. Some children who seemed completely engaged last year may be quiet and reserved this year. Still others will jump right into whatever activity I suggest as though they have been doing this forever.
The wonderful (and sometimes frustrating) thing about children is that they are constantly changing. They are “works in progress” and as such, their reactions to things may be hard to predict. The best approach is to check your expectations and comparisons at the door. There is no “right” way to respond to these musical experiences. Children who quietly observe are as actively engaged as those who physically participate. Even those who are exploring the room are getting the benefit of being in a musical environment. The best thing you can do for your child is to participate freely in the activities yourself, thereby modeling for your child the joy that comes from making music.
Finally, remember that we learn music the same way we learn language. When we keep that in mind, we are reminded that being in a musical environment, regardless of the child’s outward behavior, is crucial to his/her musical development and to his/her overall development. After all, we would never stop talking to our children just because they did not respond the way we had hoped!”