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RANGELY I When Brooke Lohse left Grand Junction a year ago to move back to Rangely with her husband Charlie, one of the things she missed most were Kindermusik classes for her son Cutler. The classes gave him a love for music and rhythm and connected him with Lohse and the other children.
The daughter of Rangely residents Cheri and Mark Smith, Lohse had loved band and choir as a middle and high school student. She had carried that love with her to Mesa State College. Still, she was surprised when Charlie suggested she look into becoming a Kindermusik instructor herself.
“I was scared because I had to pass a vocal review,” Lohse said. “But the more I thought about it, I realized I could suck up my fear if it meant my kids could have the classes.”
So Lohse began the six-month online curriculum, completing it in three “so that I could get going with the kids,” she said. A research-based program that began in Germany in the late 1960s, Kindermusik is now taught in over 70 countries by 4,500 instructors, and Lohse found herself training with people from as “nearby” as North Dakota to as far away as China and Spain.
“I like to think that the songs we’re singing here are the same ones they’re singing in China,” Lohse said, laughing.
In February, Lohse passed the vocal review and became certified as a Kindermusik instructor. She’d run into only one hitch along the way. Trainers warned her that the size of her community could be a challenge, decreasing the likelihood that she’d have enough students to run the newborn-to-1, 1-to-3-year-old, and 3-to-6-year-old classes.
But with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and public relations under her belt, Lohse figured she’d work out the details along the way. She started with a practicum, offering five families a five-week session for free. She handed out brochures at Giant Step and the schools, hung fliers all over town, and told everyone she knew about Kindermusik.
Now, 10 months later, the marketing and word-of-mouth advertising have paid off.
“At first, I was going to be happy if I could just do it for my own kids,” Lohse explained. “But Kindermusik took off much more than I ever expected here.”
Last semester, Lohse had 23 children in her three classes. And one class scheduled to begin in mid-January is already full.
One possible reason for Lohse’s success? The research on which Kindermusik is based shows that music speaks to something innate in us all.
“The basic philosophy is that…music is a great catalyst for kids,” Lohse said. “Parents everywhere for thousands of years have sung to their children — to comfort them, motivate them to do something, entertain them. Something is driving that. It’s the same with rocking kids back and forth. We instinctively do that. The program works off of what we already do and reinforces those natural tendencies.”
Integrating parents into the curriculum is key to Kindermusik. Classes for the youngest age groups are 45 minutes long, and it’s a time when parents “don’t have anything else to do but be with their child,” Lohse said. Three-to-6 year-olds spend the first 35 minutes with Lohse, practicing skills like sharing, taking turns, and listening in addition to the musical component, then use the last 10 minutes to show parents what they’ve learned.
Rangely mom Michelle Casto has been board with Lohse’s philosophy from the beginning. Casto signed 3-year-old twins Courtney and Randy up for the Kindermusik practicum as soon as it became available.
“From the day they started, the twins could sing the songs and tell me the instruments they played,” Casto said. “I think their vocabulary has grown because of (Kindermusik)….Randy can be kind of shy, and this is something he can share with other kids. It’s less scary to communicate because they’re all doing the same thing.”
Lohse has been surprised at how much she’s enjoyed this unexpected change in profession.
“When I started Kindermusik as a parent, it was because I really liked music and saw its benefits firsthand,” Lohse said. “When I started teaching, I realized how much I loved that aspect of it, too. The program is very much process- rather than performance-driven, more about the journey along the way than where the kid ends up.”
Kindermusik is a process for Lohse, too, who balances her teaching with being wife, a mom of two, and the Rangely Area Chamber of Commerce director.
“I listen to songs on my iPod to learn them, I listen to them wherever I’m at,” Lohse said. “If you see me dancing as I’m walking down the street, that’s probably what I’m doing.”
The next Kindermusik sessions begin in January. An eight-week newborn-to-1-year-old class begins Tuesday, Jan. 15 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. The cost is $115. Ten-week classes for 1-to-3-year-olds start Thursday, Jan. 17 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. or 6 to 6:45 p.m. and cost $155. The morning 3-to-6-year-old class beginning Jan. 17 is full, but a Tuesday class starting Jan. 15 from 6 to 6:45 p.m. is still open. The cost is $165. Prices include a Kindermusik book and CDs, instruments, a play component, and a family activity book. Payment plans and sibling discounts are also available.
For more information or to attend a demo class for free, contact Lohse at (970) 640-4413 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.