Tara Dunn, the director of the Kindermusik program at the Learning Center for Families in St. George, began a weekly session June 23 with five infants and their parents by covering her eyes and singing “Peek-a-boo / Peek-a-boo / I love you.”
Then Dunn sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
She lay on her back and moved her legs up and down, as if she were pedaling. The toddlers, five mothers, and one father followed her directions. She later led a calypso number, and the parents approached the center of the room with their children from both sides of the walls.
More exercises followed, including blowing bubbles, and Dunn maintained a smile throughout the 45-minute session.
She had good reason to be cheerful. Kindermusik International notified Dunn via two emails on June 16 that the St. George Kindermusik program she oversees earned the Mezzanine Level Maestro status and Maestro in Outreach, both for the license year that began April 1.
Kindermusik International based the Mezzanine Level Maestro designation on overall enrollment in the program and the Outreach honor because of heavy participation of underserved children, including those with special needs, Dunn said. Dunn said Kindermusik International has presented the Mezzanine Level honor for three years in a row and the Outreach achievement for two of the three years.
With 125 children participating in Washington County, the local Kindermusik program ranks in the top 5 percent worldwide in terms of enrollment, Dunn said. She said she began teaching Kindermusik in 2002 when she lived in Port Clinton, Ohio, and launched the program at the Learning Center in 2011 with 25 to 30 children participating during the first semester.
The emails to Dunn state, “This mission, that we collectively call Kindermusik, couldn’t possibly have the breadth of benefit for children without you – your sacrifices, pure determination, elbow grease, and unwavering passion.” The achievements enable her program to use the Maestro logo; she also will receive certificates in the mail.
A brochure from Kindermusik International describes it as the “world’s leading music & movement program” that serves at least 1.5 million families and 5,000 or more educators in 70 or more countries.
The Kindermusik program at the Learning Center helps children from newborns to children age 5 to develop social, linguistic, and other skills, Dunn said, adding that the Learning Center receives state and federal money. The program currently offers 11 classes for different age groups that meet once a week and last year-round.
“Everything is developmentally appropriate,” Dunn said. “This model is unique because most Kindermusik programs are just [at] private studios.”
Dunn said the program is “process-based learning,” as with learning to play the piano as opposed to “performance-based” learning.
Referring to the children, Dunn said, “They might get into it the ability to get a steady beat.”
She said parents may obtain referrals for the program from physicians, social workers, and other professionals or enroll their children on their own.
Two mothers who took part June 23 said Kindermusik helps their children develop social skills.
Kara Misiak of St. George said her son, Lucas, 21 months old, is “getting a lot of socialization. He used to be very shy. Now he is more sociable.”
Like Misiak, Lindsey Stucki of St. George began enrolling her daughter, Rowen, in January.
“She’s just gotten really outgoing,” Stucki said.
Both Rowen and Lucas are only children, but Rowen has a sibling on the way because her mother is pregnant.
Kindermusik operates out of the Learning Center at 2044 S. Mesa Palms Drive, St. George. For more information, call (435) 673-5353.
VIEW THE INDEPENDENT ARTICLE published 7/5/15