5 Year-old excited to set & reach a goal!

Freya 100.2

Let’s hear it for a 5 year-old setting her own goal!

In order to record the 100th time she played Twinkle at practice, one of my 5 year-old students decided to challenge herself and experience what it feels like to do something every day until you have done it 100 times!

It is truly a celebration of doing something every single day until she was able to count the 100th time. She asked her mother to record her playing Twinkle to document that day!

What did she learn?

Long term perseverance!


Delayed gratification!

Satisfaction at achieving a goal!

And she is …5!

Celebrate along with her as you watch the video.  Watch her intense concentration.  You can see by her smile at the end, and her deep bow, that she met her own goal. So proud of her!

Congratulations young lady!

“Knowledge is not skill.  Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill.”  Shinichi Suzuki

Why ages 3-5 are so important!

Because those ages present a window of opportunity!

Click the image to watch the video.

3 Year-old learning Skills of Executive Function

3 Year-old learning Skills of Executive Function

“There is a dramatic window for growth in executive function and other cognitive skills between the ages of 3 to 5.” ( Scientific Learning )

Find Out about This Special Window!


Ever since all Grammas cuddled  little ones, singing songs and telling stories, the importance of early childhood education has been recognized. What was common sense since the beginning of raising children is now touted from places like Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

There are 2 sets of skills that children must develop not only for their own good but also for society’s benefit.  Children aren’t born with these skills, but they are born with the potential to develop them.

1. Executive Function

2. Self-Regulation

These skills are important for learning and for helping children to develop positive behavior and making healthy choices throughout life.

When executive function is present, the ability to succeed in school and in life is strengthened.

Even very young children have to learn how to manage a lot of information and how to avoid distractions.

Executive Function Skills are: focus, remember, plan, and do several tasks at the same time.

Self-regulation skills are those that help us set priorities and resist impulsive actions.

Children aren’t born with these skills, but children have the potential to develop them.

Development in the Brain: Ages 3-5


During the early years, ages 3-5, children have the opportunity to develop key skills for their future.

The interactions between child and parent are the active ingredient in building a healthy brain structure. The brain is most able to adapt and change in the earliest years of life.

The more advanced thinking skills cannot be built until the lower ones are in place.

Simple skills developed in the brain are the foundation for more advanced skills.   That is why, giving the child a strong foundation in the early years is vital for executive function development.

A PEAK PERIOD  for developing proficiency in executive function skills is around the ages of 3-5.

Why Scaffold Skills for Young Children?


A scaffold provides a temporary structure used to support.  Parents provide the  environments that give children “scaffolding” that helps them practice necessary skills before they must perform them alone.

We know now that development of the executive function and self-regulation skills is not guaranteed. Furthermore, children with problems do not necessarily outgrow the problems. Children who struggle to plan and organize their work in early elementary may become adolescents who fall behind in homework, have difficulty completing projects and struggle to gain academic skills.

Helping children by “scaffolding” will give them the safety net as they develop these important skills.  What does “scaffolding” look like? Here are some ideas from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

1. Play imaginary roles – children invent rules to follow when they play; cooking, eating, setting the play table with play food, etc.

2. Tell stories – children make up stories with complicated plots. They hold and manipulate the characters and actions in their working memory as they tell their story.

3. Climbing, balance beam, see saws – new challenges make the child focus attention, monitor and adjust their actions, and persist to reach their goal.

4. Singing and song games – use working memory and focused attention.

5. Matching and sorting games – change the rules so they learn cognitive flexibility.

Suzuki Violin

Finally, not from Harvard, but from Shinichi Suzuki–beginning to play the violin between the ages of 3-5 is AWESOME for: focus, memory, planning, setting priorities, manipulating several tasks, following rules, resisting impulses, and persisting to a goal.

“There is a dramatic window for growth in executive function and other cognitive skills between the ages of 3 to 5.” ( Scientific Learning )

Practice the violin: rewire your brain!

A gift of violin for your child for the new year!

The gift that violin lessons can offer!  Although we know that music lessons are good for our children, there is proof that lessons are more than good.  Real positive changes take place in the brain of children who take music lessons.

An October 2015 article in Limelight Magazine, reports the results of a study that took place in Finland which says that music can rewire the circuitry of our brain if we practice regularly.

They discovered that practicing actually changes your brain!  Why should you care about the results of this study? It shows that music lessons and practice strengthen your child’s brain, taking advantage of all that the brain can be.

Why they chose this study:

But we should ask also, “Why did the researchers want to do this study?”  The goal of researchers was to find out if the brain can reorganize itself, for example, after an accident with a central nervous system injury.  In that type of injury, the brain is affected so that the individual’s life may be drastically altered.
The researchers were hoping to show that there may be an ability in the brain to reconfigure itself to create alternate pathways.  If this were so, there would be more possibilities for recovery for central nervous system injury patients.  Since musicians’ brains are different, they wanted to use musicians in their study.

Clever Suzuki Violinist

How they did the study:

The question was:  Can training on a musical instrument improve the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain?

~The researchers investigated the effect that listening to music had on 2 parts of the brain.

1. the corpus callosum – a broad band of nerve fibers joining the two hemispheres of the brain.

2.  the two hemispheres – the right and left parts of the brain

~They tested 2 groups by having them listen to music.

1. professional musicians (who would have practiced a lot)

2. people  who had never played music professionally (who would have practiced much less)


People in the study who were musicians had much more robust development in the corpus callosum and in the two hemispheres.

There was more equal activity in the left and right hemispheres of the professional musicians as they listened to the music.

Even when music lessons were limited to fifteen months in childhood, there was an increase in grey matter in the brain for areas involved in motor, auditory, and visuo–spatial processing.

The front of the corpus callosum, which mainly connects motor areas, is larger in individuals who started playing a musical instrument earlier in life.

Music training leads to sensory and motor changes in the brain.  Motor nerves transmit impulses from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles.  The study shows that since the brain is capable of changing, people with central nervous system injuries may recover some abilities.

I find it fascinating that so many studies of the brain focus on musicians.  There is a tremendous impact on the growth and development of the brain when your child takes music lessons.  In an upcoming blog, I will report on studies of the brain of violin players.

“You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

How does the violin teach children about emotions?

Young children sometimes have difficulty understanding others’ emotions as well as their own.

In the video from Sesame Street, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg uses her violin to show Big Bird and his friend, Miles, what emotions sound like.  Watching the video is a good way to discuss emotions with your young child.

Parents can also use this video to show older children how to play their violin with expression.  Since the emotions are clear in the video and Salerno-Sonnenberg’s playing emphasizes them, this would be an opportunity to help students understand expression.

“Everyone can improve. With this belief I have advanced my ability one step forward.” Shinichi Suzuki