Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Old MacDonald Had A Brain


Singing helps create neural pathways that can later be used for speech (Song Into Speech, Speech Into Song). Speech (unless it is extremely rhythmical and melodic) activates a more localized part of the brain than singing does. This makes it naturally harder to do. When we sing, we are blazing a wide neurological pathway. We are driving a tractor through the snow, making tracks that the speaking voice and the verbal imagination can later walk with ease.

So much of the traditional children’s


Song Into Speech, Speech Into Song

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Luis (I Like to Laugh, Laugh, Laugh and Concerts with Kids) was sitting in the waiting room ten minutes early last Wednesday, all hunched over.

“I’m sick.”

“You’re sick? Why?”

“Because . . . I ate too many burgers!”

“Do you want to get on the (massage) table?” I ask, as we walk into my room. “No.”  He gestures toward the piano. “I want . . .  I want . . . to SING!”

Luis often has hesitation in his speech; he can’t always get the words out. He doesn’t usually stutter; he just stops.


Mirror Neurons V: Altruism


In Mirror Neurons III:  Empathy, I told the story of the child who inadvertently knocked over the younger child in music class. The mother spent several minutes attempting to get her daughter to have the “appropriate” emotional and social response. Words like: “Look – you hurt him! He’s crying!” were probably meant to spark, in the girl, a feeling of remorse - or sympathy for the hurt child - or a resolve to make things better.

But it didn’t work out that way. Why?

Empathy and Development

Concerts with Kids

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I saw Artur Rubinstein play a concert when I was eight years old. It must have made an impression on me – Rubinstein is still my favorite pianist!

But all I remember is meeting my piano teacher in the audience. I didn’t know that she even existed outside the boundaries of that little room with the two spinets, the bench with the needlepoint cover, the can of multi-colored ballpoint pens with which she wrote each week’s lesson . . . Still, there she was, very tall (she must have been wearing


Dickens, Then and Now

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My son sings in a high school choral group, and last Friday night it opened for a community production of A Christmas Carol. I can’t remember the last time I saw that play. But I must have been a lot younger than I am now. And so was the economy.

“Are there no prisons?” I watch Scrooge interrogate the women who knock on his door, soliciting contributions for the poor. “Are there no workhouses?” What I do remember, is that the last time I watched A Christmas Carol, Scrooge was a caricature.


‘Tis the Season to (Avoid) Overwhelm

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We love to celebrate holidays – birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, and many others. And, of course, we want to share our celebrations with our babies. We want them to grow up enjoying the same things that give us pleasure. But, developmentally speaking, the concept of a holiday is not really something a baby or toddler understands.  Very young children live in that blessed “now” where everything is already special.

Of course, children are always happy to get new toys or treats. But,


A Dose o’ AOSA

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I had the good fortune to spend last week in Pittsburgh at the annual conference of the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. It’s a BIG conference, and it was in a BIG venue – a seven-acre conference center right on one of the three rivers that come together in the middle of downtown. I won’t try to do the event justice – but here are a few memories and impressions, old and recent . . .

Xylophones. And glockenspiels . . . I’ve never seen so many! The exhibit hall is full of vendors selling


Mirror Neurons IV: Manners

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Please, Thank you, I’m sorry . . . these conventional phrases help us to lubricate the sticking points in relationship. When we want something, we ask nicely. When we receive something, we express gratitude. And when we have transgressed, in however minor a way, we apologize.

As we grow up, these words begin to elicit in us a kind of Pavlovian response. Just as the dog had learned to associate the sound of the bell with food, we learn to associate these words with meanings. When we hear


Mirror Neurons Part III: Empathy


When someone begins to yawn, our mirror neurons instruct our own jaws to open. As someone shoulders a car out of a ditch, our mirror neurons tell our own muscles to tighten in concert. When our friend’s forehead knits in thought, it is our mirror neurons that cause our own brows to furrow involuntarily. Frowns, smiles, tears, laughter – all stimulate a reflection in our own brain/body systems. Mirror neurons create the neurological map of empathy.

When our mirror neurons are not functioning


Mirror Neurons Part II: Self-Regulation


In Mirror Neurons Part I, I talked about the way mirror neurons create a neurological correlate of whatever we observe in others.  Through these internal recording devices, everything we notice in another person – from facial expressions to body language to vocal inflection – is replicated in our own brainwaves and muscles. Through mirror neurons, we literally become what we experience others to be.

But the way we experience others to be is not necessarily the way they experience


Mirror Neurons Part I:  Meaning


In the 1990’s, mirror neurons were “discovered” by accident, when an Italian brain researcher reached for his lunch. His macaque monkey subjects were watching him, implanted with electrodes. The researcher noticed with astonishment that, as he extended his arm, the same areas of their brains lit up as his - even though they were sitting still.

In the past twenty years, research has suggested that everything we notice in the others around us registers in our own brain/body systems. It is as


Kitchen Conversations

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I grew up with my maternal grandmother. She worked nearby as a receptionist, and she would come home at lunchtime. My mother was a writer; she worked mornings in her bedroom up on the second floor. When she heard the front door open, my mother would stop her typing. She’d walk downstairs, past the paper bags of groceries my grandmother would have just placed on the kitchen counters, and begin to talk.

There is a vignette locked in my memory: my grandmother is washing the dishes with her


The (Im)Permanence of Objects

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Once in a while, I get to hold a newborn. Most recently, it was an emergency visit at the end of my day - but as the miraculous baby girl was placed in my arms, all my tiredness fell away. As our hour together went on, twilight turned to darkness – yet it seemed that the room was increasingly filled with light. But the time the family left, my whole office was humming.

When they are only a day or two old, babies are still mostly in that other place they lived before they were born. It is a


Affirmation and Intention


The developmental difference between “intention” and “affirmation” became clear to me yesterday. It was during a break in a seminar. I was saying to a colleague that the most important factor in healing and education was to want to be well, to want to grow. I said that, before I do work with children, even very young children, I have them set an intention. Of course, I don’t tell them that! I might say, “Remember some really fun, happy time!” Sometimes, with older children, I’ll add, “Put


Mind and Soul


I’ve just come back from visiting my parents. It is a difficult time; my mother is in a “moderately advanced” stage of dementia, and it is odd to see the layers of mind falling away like autumn leaves. The experience has caused me to reflect. What part of us is the sturdy trunk? the living sap? the invisible life energy?

The Trunk. The trunk is movement. The still-myelinated neural pathways of small habitual movements, ordinary activities, can remain intact. For instance, the night before I


13 Ways of Looking at Research


A friend of mine is a research scientist. She does experiments with yeast. You’d think that it would be fairly easy to control the environment in a modern lab, and that experiments with these simple organisms would yield consistent and repeatable data.

But it isn’t like that. Over the years, I’ve heard disaster after disaster detailed – malfunctioning equipment. Numbers that don’t add up. Funky cultures.

My friend does research on one-celled organisms because she likes to nail things to


Songs With Words, Songs Without Words: Part I


It is an oddly hot topic, it seems, among early childhood music educators! The question runs:  “Is it best for a child's musical development to sing songs that have words? Or to lean the repertoire towards singing syllables without specific meanings?”

At an ECMMA Conference (NE Regional, 2007), John Feierabend  was the keynote, and he spoke passionately about the importance of passing along culture through the traditional words of folk songs. I was convinced.  At a different ECMMA


Under The Volcano

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Around five to seven weeks  in utero, an embryo begins to have a recognizably human form. Cells are programmed to produce organs, limbs – and movements! It is during this period that the Fear Paralysis Reflex comes into play.

A reflex is an involuntary movement that happens in response to a stimulus. The reflex movements we perform as infants are the basis for all of our movements for the rest of our lives.  There are dozens of these infant reflexes, and they are programmed to emerge,


Use Your Body: Yes!

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In “Use Your Words: Not” we explored some of the reasons kids can’t hear us when they – or we – are operating under stress. Once we reverse the physiological symptoms of stress, we can help children access a calmer state of body and mind – a state in which listening and communicating through language may actually become possible.

When kids are “acting out,” their bodies are probably showing it in a variety of predictable ways. Here are a few common symptoms of those stress responses – as


Use Your Words! Not


I learn a lot about young children from my dog.

Dogs can learn a few words. Raised as pets, dogs almost always recognize their names. With training, terms like “sit,” “stay,” and “come” have a pretty good recognition value as well. My dog seems to understand the word “walk” in almost any context, because, over time, he’s linked that word to an activity he loves.

But, for most dogs – and for most children - your tone of voice will override the literal meaning of any word.

I just did a


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