Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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The Parent Connection

The Parent Connection focuses on music learning during those miraculous years during which every child is a prodigy – early childhood. As a parent, grandparent, music teacher for 40+ years, music teacher educator, and early childhood music and movement specialist, Dr. Townsend brings a broad perspective to ideas and issues affecting parents and families.

Dr. Townsend has headed the music teacher education program and directed the instrumental program at Maranatha Baptist University since 1996. In that capacity, he teaches early childhood music and movement classes daily at the university's Kiddie Kampus, teaching infants through 4 year old children.


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

Lorna Heyge: Portrait of a Pioneer

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We will always be indebted to our pioneers – our visionaries. They affect every part of our lives, but usually in complete anonymity. So this is why, now and then, we do well to take a moment to consider those individuals who have walked before and among us – providing a service, showing a path.

This is one of those moments. Practically everyone who hangs a shingle with the words Early Childhood Music Teacher owes some debt of gratitude to the lifelong work and passion of Lorna Lutz Heyge. Whether you were a teacher in the early days of Kindermusik, or a current Musikgarten teacher, or a reader of this article on the ECMMA site – or an independent practitioner or a teacher under a different banner, the rationale, principles, methods, and systems that Lorna has developed affect every corner of our profession.

Following is the first installment of a 3-part series addressing The Early Years; Growth of a Vision; and The Principles and Ideals of this matriarch in our midst. It is my privilege to tell her story.

Part 1: The Early Years

On a quiet 1940s New York day, a mother took her 6-year-old daughter to her first piano lesson. The teacher, a friend of the mother, sat the girl down at the large upright piano with her new book and proceeded to teach her to read the notation as her mother sat by. The little girl’s name was Lorna Lutz, and nobody in the room that day could know that this humble beginning would lead to not only many years of personal musical enjoyment for the little girl, but also to a life of world-wide leadership in the music education community.

Neither of Lorna’s parents was an accomplished musician so there was nothing to indicate that this first lesson might be a unique moment in time. Mother could play a few hymns on the piano, but that was the extent of music in the home. Still, Lorna’s piano lessons were just a beginning.

As was common in many public schools in those days Lorna was given a tonette, a small recorder-like instrument, to play in third grade and a clarinet in fourth grade, both of which she mastered quickly. Lorna’s natural musical abilities quickly became apparent, and she was promoted to the high school band within a few months – resulting in a rare eight-year high school band career.

Rote or Note?

Her band director was an inspirational man, but her first piano teacher was unfortunately less inspiring for the young pianist. Very conservative and traditional in her approach, she would probably have aligned with the note side of the rote or note debate that had characterized music education in America for most of the preceding century. Her repertoire was “mainly sheet music (semi-semi-classical, which was popular at the time) - totally right hand dominated.” But there was another piano teacher in town, a highly independent lady, and in eighth grade Lorna convinced her father to allow her to change teachers.

Her new teacher was indeed a fine teacher. “The first thing I remember was her choosing repertoire to develop the left hand. Then she started teaching me harmony right away.” Holding a masters degree in piano from Syracuse university – a very nice accomplishment for a village piano teacher at the time, she interpreted classical repertoire well, teaching Lorna how to analyze the pieces she was playing.

Piano had now become much more rewarding for Lorna, and she progressed rapidly through her new curriculum.

College Years

Years passed, and the time finally arrived for Lorna to select a college. As a young lady planning to major in music in the 1950s, and with the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music just down the road, college choice became an easy decision. She soon discovered, though, that the typical Eastman piano pedigree required much more than she had had an opportunity to experience while growing up in Clyde, New York, so she gladly chose to be an organ major - studying with David Craighead throughout her days at Eastman.

Lorna spent nine full years in college. She earned her undergraduate degree at Eastman, while playing organ on weekends at two different churches – one having a pump organ and the other having a pipe organ.

After completing her undergraduate degree, Lorna auditioned for scholarships at Michigan and Northwestern – eventually choosing to travel to Chicago for her masters degree. This trip was delayed because, at the time, the University of Rochester offered an exchange program with the University of Cologne in Germany.  Lorna received this Scholarship for the German language at the university, and travelled to Germany to continue her organ studies in the studio of renowned German organist Helmut Walcha. After that year, she returned to the states to earn her Masters in organ performance with a generous Scholarship from Northwestern University.

Lorna’s dream was to teach organ at the college level, so she applied for, and gained, a Fulbright Commission scholarship, allowing her to return once again to Germany to complete the coveted artist diploma in organ and a PhD in musicology at the University of Cologne. The degree required two minors. Lorna chose German Literature and Anglo-American History. 

Finally, after nine full years of higher learning culminating in a German artist diploma in organ performance and a PhD in musicology, Lorna returned stateside to teach organ performance and music history at Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She remained in this position for three years.

1971: And So It Begins…

Lorna loved her opportunity to teach collegiately in Greensboro, but her love for living in Germany was even greater, so in 1971 she moved back to Cologne and took a position in Troisdorf near Bonn where she had been offered a position as the assistant director of a youth music school. Much to Lorna’s surprise, the school director informed her that one of her responsibilities would be to teach music to the four year olds each week, so she “moved from the organ bench to the floor, and has not gotten up since.”

It was here that she discovered, already in place, many very fine German approaches to music learning for young children. These approaches, developed among others by the German composer-educator Carl Orff and his protégé, Gunild Keetman, were at that time in their earliest years of introduction to American music educators. During these years Lorna worked closely with a newly developed early childhood music education group within the German Association of Youth Music Schools, which had spent many years developing a very sound preschool music curriculum. The breadth of the group’s work was impressive – with specialists in wide-ranging areas such as vocal development, movement, playing instruments, music listening, and many more. Concurrently, they spent years in testing materials in rural and urban situations that involved a broad cross section of teachers, and in training teachers and developing teacher training strategies. Lorna found herself in the midst of a serious, quickly developing new field, and took every opportunity for further study, including some time at the Orff Institute in Salzburg.

During her time in Germany, Lorna gradually became aware of one nagging irony. At this time, the early 1970s, the two most enthusiastic countries in the development of early childhood music and movement happened to be the two biggest losers of WWII: Germany (Orff-Schulwerk) and Japan (Suzuki). It should also be noted that these are also the two countries that, in the late 19th century, had been most enthusiastic in developing rote-based music learning theories – actually having invited Lowell Mason and his early music learning contemporaries to help them update their own music learning practices.

So the roots of rote-based, whole-part-whole music learning concepts were already deeply rooted in Germany when Carl Orff was born (1905), and in Japan when Shin’ichi Suzuki was born (1898). (Throughout this time, American music learning theories were still leaning toward note-based systems, despite the strong post-Civil War efforts of men like William Woodbridge, Elan Ives, and Lowell and Luthor Mason, who had so effectively promoted Hans Negeli’s musical applications of Johann Pestalozzi’s learning theories at the end of 19th-century America.)

But back to our story…

Coming To America

While in Germany, “I became very excited about my work with children and parents – and immediately thought that the work I was doing with young children would have taken care of so many of the challenges I had had with my college students! Soon the plan evolved to test the materials in English – at first with children in the diplomatic community of Bonn (capital of Germany), and then in the US.” In 1974, she moved back to the US and “started refining the process of adaptation" of her German curriculum to the English language and the American culture.

This adaptation would become the first of three distinct early childhood curricula that she would eventually develop. Honoring its German roots, she aptly called it Kindermusik.

End of Part 1

Next: Growth of a Vision

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