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.

Part 2: Lorna Heyge – Growth of a Vision

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I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, There is nothing wrong with change. To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often. Change and growth have certainly marked Lorna’s journey - from her earliest days in rural New York state through all her work with curriculum and business models.

She views her career as reflecting three separate stages of growth in curriculum development. Today we focus on those stages; a) her American adaptation of the German curriculum, resulting in the initial 1974 Kindermusik curriculum, b) her 1988 Kindermusik curriculum, representing a fresh new direction, and c) the 1994 Musikgarten curriculum.  

The German Curriculum – 1971-1988

As we discussed in Part 1: Portrait of a Pioneer, soon after moving from Greensboro, NC to Troisdorf in 1971, she had begun working with a group of German music education professionals, Verband deutscher Musikschulen (The Association of German Music Schools). At the time, they were collaborating to develop a curriculum called Curriculum musikalische Früherziehung (Music for the Very Young Child). They were determined that their curriculum would not be merely a watered-down version of Orff’s practices – those being designed primarily for ages 6 on up. This was an alliance of Orff, Kodaly, and Dalcroze specialists plus experts in many other related fields, and they wrote the best curriculum they could and used it for many years.

Lorna’s work with the German educators blossomed, and by 1973 she was applying the principles in English speaking classrooms in the diplomatic community in Bonn. Soon, she found herself on the way back to Greensboro. This time, though, she brought with her a newfound passion and mission – to adapt her newly learned practices in early childhood music education to an American population.

This adaptation was to become the first of her three distinct early childhood music curricula.

Stage 1: Kindermusik’s Humble Beginnings

Moving back to Greensboro to work on her American adaptation, she took a full-time church position as organist and choir director; including adult choir, children’s choir, recorder groups, church orchestra and youth choir for school aged children. At Greensboro College, she also developed the first American-based collegiate early childhood music program. Building an early childhood music studio was different in those days from what it is today. She simply sent a note to newspapers that it was going to start, and “the phone rang off the hook.”

Thus were born the methods and systems that were to become her first version of Kindermusik in 1978 – her Stage 1 so to speak, which was primarily influenced by the German association and published by the Bosse Company in Germany. There was great interest because it was the first program of its kind in the US, and parents understood the unique opportunity afforded them.

Within 4 years, Lorna’s Greensboro studio offered 26 classes per week for children 4 - 8 years old. After the first year, the Greensboro College student MENC group invited her to present at the NC state conference.  Linda Robinson (a music educator from Asheville who was to become the first president of the early childhood teachers’ association) was fascinated by Lorna’s teaching and decided to attend Lorna’s first ‘formal’ teacher training in 1976.  Linda, and many others, now started their own Kindermusik programs, supplied with lesson plans and materials produced - until publication in 1978, on the press on a friend’s front porch in Greensboro.

But now we must backtrack a bit, to pick up two important new relationships.

First – A Husband.

At the end of WWII, Germany had been divided into four regions by the participants in the 1945 Potsdam Conference – the three West German regions being controlled by the democratic allied nations (United States, France, and the United Kingdom), and the East German region being controlled by communist Soviet Russia. Within a few years, as many as 10,000 East German citizens per month were fleeing to West Germany through East Berlin. This issue was to become one of the first great cold war issues of disagreement between Soviet Russia and the western nations, as the emigrants represented a great talent pool leaving the communist regime.

In 1958, just three years before the Berlin wall halted the emigration for 30 years, a young engineer named Hermann Heyge travelled to East Berlin to secure his passage to western freedom. He soon completed his graduate studies in engineering in Stuttgart, then London, and then moved to Canada (Montreal at first, later Toronto) ‘for one year.’ Little did he know that he was to stay in America for the next 49 years.

Lorna and Hermann met in Greensboro in May 1978 when Hermann was returning to Canada after a 6 month work assignment in South Africa. Lorna’s German roommate’s father had been a student of Dr. Heyge (Hermann’s father) in Thüringen.  The two aging men, both now living in West Germany, decided that these two single music lovers should meet each other.   Correspondence between South Africa and Greensboro ensued, and thus the ‘stopover’ on the way back to Toronto

…and they eventually married in December of 1978, when Lorna was still managing her growing studio in Greensboro. However, Hermann lived in Toronto, so Lorna immediately moved from Greensboro to Toronto. Initially she tended their home and garden, and from 1979 - 1981 conducted the Toronto Chamber Society, a Renaissance and Baroque chamber music group.

Second – Developing Kindermusik

Norm Goldberg, president of Magnamusic Baton, Co., in St. Louis, became the distributor of the new 1978 Kindermusik publication in North America.  Norm, a key business supporter and benefactor to the Orff movement in North America, saw potential in the early childhood program.  Immediately he instituted a series of teacher training workshops throughout the US, and Lorna found herself ‘on the road.’

The number of workshops was expanding quickly, and Lorna initiated  a circle of Teacher Trainers to help her, and to work with Magnamusic-Baton.   One of Lorna’s workshops took place each summer at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ where Dan Pratt (whom Lorna had met in the 1960s when he was a voice major at the Hochschule in Cologne) had become a professor in the voice department and head of summer studies. 

Dan’s interest in Lorna’s curriculum grew, so in 1984 – at a point where Kindermusik’s growth demanded the full attention of a company – Lorna asked Dan to join her in forming a new company which would be able to continue to spread the new curriculum. Together, they founded Music Resources International (MRI) in Princeton which began to grow very rapidly.

1986: KMTA (Predecessor to ECMMA) Is Born

Sensing the need to provide continuing support for their growing group of Kindermusik teachers, Lorna established the Kindermusik Teacher’s Association (KMTA) in 1986. A pre-organization first conference had been successful in Toronto in 1984, so the new organization was called into being at a convention in Winston-Salem, NC.  Barbara Fisher’s Kindermusik program at Salem College in Winston-Salem had been established in 1976, and was a fitting home for the new teacher’s organization’s first official convention. (ECMMA will consequently be celebrating its 30th anniversary at their 2016 international convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.)

1987: Winds of Change

The partnership flourished for the first few years, but one day in 1987, after observing one of Lorna’s workshops, Hermann pointed out to Lorna that he could no longer recognize the relationship between her written curriculum and her workshop presentation. There was a good reason.

Please bear with me as we backtrack once more.

Stage 2: Lorna Gains a Mentor

Soon after moving toToronto in 1979, Lorna had met “a broad-minded Montessorian” named Audrey Sillick.  Aware of Lorna’s early Kindermusik curriculum, the Toronto Montessori School and Teacher Training Institute, of which Audrey was Director, asked Lorna to bring music into their curricula.  This was a watershed moment in Lorna’s professional life, as Audrey taught Lorna important new extra-musical concepts about early childhood development, concepts that were to become enormously influential in Lorna’s curricular development as she continued to adapt her German practices for American use. Thus began an important partnership that lasted well into the 21st century.

Hermann could no longer recognize Lorna’s curriculum in 1987 because of Audrey’s long term influence on Lorna’s thinking. Audrey’s influence had so changed Lorna’s practices that soon Lorna decided to collaborate with Audrey to rewrite the entire curriculum to better reflect Lorna’s new understandings. Introduced at the 1988 KMTA convention, it was called Kindermusik for the Young Child.

It was a new version of the old German curriculum, but highly saturated with Audrey’s principles and practices. Lorna considered this to be the hallmark Kindermusik curriculum – a true balance between music development and child development. While it still reflected the initial 1974 German influence, it was also clearly a product of Audrey Sillick’s influence.

Stage 3: A Changing of the Guard

The years from 1988 to 1994 saw rapid growth and change for Kindermusik, but business partnerships, even among good people, do not always remain intact. By 1994 Lorna and Audrey had developed a fresh new curriculum, and Dan wished to take Kindermusik in a completely different direction.

Having met Edwin Gordon and Dee Coulter in the intervening years, Lorna wanted this new curriculum to clearly reflect the best applications of early childhood Music Learning Theory (Edwin Gordon) and information about neuroscience and how the brain works (Dee Coulter). And now, Lorna and Audrey were free to publish their brand new curriculum. Representing a balance of influences, including the German association, Audrey Sillick, Edwin Gordon, and Dee Coulter, it had a new name…  


To be continued…

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