Today, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Amy Robbins-Wilson. Amy is a talented singer, author, and practitioner of mindful parenting.
Be sure to read through to the end for a special giveaway that Amy is offering!
I’ve gotten to know Amy through our mutual association with Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center in Lincolnville, Maine, and Amy and I were both teachers this past summer at the northeast LifeWays training for childcare providers inspired by Waldorf education.
Oh, and Amy’s son Clayton happens to be one of the children who appears in the slideshow on the new Bella Luna Toys‘ homepage!
I invited Amy to share with us the interesting work she’s been up — finding a way to help mothers transform their days with children through song.
As a Waldorf early childhood teacher, I learned how effective singing can be in easing transitions, eliminating conflict, and how much joy and lightness it can bring to the days we share with the children. Amy has come up with a unique video course for parents who may not be accustomed to singing through the day, or those who think that they can’t sing (never true!), or don’t know any songs.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, Amy?
I am a singer, a storyteller, an author and artist. I am the lucky wife of an amazing man who builds me up as we dream our way forward. I am the blessed mother of a son who teaches me each day what it means to be fully present and full of joy.
What about your musical background? Can you tell us more?
I’ve always loved to sing and performed my first solo in preschool when I was three. It was a song about mothers that I no longer remember but now seems like such an indicator of the future! My life has been a journey of losing and finding my voice. I actually stopped singing for about ten years to pursue “more serious matters” until I realized that music was an inescapable force in my life. I studied music in high school and have performed professionally most of my life.
I received an M.A. in Ritual Song and Chant from the Irish World Music Center (now the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance) in Limerick, Ireland. Once I became a mother, music became both a tool and a refuge for me.
You know that I’m a big fan of your book Transformational Mothering and your lullaby CDs, which I think offer a lovely calming and grounding experience to mothers of young children. What led you to create your latest project, “Mommy Jingles?”
I developed Mommy Jingles because I was looking for ways to connect to my newborn son, to teach him, to communicate with him and to keep my spirits up as I went through some serious baby blues.
Clayton was born prematurely and his ears were so sensitive that he could not listen to a full lullaby for the first ten months. He would burst out in tears when I sang which was a real ego deflater. So I started out with humming and then made little jingles for our day that he could use as cues and markers and Mommy Jingles was born.
It was a revelation to me when he began to respond. He knew that the getting in the car jingle meant we were getting in the car, he knew that the napping jingle was for napping. It brought us even closer and I felt like such a great mother, which was a rare feeling for me those first few months when I was feeling overwhelmed and a bit lost. Mommy Jingles made our day fun and I realized just how brilliant even the smallest babies are.
Other moms started to ask me what I was doing and I shared songs with them. When I started to hear back from them about how Mommy Jingles helped, I was thrilled and decided to create our online course. My passion is supporting mothers and this seemed a great way to do it.
Can you give us some ideas on how parents can use singing during challenging times of the day with young children. How can singing ease difficult transitions to, say, bedtime, or separating at daycare?
One of the important things my course does is to teach parents to use music as a cue for events. When using music this way, the most important thing is consistency. For example, at bedtime choose a series of lullabies or sayings that you only use at bedtime. By doing this, it becomes a comforting and expected ritual at the end of the day.
One big challenge I experienced was helping Clayton transition to preschool. I wrote “As I Go” for just this purpose. You can learn the jingle and how to use it at: http://www.lullaby-link.com/parting-lullaby.html. I did the video as a parting for the night or naptime, but the illustrated motions can be used at the door of a sitter’s house or at school. The magic lies in being consistent. It takes time to build the routine, but once built, it makes everything easier.
What would you say to a parent who thinks that she can’t sing, or considers himself tone deaf?
First, many of the Mommy Jingles are very simple and just a few words.
Everyone can hum or chant, and most people have better voices than they think. We live in a time of perfected sound when it seems only professionals are encouraged to share their voices and that is sad. The world would be a poorer place without all of our voices.
My husband has been one of my best teachers in this area. He would say that he does not sing but he does our family jingles and makes up hilarious chants that our son loves. Music is not just about melody, it is also about rhythm, tone, the feel of your breath and your heartbeat. Music is a full body experience and your child really does love your voice.
What led you to choose a Waldorf preschool for your son, Clayton?
It seems crazy now, but I had never heard about Waldorf schools until Clayton was two and a half. I was searching for a center where he could interact with other children and that would give me time to work.
I found a home LifeWays center and just fell in love with it. I loved the family atmosphere, the warmth, the natural toys and the way childhood was honored. The caregiver and I talked about the importance of early childhood and she suggested that I look into a Waldorf kindergarten for Clayton. We did and we are so grateful. The more I learn each year the deeper appreciation I have for the sacredness of childhood and the importance of those who surround our children.
Thanks for sharing with us, Amy. I love the way that you are using technology in a new and positive way to help support mothers of young children and to bring more music into families’ lives. Wishing you all the best with Mommy Jingles!
FREE MOMMY JINGLES GIVEAWAY
Amy has generously offered to give away a free Mommy Jingles course to one lucky reader. There are two simple steps to enter:
1. Go to www.amyrobbinswilson.com and sign up for Amy’s free musical downloads and a free report on the importance of music in childhood, then leave a comment about her work here.
2. Either tweet or post this page on Facebook using the buttons above.
One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, December 10 at 8:00 a.m. EST. Good luck! Comments now closed.
Congratulations to winner Jennifer Saleem who wrote:
“Thank you so very much for linking up with Mommy Jingles and offering this AMAZING giveaway!”
MOMMY JINGLES COUPON
For more information on Mommy Jingles, visit MommyJingles.com. You can save $100 on the course through December 31, 2010 by entering coupon code BL100.