Musical Frog Holds Secret to Smarter Kids!
Now a nationally beloved fictional children’s book character, Freddie the Frog has become the mascot of music education for kids. Developed and authored by music teacher and speaker Sharon Burch, these books and companion CDs provide an accessible, entertaining and highly effective form of literature-based music education that kids absolutely love.
“Nothing compares to music in brain stimulation and development,” notes Burch. “The plethora of music and brain research findings are clear – music training profoundly affects brain development and music education benefits every child. The Freddie the Frog books were purposely developed to make learning music easy and fun!”
Enjoy a narrated sneak peek inside Freddie’s world here:
http://vidego.multicastmedia.com/player.php?v=ou387311 and discover the cognitive benefits of music here: www.freddiethefrogbooks.com/childmusicoutline.html. Consumers may order online at www.freddiethefrogbooks.com.
The Freddie the Frog 4-Book Series Includes:
In this book kids discover the tempos, rhythms, and beats of Tempo Island with Freddie and his best friend Eli the Elephant. It guides kids in playing rhythm instruments to the rhythm and beat along with Eli and Freddie who find themselves stranded on a nearby island. They follow the mysterious “Wahooooos” through the jungle and try to communicate with the purple elephant in charge. Will he help them return home? Echo, chant, and play along with Freddie and Eli to learn the beats and rhythms of Tempo Island. The audio CD includes the dramatized story, sing-a-long songs, and jam tracks to play your own created rhythm. Ages 4-9.
This book teaches six note names and completes the treble clef staff that the first book in the series, Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night, introduced. Freddie and Eli discover a buggy world under the azaleas. The two friends join the Blue Beetle Bugs in their quest to find the secret on Crater Island, (middle C)! The Secret of Crater Island includes peek-through pages and the enclosed audio CD includes the dramatized story, sing-a-long songs, and jam tracks to play along with the 12-Bar Blues. Ages 4-9.
A music teacher, speaker, and author, Sharon Burch developed an effective method using fiction and fantasy to teach musical concepts to preschool through elementary-age students both in the classroom and at home. Sharon and Freddie share their interactive teaching methods in elementary music with educational groups across the country. Energized parents and teachers quickly realize the “magic of Freddie” – his uncanny ability to teach even young children musical concepts. Also an author and presenter, Sharon advocates the multiple benefits of music education in a child’s brain development. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Truman University in Kirksville, Missouri, and a Masters’ Degree as a Professional Educator from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Sharon also holds a certification in piano instruction from the International Piano Teaching Foundation developed by Dr. Robert Pace. She has served as a vocal and piano instructor, and taught preschool through 8th grade general music and directed junior high and high school choirs. While she makes her home in the rolling hills of southern Iowa with her husband and two children, sailing is the family hobby. Someday they hope to sail the Sea of Music to Treble Clef Island!
I knew, the moment I heard the first lines of “Froggie Went A-Courtin'” that I’d review this product. Anyone who recognizes fine music like that must be given a fair chance. One of the exciting things about this particular review was the opportunity to interview the developer/author, Sharon Burch. I read the information on this program and then asked the following questions:
1. What was your inspiration for Freddie?
2. Do you have plans for more Freddie adventures?
We are working on the fifth book now, Freddie the Frog® and the Flying Jazz Kitten (2011 Release). It’s a fun, interactive introduction to jazz through scat singing. I explored the various elements of jazz and chose one that would be easily accessible and interactive, creating instant success through scat singing. Then I asked myself, what could happen in Freddie’s world that would cause him to scat sing? Meeting a group of cats that only communicate through scat was the answer. Freddie’s curiosity gets him in a pickle and learning to scat was his only way out. Of course, the reader is scatting right along with him. Freddie the Frog and the Flying Jazz Kitten, transports the reader into a where they only speak “scat” on Scat Cat Island, Mew York. By the end of the story, kids are effortlessly echo scatting and have a feel for the groove of jazz.
We also have a new project of creating stuffed plush toys that correlate with the books. The kids fall in love with the characters. Soon they will be able to love, hug and hold their very own Freddie the Frog® and Eli the Elephant.
3. What specific lessons do you hope to teach through these books?
4. What kind of response do you usually get from children?
5. Have you always had a love for music?
6. How important do you think basic music instruction is in a child’s education?
In past generations, singing and playing instruments was an integral part of family life. A great way to express and entertain yourself and others. We did not realize it, but we were also exercising our brain while we played, causing us to be creative, more vibrant, smarter, etc. In our current generation, we tend to be passive listeners and consumers as a society, and as a result, shorting our mental development and our children the opportunity to reach their mental potential.
Humans are “wired” for music. Until recently, scientists did not know how music affected the brain. The advancement in technology allows scientists to actually “see” brain activity via PET scans and MRI imaging scanning the blood flow in the brain. Our brains are “wired” with neural pathways. Most activities only cause a portion of the brain to “light up” with activity; thus, the saying, right brain/left brain, etc. But there are actually four parts to the brain and music makes ALL of the areas “light up” and create new neural pathways as a person is learning and playing an instrument. Those neural pathways remain in tact and can be used for other things besides music. It’s an exciting time of discovering how little we know and how much there is to learn. There is definitely enough evidence to recognize it is not in a music teacher’s imagination. Music has a huge impact on activity in the brain. You can physically/visually see the growth and changes that happen inside the brain. The possibilities are endless. The implications for music therapy and music education are profound. Just check out PBS video “The Music Instinct.”
But even if you are still skeptical about music making kids smarter, let’s look at the other benefits. Socially, music is an ageless hobby creating interaction with great people. Take a look at any school band or orchestra or top-ranking choir and you will find a huge percentage of the members are in the top 10% of their class and college bound. Striving for excellence is a given in a musical group. Everyone has to perfect their part for the group to perform at their best–NObody “sits on the bench.” Everyone has to pull their weight or the whole group suffers. Creativity, especially in jazz groups is developed, honed and embraced. Who couldn’t use more creativity in their workforce? Creativity is what makes the difference and gives any company the cutting edge.
There are many benefits of being involved in making music, but the neural pathways drives home the point and gets our attention. Scientists are reluctant to state that playing a musical instrument makes you smarter, but all the indicators are there, so let’s look at it from the opposite angle. Instead of trying to prove that music makes you smarter or good for you and your child, try to prove that it is not. I can’t think of a single reason how learning a musical instrument is detrimental, can you?
Give your child every opportunity and advantage you can. Enroll them in music lessons and watch them grow and mentally develop as they play, create, express, and struggle through the rigors of the discipline mastering an instrument. You will discover a more creative, brighter and mature person in the making.
7. Why do you think children respond to your particular program?
8. Do you think children today respond to music in the same way as they did thirty years ago?
Thirty years ago, a child’s music consumption consisted of folk songs and whatever they picked up on the Saturday morning cartoons or the Lawrence Welk show. Now, every type of music is accessible and part of their world via our electronic world. They are more passive listeners. Our role, for the benefit of our children, is to engage them actively in music through singing, dancing, keeping the beat, playing instruments, etc. Thirty years ago, children were singing to pass the time on long trips and around the piano for evening entertainment. We had no idea how beneficial it was.
9. How different do you think teaching methods are today from those of the last generation?
10. What is the easiest or best way to instill a love of music into a child?
Now, I’m going to be my normal, brutal self. This program isn’t really “my style.” I was never exposed to “kiddie” programs as a child and never learned to appreciate them. Things like Sesame Street, Muppets, Disney shows, and even cartoons just weren’t a part of my childhood experience, so I never developed a taste for them. I have to admit, the high squeaky voice (which, I assume, is to show a higher note on the scale) really annoyed me. I think children really do appreciate beautiful things if they’re exposed to them, and the only way for them to be exposed to them (in order to learn to appreciate the beautiful) is to *gasp now* expose them. If you fill a child’s mind with childish imitations of adult things, that child will usually prefer the watered down version.
That being said, I know that even my six year old, Lorna, would love these books. She listened to the video with me with absolute interest. I mean, what kid doesn’t love candy? And that thought made me realize that there is a time and place for this kind of product. We don’t eat a steady diet of candy in our house. Meals tend to consist of actual food. However, we like to give our children treats from time to time, and looking at this program as such, I can see why it’d be appealing. Again, I did like the song selection in this book. I haven’t read the whole thing, but I’m not so sure about the monster aspect. While my children are rarely frightened by things like that, I know that many children are. I’ve never quite understood why children’s books tend to be infused with the creatures, but considering so many are, apparently parents with more timid children manage to get around it. As far as I can see, that’s the only content that I feel obligated to warn you about. It specifically states that there’s a “Humongous gray monster” although I confess, the first couple of times I read it, my brain saw, “humorous.”
So, while I know these books aren’t for everyone, I can see a certain charm and appeal to them. If I owned the books myself, I wouldn’t toss them from the house (as I have many children’s musical things), so when I say they’re not “my thing,” I am not saying they’re horrible or anything. I don’t want to give the impression that I dislike them. I just truly have never learned to appreciate “children’s media” of any kind. Every family makes their educational choices based upon different criteria. If an introduction to music theory is something you want to introduce to your child’s life, and you enjoy whimsical creatures helping you with those plans, I think these books are definitely worth a look.