Happy Halloween Everyone! Enjoy Charlie Brown’s Great Pumkin Waltz!

October 31, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Kindermusik, Music | Leave a comment
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Music Lessons from an Economist’s Point of View

July 20, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Children's Music, Kindermusik, Music, Music Making, Musical Instruments, Parenting, Singing | 15 Comments
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Make-up Music Lessons from an Economist’s Point of View
By Vicky Barham, Ph. D.
I’m a parent of children enrolled in Suzuki music lessons. I’d like
to explain to other parents why I feel – quite strongly, actually –
that it is unreasonable of we parents to expect our teachers to make
up lessons we miss, even if I know as well as they do just how
expensive lessons are, and, equally importantly, how important that
weekly contact is with the teacher to keeping practising ticking
along smoothly. I think that it is natural for we parents to share
the point of view that students should have their missed lessons
rescheduled, but if we were to ‘walk a mile’ in our teachers’ shoes,
we might change our minds about what it is reasonable for us to
expect of our teachers.

Like many parents, I pay in advance for lessons each term. In my
mind, what this means is that I have reserved a regular spot in the
busy schedules of my sons’ teachers. I understand – fully – that if I
can’t make it to the lesson one week (perhaps my son is sick, or we
are away on holiday, or there is some other major event at school)
then we will pay for the lesson, but that my teacher is under no
obligation to find another spot for me that week, or to refund me for
the untaught lesson. And this is the way it should be.

In my ‘other life’ I am an economist and teach at our local
university. Students pay good money to attend classes at the
university; but if they don’t come to my lecture on a Monday morning,
then I am not going to turn around and deliver them a private
tutorial on Tuesday afternoon. When I go to the store and buy
groceries, I may purchase something that doesn’t get used. Days or
months later, I end up throwing it out. I don’t get a refund from the
grocery store for the unused merchandise. If I sign my child up for
swimming lessons at the local pool, and s/he refuses to return after
the first lesson, I can’t get my money back. So there are lots of
situations in our everyday lives where we regularly pay in advance
for goods or some service, and if we end up not using what we have
purchased, we have to just ‘swallow our losses’. On the other hand,
if I purchase an item of clothing, and get home and change my mind, I
can take it back and expect either a refund or a store credit.

So why do I believe that music lessons fall into the first category of
‘non-returnable merchandise’, rather than into the second case
of ‘exchange privileges unlimited’ (which I think is one of the
advertising slogans of an established women’s clothing store!)?
Speaking now as an economist, I would claim that the reason is that
items like clothing are “durable goods’ – meaning, they can be
returned and then resold at the original price – whereas music
lessons are non-durable goods – meaning, once my Monday slot at 3:30
is gone, my son’s teacher can’t turn around and sell it again. The
only way she would be able to give him a lesson later in the week
would be if she were to give up time that she had scheduled for her
own private life; and that seems pretty unreasonable – I can’t think
of many employees who would be thrilled if their bosses were to
announce that they couldn’t work from 3:30 to 4:30 this afternoon,
but would they please stay until 6:30 on Thursday, because there will
be work for them then!

Many teachers hesitate to refuse our request to shift lesson times
(because our busy schedules *do* change), because unless they keep us
parents happy, we will decide to take our child somewhere else for
lessons (or to drop musical study), and they will lose part of their
income. This is particularly true in areas with lower average income,
where it can be particularly difficult to find students. So rather
than telling us that ‘well, actually, the only time when I’m not
teaching and that you can bring your son for lesson is during the
time I set aside each week to go for a long soul-cleansing walk, and
I *can’t* do that on Monday at 3:30 when you should have turned up’,
they agree to teach us at a time that really doesn’t suit their
schedule. Teachers who are ‘nice’ in this way often, in the long run,
end up exhausted, and feeling exploited; they try to draw a line in
the sand. However, too few parents ask to switch only when absolutely
necessary, and too many parents want lesson times when it suits them
this week, which is not the same time that suited last week. The only
time that I would feel entitled to discuss shifting a lesson time is
if the reason I can’t make the lesson is because (i) I have to do
something for the Suzuki school and the only time at which that other
event can happen is during my lesson time; (ii) my teacher were to
ask us to participate in some other activity (e.g., orchestra, etc.)
and that other activity were to create the conflict. If the conflict
arises because my child is in the School play, and they have their
dress-rehearsal during his lesson time, then I feel that I must
choose between the two activities, and if he attends the dress
rehearsal my private lesson teacher doesn’t owe me anything.

During May, my eldest son will be missing three lessons because he is
going to accompany me on a trip to New Zealand to visit his great-
grandparents. I do not expect my son’s teacher to refund me for those
missed lessons, or to reschedule them by ‘doubling up’ lessons in the
weeks before or after our departure. Since there will be lots of
advanced notice, I might ask her to consider preparing a
special ‘practice tape’ for that period, or to answer my questions
via e-mail, but if she doesn’t have the time (the second half of
April is going to be really busy for her, and she wouldn’t be able to
do the tape until more or less the week we left) and so has to
refuse, then that’s fine. I certainly don’t expect her to credit me
with three make-up lessons; there is no way for her to find a student
to fill a three-week hole in her schedule during our absence.
Instead, I hope that she will enjoy the extra hour of rest during
those three weeks, and that we will all feel renewed enthusiasm when
we return to lessons at the end of the trip.

Article Copyright © 2001Vicky Barham

Vicky Barham, Ph. D., is the mother of two children who are enrolled
in Suzuki music lessons in Canada. She also teaches Economics at the
University of Ottawa. The TMTA webmasters became acquainted with Dr.
Barham through the Internet and were so impressed with her sound and
logical expressions about music teaching that we asked permission to
publish her ideas for all to share. Her ideas are expressed in two
articles on this website. The article on make-up lessons may be
printed and distributed to others as long as you do not charge any
fee for the article and as long as you give Dr. Barham credit for the
article. Thank you to Dr. Barham for so generously sharing her
expertise with us.

The latest recalls families should be aware of…. Animal Tracking Kits and Baby Mattresses

June 8, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Posted in Animals, Art, Babies, Blogroll, Parenting, Science, Toy Recals | 1 Comment
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animal tracking explorer kit

MindWare, in conjunction with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov), has issued a voluntary recall notice for Animal Tracking Explorer Kit, sold by MindWare in Fall/Winter 2007.

We have recently been informed by our supplier, Interplay UK Ltd, that some shipments of this product, which should have included Plaster of Paris, actually included calcium hydroxide. Calcium hydroxide is an irritant, misuse of which could cause irritation to the skin and eyes.

While MindWare has not received any complaints or notification of injury we are advising customers who have purchased this product and still have any material remaining in the bag marked “Plaster of Paris”, to immediately dispose of it, taking care to avoid spillage on the skin or clothing.

It is also advisable to dispose of any casts made using this kit. In case of skin contact with the calcium hydroxide, wash thoroughly with soap and water.

If you purchased this product and wish to receive a full refund for your Animal Tracking Explorer Kit or if you would like to receive a replacement pack of Plaster of Paris, free of charge, please contact us:

By mail: MindWare Customer Service, 2100 County Road C West, Roseville, MN 55113-2501
By phone: 1-800-588-1072
By email: custserv@mindware.com

This information was posted directly from MindWare’s website

Pottery Barn Simmons Mattress

At Simmons Kids, our singular mission is to provide a healthy sleep environment for babies and children. Because of our commitment to ensuring that our products are as safe as possible for our youngest consumers, we, in cooperation with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), have announced a voluntary product recall on certain open coil crib mattresses.

A small percentage (just over 1%) of full-size open coil crib mattresses have been found to fall short of the recommended minimum width for full size crib mattresses. Some mattresses may be from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch narrower (about the size of a pencil eraser) than the 27-1/4″ minimum width recommended by federal regulations.

These mattresses were sold in the United States at Pottery Barn Kids and by a limited number of nursery furniture retailers. All of the mattresses that are part of this recall have a law tag like that shown below, which includes the date of manufacture between July 1, 2006 and March 23, 2008, and the model number. A few mattresses with a date of manufacture before July 1, 2007 will not include a model number, but can be identified by the color label attached to the top or the side of the mattress.

In order to prevent even the smallest potential for injury, we ask that you follow the instructions below in order to determine whether your product is affected. If you have any questions, please call toll-free 800-810-8611 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday or 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday. You can also e-mail our Customer Assistance department: simmonskidsrecall@simmons.com.

In most cases, the model name and manufacture date of your mattress will be shown on the large color label that is attached to the top or the side of your mattress. The model names included in this recall are below. No other models are included in this recall.

Affected Model Names Affected Model Numbers
Pottery Barn Kids by Simmons Kids Lullaby H59044.15.0014
Simmons Kids Slumber Time Evening Star Luxury Firm M59082.15.0002
Simmons Kids Baby Mattress Series 400 M59027.15.0002
Simmons Kids Baby Mattress 234 Coil Count M59056.15.0006

If the law tag matches any of the model names and numbers listed above, you must measure the mattress to determine whether it needs to be replaced. To measure your mattress:

  • Take the mattress out of the crib
  • Remove all coverings from the mattress
  • Lay mattress on the floor with the sleep surface facing up
  • Using a reliable tape measure or yard stick, measure at the middle of the mattress from outside tape edge to outside tape edge
  • If the width measures less than 27-1/4″, contact Simmons Kids for a free replacement

To facilitate a product exchange, please call Simmons toll-free at 800-810-8611 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday, or 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday. You can also e-mail our Customer Assistance department: simmonskidsrecall@simmons.com.

Thank you again for your cooperation as we work through this important safety measure.
Click to download: Simmons Kids Voluntary Recall Press Release (PDF)

Summer Camps and Classes at Kindermusik of Clayton & Voice of Clayton

May 31, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Babies, Children's Music, Kindermusik, Music, Music Making, Music Together, Musical Instruments, Parenting, Sign & Sing, Singing, Voice Students | Leave a comment
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Click this link to view a PDF of our flyer.




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