Inspiring Excellence through Arts Education

Category Archives: Uncategorized

How Kindermusik has impacted my family

By Leah Casey

Kindermusik has encouraged deep connections for me and my children over the years.  I found that classes offered a positive mental and emotional atmosphere where profound bonds between myself and my children were built.  I signed up for a Kindermusik class after I moved to a new town with my first baby girl. I was introduced to music at a young age by my mother, and I wanted to replicate the same experience for my children.  

My daughter was 7 weeks old when we joined the Kindermusik program and what we experienced together was mind-blowing. From the outside looking in, it initially appeared Kindermusik provided parents a place to be silly and free with their children.  After a few weeks of attending classes where we listened to multicultural music, participated in rhythmic drumming, and partook in play that inspired all the senses, I began to see and feel the deep connections that were taking place. I always desired deep intimacy with my children and I felt like I organically conveyed strong, loving energy towards them in our personal world. Kindermusik provided an additional space that promoted positive, loving, eye to eye, heart to heart bonding.  

My daughter’s loved listening to the classroom Kindermusik soundtrack in my car. My eldest child at three months old requested one song to be heard over and over, through baby talk that we all learned to understand. She would babble to let me know what she wanted to hear, I put the song on, and huge tears would stream down her face.  She was not suffering; she was connecting to the beauty of the music. The song was in Russian, a language foreign to us both, but she had developed a sensitivity that allowed her to transcend beyond language, she was tapping into the universal language of love.    

When my children began school, I noticed that they excelled in both mathematics and music.  Scientific data proves that children will be stronger mathematicians if they are engaged in music-making at a young age.  Music and math are both filled with patterns. Introducing simple rhymes, chants and games to early learners grow an ability to understand and manipulate patterns.  Listening for and responding to short patterns in music, expands a child’s understanding of patterns in math.

It is amazing how quickly my children can memorize songs.  They connect by singing and playing instruments together. They have confidence in their own voices. They have gained deep personal empowerment through their abilities. Because music was introduced in their infancy, it has always been apart of who they are and how they express themselves.  The confidence they demonstrate by learning new instruments, trying out for a solo in choir, is priceless. They may not get the solo, or master the new instrument, but they have the moxie to go after what they want. Years of consistent Kindermusik classes from an early age helped mold my children into the deep thinkers and enthusiasts that they are.

Kindermusik clearly had many benefits for my children, but it also was positive for me.  My husband’s job moved us throughout the country for many years. Every time we moved, I had to start a new life for myself and my children.   The first thing I did once the dust settled from moving was to join a local Kindermusik class. I found myself immediately drawn to mothers who participated in the program.  It was mom’s like me, changing diapers, cleaning up messes, and chasing after kids. It was filled with mom’s who wanted to connect heart to heart with their children and who were looking for similar connections with their peers. I was welcomed in with loving arms from a group of amazing women every time I moved.   Kindermusik will meet you as deep as you are willing to meet yourself.

 “Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music, we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and to the myriad rhythms of life.”

-Daniel A. Carp

Why I don’t pay for dance anymore.

By Shad Martin

 The other night someone asked me “Why do you pay so much money for your girls to dance?” Well, I have a confession to make, I don’t pay for dance. Personally, I couldn’t care less about dance. I grew up in a family of four boys. The “Nutcracker” was something you did on a dare off of the high dive at the pool or something you unpleasantly surprised your brother with. Up until the day I met my wife, if I were asked to go to Swan Lake, I would have asked if we were water skiing or fishing.

   So if I am not paying for dance, what am I paying for? I pay for those moments when my daughters become so tired they want to quit but instead choose to keep going. I pay for those days when my daughters come home from school and are “too tired” to go dance but go anyway. I pay for my daughters to learn to be graceful. I pay for my daughters to learn to take care of their bodies. I pay for my daughters to learn to work with others and to be good teammates. I pay for my daughters to learn to deal with disappointment when they don’t get that part they hoped for but still have to work hard at the part that they received. I pay for my daughters to learn to make and accomplish goals. I pay for my daughters to learn that it takes hours and hours of hard work and practice to create something beautiful and that success does not happen overnight. I pay for the opportunity my daughters have and will have to make life-long friendships. I pay so that my daughters can be on stage instead of in front of a screen…

      I could go on but to be short, I don’t pay for dance, I pay for the opportunities that dance provides my daughters. I pay for them to develop attributes that will serve them well throughout their lives and give them the opportunity to bless the lives of others. From what I have seen so far, I think it is a great investment! 

 I am sure that other parents get similar questions. “Why do you pay for competitive baseball?” “Why do you pay for Quarterback training?” “Why do you pay for club soccer?” “Why does your kid swim year-round?”…. I just think it is important to realize what we are really paying for. 

What makes a dancer not good, but great?

By Terri Miller

I recently had the privilege of watching my favorite dance company perform live. This is the same company that inspired me to become a dancer when, at around eight years old, I saw them perform on television while I sat cross-legged, wide-eyed and open-mouthed on my living room floor. Watching them today still makes my heart fly, and I become that little girl again feeling my spirit awaken and every muscle longing to join those artists on stage. 

What is it that turns a dancer into something more; into an artist? What is it that creates a memorable and moving performance? How can a dancer transition from being good to becoming great? I have discovered over many years of performing, teaching, and observing that the best dancers and the best performances have the following things in common:

1 – Technique is a tool, not a talent. Good, solid technique is very important for the dancer, and just like a tool in a toolbox, it should be kept sharp, clean, and ready. That is done by the constant repetition of exercises and combinations to keep both mind and body in top condition. There should also be the constant quest for improvement, because the better quality the tool, the better the job will be done. However, a great technique is not the end goal. The technique is simply what allows the dancer to fully express the dance. It is the paintbrush to the master. It is the pen to the poet. It is the instrument to the music. It is what frees the dancer to let their talent shine through.

2 – A good dancer dances; a great dancer becomes the dance. Whether the dance tells a story or whether it is simply music interpreted through movement, a great dancer takes you on their journey. Every look, every line, every gesture, every turn is purposeful and has meaning. A good dancer can impress you with their countless pirouettes or their legs up to their ears. A great dancer can do that too, but they can also bring you to tears with a simple reach of the hand, keep you spellbound with the glance of an eye, or lift your spirit with a beautiful suspended breath. It is the difference between just performing the steps and becoming the full embodiment of the dance that creates an artist.

3 – Finally, a dancer must be vulnerable enough to give part of themselves to their audience. They must be willing to leave a bit of their soul on the stage for everyone to see. If they are dancing a comic role, they must be willing to commit to that comedy even if they feel silly or foolish. If they are dancing a dramatic piece, they must be willing to portray that story without fear or anxiety. If there is no story or character, then the dancer must become the living, breathing, movement of the music. For the dancer who is willing to give of themselves the very best of their spirit, they will receive so much more in return. There is no feeling quite like knowing you have given of yourself honestly and completely during a performance, and the sweet applause is the audible appreciation of those who have received your valued gift.

When technique, talent, artistry, and commitment blend together in harmony, that is when art is created. That is when spirits are uplifted, and hearts and minds are opened. And that is truly when the “good” becomes the “great.”

What’s the Big Deal?

By Terri Miller

Lots of people are talking about arts education, and that’s great! However many people are still asking, “What’s the big deal about the arts?”

Well, here’s the big deal: When you learn about the arts, you learn pretty much everything! At SAA, we teach dance, drama, and music. Let’s break down what a student might learn in these classes-


  • Dance technique (a little obvious!)
  • Rhythm
  • Memorization
  • Physical coordination
  • Athleticism
  • Spacial awareness (math!)
  • Social etiquette
  • Musicality
  • Note-taking
  • Critical thinking


  • Drama technique (again, obvious)
  • Improvisation
  • Reading (scripts!)
  • Writing
  • Memorization
  • Body awareness
  • Public speaking
  • Problem-solving
  • Visual art (set, prop, costume, and make-up design)
  • Cooperation


  • Proper vocal or instrument technique (Of course!)
  • Math (so much counting!)
  • Music theory
  • Memorization (I see a pattern here…)
  • Perseverance
  • Self-motivation
  • Creative expression
  • Time management

These are only a few of the things that are included with an arts education. All of these disciplines teach commitment, patience, and self-control, as well as building confidence through practice and performance. 

When considering classes in the performing arts, you are giving your child so much more than pretty pink shoes, a few lines in a play, or a song to sing. You are giving your child a well-rounded education that will benefit them wherever life leads, and that’s a pretty big deal!

Why Kindermusik is Beneficial

By Patty Etherton

Hello everybody, this is Patty from Suwanee Academy of the Arts.  I often get asked about our Kindermusik program, what it’s all about, what are the benefits and why it’s important.  I have two really awesome stories I’d like to relay to you. 

One of which I recently heard at a conference for studio owners.  This dance instructor was commenting on when she started teaching at this particular school, she was astonished a how musical the children were. At first, she thought they were related somehow, a genetic pool of people that were unbelievably talented. But soon she discovered that they were all Kindermusik educated. These kids coming out of kindermusik we’re far superior in understanding music:  musicality, rhythm, phrasing, and dynamics, more sensitive to the music and the counts of the music and it was as if they had been taking music forever and ever and these were like five-year-old children these were not older children. That was really exciting for me to hear from a dance teacher’s perspective, how the kindermusik program can really affect those children even in the other avenues.   So we’ve made Kindermusik a Foundation of what we teach at Suwanee Academy, it’s the starting level you can start at newborn and getting that infiltration of that deep rich appreciation of the Arts that helps so much…

My other interesting story is really my biggest regret. (I’ve never really had a lot of regrets in life. I just slide through and learn lessons along the way). But my biggest regret was that I didn’t put my daughter and Kindermusik when I could back in the 1990’s I had an opportunity. Kindermusik was out in full bloom in the Nashville area that’s where I was living and I had asked some friends of mine whose child was in kindermusik what do you do in kindermusik class? and she said, “Well we sing and we dance, we move around and we play with rhythm sticks and instruments and things like that.”  And I thought well I can sing and dance and play around with my child. I don’t need kindermusik to do that with her. Being a music education major and thinking I knew it all about parenting I opted out. Years later… we own this studio and I had to make a decision on what to do about music curriculum and choosing the right curriculum for the Academy.

So I started investigating and I looked through many music programs and by far barn none the absolute best program was Kindermusik what I loved about the Kindermusik curriculum that it was designed by Educators and it is phenomenal because they understand how the child learns and how to implement just learning the structure and there are so much more rich curriculum and Foundation material for the development of the child that’s far beyond any other curriculum out there.  We said bar none it’s going to be Kindermusik.

So years later I had been teaching Kindermusik and I was having a discussion with my daughter’s piano teacher, my daughter at that time was 12 years old. We had this conversation about how Elise was really struggling with her sight-reading.  She had always been a very talented girl; we would even sing Harmony, three-part harmony, when she was 4 years old since her dad and I are both musicians. She picked up playing the piano beautifully but she was always doing it by ear. She had a tremendous ear and was able to just play without really reading the music. So at about 12 years old all of her ability to memorize quickly and to play by ear had started to diminish. She had to learn how to read, and learn fast, to catch up to her skill level.  I apologize to her. I actually sat her down and told her “I am so sorry I should have put you in Kindermusik” Now that I know, as an educator, the value of the program -that was the biggest disappointment. I can’t go back. I brought my daughter into the Kindermusik room, I laid out the ropes on the floor and we started doing Kindermusik’s kinetic lessons and we had a ball playing kindermusik games when she was 12!  But if I had given her that earlier on… what a difference she would have had in her experience in those formative Foundation years, when she was learning how to play. I knew she was musical coming out of the womb, I knew she was going to be a singer, and I knew she was going to be able to apply her musical talents. I just didn’t teach her the language. Her music teachers couldn’t teach her the language of how to read music and that was such a disappointment for me as a mom and I wish I could go back but I can’t.  She is still a beautiful musician and she still struggles and she laughs that I regret that I didn’t give her Kindermusik.

But I want you as a parent to understand that you might not see it now. Kindermusik looks like it is just singing and playing but in reality, you are building so many skills, not just to be able to read music, you’re also teaching all those fundamental things that are going to tie into together to learn to move to the beat, and it helps your child develop so much. 

Kindermusik will help you develop your child physically, emotionally, ecologically, cognitively, and musically all at the same time. Every class is enriched with all of that development and wow it does amazing things to the brain. We get smarter, brighter, more confident kids and i’m watching them dancing as they leave classes and am just amazed at how quickly this curriculum helps these children. So if you’re thinking about it or you’re questioning it, and if you want to know from an old mom who’s disappointed that she didn’t try it…. get your kid in it, and keep them in it. There are so many studies about it’s amazing curriculum and it will do amazing things for your child and you! Yes, I suggest it! Don’t make my same mistake.

Why choose SAA?

The school year is about to begin and you, as a parent, are faced with a million different options for after-school activities. Your child has shown some interest in the performing arts, and you know that an education in the arts helps to create a well-rounded person. Why choose SAA?

ballet jazz musical theater dance instructor
Terri Miller

My name is Terri Miller, and I am fortunate to be in a unique position here at this studio. I am both teacher and parent. I have been both teacher and parent at SAA for over ten years. I see things from both perspectives. I would like to share with you why I have chosen this place for both myself and my children, in the hopes that it might help you decide if this is the right place for your child too.


As part of the staff at SAA, I can assure that having qualified, experienced, and caring teachers is of utmost importance. All teachers have extensive performing experience and/or college degrees in their field of expertise. The staff also meets together several times during the year to discuss classes, share ideas, and provide the best curriculum possible for our students. Every year we have students accepted into prestigious summer programs for both dance and drama, and many of our students who have decided on career paths in the performing arts have been accepted into rigorous college programs, often with scholarships. My oldest son received a merit scholarship in theater and is currently pursuing a double major in film and acting at Belhaven University in Mississippi. Whether a beginner just trying things out, or an advanced student hoping to land a role on Broadway or in a dance company, your child will be getting an education that will equip them for success.


One of my favorite things to hear from students, and my own children, is that SAA “feels like my second home.” This is how we hope every student will feel. It is our goal to create an environment that is clean, safe, and welcoming to everyone who enters our door. The studios are designed to meet the needs of every artist from the tiniest Kindermusik ® tot to the high-schooler perfecting their craft, and every instructor must go through an extensive background check. Exploring creativity requires a certain level of personal vulnerability and openness. We strive to create an environment that allows students to feel comfortable with creativity; to know they can explore the performing arts in a positive atmosphere.


As an instructor, I am expected to be punctual, positive, and prepared to teach classes that are both educational and engaging. As a parent, I am expected to partner with the studio to give my child their best chance of success. Students are expected to follow class etiquette, such as wearing the class uniform, appropriate shoes, etc., respect teachers and fellow students, and participate fully in class. When these expectations are met by instructors, parents, and students, it greatly increases the chance of your child having a wonderful SAA…


If I could sum up the SAA experience in one word, it would be “excellence”. This is the goal of everything we do. Instructors who provide excellent instruction combined with an environment and expectations that promote the pursuit of excellence in dance, drama, and music provide for an excellent SAA experience.

No school is perfect. No studio can guarantee that they are the perfect fit for you or your child. However, it has been my experience as an instructor and a parent that SAA is a place where creativity is celebrated and encouraged in an atmosphere that is friendly and familial. I know my children are receiving an arts education that will foster an appreciation for the arts, and equip them to follow their artistic passions into a career if they so choose. So as you navigate the myriad of after-school choices available, we hope that the SAA experience will be an experience worth trying for your family.