Introducing babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and young children to music is key to helping them develop important skills and strong, healthy brains. Judi Cranston founded kindyRock to help parents and professionals use music in a way that is fun, easy and effective no matter what musical skills they have. Teacher and musician Judi wants to give more children access to quality educational music that they will love, and that will also teach them new skills and train their brains. Here she talks about her passion for music and her hopes and dreams for kindyRock in the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I always loved music and loved teaching, and also loved the way that music makes us feel. So, once I had got out of classroom teaching, I wanted to find something that could combine these passions as a fun business. The story goes…
I had always been involved in music from an early age and played all sorts of instruments in all sorts of music groups. Then I trained as a music teacher and taught music to all ages in schools: secondary, intermediate and primary.
In 2002, I left teaching because I wanted to be a rock star! My husband Craig encouraged me to start my own band, which I did – calling it Famous Fish. We travelled all around New Zealand performing shows, corporate events, weddings and parties. We had a lot of fun. Then in 2007, I broke my knee on stage and that became an issue. I decided I couldn’t be a rock star forever. At this point, I asked myself “What else do I want to do?”. I really love music. I love being involved in music. I love teaching music and I had come to realise the power of music and the power that music has to help with teaching others how to grow and learn. That’s when I started kindyRock.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I decided I wanted a music class that was full of cool songs, that were fun for kids and parents and that included a whole heap of learning experiences. In May of 2008, we had our first class in New Zealand and we had 14 families with about 22 kids. It was in a dusty old hall. I had recorded my first 5 kindyRock songs including the kindyRock Twist and Muddy Clothes – both of which are still very much favourites with the little ones. Then it grew from there.
I was adamant I would use my own material in our classes so I had to very quickly write the material and I released 4 albums in the first 2 years.
Throughout my time with kindyRock, I have written over 150 songs and musical games. I continue to create resources that will help teachers run successful music programmes and provide parents with songs they can enjoy with their kids that are fun, easy, effective and relevant.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
When I started kindyRock, my “big dream” for the business was that my music would be accessible to any child in the world. And with the advent of the internet, YouTube and Spotify, it could reach children all over the globe.
Over the years, kindyRock has won several awards, including a Gold and Silver award in the UK Practical Preschool Awards. The music is used throughout New Zealand in early childhood centres, families and homes. It’s used through Mainly Music, which is an international organisation that runs preschool groups in churches. It is also used extensively throughout the UK with Jo Jingles franchise. I am thrilled that I have managed to achieve this goal!