The Kindermusik community is comprised of mothers, fathers, caregivers, and young children from all corners of the Earth. This Enlgish-language-based program uses music and movement to nurture a child’s cognitive, emotional, social, language and physical development. Parents can choose from eight different Kindermusik courses, each geared towards a specific age group ranging from newborn to seven-years-old. The classes are taught by licensed instructors who have endured rigorous training to achieve and promote Kindermusik’s detailed mission. A concept that began in the former West Germany during the 1960s, the Kindermusik program has diffused for decades across the globe with little alteration or prevention, being accepted by over one million families with young children.
Present day Germany, a country with rich musical history, is attributed with the innovation of Kindermusik. In 1968, the then West German government commissioned several doctoral candidates to create a music and movement program for the 5 to 6-year-old age group. The hearth of West Germany provided Kindermusik with an ideal location for diffusion. Initially, this concept (originally known as “Musikalische Fruherziehung,” or “music for the young child”) flourished solely in West Germany. Local community music schools adopted the curriculum for West Germany’s youth. The program was strictly local culture as it was practiced by a homogeneous population in the spatially limited West Germnay. Soon enough, however, the program would diffuse contagiously throughout Western Europe. In 1974, the program was introduced to the United States where it took root quickly and spread throughout the country. Ten years later it was introduced to Canada where a similar effect took place. Since then, Kindermusik has set its international headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina, where it oversees the operations of over 5,000 educators in 35 countries. Within its 42-year history, Kindermusik has spread it’s principals, and now comodified classes, to six continents - all with humble beginnings in West Germany.
Kindermusik faced various forms of diffusion. Initially, when Kindermusik was simply a program developed by expert music educators and not a comodified curriculum, it diffused contagiously. With publicized success and support from the West German government, the program spread through music schools in West Germany. The program then spread contiguously to neighboring countries in Western Europe. In the 1970s, when the corporation Kindermusik International was instituted and began to publish the Kindermusik curriculum and promote instructor licensing and a range of classes, its diffusion became non-contiguous. The program spread West to North and South America and East as far as Australia. This once local culture was now characterized as popular culture as it continues to be exercised globally by a heterogeneous population. The original concept quickly became comodified as various for-profit-classes were structured for different age groups. Aspiring Kindermusik instructors, essentially child-loving entrepreneurs, could purchase the Kindermusik curriculum along with an instructor’s license. Essentially, the concept spread contagiously through the sub-culture of families with young children. New parents are known to be join forces when raising their young children. Once one family begins using a certain educational toy or innovative class or preschool, it quickly diffuses to associated families. This philosophy can be applied to Kindermusik, where the initial families utilizing the program in West Germany diffused Kindermusik contagiously to families with which they were associated. More recently, Kindermusik International has published stories about mothers who attended Kindermusik classes with their son or daughter and were inspired to start a Kindermusik class of their own. This crafty business operation and swift diffusion helped to make Kindermusik placeless as it is now found all over the world, despite its German title.
In its quientessence, Kindermusik is still Kindermusik. The concept has not changed, nor has the mission of the program. The execution of the program, however, has altered over time. Initially, the raw curriculum was taught at local music schools in West Germany. Over time, the program was adapted in order to compensate for its quick diffusion. The curriculum became uniform, and a “canned” version was sold to instructors, many of whom had no formal music training. These instructors endured official Kindermusik training, however. The authenticity of the program was maintained as its core mission and philosophy were not altered. Also, Kindermusik has faced no obvious prevention in movement. Although the program is universally taught with an English-language-base, this has proven as a positive selling point for parents who want their children exposed to English at a young age. The fact that the program diffused across six continents relatively quickly demonstrates that little opposition has been encountered.
The Kindermusik program began as an experimental music education program and has become a flourishing international corporation. Its hearth in West Germany allowed for easy contagious diffusion among families with small children. Initially, contiguous diffusion was demonstrated as the program spread across Western Europe; however, the institution of Kindermusik International made the program diffuse non-contiguously across the globe. Its 42-year history has experienced little prevention in movement as families are eager to expose their young children to the curriculum that has maintained its core philosophy since its creation by West German doctoral candidates. Kindermusik serves as a prime example as to how, why, and to what extent culture can expand and change under the right conditions.