If you visit the Feelings Rock with Ms. Katie Facebook page and click through Katie Webster’s videos, it’s clear she’s doing what she was born to do — helping children learn, move and grow through music.
Webster is the founder of Feelings Rock in Buffalo, which helps kids develop social, motor, language and cognitive skills through singing and dancing. She describes it as the “happiest job in the world” — especially when she can see amazing progress in her students.
For the past 19 years, Webster has been teaching music and movement to preschoolers. Then in September 2020, she was inspired to start her own company, Feelings Rock, to fill a need she saw in the community.
Feelings Rock uses music and movement as a medium for teaching kids aged zero to five important skills such as recognizing and naming emotions, understanding how their bodies feel when they’re experiencing different emotions and learning strategies for handling different emotions. Webster’s goal is to make the weekly classes accessible to as many people as possible, so Feelings Rock also offers virtual classes through Zoom.
“The pandemic brought to the forefront that our children need concentrated help with their social emotional development,” Webster says. “Friends from all around can join us each week.”
Fun props like puppets, rhythm sticks, instruments, bean bags, books and scarves are all used to guide kids through songs. Caregivers are encouraged to participate too, so they gain the strategies and tools to support children to continue developing social emotional skills at home.
Feelings Rock also offers an assortment of products that can help with that work outside of class. This includes downloads of their music, instruments, books and manipulatives — concrete objects that allow students to explore an idea in an active, hands-on approach — used during classes.
Webster says the community created by Feelings Rock is an inclusive one for children and caregivers. She welcomes all caregivers to the classes — mothers, fathers, grandparents, nannies — anyone who provides care for a child will find connection and community. Feelings Rock also offers specialized classes for children with special needs. Each weekend they present a class through GiGi’s Playhouse, a down syndrome achievement centre in Buffalo.
Less than a year after her company opened, Webster says she’s definitely feeling the demand for the classes. She’s now looking at expansion, with the hopes of offering the social emotional development skills that Feelings Rock develops to as many children as possible. Webster has her eye on growing the number of instructors an important next step in the development of the company, and expanding Feelings Rock to other communities.
In these tough times, kids learning to identify and understand their own emotions and the emotions of others is more important than ever. Feelings Rock helps kids and is filling that developmental need with their unique programming based around music and movement.
“When you attend our classes, you become part of our community and our goal is to help you feel loved, welcomed and appreciated,” Webster says.