Cheryl Henningsgaard“In the ‘lab of life’ kids are unpredictable and it’s really fun to help them explore and learn to love music” says Cheryl.

Cheryl Henningsgaard loves to create a warm community in her classroom so she greets every parent and student by name.  She takes the time to really know the preferences and learning styles of each child and adjusts her planning to meet their needs. She knows that Julia prefers the pink maracas. That Ari must have those rhythm sticks to feel calm in the classroom. And for the twin sisters who just want to dance and dance, she remembers to have scarves for movement and then uses transition songs to get the dancing queens to sit down with the group.

Cheryl seamlessly infuses the knowledge gained from her Masters in Child & Family Studies and BA in Music Therapy into literally every moment of class time.  Here’s an example of how Cheryl layers complex learning into the familiar song “Rain, Rain Go Away:”

  • Language skills: She sings along with a storybook to help build language skills linking words on the page with the words being sung.
  • Pre-math skills: The kids use rhythm sticks to match the beat of the song, building pathways to the brain needed for pre-math skills.
  • Phonemic awareness: She also adds sound effects with large and small cymbals, naming the concepts of big/little and loud/quiet, which build phonemic awareness, teach categorizing and lay a foundation of more math concepts.

All this with a simple song.

Just like all the dedicated Sing, Play, Learn with MacPhail ™ teachers, Cheryl incorporates dance, bouncing and rhythm for kinetic learners.  She uses bubbles and mylar streamers to help visual learners “see” the music.  And for auditory learners, Cheryl plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, autoharp, violin and mandolin, so they know what authentic instruments sound like.  In her 16 years teaching at MacPhail, she has inspired kids with music through MacPhail’s registration-based classes as well as in MacPhail’s preschool partnerships, live online offerings, New Horizon Academy-MacPhail partnership, and even teaches classes in fluent Norwegian!


Cheryl says, “You know you’ve done what you’re supposed to do if people say they’re happy and have brought music home to their children.”  She is definitely doing what she’s supposed to do!