Listen & Learn Music

has been moved to new address

Sorry for inconvenience...

Listen and Learn Music: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Know You've Hit Your Songwriting Stride When...'re in the middle of a session with a student, and out of your mouth (and guitar) comes a complete song about playing the tambourine, perfect rhymes and all. I realized when Ryan reached "instruments" on his schedule that I hadn't planned a song to sing while he played, preferably one that worked on directions (up and down) and speed (slow and fast). Well I guess I didn't need to, because my magical music therapy powers did it for me on the spot :)

I actually liked the song so much that I'm going to put it in writing as soon as I finish up this post. I've written quite a few songs this week in preparation for March, many of which I'm excited about sharing with you all in the coming days. Stay tuned!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What to Wear, What to Wear

It's a little embarassing to admit, but one of the hardest parts of my day is picking out an outfit to wear. I always second guess myself...did I just wear this? Is this too spring-ish? Does this shirt even fit? This daily dilemma got me to thinking: it's probably a little overwhelming for kids when they first start dressing themselves. Now granted, they probably don't have the same concerns as us grown-ups (i.e. matching, obeying the rules of the season), but if I had to guess, I'd say it's a bit of a challenge.

That line of thinking inspired me to write this song, which covers several aspects of getting dressed. And next month, I'm going to use it as a precursor to the weather song, since our outfits are usually determined by the weather. Take a listen:

Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

There are a few things that I need to know,
Before I get dressed today.
What’s the weather like?
Am I going to school?
Or just outside to play?

Because the people I see, and the places I go,
And whether there is sun or rain or snow,
All matter when I choose,
My clothes and my shoes.

Girls can wear a dress or skirt,
However, boys cannot,
We can all wear pants and even shorts,
Depending if it’s cold or it’s hot.


Next I’ll choose a shirt to wear,
Short-sleeved, or long,
Or maybe a sweater if it’s wintertime,
‘Cause in the summer that would be wrong.


Last but least comes shoes and socks,
Or sandals if it’s warm,
Sneakers if I’m playing outside,
Or boots if there is a storm.


I kept it simple, but I think it is effective. I've even found myself humming this tune a couple times this past week while standing in my closet, clueless as usual. Someday this will become an easy task...I hope!

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Off To School Today

It's Monday, and you know what that means. Time for school! No shortened week this time around, but next Monday is Casmir Pulaski Day...which means another day off :) Until then, let's talk about the song I have for you today. It is all about going to school - when we go, how we get there, who we see, and what we do.

There are a lot of kids out there who sometimes dread the very thought, but many times the anxiety they have beforehand is much worse than the actual experience. I know this firsthand, because I was one of those kids. I remember coming up with all sorts of excuses for why I couldn't go to school, even as early as kindergarten. The funny thing is that I actually enjoyed school and did well once I was there. I grew out of this eventually, as do most kids.

I thought a fun, upbeat song about school might help ease that anxiety, and maybe even provide the child with reasons to look forward to it.

Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

I’m off to school today,
I’m gonna listen, learn and play.
Every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you see,
It’s off to school for me.

You can bring a lunch from home, or buy it at school,
Don’t forget your bookbag, whatever you do.
You can get there in a school bus, or ride in a car,
You can walk if the school is not too far.


You can learn about science, math, and reading too,
Music, art, and gym class, there’s so much to do.
And when it’s time to go home, when the day is done,
Tell your teacher “thank you” for all of the fun.


Well I'm off to prepare for my school day. I have a long to-do list, including new songs to prepare with March quickly approaching. Have a wonderful Monday!

Labels: ,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fave: Blue Snowball Microphone

TGIF! This week flew by, and trust me, I don't say that very often. I guess it didn't hurt that Monday was a holiday :) Nonetheless, it's Friday and you know what that means - it's time for Friday Faves!

I'm often asked what type of equipment I use to record my songs. Since I record so frequently, I needed a home set-up that was simple yet produced good, quality sound. My first step was purchasing a Macbook, which I did back in the summer of 2007. This has by far been a great investment, as I can use it to record, edit, and burn CDs among many other things. GarageBand is the audio program I use, and I am a huge fan. Not only does it have all the capabilities I need, but it is completely user-friendly. I love the drop-and-drag features, and its seamless integration with iTunes. But I couldn't do much without this beauty right here:

The Blue Snowball Microphone is awesome. It doesn't take up much space, and all I have to do is plug it into the USB port of my computer and it's ready to go. No installation, no software. There are three settings to choose from, depending on what type of recording you're doing and the space in which you're doing it. I actually have my husband to thank for this discovery, as it was a Christmas gift last year. You can get one for yourself HERE.

All this talk about recording is making me want to do just that, but it will have to wait. I have a full day of music therapy ahead of me, and lots of work to be done. Have a great Friday!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Under, Over, In and Out

Ahh, prepositions. They are something we all learn at one point or another, and as educators, we have the responsibility of making sure our students understand them. There are so many, but I chose just four of the most commonly used prepositions to include in this particular song.

Something important to remember about teaching prepositions: words can only go so far. You really need some sort of visual aide to demonstrate each word and its meaning. One idea is to use a stuffed animal or a student's favorite object, and then place that object under or over a table or chair, in and out of a bin, etc. That way the student has a visual reference to associate with each preposition. I structured my song so that there is a time to demonstrate each word after singing about it. See what you think:

Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

Under, over, in and out,
Is what we’re gonna sing about.
So please listen carefully,
And you will learn along with me.

Under is a word that means below,
Like the fish swim under water, this we know.
Now I’ll show you just exactly what I mean, you see,
So keep your eyes on me. (demonstrate under)


Over is a word that means above or across,
Like a bridge over the lake or the ball over we toss.
Now I’ll show you just exactly what I mean, you see,
So keep your eyes on me. (demonstrate over)


In is a word that means to enter,
Like you’ve come inside or walked into the center.
Now I’ll show you just exactly what I mean, you see,
So keep your eyes on me. (demonstrate in)


Out is a word that means away,
Like you’re out of school and went outside to play.
Now I’ll show you just exactly what I mean, you see,
So keep your eyes on me. (demonstrate out)


This is one activity where you can get creative and really cater to the interests and learning styles of your students. What are some other ways of teaching these prepositions (and others)? What has worked for you in the past, and what hasn't?

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What's In a Name?

Happy Sunday! It's been a great weekend...we picked out paint colors for the new house, did some more furniture shopping, and had a relaxing Valentine's Day together. And thanks to Presidents' Day, I have a bonus day tomorrow to get some more packing done. I am counting down the days until we are in the new house and life can move on!

Tonight I thought I'd share a few name songs that I recorded for one of my classes at school. Last month, I wrote about the song "Everybody Has a Name", which is a more general name song and can be used with any group. The tunes below are student-specific, but as you will hear, most of them are adapted from well-known songs and can be written to fit any name. All it takes is a little creativity!


Jasmine. She's a girl.


Ryan’s got a friend in me,
Ryan’s got a friend in me,
Ryan’s got a friend in me!


There once was a girl named Kristyn, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N,
There once was a girl named Kristyn, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N.
Kristyn, Kristyn, she’s a girl, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N,
Kristyn, Kristyn, she’s a girl, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N.
She’s trying very hard to sit up straight, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N,
She’s trying very hard to sit up straight, K-R-I-S-T-Y-N.


Jamell’s been working hard in class,
All the live-long day,
Jamell’s been working hard in class,
Just to pass the time away.
J-A-M-E-L-L, that’s how you spell Jamell.
J-A-M-E-L-L, that’s how you spell Jamell.

In most cases, I tried to incorporate a unique aspect of each student. Jasmine likes jazz music, which is the style in which I tailored her song. Ryan's favorite movie is Toy Story, hence the tune "You've Got a Friend in Me". I included a goal in both Kristyn and Jamell's songs (sitting up straight and working hard in class).

I've said it a million times before, and I'll say it again: the more personalized the song, the more likely the student is to respond positively to it. And a positive response can translate into progress...and success!

Labels: , ,

Friday, February 13, 2009


The title of this song is funny, and there seems to be a plethora of spellings to choose from, but one thing is for sure: if you grew up in the 80s watching Nickelodeon, you can sing the words and probably even do the hand motions, too. I started singing this song along with Sharon, Lois, and Bram on "The Elephant Show" in the late 80s, and I'm still singing it today with my students. Many of the parents and staff at school get a kick out of it, because they too remember it from their childhood.

It's Friday, and thankfully, we have a long weekend ahead of us. So enjoy your Valentine's Day, celebrate the Presidents on Monday, and come back soon!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ten Little Hearts

It's almost time for Valentine's Day, so I have a few love-ly songs on tap just for this occasion. The first one is part of my monthly "Counting Time" series, which features the same basic song, with a different seasonal item to count. This month, we are counting hearts, of course!

Counting time, it's counting time,
So let's all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little hearts in a row,
Now let's count them nice and slow!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

How many hearts?
Ten little hearts.
All lined up in a row.

If you're an educator or parent, you already know that children love repetition and familiarity. Even though I sing this song every week (introducing new items each month), my students never get tired of pointing to each item while counting aloud with me. And for those who are just learning to count, or are working on the use of their pointer finger, it is great reinforcement.

It's a dreary day here in central Illinois, but I'll take a thunderstorm over negative temperatures any day! Only a few more weeks until lovely, lovely spring, and you better believe I'll have a whole slew of songs to go right along with it. But until then, have a wonderful day and see you tomorrow.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is Your Mama a Llama?

Does this book look familiar? It sure does to most of the little ones I know. Is Your Mama a Llama? is a favorite both at home and in the classroom, and it has become one of my go-to stories.

It's easier than you'd think to set a story like this to music. As long as the words rhyme and there is a definitive rhythm to the verses, you can create a melody line that repeats over and over. I've done this with over thirty books, and I'm always looking for more. Sung stories are a great way to entertain students while at the same time working on a slew of skills, including attention to task, following directions, answering "wh" and yes/no questions, identifying objects and colors, and reading.

Labels: ,

Monday, February 9, 2009

Call for Links and Resources

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been hard at work on my original website, Music Therapy Connections. I have given it a complete facelift, as well as added new categories and information. If you have a chance, stop by and take a look around. While you're there, please note the bare-bones list of links/resources I've put together thus far...and consider helping me out! If you have a link (of your own or just one you'd recommend) pertaining to all things music therapy, music education, or voice/piano/guitar, please share it with me. I tend to rely on the same resources time after time, so this is a great opportunity to get some feedback from you, my lovely readers. Many thanks in advance!

As for my ambitious weekend to-do list, I was semi-successful. Cleaning? Check. Packing? Check. Songwriting and recording? comment. :) There are only so many hours in the day, unfortunately. But it is a new week and I'm feeling productive, so stay tuned!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Fave: Jingle Sticks

See this yellow beauty right here? I have fifteen more where that came from, and it has quickly become my most popular instrument among the students of the Hope Institute. They are a relatively new acquisition; I received them just in time for the Christmas season to be over...they would have been the perfect accompaniment to "Jingle Bells", "Jingle Bell Rock" and other seasonal favorites. But hey, I'll take what I can get!

These jingle sticks are a total steal, ringing in (pun intended) at just $3.15 over at West Music. I plan to order several more for my private practice, since I donated the ones I already owned to the Hope collection. What I like best about them is that they are easy to play, only requiring one hand, and they just sound so cheerful. Pair them with a fast-paced song, and in no time you'll have a roomful of happy kids.

So that is it for this week's installment of Friday Faves. I have some lofty goals for the weekend, including lots of recording, songwriting, cleaning and packing (my husband and I are moving in a little over a month). I hope your weekend is simply wonderful!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When the Saints Go Marching In

When I'm not composing original songs, you can bet I'm writing new lyrics for existing songs that are familiar and well-liked. I'm shared many of these songs in the past, and today I have a new one for you. Last month as I was brainstorming songs that might work as accompaniment to a drumming activity, the old standard "When the Saints Go Marching In" popped into my head. Most everyone knows it, and if they don't, it's easy enough to learn. The melody and words are repetitive, and better yet, the song invites new verses. So that is exactly what I is the song as I sing while my students bang away on the drums:

Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in,
How I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

Oh when we play upon our drums,
Oh when we play upon our drums,
How I want to be in that number,
When we play upon our drums.

Oh when we hear the instruments,
Oh when we hear the instruments,
How I want to be in that number,
When we hear the instruments.

Oh when we keep that steady beat,
Oh when we keep that steady beat,
How I want to be in that number,
When we keep that steady beat,

Oh when the saints go marching in,
Oh when the saints go marching in,
How I want to be in that number,
When the saints go marching in.

You can change the words to this song to fit almost any activity, instrument-based or otherwise. I'm thinking of retooling it as a movement/following directions ditty sometime in the near future. The possibilities are endless!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Month Song Makeovers

Good evening! I just received this email from Kim, a loyal reader and supporter of Listen & Learn. She has some great ideas for the January and February month songs, and I just had to pass them along to you:

"You know what a fan I am of your month songs, so I thought I'd share some new verses with you. I structure my autism groups around themes, so I'm using the month songs to reinforce the themes I use. With that in mind, I've added some new versions and reworded some of yours to coincide with my weekly themes. I hope you don't mind my taking liberty with your creativity.

For January (I know this is a little late to be of any use this year):

January bring a brand new year
Our new president will start
Soon will be inauguration day
And Obama will be in charge

(It was really fun to listen to them try and pronounce "Obama)."

January brings a brand new year
It's now 2009
We'll do our best, be nice to friends
And everything will be just fine.

For February:

February 24th is Fat Tuesday
Down in New Orleans they'll sing and play
Beads and masks for all to see
A Mardi Gras party for you and me

February's a time to see
What Black Americans did for our country
Who helped our land become so great
Just one more reason to celebrate."

Thanks so much, Kim, for these wonderful additions! I will definitely be incorporating the new February verses into my lessons this month. And if anyone else has made over a Listen & Learn tune, I'd love to hear about it.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 1, 2009

February...and Football

Good evening! And happy February to you, too. Not only is today the start of a brand new month, but it is also Superbowl Sunday. Though I'm not a football fan, I have indulged my husband by feigning interest in the game :) Sundays are always busy for me, and today was no exception. After church I tackled several household projects, and I didn't finish until it was time to go back for Church Mice. But now that I'm a little more relaxed, I will make you wait no more for the debut of the "February" song.

February is month number two,
The shortest of all the months, it’s true.
Usually twenty-eight days, but sometimes
At leap year, then there’ll be twenty-nine.

February second is Groundhog Day,
We’ll wait for the animal to come out and play.
Let’s hope his shadow he does not see,
It means spring will soon be here for you and me.


February fourteenth is Valentine’s Day,
We’ll give out cards and “I love you,” we’ll say.
Time for chocolate, and candy hearts too,
Pink and red flowers for me and you.


February also brings President’s Day,
Remembering those who paved the way
For the US to become so great,
And that is why we celebrate.


If you read this blog on a regular basis, you know that winter is not my favorite season. Not even my second...or third...favorite season. But I like to look at the bright side of things, and the bright side of February is that it is short! And one month closer to spring than January! So as the rest of the country roots for either the Steelers or the Cardinals, I'm rooting for the end of football season and hoping that the groundhog does not see his shadow tomorrow. Fingers are crossed!

Labels: , ,