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Listen and Learn Music: November 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recap: National Conference

Has it really been two whole weeks since I returned from the AMTA conference in San Diego? According to my calendar, it has, but it feels like just yesterday. My first national conference was an experience I won't soon forget, and I'm already thinking ahead to next year. You can read some of the highlights I shared early on during my stay, but more important, in my opinion were the lessons I learned not only about my profession, but about myself, as well. (I cheesy am I?)

Yes, there are actually others like me out there! Ok, so I knew this already, but it's easy to forget that there are plenty of other music therapists out there, with jobs very similar to mine, when I am on my own in good ol' Springfield. Having face-to-face contact and trading stories and advice was worth the price of admission, in my opinion.

The internet really is a good place to meet people. Of course, I mean that only in the most professional sense :) I've made quite a few online connections with fellow MTs over the last couple of years, and I was thrilled to have a chance to meet many of them IRL (that's "in real life" for those of you who don't speak internet!) at conference. Several of us joked that we felt like old friends already, but it really was true. And let me tell you, hanging out with music therapists in person is much more fun than sending tweets and writing on Facebook walls!

I'm on the right track. Having been in the field for only 2.5 years, I tend to question my knowledge, professional abilities, and the decisions I make as a therapist from time to time. I had this false notion that every other MT knew exactly what he or she was doing every step of the way, but I quickly learned from the vets at conference that those question marks are normal. Based on the feedback I received regarding my career, I came home with a brand-new sense of confidence and even clearer vision for my future path.

Public speaking is actually fun. This was probably one of the most valuable lessons of the bunch. In submitting my presentation proposal, I basically forced myself to face one of my biggest fears: public speaking. Little did I know that the key to this art is finding the right topic, which I definitely had by presenting "Music Therapy in the Blogosphere". I enjoyed myself so much that I couldn't wait to give another presentation two days later. I'm officially hooked on public speaking!

Good ideas lead to big things. I knew that I would finally get to see and hold the new Listen & Learn Songbook once I arrived in San Diego, but it wasn't until it was actually in my hand that I was able to grasp the reality of it. What began as an idea was now, after lots of hard work, a product that people were buying! The picture above shows Michelle Erfurt (my wonderful publisher, on the left) and I at our booth in the exhibit hall.

I could spend another hour telling you all about the specifics: the presentations and workshops I attended, the people I met, and the conversations that were had, but I have a feeling those will unfold over time as I put them to good use. This conference was just what I needed to recharge my battery, so to speak. Do I really have to wait an entire year for the next one?

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day For Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm thrilled to be writing my second "I'm thankful for..." post (you can read last year's here) and it seems that this year, the list has grown. It has been a truly amazing year full of new experiences, opportunities, friends, and additions to my family. So without further ado, these are the things for which I'm giving thanks today:

1. My Family
Zach and I are celebrating our second Thanksgiving as a married couple, and Sadie, our puppy, is having her first one ever! We are lucky to have most our family right here in Springfield, and they are our biggest supporters in all that we do. We've both been blessed with an amazing family.

2. My Career
I was hired at The Hope Institute before my internship even ended, and I am so grateful to have been there for the past 2.5 years. I'm also grateful for the opportunity to have built my own private practice, along with all the other music-related projects in which I've taken part over the last year.

3. Our New Home
Although our old house will always be our "first home" as a couple, we are still counting our blessings that we were able to buy our current home last winter. It is perfect for us: I have a dedicated music studio, Sadie has a huge, fenced in backyard, Zach has his "man cave" basement, and there is plenty of room for when our family starts to grow.

4. The Internet
No, really! I have made countless new friends and connections (including YOU!) through Listen & Learn, Facebook, and Twitter, and many of the opportunities I've had have come as a result of my online presence. I fully admit that I am a proud internet geek, and for that, I am thankful.

There are so many more reasons to be thankful, but I'd better stop there. I'm off to help my mom make Thanksgiving dinner, after which we'll hit up Zach's parents' house and my uncle's. Busy day, and I'm already loving every minute of it. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Listen & Learn: Thanksgiving

Okay, everyone...the final countdown has begun! We are only three days away from Thanksgiving, and if your students are anything like mine, they are probably getting restless in anticipation of the holiday and having a mini-break. Maybe you are even experiencing some of this restlessness - I know I am!

But there are still two school days to go before the fun begins, which provides an opportunity to squeeze in just a few more Thanksgiving songs. So with that in mind, I thought I'd recap the songs that I've written and have been singing with my students all month long.

<a href="">Thanksgiving by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Read the original post for each of these songs, including lyrics, here. Also, check out the Songs For Teaching blog (I am one of the bloggers!) for some great songs and ideas. What last-minute Thanksgiving activities are you introducing to your students this week?

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Music Therapy Connections Newsletter

Since starting this blog in September 0f 2008, I have had the opportunity to connect with countless readers all over the world. And not only right here, but through email, Facebook, and Twitter, too. But what can I say, I just can't get enough of you! So I decided to create one more way in which we can communicate...a newsletter! Once you sign up, you will receive several issues per month directly in your email inbox. And the best part is that it is completely free. My goal for this newsletter is two-fold:
  1. Keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings at Music Therapy Connections and Listen & Learn Music.
  2. Introduce new ways in which music can positively affect your life, and how you can maximize those benefits.
As a subscriber, you will periodically receive resources for use at home and in your work, as well as my recommendations of products and other resources that I feel are worth sharing. So take a few seconds to sign up in the space below:

Easy enough, right? Shortly, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your free subscription, which you can do with just one click. Thank you, as always, for being a loyal Listen & Learn reader, and for connecting with me!

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just a Few Things...

Happy weekend, everyone! I had an early start to mine, as I spent yesterday in St. Louis celebrating my sister-in-law's successful doctoral thesis defense. I'm just taking a little time to relax this morning before I head to the WBDR Cares for Kids Radiothon, which I wrote about here a few days ago. In fact, it just happens to be Thing #1...

1. 100% of the proceeds raised during the Radiothon benefit the Children's Miracle Network and St. John's Children's Hospital. You can make a donation by calling 217-544-KIDS (and I might even answer the phone this afternoon!) and listen live, either at 103.7 FM in Springfield or online. I wrote and recorded two songs for the families of the Children's Miracle Network, which will be playing throughout the day. Also, I'm getting interviewed on the air at 12:45 CST.

2. The conference rate for my new Listen & Learn Songbook ends tomorrow. Take advantage of this deal (book + supplemental CD = $25) because beginning Monday, the CD is an additional $10 cost. Follow the link above to read more and order your copy!

3. Now that my conferences are over and the holidays are upon us, I have some serious songwriting sessions planned. My arsenal of seasonal tunes is ready for an upgrade, so if you have any topics you'd LOVE to sing about, don't keep them to yourself! Send your suggestions my way and prepare for some holiday cheer in my favorite form: music, of course :)

4. If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to connect with me and your fellow readers! There a few different options, including Twitter, Facebook, and becoming a blog follower (see the box in the left-hand sidebar). I also have something new in the works to increase blogger-bloggee (is that a word? if not, it is now!) communication, so look for that announcement soon.

And that's all I've got. Enjoy your Saturday and I'll seeya soon!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Up and Down

You've probably noticed that something has been missing from this blog lately: songs! Yes, the very reason many of you visit Listen & Learn in the first thanks for sticking around despite the lack of new tunes over the last couple of weeks. But that is all about to change, since I've been saving a few up in the vault.

"Up and Down" is a song I wrote this summer and just happens to be included in the Listen & Learn Songbook. There are so many ways to describe this concept, that I actually had to cut a few verses from the original! But feel free to add as many of your own as you'd like :)

&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=""&amp;amp;amp;gt;Up and Down by Listen &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; Learn Music&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

Balls can bounce
Up and down.
Towards the sky,
Then to the ground.
Balls can bounce
High and low,
Up above and down they go.

Frogs can leap
Up and down.
Into the air
Then to the ground.
Frogs can leap
High and low,
Up above and down they go.

Elevators move
Up and down.
To the top floor
And underground.
Elevators move
High and low,
Up above and down they go.

Birds can fly
Up and down.
Way beyond the trees
And to the ground.
Birds can fly
High and low,
Up above and down they go.

We can jump
Up and down.
Towards the sky,
Then to the ground.
We can jump
High and low,
Up above and down we go.

Speaking of up and down, I have certainly traveled my fair share in both directions over the last week! And it's not over yet; tomorrow I'm heading south to watch my sister-in-law defend her doctoral thesis, which just happens to be on the topic of neuroscience. I'm already preparing to be blown away!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

31 Hours

Starting tonight and going through Saturday afternoon, my local radio station is hosting their 4th annual radiothon to benefit the Children's Miracle Network and St. John's Children's Hospital. They will be broadcasting live from the lobby of the hospital, where there will be volunteers manning the phones and families who have been helped by the Children's Miracle Network stopping by. I'm one of those volunteers, and looking forward to my 3-hour shift on Saturday afternoon as the radiothon winds to a close.

But I was able to donate my time in another way, as well. Each year during the radiothon, they air personal stories from the people who have required services through the Children's Miracle Network and the hospital. Most of them are hard to hear, and very emotional. But our community needs to hear what kind of care is available should one of their children fall under dire circumstances. The stories are set to music, usually a popular song whose mood suits the gravity of the story.

This year I asked if there was any way I could contribute musically to the cause, and together we came up with the idea to write songs based on the stories themselves. So I sat in as the families told their stories, during which time I got ideas for the corresponding songs. Out of the four stories I heard, I chose two to set to music. They will be played during the radiothon, and I only hope that the families feel that their songs do their stories justice.

That's the coolest part of being a music therapist, in my opinion. Not only can you work directly with a child, adult, or group of people, but there are infinite ways to use music therapeutically, reaching a wide audience at the same time. This point was driven home for me at the national conference, which I will writing more about in the coming days.

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Music Therapy for Children with Disabilities

Can I just tell you how excited I am to be writing to you from Springfield for the first time in over a week? Really, really excited. As much as I love traveling, attending/presenting at conferences, and meeting new people, it feels good to be home. I can't wait to see all my kiddos today, and get back into the old routine.

But first, I wanted to share with you the information that I presented yesterday at the Illinois State Board of Education's nonpublic schools conference. It was great to be able to meet teachers and administrators from across the state and educate them about music therapy, and I can't wait to do it again next year! Below, you can download my handout and slides, both in PDF format.

Download: Music Therapy for Children With Disabilities

It's funny to think that just a few days ago, I had a completely unfounded fear of public speaking. But I've quickly realized that if you're passionate about your topic, standing up in front of people and sharing information is easy and - I thought I would never say this - fun. I'm already looking for opportunities to present again in the near future!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Therapy in the Blogosphere

After five days in warm, beautiful San Diego, I can't say I was thrilled to come home to the cold, rain-soaked Midwest. But such is life, so here I am, back in Springfield, though I am about to leave and head north to the suburbs of Chicago (where it is undoubtedly colder and rainier). I have one more presentation to make, this time at a conference put on by the Illinois State Board of Education, before I can return my suitcases to storage.

I have had several requests by people who were not able to attend the national music therapy conference to see my presentation, so I am making it available to anyone who is interested. All you have to do is follow the link below to download a handout and my presentation slides, both in PDF form.

Download: Music Therapy in the Blogosphere

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask away. And for those of you who want to hear the full conference scoop? Don't worry, I'll be back soon to spill it!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

In Honor of Friday the 13th...

Here are 13 highlights of the national American Music Therapy Association conference thus far, in chronological order:
  1. Arriving in sunny Dan Diego!
  2. Finally meeting fellow music therapy blogger Kimberly Sena Moore and sharing a conversation-filled dinner.
  3. Reuniting with Michelle Erfurt and getting to meet her awesome hubby.
  4. Seeing my songbook in person for the first time. We're talking squeals of joy!
  5. Watching people buy aforementioned songbook in front of my eyes.
  6. Listening to a fascinating lecture about the link between music neuroscience and music therapy. More to come on this later!
  7. Attending the first ever music therapy tweet-up and meeting some new friends.
  8. Learning the ins and outs of applying for a national roster internship.
  9. Having the presenter of that session recognize my name and congratulate me on my aforementioned songbook publication. Too cool!
  10. Getting together with fellow Illinois State University alumni and faculty and having a blast reminiscing and catching up.
  11. Eating a delicious dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, courtesy of the ISU music department!
  12. Blogging before bed...gotta get my fix, you know.
  13. Knowing that my first session doesn't begin until 9:30 am tomorrow.
There is still much more fun to be had over the next 1.5 days, including my presentation, Music Therapy in the Blogosphere, on Sunday morning. I will continue facebooking and twittering (yes, those are both verbs) throughout it all, so that you can all get in on the conference action!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

I'm Turkey Dinner Dancin' here in San Diego, and now, so are my readers at Listen & Learn Music Plus! The lead sheet for this song, complete with lyrics and chords, as well as the mp3 download are available to subscribers...learn about becoming one today!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

San Diego Bound!

In just under 24 hours, I will be hopping on a plane and making my way to sunny California for the American Music Therapy Association's national conference. Though this won't be quite the sight-seeing San Diego vacation that I enjoyed last spring, it will certainly be a memorable (and educational) experience. This is the first AMTA conference that I've ever attended, and not only that, but I am presenting, too. Just trying to make the most of this conference and challenge myself in new ways!

I want to share my experiences and insights with you all during my time in San Diego, so be sure to check back here at Listen & Learn throughout the week for mini posts (and pictures, too!). Also, I will be tweeting and facebooking frequently, so find me on those sites, as well:

I can't wait to meet those of you who will also be attending the AMTA conference, so if you are, make sure to find me there! I will be hosting a Listen & Learn table (alongside Michelle Erfurt) in the AMTA members section of the Exhibit Hall, so please stop by. Oh, and check out my presentation, "Music Therapy in the Blogosphere", on Sunday morning at 9:15.

See you in San Diego, either face-to-face or via the internet!

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Listen & Learn on the Music Therapy Show

This afternoon, I had the opportunity to be a guest on Janice Harris' Music Therapy Show and it was so much fun! Michelle Erfurt, whose company (Erfurt Music Therapy) published my new songbook, was right there with me, and you can listen for yourself below:

I really wanted to sing one of my songs from the songbook, but my voice isn't 100% healed, yet (as you can probably tell by listening!). You can hear all 24 of them on the supplemental CD, now being offered for free as part of our conference pricing deal. The book is $25 and can be ordered in the Listen & Learn store (also in the left-hand sidebar) or here.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Fave: The Music Therapy Show

Happy Friday, everyone! It has been a long week...for me, at least. Just as I was recovering from the flu, I managed to catch a cold that led to a nasty case of laryngitis. The bane of every musician's existence, I have been fighting it since Monday and it has yet to surrender completely. But I am able to talk again, which is perfect timing since tomorrow, I'm going to be a guest on Janice Harris' Music Therapy Radio Show!

I am going to be joining Michelle Erfurt, the music therapist who published the new Listen & Learn songbook, to talk about all about the book, the blog, and more. This is just in time for the national AMTA conference in San Diego, which begins next week. Michelle and I will be hosting a table in the exhibit hall, where we will be selling the songbook and meeting music therapists from all over the country. I can hardly wait!

The show will be live at 4 pm CST, and you can listen by following this link. Oh, and this is your chance to ask any questions you might have of me (or Michelle)! All you have to do is call in at (646) 652-2850. If you can't catch it live, the show will be available at the same link as a podcast.

In the meantime, are there any questions you have in advance that you'd like for me to answer on the show? Let me know in the comments section, or send me an email. Also, if you wouldn't mind, send some good singing vibes my way so that I have enough voice to sing one of the songs from the new book on the air :) Thank you in advance! Have a great weekend, and I hope you can tune in tomorrow.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Sound of Hope

A couple of months ago, my students and I had the honor of performing at The Hope Institute's Celebrity Chef gala, an annual fundraiser held right here on campus. "The Sound of Hope" was a song I wrote especially for the event, and it was included on the souvenir CD I made for the guests. I've been meaning to share the song with all of you, and am just now getting around to it! It was inspired by my students, as reflected in the title:

Bells chime and choirs sing,
Dogs bark and phones ring,
Cats meow and birds tweet,
Frogs croak and hearts beat,
The world is full of noise.
But what you hear, well, you have a choice:

We are the sound of hope,
We are the voice of love,
Turn your ear and listen well.
And let it be the bridge
That lets you carry on.
Your song says more than words can tell.

Sometimes the lyrics aren’t clear,
Or the music’s too soft to hear,
That is what makes it your own,
And you are not alone.
Each song has a different name.
But its spirit remains the same:


Life’s a journey,
Take my hand,
Don’t be afraid of the melody.
Music teaches,
Music heals,
And we’re waiting for the whole world to see:


We are the sound of Hope,
We are the sound of love,
And we know that you’re listening well.
So shine your light,
Bright as the sun above,
Your song says more than words can tell.
Your song says more than words can tell.

This song is a lot longer and wordier than the ones my students are used to singing with me, so I was extremely proud of their performance. Just one of the many bright, shining moments I've experienced over the last couple of years as a music therapist who gets to work with amazing kids!

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I received this in an email from a friend yesterday, and I thought it was too good not to share with all of you. It really does make you think...what would your reaction have been?
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made..... How many other things are we missing?

Life is too short for a long story.


From the Blogosphere to Your Bookshelf

Today’s announcement has been over a year in the making, and I have been bursting at the seams to share it with you all. Listen and Learn: Educational songs for school, home, and play is a songbook containing 24 of my most popular songs, and it is now on sale! Listen and Learn’s debut songbook includes the melody line and chords for songs that address goal areas such as counting, daily care, directions, transitions, friendships, and more along with activity suggestions for each one. It was developed for other music therapists, educators, parents, or anyone who works with children.

This came about last fall, when Michelle Erfurt, MT-BC, came across my blog. She lived in the Orlando area at the time, where I just happened to be planning a visit for a friend’s wedding. We met up while I was in town, and that is when Michelle proposed the idea to collaborate on a Listen and Learn songbook. From that point on, we communicated via phone and email as I wrote and prepared the music, which she then edited and published through her company, Erfurt Music Therapy.

We will be hosting a display table at the American Music Therapy Conference in San Diego next week, where other music therapists can purchase Listen and Learn: Educational songs for school, home, and play at a discounted conference price of $25, which includes a free supplemental CD of all 24 songs. The best part is that this conference price will also be available to YOU (and anyone else who would like to purchase the book) through November 22. After that, the regular price, Book $25/CD $10, will go into effect. You can purchase the book by following the link in the sidebar, and you’ll also find it in my store.

Michelle and I will be talking more about Listen and Learn: Educational songs for school, home, and play (among other things) on Janice Harris’ “Music Therapy Radio Show” this Saturday at 4 pm CST. Follow this link to listen live on the internet, and you can even call in to ask questions during the show. That number is (646) 652-2850. If you miss it on Saturday, you can find it on iTunes or by following this link.

If you have any questions about the book, do not hesitate to send me an email! I couldn’t be more excited about Listen and Learn’s leap to the page, and I hope you are, too.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Your Mark...Get Set...Go!

That is how I felt when I woke up on Sunday and realized it was November already. This very well might be the busiest month I'll have all year, and I'm reminded of that as I make mental to-do lists all day long! This week alone, I have a performance, a guest stint on the Music Therapy Radio Show, countless songs to record, and an exciting announcement to make (tomorrow!).

So it doesn't help matters that I'm currently without a singing voice. Why is it that laryngitis hits at the worst possible time, year after year? But I'm praying that it returns in full force by Friday, or even sooner if I'm lucky. Until then, I will be hiding in my office at school, working on the presentations I have coming up in the next two weeks.

How is your November going so far? Are you already thinking about Thanksgiving and the advent of the holiday season? I would be lying if I said I wasn't...and I would also be lying if I said I hadn't loaded the old Christmas playlist back onto my iPod :) Call me crazy, but I just can't resist! But don't worry: I won't broach that topic here at Listen & Learn for another few weeks. Let's start by refreshing our memories with the "November" song:

For thirty days November’s here
Let’s give thanks and show good cheer.
The days are short and the wind will blow
It’s the eleventh month I know.

For thirty days November’s here
And Election Day will come.
Grown-ups will go to cast their votes
There will be a celebration for some.

For thirty days November’s here
Let’s give thanks and show good cheer.
The days are short and the wind will blow
It’s the eleventh month I know.

For thirty days November’s here
And next comes Veteran’s Day
We’ll remember those who served
And home from school we’ll stay.

For thirty days November’s here
Let’s give thanks and show good cheer.
The days are short and the wind will blow
It’s the eleventh month I know.

For thirty days November’s here
And then comes Thanksgiving Day.
While we eat turkey and pumpkin pie
We’ll be thankful in our own way.

For thirty days November’s here
Let’s give thanks and show good cheer.
The days are short and the wind will blow
It’s the eleventh month I know.

Happy November! Now go enjoy your day, and send good singing vibes my way, if you please. My students and I thank you!

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