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Listen and Learn Music: 1 Cool Bass Line = 2 Singable Stories

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

1 Cool Bass Line = 2 Singable Stories

One of my favorite ways to engage my music therapy students is through children's books. I have a sizable collection of what I call "singable stories" - books with words that translate nicely into sung lyrics.  Singable stories, along with the pictures that illustrate them, provide a wonderful opportunity to address goals such as identifying colors, objects, numbers, sight words, and answering "wh" questions.

A book that I find myself pulling off the shelf again and again is Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand. The pictures are colorfully captivating, and the song is familiar to most children.

I've found that if I set the story to a cool beat, my students are even more apt to listen and participate.  This acoustic bass line (available in Garageband) does the trick nicely.

<a href="">Down by the Station by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Another book I enjoy, and find effective in addressing the previously stated goals, is Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.  Again, the story is familiar, and like the first book, there is quite a bit of onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sounds they represent).

This book is new to my collection, and as I sat down to record it the other day, I realized that I could use the very same bass line as accompaniment!

<a href="">Going on a Bear Hunt by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

When I want to jazz up my singable stories a little bit during a music therapy session, I actually play the accompanying bass line on my ipod as my student(s) and I explore the book. I make the track much longer than the length of the book, allowing for questions and conversation as we go through it. You are more than welcome to download it (for free) and use it in your own music therapy, classroom or home setting.

<a href="">Singable Story Bass Line by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

For those of you who have Garageband, this is "Cool Upright Bass 18" in the Loops section. You can adjust the tempo, key, and length to suit your needs. And of course, there are many more loops and beats to explore...I could spend (and sometimes do) spend hours playing around with them!

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At June 16, 2010 at 10:13 AM , Anonymous Michelle Erfurt, MT-BC said...

LOVE this idea! Perfect for the solo MT!

At June 16, 2010 at 10:55 AM , Anonymous Natalie said...

I cannot wait to get my computer when my money comes through.

At June 16, 2010 at 8:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel You may remember me by the girl who was soooo excited to meet you at National in CA! Hope all is well. This was great and super helpful. Last semester I used garage band tools a lot with my client for my practicum. I can't wait to put this idea into play. Thanks!


At June 16, 2010 at 10:29 PM , Blogger Rachel Rambach said...

Hi Sarah! Of course I remember you; we met at the West Music booth when you recognized my songbook :) I have really been enjoying your blog! Keep up the great work with that. I am so glad to hear this post was helpful...take my survey and let me know what else you'd find useful!

At June 17, 2010 at 3:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Rachel! Will do! Keep in touch! :)

At June 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM , Blogger Noel said...

Thank you so much for these ideas. I am always searching for these types of "singable books". "Click Clack Moo Cows that Type" is another fun one and great for meeting goals. Would you mind giving a short list of the other books you use? Thanks!

At June 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM , Blogger Rachel Rambach said...

No problem, Noel! A few more favorites: The Magic Hat, Somewhere in the Ocean, Goldilocks Has Chicken Pox, Eight Silly Monkeys. Email me ( for others!


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