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Listen and Learn Music: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Singalong: Sunny Day

Finally! There's no doubt about the excitement my students, fellow staff, and I have felt this past week each time we've sung the "Sunny Day" song. After a seemingly endless winter of gray, dreary days, the sun is a much-welcomed change of scenery...we're just hoping it sticks around!

This week, I borrowed my mom's Flip Ultra HD Camcorder to record the "Sunday Singalong" video, and I am amazed at the upgrade in quality (compared to using the built-in iSight camera on my Macbook).  Even the sound is impressive!  I have a long wish list of tech toys, but the Flip is definitely right up there at the top.

This three-day weekend (thanks, Casimir Pulaski!) has been the perfect mix of productivity and laziness, but it's time to kick into high gear.  I'm off to lead Church Mice, after which I have a new month of music therapy sessions to plan.  Tomorrow, on my day off from school, I'm having my piano tuned, meeting with my accountant, teaching lessons, and providing private MT sessions as usual.   Throw in a couple loads of laundry, and I'm tired just thinking about it.

How has your weekend shaped up?  I'd love to hear what you've been up to!  Oh, and if you have any suggestions for next week's "Sunday Singalong" video, don't be shy.  I'm always up for suggestions - the song could be one of mine or a cover.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

{List}en & Learn

I'm a list-maker.  I usually have at least two or three lists going at once: on my phone (I love the app "A Check List" for the iPhone), in my planner, and on a piece of notepad paper.  Not to mention the stacks of lists I've made containing ideas and future plans that have their own place on my desk.  Saturday is my designated day for tackling those various lists, but I thought I'd make one more before I get to work on them!

1. SleepPhones Giveaway winner Joann wrote to say, "The SleepPhones arrived in Friday's mail. I used them last night. They are amazingly comfortable and the sound quality is pretty good. Thank you so much."

2. My Facebook page is hoppin' lately!  Hard to believe there are almost 700 fans...are you one of them?

3. This YouTube video has gone viral, and it's easy to see why.  Who can resist an adorable elderly couple showing off their mad skills on the piano?

4. The Laurie Berkner Band's blog is a new addition to my blogroll, and definitely worth a visit.  I love getting a peek behind-the-scenes of one of my biggest inspirations!

5. Read the Feed!  The easiest way to keep up with Listen & Learn is to subscribe to my RSS feed.  I subscribe to all my favorite blogs, and then read them all in one place via Google Reader.

I think that's it for now.  My husband and I are finally tearing ourselves away from our Saturday Lost marathon (thanks, Netflix streaming!) so that we can attend to our respective to-do lists.  See you tomorrow for this week's Sunday Singalong video!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fave: The Magic of iMovie

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but it's true: this Friday Fave is devoted to yet another piece of Apple technology.  Again, let me remind you that I am in no way compensated for my frequent Apple/Mac related posts; I just really, really love their products :)

iMovie is a part of the iLife package that comes with every Mac, and I recently upgraded to iLife '09.  Up until then, I had used only the most basic features of iMovie to create the occasional YouTube video, but I have since discovered many more of the cool things this program can do.  Experimenting with music tracks, still photos, transitions and titles has been way too much can almost get a little addictive!

I spent some time this week creating a video about my songbook, incorporating many of those aforementioned iMovie features.  It's definitely not perfect, but I'm still learning. Take a look:

What do you think? I had a blast making this video, from taking the photos, to recording the music, to even the tedious editing process. Now I just have to come up with excuses to create more like it...any ideas?

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Slow and In Control

My students are movers and shakers, in every sense of the phrase. Walk into any classroom and you'll see that for yourself, trust me! While this can definitely be a positive thing when it comes time to do some sort of physical activity, it can also be a distraction during structured physical tasks (like carrying a big stack of books!) and other non-physical activities in either a closed or public environment.

I think every child needs a reminder to be "slow and in control" every once in a while, which is why I was so glad when I received a custom-written song request using that very phrase.  The actions that I list in the verses are very general and apply to everyday life at home and school, but feel free to replace them with actions that are specific to your student or child.

<a href="">Slow and In Control by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>
Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

In most everything you do,
Take a breath and think it through,
Be slow and in control.
Rushing and hurrying is for the birds,
So remember these four little words,
Slow and in control.

When you’re drawing a picture,
Be slow and in control.
When you’re cutting with scissors,
Be slow and in control.

When you’re carrying something,
Be slow and in control.
When you’re pouring a drink,
Be slow and in control.

When you’re out in public,
Be slow and in control.
When you’re with your friends,
Be slow and in control.

When you’re doing your work,
Be slow and in control.
When you’re cleaning up,
Be slow and in control.

I'm already thinking up different ways to use this song: it could be sung before a task as a way to prepare the child, or even during it, turning the verses into a "slow and controlled" step-by-step guide.  How might you use this song, and what actions would you add with your little ones in mind?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Who is Green in Color and 150 Feet Tall?

Why, Lovely Lady Liberty, of course!  When one of my consult clients requested a custom song about the Statue of Liberty for her daughter, I jumped at the chance.  Having just returned from New York City, I felt inspired by this famous landmark and couldn't wait to pen a song about the it.  My plan was to create something that was both fun and informational, and to be honest, writing this song proved to be quite a challenge.  There were so many facts to include, yet so few opportunities for rhymes!  But I think it turned out pretty well...what about you?

<a href="">The Statue of Liberty by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

In 1886, on an autumn day,
People traveled from all the way
In France, to the U.S. to show
Their friendship, they gave what we all know (as)

The Statue of Liberty
This lovely lady came to be
A famous sight, recognized by all,
Green in color, and standing tall.
Green in color, and standing tall.

150 feet high she stands,
On a pedestal, looking over all the lands.
She holds a torch, a tabula, too,
And wears a stola, and sandals, and a crown, it’s true.


She lives on a island in New York, off the coast,
When people visit, she’s a gracious host.
They can go inside, way up to her crown,
And enjoy the view, looking all around.


She’s a universal symbol, for our country,
Of freedom and democracy.
A National Monument, admirable,
She represents the U.S. as a whole.


What other national landmarks and monuments would make great song topics?  Now that I've tackled the Statue of Liberty, I think I'm ready for another challenge.  Amanda Ellis of More With Music guessed that today's song would be about Abraham Lincoln, and I think she's on to something...after all, I do live in the Land of Lincoln!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

SleepPhones, Superiors & Songs...Oh My!

First things first: it's time to announce the winner of the SleepPhones Giveaway!  (I used to select a random number from the list of comments.)  That lucky person....drum roll, musicsparks!  Congratulations to you, and a big thank you to the rest of you for entering.  Don't forget, you can receive $5 off your own pair of SleepPhones by using the coupon code "LALM5" when you order online. Stay tuned for upcoming giveaways, and as always, your regular visits to my humble home in the blogosphere are much appreciated!

Item number two on the agenda will be short and sweet, I promise.  I just have to take a few sentences to brag about my extremely talented piano students, all of whom scored "SUPERIOR" ratings at our local National Federation Junior Festival.  It was my first year as a member of the federation, so this was their first time participating.  It's not easy to get up and play in front of judges and an audience, but my students looked and sounded like pros (as reflected by their high scores).  It was a proud weekend for this piano teacher!

Item number three is just a reassurance that yes, there ARE new songs coming your way this week!  I've had a lot of news and special items to share this past week, but I'm ready to get back to what this blog is really all about.  Tomorrow's tune is about a VERY tall American icon who lives on the East Coast.  Any guesses?

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fave: Erfurt Music Resource

I'm assuming that since you're here at Listen & Learn, you are probably interested in music therapy, music education, or just music in general.  If that is the case, then you'll definitely want to stop by the Erfurt Music Resource, a new website created by my friend and fellow music therapist, Michelle Erfurt.  Read as Michelle describes it in her own words:

"The idea of creating an online resource for music related products, services, and information came from a conversation I had with Raymond Day, adaptive instrument maker and long time music therapy supporter. I had published a music songbook for Rachel Rambach and really needed to show it off at the next national American Music Therapy Association conference. I wanted a table in the exhibit hall but was looking for someone else to share the rental cost in order to be as fiscally responsible as possible. I had heard about Raymond Day from my days volunteering with the AMTA membership committee and gave him a call. Turns out that he wanted to sell his products at conference but wasn't able to physically be there. So we worked out a deal...and together we were able to spread the word about our products."

"There are many people out there just like Raymond, Rachel and myself. Individuals with products, services and information that would be of interest to music therapists, music educators, parents, and more. But we need help connecting our great products with all of you out there. So, that's exactly what we have done. The Erfurt Music Resource: A collection of individuals working to promote our items together."

This site truly is a comprehensive collection; you'll find other music therapy bloggers like me, video lessons, e-books, and lots more.  It's nice to be part of a community that is growing so quickly and receiving such a great response.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Giveaway: SleepPhones

Many of my favorite blogs offer periodic giveaways to their loyal readers, and I am so excited to be following in their footsteps!  I couldn't have asked for a better freebie: the SleepPhones System by AcousticSheep. 

SleepPhones are soft, comfortable headphones that are housed in a machine-washable fleece headband, perfect for wearing at night as you sleep (hence their name).  They can be plugged into an iPod, CD player, radio or any other audio device with a regular headphone jack.  Some of you might remember that I posted my own review of the SleepPhones (complete with personal pics!) after trying them out for myself last fall.  I've been using them for months now; I just plug my SleepPhones into my iPod, tuck it underneath my pillow, and drift off to my favorite sleepy-time music. 

Several readers wrote to me after my SleepPhones post to tell me they were purchasing their own pair.  Now YOU have the chance to win a pair (valued at $54.95) just by leaving a comment at the end of this post by Sunday, 8 pm CT.  [Note: Your comment must include an email address to be eligible to win, either through your Google ID or typed into your comment entry.]  I'll use to select a winner, who will be announced on Monday, February 22nd.  Good luck!

P.S. If you don't win, you can still save on SleepPhones!  AcousticSheep has generously offered a $5 discount to my lovely readers.  Just use the coupon code "LALM5" when you place your order.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taming the Tidal Wave

2010 has been a very good year so far, as far as my work is concerned.  Maybe even a little too good!  What I mean is that since January, I have been inundated with exciting opportunities, new projects, and the addition of several students to my private practice/studio.  While those are all very positive things, and I am extremely grateful for them, I've been just a little stressed!  Understandable, right?  Juggling so many responsibilities sometimes feels like I'm surfing a tidal wave, just barely staying above water.

So here's the question: how do you get off that tidal wave and back to solid ground?  As a parent, teacher, therapist, or pretty much anyone else with a life and responsibilities, you've probably found yourself faced with that very question.  I want to share a few of the things that have helped me through this most current wave of stress.
  1. Get organized.  I've learned that if I don't take control of the things that stress me out, they just swirl around in my head and cause even more stress.  David Allen's best-selling book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity was almost life-changing, in that it taught me new but simple ways to organize my life and work to cut out a lot of that free-floating stress.
  2. Identify the next step, then take it.  I know all too well that looking at the "big picture" of a project can be really scary.  Instead, I break the project down into tasks that can be completed and marked off the list.  That way, I can see my progress as the project moves toward completion.
  3. Reward yourself.  It doesn't have to be anything elaborate; something as simple as a lunch break could serve as your reward for finishing a task on your to-do list.  Last summer when I was working on music for the Model Me Kids: Faces & Emotions DVD, I would sit down at my desk around 6:00 am to begin.  Each song took several hours to write, record, and edit, so every time I completed one, I allowed myself to spend some time unwinding (usually with a snack while watching television or taking my dog for a walk).  I looked forward to that downtime, which gave me extra motivation to complete my work.
  4. Regain your confidence.  This is especially important when you are facing new challenges and unchartered water.  I have taken on several new roles this year, and at the beginning, I questioned whether I could really handle each of them.  Constantly questioning my abilities was really stressing me out, until I realized something: I wouldn't have these roles unless I was capable of them.  Others put their trust in me, so why shouldn't I trust myself?  
  5. Imagine the outcome.  With each project and task that you undertake, you most likely have an end goal in mind.    Picture your life once you have completed each one; how you will feel, what you will do with the extra time.  Sometimes that is all the motivation I need to get through a particularly difficult item on my list!
Now I am off to apply some of these very techniques as I tackle the rest of my day.  Here's to a productive, stress-free and enjoyable afternoon.  (Oh, and if you have any items to add to the list, please share them in the comments section!)

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Body Cross, Apple Sauce

"Crossing the midline" is a term you hear quite often as a parent, and if you are a therapist or teacher, it is often a goal for many of your students or clients. This action refers to any movement that requires one side of the body to cross over the center line of the body.

Kimberly Sena Moore wrote a fantastic post on her blog, Music Therapy Maven, about the importance of crossing the midline and how this skill affects a child's abilities in many other areas of function.  I highly recommend reading it to learn more about this subject.

As a music therapist, this goal is very common amongst my students, which is why I wrote a song meant to target such movements.  Some of the motor skills included in the song are more difficult than others, but I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible so that students can work towards successfully achieving all of the movements in the song.

<a href="">Body Cross, Apple Sauce by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Body cross, apple sauce,
Movin to the beat,
You can do it sittin’ down,
Or up on your feet.
Body cross, apple sauce,
Do as I say,
Move, move your body
This way.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Here we go,
Make your left hand touch
Your right elbow.
Bring your hand across, to
Your other elbow, you see,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Here we go,
Make your right hand touch
Your left elbow.
Bring your arm across, to
Your other elbow, you see,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Here we go,
Make your left knee touch
Your right elbow.
Bring your arm across,
So it can touch your other knee,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Here we go,
Make your right knee touch
Your left elbow.
Bring your arm across,
So it can touch your other knee,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
If you please,
Make your left hand
Give your right shoulder a squeeze.
Bring your arm across, to
Your other shoulder, you see.
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
If you please,
Make your right hand
Give your left shoulder a squeeze.
Bring your arm across, to
Your other shoulder, you see.
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Your pardon I beg,
Give a little kick across
With your left leg.
Kick your leg across the other,
To the right, you see,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Body cross, apple sauce,
Your pardon I beg,
Give a little kick across
With your right leg.
Kick your leg across the other,
To the left, you see,
Move, move, movin’ your body.

Do you have any other strategies for targeting this important skill?  If you can think of any additional "across the midline" movements I've left out, please share so that I can add to the song.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Music Therapy Round Table

Guess what? I'm a podcaster!  Along with my friends and fellow music therapists Kimberly Sena Moore and Michelle Erfurt, we have started the Music Therapy Round Table, a podcast in which we discuss all kinds of topics related to music therapy that are important to us.

Michelle, Kimberly and I live in three different time zones across the country, and we met via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  The idea to start a podcast manifested when the three of us finally got together in person, at last year's AMTA National Conference in San Diego.  A few months later, after lots of research and several Skype sessions, our podcast is up and running!

We even have our own blog, where we post both the audio and transcripted versions of each episode.  Episode 1 is live now; in it, we introduce ourselves and share how we became music therapists, as well as outline our goals for the podcast series.

You can also find us on iTunes!  Just search "Music Therapy Round Table" and you should see what I have pictured above.  Subscribe to receive new episodes as they are published monthly.

Our podcast is geared toward not only other music therapists, but anyone else who is interested in music as a therapeutic means to improving peoples' lives.  I hope that you will check it out, and I can't wait to hear your feedback!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Funny Valentine

I'm not talking about the old song; I'm referring to my wonderful husband of one and a half years!  Even though we haven't been married for very long, we have a very interesting history that goes back to before either of us hit puberty.  And in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm going to tell you our story.

Zach and I started dating as 21-year-olds in 2004 (September 16, to be exact) but we first met at the age of 11.  Fifth grade.  We became friends, and would hang out in big groups after school and on the weekends.  The next year, Zach asked me to be his girlfriend.  We were each other's first kiss, and he even told me he loved me.  Needless to say, he was heartbroken when I broke up with him a month later.  He still gives me a hard time about that!

Zach and I remained friends through our sophomore year of high school, but at that point, we drifted apart.  We still had lots of mutual friends, but he was too much of a party animal for me.  After graduation, I didn't see Zach again until I ran into him the night of my 21st birthday, at a bar of all places.  We were inseparable the rest of the summer, but didn't make it official until the fall.

In 2005, Zach graduated from college and returned to Springfield to start his career.  I still had a year of graduate school left, so we only saw each other on the weekends.  It was a tough year, to say the least, but we still managed to have a lot of fun.

2006 was another challenging year, because I spent most of it in St. Louis doing my music therapy internship.  Luckily, I was able to live with Zach's sister and brother-in-law, and I went home on the weekends to see him.  Zach took me on my first trip to Las Vegas (the picture is of us on the plane...can you tell I'm excited?) and we bought our first house.


In 2007, I finished my internship and finally got to live in Springfield permanently.  I got a great job, and soon after that, Zach proposed!  He took me completely by surprise, luring me to the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis on false pretenses and asking me to marry him in a room filled with rose petals, candles, and "our" song playing.  When we went down to the lobby for a celebratory drink, we found our entire families waiting to celebrate with us. 

On August 8, 2008 (8-8-08...can you guess my lucky number?) Zach and I had the most beautiful, perfect, and fun wedding.  After a week in St. Lucia on our honeymoon, we returned to real life as a married couple.  Turns out 2008 was the year of weddings, including Zach's brother's just a few months after ours.

2009 started off with a bang: we bought a new house!  We spent the next few months decorating and nesting, and I moved my private practice from the "road" into my new home studio.  In May, we added a new member to our family...our golden retriever, Sadie.  Career-wise, we both had amazing years; Zach earned the prestigious title of AAA's "Agent of the Year" while I successfully raised money to record a professional CD, presented at the AMTA National Conference, and was featured in the media several times. 

2010 has only just begun, but so far it has been great!  We took an exciting trip to New York City and attended our friends' gorgeous wedding last month, and we are already looking forward to a few days of sun and fun in San Antonio this April.

Tonight we are going out to dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day...our 6th together, with many more to come!  I feel so lucky to have such a supportive, successful, and loving husband, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday Singalong: The Story of My Feelings

"Sunday Singalong" got bumped to Saturday, because I have a special Valentine's Day post planned for tomorrow. Two weekend posts...bonus!

Like I said in the video, I chose Laurie Berkner's song "The Story of My Feelings" because all month, my students and I have been working on understanding what emotions are all about, what they look like, and how we show them.  I received the illustrated book as a Christmas gift two years ago, and I have been using it ever since to supplement not only music therapy sessions, but also the music classes I teach for young children.

And now back to today's regularly scheduled programming: couch time!  It is Saturday, after all, my one day to relax after a busy week.  Sundays start early, with choir rehearsal, church, grocery shopping, Church Mice, and tomorrow, a Valentine's Day dinner with my special Valentine.  More on that to come!

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fave: M-Audio Preamp

Can I just tell you how "amped" I am about my new MobilePre USB Preamp by M-Audio?  Excuse the pun, but I couldn't help myself :)  Maybe you have no idea what a preamp is, and that's totally fine.  Because the truth is, until a few months ago, neither did I.  Basically, what a preamp does is takes the signal from a microphone or instrument and boosts it so that it can be recorded.  In other words, I can plug a microphone and guitar into my preamp (which is connected via USB to my computer), do my thing, and voila!  I have a high-quality recording.

Before my preamp arrived earlier this week, I had been recording all of my guitar tracks just by setting up my Blue Snowball Microphone and playing my guitar directly in front of it.  This worked well enough; my Snowball mic is awesome, but I knew there had to be a better way.  With my old setup, any background noise made while recording the guitar part could be heard (the most common being me knocking the guitar against my desk - oops!).  Now, since the signal goes directly from my guitar into the computer via the preamp, that problem is eliminated.  That means a much cleaner-sounding guitar track, resulting in a much better recording overall.  Oh, and the preamp even has a headphone jack right on the interface so that I can monitor the sound as I am playing!

I should mention that since my aforementioned Snowball mic connects via USB, I don't need to use my preamp when I record my vocals.  But since there are two microphone inputs in addition to the instrument input, that leaves the option available if I get a new microphone at some point in the future.  You can't beat that versatility.

I haven't had much time this week to play with my new toy, but you better believe that I'll be spending a good deal of my three-day weekend doing just that!  Hopefully I'll have some brand new songs to show for it, too.  What are your plans this weekend? Are you one of the really, really lucky people who has a four-day weekend?  Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln, and for all of you readers who got to stay home in honor of it, enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Temple Grandin: The Movie

I first read about Temple Grandin during my music therapy internship several years ago, and I was completely fascinated.  The way she was able to describe her autism, and the way her brain worked, was completely unique and as far as I knew, unheard of.  I have since learned a lot more about Temple Grandin, and now, thanks to HBO, so have a whole lot of people who otherwise might not have.

On Saturday, February 6th, the full-length film Temple Grandin premiered, starring Claire Danes as the title character.  I had the opportunity to watch the film at The Autism Program of Illinois headquarters, which was a pretty amazing experience.  TAP and The Hope Institute for Children and Families (where I work as the music therapist) officially endorsed the film, and even sponsored its Chicago opening at the end of January.

Dr. Nyre, Hope's President/CEO, was interviewed by several sources and spoke at the viewing I attended on Saturday.  I wholeheartedly agree with his assertion that this film should and will be used as a teaching tool in schools and facilities all over the country, because it provides such an accurate depiction of autism.  The film uses on-screen graphics to let us look into Ms. Grandin's brain, to see the world as she sees it.

Have you seen the film yet? If so, what were your thoughts and reactions? I can tell you that by the end, there weren't many dry eyes in the room where I was watching it. Claire Danes is amazing as Temple Grandin; in fact, you really do forget that you're watching an actor, not the real deal. The film is educational and eye-opening, yes, but it is also extremely entertaining and touching. Take my advice and watch it.

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Monday, February 8, 2010

People You Do & Don't Know

I very distinctly remember my mom sitting my brother and I down and telling us all about stranger danger.  She explained who we could trust to stay with us, take us places, and even made up a code word for adults to let us know that it was okay to go with them in the case of an emergency situation.  Now, over twenty years later, I still get lectures about stranger danger from my mom, but I guess I can't blame her.  After all, the world can be a scary place, as we are too often reminded by the stories in newspapers and on television.

The song that I wrote to address this topic identifies three different categories of adults:
  1. Safe Side Adults
  2. People You Kind of Know
  3. Strangers
Today's song identifies and defines the three categories, and also determines whether or not it is safe to go with people from each.  The term "Safe Side Adult" came from a consult client who uses this word with her children (a benefit of custom-written songs - incorporating your own phrases and terminology).

<a href="">People You Do &amp; Don't Know by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

The world is full of people,
Some you'll know and some you won't.
I wanna tell you 'bout three
Kinds of people you see,
Some you can go with, some you don't.

A safe side adult is a person that you know.
With a safe side adult it's okay to go.
Because it's your grandma, grandpa, mom or dad,
Or someone that you've been told:
Is a safe side adult, a person you know,
With whom it's okay to go.

There are also people that you kind of know.
With those people you shouldn't go,
Unless a safe side adult has told you for sure,
That a person, specifically,
Is someone you can trust and know,
With whom it's okay to go.

A stranger is a person that you don't know.
With a stranger you should never go.
Because it's someone that you've never seen before,
Or someone that you've been told,
Is a stranger, a person you don't know,
With whom you should not go.

The world is full of people,
Some you'll know and some you won't.
I told you 'bout three
Kinds of people you see,
Some you can go with, some you don't.

I'm sure you noticed that the tone is a little heavier than my other songs; I wrote the melody this way on purpose. Children need to realize how serious the topic of strangers really is, and I wanted this song to reflect that seriousness. What methods have you used to approach this subject with your children or students? Know of any other stranger danger songs? I'd love to hear about them!

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Singalong: Making Friends

Instant Sheet Music Download: $1
Add to Cart

In today's video, I'm singing "Making Friends" - a song I recently wrote for a class at The Hope Institute. It was featured throughout the month of January in my music therapy sessions, and I already miss singing it now that February is here (along with all-new tunes).

This has been the weekend of all-new tunes, in fact. I spent most of yesterday writing and recording, as I finished up a custom CD for a consult client.  Since I began offering consultative services in January, I've had no shortage of new songs in the vault to share here at Listen & Learn.  I love it!  I've been so inspired by the new topics presented based on the goals and objectives of my clients.  Make sure to come back tomorrow for one of those new songs!

How was your weekend?  Aside from my intensive writing/recording session yesterday, mine has been pretty relaxing.  My husband and I finally saw Avatar (in 3-D no less!) and last night, we had the opportunity to attend a viewing of the new HBO film, Temple Grandin.  I'll be sharing more about that in the coming week, so stay tuned...

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fave: iPhone Apps

TGIF!  This week has absolutely flown, but luckily it has been an extremely productive one for me.  I've wrapped up several work-intensive projects, and am very much looking forward to relaxing a bit this weekend.  I am planning to spend some quality time with iMovie, creating a few videos just for Listen & Learn.  But playing with technology is one of my favorite hobbies, so I don't even classify that as work :)

Speaking of technology...well, I do that a lot on this blog, don't I?  So it should come as no surprise to you that today's Friday Fave is based on one of my absolute favorites pieces of technology: the iPhone.  I've expressed my love for it here a time or two, but today I want to focus on some of the apps that I use on a daily basis.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a bit of a Facebook addict!  Now that I have an iPhone, I can update my status, post pictures, and maintain my page on the go with the free Facebook app.  The latest update now sends push notifications, making it even easier to stay connected (not to mention, feeds the addiction).
Another social media app I rely on is Tweetdeck (again, it's free).  This app allows me to tweet from either my personal or work-related twitter account, in addition to reading the latest tweets of the people I follow.  It even supports Twitter lists now!  I have one list devoted just to music therapy-related Twitter accounts.
Even though I've had months and months of practice, I am still not the best iPhone typist.  My fingers just can't seem to adapt to that keyboard...which is why the free Google voice app comes in so handy.  When I want to search for something, I just speak into the mic.  It is usually pretty accurate in picking up my search term, and seconds later, I have a list of results from which to choose.
My guitar goes everywhere with me, but sometimes I forget to grab my tuner, too.  Tuning by ear is fine if I have an accurate starting pitch, but for those times that I don't, I rely on the Cleartune chromatic tuner app.  It is a little pricey ($3.99) but definitely worth it if you tote your guitar frequently.

When I have a few minutes of free time between sessions and lessons, I almost always pull out my iPhone.  My new favorite time-passer is the Scrabble app, which is completely worth the $4.99 price tag.  You can play the computer, connect to another iPhone through Wi-Fi, or even find an opponent via Facebook.  I never get tired of this game, and the fact that it makes me think is an added bonus.

I could probably list 20 more apps that I love, but I'll stop here.  How about you, fellow iPhone users?  What are your favorite apps?  I am always looking for recommendations, so send them my way.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Feelings in My Heart

We talk a lot about love during February.  After all, it is the month in which we celebrate Valentine's Day!  But what about all of those other feelings we experience on a daily basis? Recognizing, expressing, and regulating emotions are important skills for any child, including those with whom I work. I had this is mind when I wrote today's song, "The Feelings in My Heart". Take a listen:

<a href="">The Feelings in My Heart by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>
Sheet Music: $1
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Happiness, Excitement, Anger, Sadness, and Love,
My feelings are in my heart.
You can tell how I am feeling by my actions and words,
But in my heart is where they start.

I laugh and I smile when I’m happy,
Having fun with my friends for a while,
Happiness is a feeling I have in my heart,
It makes me laugh and smile.

I jump up and down when I’m excited,
When good things are coming around.
Excitement is a feeling I have in my heart,
It makes me jump up and down.


I yell and I pout when I’m angry,
When there’s something I’m mad about,
Anger is a feeling I have in my heart,
It makes me yell and pout.

I cry and I frown when I’m sad,
When I’m hurting or feeling down,
Sadness is a feeling I have in my heart,
It makes me cry and frown.


I hug joyfully when I feel love,
For my friend or my family,
Love is a feeling I have in my heart,
It makes me hug joyfully.

I used this song yesterday with a class of middle school students who have behavioral issues.  After each verse, we went around the room and gave examples of healthy ways to express that particular emotion.  Not only did I receive some very interesting responses, but I got a little more insight into my students and what they are all about.   I'm planning another activity related to this topic for next week.  I am going to create snippets of popular songs, which I'll play for the class and ask them to identify whether each song reflects happiness, excitement, anger, sadness, or love.  I will provide the lyrics for analysis, and of course, some of the songs will fall into more than one category.  I've learned that anytime you can incorporate music that the students actually listen to outside of school (as long as it is school-appropriate), the opportunity should be seized!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

Now that it's February, my students and I are singing about month #2 on a daily basis.  Well now, so can my readers at Listen & Learn Music Plus! The lead sheet for this tune, complete with lyrics and chords, as well as the mp3 download of "February" are available to subscribers...learn about becoming one today!


Happy Groundhog Day!

If you've already had your fill of winter, then you'll be disappointed to hear that Punxsutawney Phil did indeed see his shadow this morning.  I have most definitely had enough of this season, but I resigned myself long ago to the fact that the groundhog ALWAYS sees his shadow, and there will ALWAYS be six more weeks of winter.

Unfortunately, I don't have a song about Groundhog Day...but I know someone who does!  Fellow music therapist Wade Richards of Time for Music has a wonderful podcast, and his latest episode features not only a rockin' Groundhog Day song, but also a super-fun tune for Super Bowl Sunday.  Check it out!

Spring may be six weeks away, but now that it's February, we are one step closer :)  What are your plans for this month?  I'm excited about the upcoming Illinois Federation of Music Clubs' annual Festival, in which several of my piano students will be participating.  It will be both their first time and mine, so it should be a great learning experience for all of us.  Other than that, I have some fun projects to share with you in the next couple of weeks.  I know I have been hinting at them for a while now, so I promise to spill the beans soon.  In the meantime, here's the song my students and I are singing all month long:

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

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.


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