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Listen and Learn Music: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Fave: Hand Bells

You know the feeling when you find a $20 bill in your coat pocket?  Well that is how I felt when I remembered that I had purchased this shiny little 8 Note Hand Bell Set several months ago!  My studio is chock full of instruments, props, and other goodies, but I store many of these items out of view from my EXTREMELY curious kiddos.  These bells have been hiding out underneath my bookcase since August, and I discovered them as I was doing some spring cleaning and organizing last week.

This discovery came at the perfect time, because I was racking my brain for new ways to engage one little girl in her weekly music therapy sessions.  The lightbulb went off as I opened the box 'o bells and found that on the top of each handle, there is a letter (representing the note in a C scale) and number (representing the bell's position in the scale).  This, along with the great big sound they produce and their bright colors, held so many new possibilities.

Sure enough, we had a winner.  My student's interest was immediately piqued as I pulled out the bells, and she complied with nearly all of my directions to do the following:
  • Choose and play the appropriate bell as I verbally name a color
  • Choose and play the appropriate bell when shown a picture card displaying a color
  • Choose and play the appropriate bell as I verbally call a number (1 through 8)
  • Choose and play the appropriate bell when shown a picture card displaying a number
  • Line up the bells in order of the numbers on top of the handles
Once she had demonstrated her ability to do all of the above, we moved on to sequencing.  I would call out two (and then three) colors, and she would then play those bells in the correct order.  We did the same thing with the numbers.  She absolutely loved switching roles and calling out colors and numbers for ME to play.  We spent almost her entire session with these bells, and I had her complete attention (no easy feat, I tell you).

Our next step is to play simple songs by "reading" the notes (notated by color and/or number), and I'd love to come up with some additional ideas.  Do you have a set of bells like these?  How do you use them?

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

I'm bringing back one of my songs for next month's music therapy classes at The Hope Institute.  "What Do You Do?" will help my students match appropriate actions with different emotions and situations, and now it can help my readers' students do so, as well.  The sheet music for this song is now available to subscribers...learn about becoming one today!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Get 'Em While They're Hot!

Not to mention, on sale!  Through Friday, when you purchase a songbook for $25, we will also include the supplemental CD (usually sold separately for $10) and free shipping. Also, a portion of all Listen & Learn songbook sales will be donated to the music therapy clubs of Colorado State University and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (you choose which university you'd like to support when you make your purchase).

Listen and Learn: Educational songs for School, Home, and Play contains 24 of my most popular songs. It 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. I made a video in which I talk more about the book and sing a song from it; you can watch here.

I choose...


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bucklin' Our Seatbelts

When I received a request for a seatbelt song via Facebook yesterday, I jumped at this songwriting opportunity.  I also asked myself: why hadn't I thought of it already?  Buckling up is essential to our safety, and it's a habit we learn at an early age.  Some kids just need a gentle reminder, and what better way to remind them than through song!

<a href="">Bucklin' Our Seatbelts by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

We’re gonna get in the car and take a ride,
So let’s open the door and get inside,
But before we pull away,
And before it’s time to play,
We need to buckle up.

Click, click, click,
We’re bucklin’ our seatbelts.
Click, click, click,
We gotta be safe.
A click for me, and a click for you,
Bucklin’ up is what we do!

What other safety skills can you think of that might make a good song topic?  I've already written these, but I'd love to add to the collection.  And of course, if you are looking for something a bit more personalized for your little guy or gal, you can always opt for a custom song.

While you're busy brainstorming safety song ideas, I'll be whipping up several new tunes for you over the next couple of weeks.  In May, I begin helping my students prepare for the transition from the regular school year to summer school, or for some, graduation and entry into the "adult" world.  It's an exciting time, and a great opportunity to make music together!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Singalong: April Showers

This week, I reached out to my readers via Facebook and Twitter, looking for "Sunday Singalong" song suggestions.  I received quite a few great requests, including "Shaky Fruit", "The 3 R's", and "Maraca Rock", but the one I chose was just too fitting to pass up. 

"April Showers" has been around for a long time - since 1921, in fact.  It was originally recorded by Al Jolson, though Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and many other singers have versions as well.  This song is used more often with senior citizens than it is with young children, but I like it so much that it just may have found a permanent spot in my repertoire.

Not only one, but TWO fellow music therapists requested "April Showers" this week.  Kristin Bozard and Janice Harris will receive a free album download of their choice, and YOU can too!  All you have to do is suggest a song (via email or blog comment) for next week's "Sunday Singalong" video. 

One more thing, and this is pretty exciting.  Yesterday I wrote my 400th blog post!  I've only been writing this blog for a little over 1.5 years, so I'm pretty amazed at hitting such a high number already.  Thanks so much for being a Listen & Learn reader, and here's to 400 more posts!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Autism & Alleluias

I hadn't planned on writing a post today, but I just finished reading a book and wanted to share it with you.  In Autism & Alleluias, author Kathleen Deyer Bolduc gives us a glimpse into life with Joel, her son.  Joel, like so many of the children who touch my life and yours, is diagnosed with autism. 

Each chapter tells a story or experience, such as Joel's touching visit with his grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease (a chapter that especially affected me) and his special relationships with friends and caregivers.  But of course, as we all know, autism often makes life very difficult.  In addition to the good, Kathy candidly writes about the bad and the ugly, including Joel's meltdowns, struggles with finding the right medication, and the questions about Joel's future as an adult.

Kathy's faith led her to the moments of clarity and beauty she details in her book.  Even in the most seemingly hopeless situations, she discovers the "alleluias" in them.  Sometimes they are buried or don't appear until days or weeks later, but they are there.  One of my favorites was Kathy's struggle with the fact that her son was being trained as a trash collector during high school.  As she meditated on this reality, the words trash man for heaven came to mind.  This phrase helped her accept the fact that Joel was humbly and obediently making the world around him a better place, and likewise, let her fully accept and be thankful for his job. (Fun fact: the college music therapy student Joel was working with at the time wrote a little ditty about this job, which became one of his favorite songs). 

Kathy's story is deeply rooted in her Presbyterian faith, but her message - the importance of valuing, honoring, and enjoying the unexpected gifts of children with special needs - is universal.  I laughed, cried and related (as someone who works with children who have autism on a daily basis) while reading. 

And in the spirit of National Autism Awareness Month, I would love to pass this book on to a Listen & Learn reader.  The first person to email me (be sure to include your full name and mailing address, as well as your connection to autism) will receive my copy in the mail this week.  For those of you who would like your own copy, you can purchase the book here.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fave: MobileMe

I'd like to begin by apologizing to those of you who are PC users.  I am most decidedly a Mac person, if you hadn't already gathered that from previous posts.  I do know that many of you (particularly my fellow music therapists - shout-out to Michelle Erfurt for recently joining us!) are also Mac users, which is why I'm constantly sharing the products that I find useful.

Today's "Friday Fave" might just be the most useful one yet.  MobileMe allows me to sync and access my calendar, contacts, photos, documents, music, and email across various technological platforms.  And I do mean various - I currently use a personal Mac, work Mac, work PC, and iPhone.  Uploading my files to the iDisk (where they are stored online) and then downloading them from any of those places (or any other computer, since you can access your MobileMe account online) is much simpler than using a flash drive or emailing them to myself.

This comes in so handy for songwriting, especially.  I write most of my songs at school, and then record them in my home studio.  Using MobileMe, I upload my song sheet (usually a Microsoft Word file) to the iDisk using my work PC, and then download it on my personal Mac when I get home.  Next I record the song, drag the mp3 file to my iDisk at home, and download it for use back at school the next day.

Another great use I've found for MobileMe is file sharing.  There is a public folder with a link that anyone can access, or you can password-protect it so that only certain people can see and download your files.  This has eliminated the need for a third-party file-sharing site, which I was previously using for my Listen & Learn Plus! subscription blog.   I provide sheet music, song downloads, and other materials to my subscribers, so now all I have to do is post a link to those files and they can access them instantly.

A MobileMe account costs $99 per year, but it is well-worth the price for me.  I haven't even touched upon many of the other cool things you can do with it, so read more here if you're interested.  And as I've said before: I don't work for Apple...I just really, really love their products!

Well that does it for this week's "Friday Fave" - enjoy the last day of the work week and have a great weekend.  See you back here on Sunday for a brand-new "Sunday Singalong" video!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

R's for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!  What are you doing today to celebrate our planet?  Every year, the students and staff at The Hope Institute head outside to plant trees on campus property, and luckily we'll have a beautiful day for doing so.  I'll also be singing the "Good Green Earth" song I shared in my latest Sunday Singalong video as well as another Earth Day-appropriate song, "The 3 R's" by Jack Johnson.

One of my very favorite albums (which just happens to be full of great songs for kids) is Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George by Jack Johnson.  In fact, I even Friday Fave'd it last winter.  "The 3 R's" is a take on "3 is a Magic Number" from Schoolhouse Rock, but it incorporates the "reduce, reuse, recycle" theme we all learned in grade school.  Check it out:

Three, it's a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
Because two times three is six,
And three times six is eighteen,
And the eighteenth letter in the alphabet is R.
We've got three R's we're going to talk about today:

We've got to learn to
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

If you're going to the market to buy some juice,
You've got to bring your own bags and you learn to reduce your waste.
And if your brother or your sister's got some cool clothes,
You could try them on before you buy some more of those.
Reuse, we've got to learn to reuse.

And if the first two R's don't work out,
And if you've got to make some trash,
Don't throw it out.
Recycle, we've got to learn to recycle,

We've got to learn to
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Because three, it's a magic number,
Yes it is, it's a magic number.
3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36
33, 30, 27, 24, 21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6, and
3, it's a magic number.

I love Jack Johnson's cool, laid-back attitude; his California surfer style fits in with Earth Day perfectly!  I'm curious to find out what everyone else is singing on this special day, so please do tell.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Ice Age Song

If you've seen Ice Age, then you probably recognize these creatures as the main characters.  My song is unrelated to the film, but I loved this picture - and the animals just happen to be the right species!  "The Ice Age Song" is my attempt at consolidating general knowledge about this prehistoric era in a way that children can understand.

Now, this is not a topic I'd cover as a matter of course.  But my sorority's local alumnae association is hosting a kids camp-in with an Ice Age theme at the Illinois State Museum later this month, and guess who is providing the musical entertainment?  I did actually do a search for songs on this subject, but unfortunately came up empty-handed.  So I got to work writing my own, and this is what I came up with:

<a href="">The Ice Age Song by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Millions of years ago,
The earth was covered in ice and snow,
No oak tree grew, no grass on the ground.
Only glaciers all around.
The air was cold, the land was bare,
In the Ice Age everywhere.

Wooly mammoths, and cave bears too,
And wooly rhinos, just to name a few.
Were animals who lived back when,
But have become extinct since then.
There were also reindeer with their great big hooves,
And horses, bison and wolves.


35,000 years before now,
The Ice Age people lived somehow.
They hunted with tools they made from rock and bone,
In caves and shelters they found a home.
Fire kept them warm and scared the animals away,
They were able to live this way.


The Ice Age was a time of discovery
For those who came before you and me.
Eventually the ice began to melt away,
And the Earth evolved into what it is today.
Now glaciers and fossils and drawings show,
That the Ice Age existed long ago.


I kept the information pretty basic and straightforward, bearing in mind that my audience will be made up of late-elementary school students.  My program comes at the end of the evening, though, so by then, they'll probably already know all of this and then some.  In fact, maybe the kids could help me write "The Ice Age Song: Part 2". that's not a bad idea!

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Singalong: Good Green Earth

After a two-week hiatus, I'm back with a brand new video. It was such a beautiful spring day that I felt inspired to film this one outside, with the help of my wonderful husband. I'm thinking there will be lots more outdoor "Sunday Singalong" videos in the coming months!

"Good Green Earth" was another iTunes find, from the album Good Morning Sun, Goodnight Moon by James K.  I've been incorporating in into my music therapy sessions around Earth Day for the last three years, because not only it is a personal and student favorite, but it's great for reinforcing the days, months, seasons, and even up and down motor movement.  I love songs that are so multifunctional!

It's hard to believe that Sunday night has arrived, and another week will begin bright and early ("the sun comes up...") tomorrow.  How was your weekend?  Mine was mostly spent catching up with laundry and cleaning, but I did sneak in a little shopping and lounging :)  I'm excited for a low-key, productive week and even more gorgeous spring weather.  See you back here soon!

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Glee-ful Trip Down Memory Lane

Yesterday's post about Glee! got me feeling pretty nostalgic about the "good old days" of high school show choir. So nostalgic, in fact, that I went over to my parents' house and dug out my box of photo albums. I graduated from high school in 2001, the days before digital cameras became the norm, but I did find a few snapshots of my show choir, Seven & Senators, in action. Can you find me in the picture above?  (Hint: click the picture to enlarge it.)

We actually called ourselves a "swing" choir rather than a show choir, because we performed mostly jazz songs.  In this picture, we're doing "Moonglow" - that's me in the back, getting dipped by my sophomore year crush.  We never dated, but almost all of my high school boyfriends were musical types.  So it surprised lots of people when I went and married a non-musical soccer player :)

My junior year, our choreographer taught us all how to tap dance.  And by the end of the year, we were GOOD.  At our spring concert, we performed this awesome arrangement of "Bill Bailey" and seriously wowed everyone with our dance skills.  That's why we all look so happy in this picture!

Part of what made being in Seven & Senators so much fun is that I was surrounded by my best friends.  We spent a LOT of time together, so over the years we became very close.  Two of my fellow sopranos were even bridesmaids in my wedding.

There aren't many life experiences like being a member of a tight-knit performing group.  Of course, we had our share of drama (questionable directors, upperclassmen jealousy when as lowly freshmen, my two friends and I made the group instead of them, arguments over solos and dance partners) but we were quite low-key compared to the hijinks that ensue on Glee.  We might not have made for very good television, but we still had a darn good time!

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Fave: Glee!

Who else is with me when I say that Glee just might be the most entertaining show on television right now? Judging from the response I received after posting about the return of Season 1 on my Facebook page the other night, I'm not alone in that sentiment. Hard-core fans of this show call themselves "gleeks" - and I just might be one of them!

There are so many reasons why I love this show.  The first is that I'm a six-year show choir veteran, so every episode serves up a big heap of nostalgia (although thankfully, I never had to deal with teen pregnancy, sabotaging gym teachers, or blue slushies thrown in my face).

Next is obviously the amazing music.  The variety of songs, from Lionel Richie to Wicked to Kelly Clarkson,  keeps the show fresh and relevant.  Not to mention the ridiculously talented cast.  Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, is in my opinion the highlight of the show (and NOT just because I really like her character's name).  My husband, a closeted gleek, and I rewound and replayed one of Rachel's songs from Tuesday night's episode three times.

Another thing that makes Glee so appealing is that it's hilarious.  The absurd plot lines and one-liners are reason enough to watch this show.  It's definitely not for young children, but I do have quite a few teenage students who are big fans.  We always discuss the latest episode at the start of our lessons, and I think the fact that I watch increases my "cool" factor with them :)

Speaking of cool, I love the fact that this show has made singing, show choir, and Broadway musical numbers cool.  Too bad Glee wasn't around when I was in high school!  I never thought I'd see the day when "Tonight" from West Side Story and "Defying Gravity" from Wicked - the Glee versions, of course - would show up on my husband's iPod (just don't tell him I told you that).

What about you?  Do you watch the show?  If not, I think I've made it pretty clear that I highly recommend it.  And now I'll take off my Glee sandwich board (this post has made me sound like a walking advertisement for the show) and go to class.  Happy Friday, everyone!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Songbook Sale Extended

Last month, I announced a sale on the Listen & Learn songbook in celebration of regional music therapy conference season.  Thanks to several wonderful student music therapy associations, the songbooks were featured at three regional conferences.  The customer response has been fantastic, and for that reason, my publisher, Michelle Erfurt, and I have decided to extend the sale!

Between now and April 30, when you purchase a songbook for $25, we will also include the supplemental CD (usually sold separately for $10) and free shipping. Also, a portion of all Listen & Learn songbook sales will be donated to the music therapy clubs of Colorado State University and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (you choose which university you'd like to support when you make your purchase).

Listen and Learn: Educational songs for School, Home, and Play contains 24 of my most popular songs. It 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. I made a video in which I talk more about the book and sing a song from it; you can watch here.

So if this sounds like something that belongs on your bookshelf, please take advantage of our sale!  You can complete your purchase securely (using either a PayPal account or credit card) below:

I choose...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

Earlier today, I shared my goal to "finish creating sheet music for every last one of my 100+ Listen & Learn songs" with all of you.  Now I am asking my Listen & Learn Music Plus! subscribers to help keep me accountable on this goal by requesting the sheet music for a favorite Listen & Learn song.  I'll be sharing all of the sheet music with all of my subscribers as I complete their requests.  It's a win-win situation: not only will I benefit by staying on track with my goal, but it also means lots of new sheet music for subscribers...learn about becoming one today!


Recharged and Ready to Roll

A whole week has gone by since I last posted, but at least I have a good excuse: I was on vacation!  A much-needed one, to be honest, after a whirlwind winter and four long days in the recording studio.  Zach and I had a wonderful time in San Antonio, where we hit up the Alamo (as you can see above), the Riverwalk, and of course, the resort pool.  It's always tough coming back to reality after a relaxing vacation, but as the title of this post states, my batteries are recharged and I'm feeling more than ready to take on all of the projects awaiting me.

And speaking of new projects, I figured that since the school year is winding down and summer is approaching, there's no better time than now to share with you the big items on my list of to-dos and goals.  June, July, and August are the three months I devote to my own work outside of The Hope Institute, and I've already set the bar pretty high for this summer.  Here are just a few of the things I want to accomplish:
  • Finish creating sheet music for every last one of my 100+ Listen & Learn songs.  I've been doing so on an as-needed basis, but it's time to bite the bullet and get the job done.
  • Complete all of the materials I'll need for my first-ever music therapy intern, who will be joining me at Hope in August.  
  • Update the organizational system in my home office/studio.  I spend almost all of my time there in the summer, so it needs to be in tip-top shape.
  • Release and distribute my first studio album! This will most likely take place in June or July, and I can't wait for you all to hear it.
Of course there are many other goals on my list, but I'll keep a few under wraps so I have new material to share with you every once in a while.  And while I'm on the subject of new material, let me just tell you that my number one priority in the coming weeks is writing and posting NEW SONGS.  Right now I'm working on one about the Ice Age for a kids' museum camp-in at which I'll be providing a musical experience, and I'm always up for other topic suggestions!

Well it's time to roll on out to my first music therapy session of the day.  Thanks for sticking with me, and for continuing to spread the word about Listen & Learn.  I receive emails from new readers almost every single day, and they never fail to put a smile on my face.  See you back here soon!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bella's Blessings: A Humble Story of Providence

Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the AMTA National Conference in San Diego, California, where I met countless amazing music therapists.  One person, in particular, stood out to me; I kept seeing him everywhere I went - the exhibit hall, the sessions I attended, and so on.  He seemed like a fun and outgoing person, so I was excited to finally meet him face-to-face and chat a bit towards the end of the conference.

His name was Tim Ringgold, and I came to find out that he was a music therapist (and fellow blogger!) from Orange County, California.  We got to talking about his daughter, Bella, who was born with a rare skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).  Tim explains it in these words on his website:

Anabella Ringgold was born on May 27, 2009 with a rare skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. She has the rarest form, called Recessive Dystrophic, or RDEB for short. A single gene in her body responsible for making the anchor that hold her skin to her body is defective. This causes blisters and wounds to occur all over her body, including her mouth and entire GI tract. Any kind of friction, rubbing, bumping can cause blisters to form, or it can cause her skin to shear clean off. Currently, there is no cure for EB. Life expectancy is under 20 years due to risk of malnutrition, infection, or squamous cell carcinoma. Although pain and discomfort is constant, Bella remains bright and cheerful, bless her heart.

I was eager to stay in touch with Tim following the conference, and I was able to do so through Facebook and Twitter.  When he announced earlier this year that his book, Bella's Blessings, was available, I didn't waste any time in purchasing it.  I can't tell you how glad I am that I did, because it is the latest addition to my "must read" list.

In the book, Tim takes us back to the hours just prior to Bella's birth.  He recounts the moments leading up to it, as well as the actual event, at which point they learned of Bella's rare skin disease.  I felt like I was with the Ringgold family on their roller-coaster of a journey from page 1 to the very end. Tim started a blog just days after Bella's birth in order to keep family and friends apprised of her progress, and the book contains entries from the beginning through Bella's first summer.

The back of the book reads: "The secrets to the silver lining...revealed!"  This is such a fitting description; Tim and his family found the silver lining in the very darkest of storm clouds.  Talk about a story of faith and strength.  Faith in God during the most trying and scary times, and strength as they navigated their way though.  Tim provided music therapy not only for Bella during her time in the NICU, but the other babies, as well.  He shares every emotion, every struggle, every triumph, and every moment of Providence throughout those first few months; my only disappointment was when the book ended.  Luckily, Tim's blog picks up right where the book ends, and we can all keep up with Bella and the Ringgold family.

In the past, I haven't reviewed books here other than those that I use in music therapy sessions.  But Bella's Blessings is one that I recommend to you, knowing that it will inspire and remind you that there is silver lining in every situation with which we are faced, just as it did for me.

Each month, up to 50% of the proceeds from book sales are donated to a different children's charity.  You can read reviews and make your purchase here.  And right after you do that, add Tim's blog, Care for Anabella, to your blogroll.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Remix: Shaky Colorful Fruit

Last fall I posted a song I wrote specifically for my set of Nino Fruit Shakers, which I titled "Shaky Fruit" (you can read the post and listen to the original song here).  Well my students who I see in private practice just can't seem to get enough of that song, so I decided to bring it to The Hope Institute this month.  We are focusing on healthy foods, so it fit in perfectly with our theme.

Unfortunately, we don't have the Nino Fruit Shakers here at school, but you know me and my habit of adapting songs to fit any situation. All I did was change up the lyrics to match the instruments we have on hand (the Basic Beat chiquitas pictured above).  I added an extra verse to accommodate all five colors, and this is how the song turned out:

<a href="">Shaky Colorful Fruit by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Doot-doot-do-doot, shaky fruit,
Blueberry, grape, apple, pear, banana
Doot-doot-do-doot, shaky fruit,
From Mississippi to Indiana.

Shaky blueberry, shaky blueberry,
Blue and crunchy too.
Shaky blueberry, shaky blueberry,

Shaky grape, shaky grape,
Purple and juicy too.
Shaky grape, shaky grape,

Shaky apple, shaky apple,
Red and crunchy too.
Shaky apple, shaky apple,

Shaky pear, shaky pear,
Green and delicious too.
Shaky pear, shaky pear,

Shaky banana, shaky banana,
Yellow and tasty too.
Shaky banana, shaky banana,

"Shaky Colorful Fruit" debuted this morning, on this first Monday back after Spring Break.  I had to practice it a few times through first so that I could get the new lyrics far, so good :)  My students are also shakin' to the beat of "Eat Like a Rainbow" by Jay Mankita, along with a few other originals devoted to mealtime.   

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rachel on the Radio!

On my way out of town this past Monday, I stopped by Capitol Radio Group to record a radio interview with Bob Murray for his "Focus" show, which aired this morning on all 5 Capitol Radio Group stations.  I missed it this morning, but several people came up to me at church and told me they'd heard it.

Luckily, I have the mp3 file so not only can I listen to the interview, but so can you!  The program is around 25 minutes and is focused on music therapy, as well as some of the other projects I'm up to these days.

Thanks for listening! Now go back to enjoying this lovely Easter Sunday. I hope you've all had a great weekend, and I'll see you tomorrow for - wait for it - a song! It's about time, right?

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Inside the Recording Studio: Day 4

Today's recap will be a short one, because I was only in the studio for a little over two hours!  On Day 3, we had finished all but vocals for song 9, so I went to the vocal booth to work on those right away.

Getting good vocal takes is much easier at 1:00 pm than it is at 11:00 pm!  I finished the melody and harmony for song 9 in just under an hour, so next, we moved along to song 10.  We'd already decided that song 10 (which isn't the actual track number on the CD, just the order in which we recorded it) would be an acoustic-only track to balance out the other 9 songs, which are much more "produced". 

Song 10 didn't take long at all.  I played the acoustic guitar part a few times through, and then moved to the vocal booth.  A half hour later, my work on this album was DONE.  It was so hard to believe!  All that was left to do was mix and master each track, a task that Jim (my sound engineer) will tackle this week and next. 

It was a little sad walking out the door of Jupiter Studios for the last time.  Jim said he'd never seen anyone make themselves at home on the studio couch like I had, which I can definitely believe.  It was my headquarters for the week!

There was a benefit to finishing early...I got to play a great April Fool's trick on my husband, Zach.  I texted him as I was leaving and wrote, "just finished vocals and getting ready for mixing!" which of course, he believed.  But really, I was hitting the road for Springfield, which is just under a two-hour drive.  I called him as I pulled into our neighborhood to say that I was heading back to his sister's house for the night, and right as we hung up, I walked into our house.  He was very happily surprised, since I hadn't planned on coming home until the next morning.

So now I get to wait anxiously to receive the final tracks in all their mixed and mastered glory.  Luckily, we have a vacation planned for next week that will keep me occupied!  We're spending the holiday weekend with family before taking off for San Antonio on Wednesday.

I owe you all some songs, which have been few and far between around here lately.  I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming soon.  In the meantime, have a wonderful Friday!

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Inside the Recording Studio: Day 3

As I write this recap, I'm getting ready for my final day in the studio.  I've spent over 30 hours here, and I'm going to miss this place when I'm finished!  Yesterday was a big day, so I'll get right to it.

To be honest, I was a little bummed to be missing out on such a gorgeous day outside.  Here in St. Louis, the sun was shining and the temperature was 75 degrees (unusual for the end of March).  But as soon as we got to work, I completely forgot about the weather and turned my focus to the music.

We started with song 7, using the same process we'd gone through for the previous songs.  Jim (my sound engineer) laid down the drums, then keyboards, then bass and electric guitar, and then it was time for me to play my acoustic guitar part.  We did two takes, and when that was finished I moved to the vocal booth.  First, I sang the lead melody twice through.  My voice was still fresh since it was early in the day, so we got good takes right away.  Then I sang the harmonies three times through.  That was it for song 7!

While I was in the vocal booth, we went ahead and recorded the vocals for song 6 (which we had tried to do the night before, but it was 10 pm and my singing reflected that fact).  This went quickly, and it was time to listen to songs 6 and 7.  I was thrilled with both of them and couldn't wait to send preview tracks to my mom, dad, and husband.  They have been my sounding board throughout this process, providing feedback on each track as they are completed.  The rest of you will have to wait, though :)

Song 8 is my new favorite (though so far, I've said that about every song).  Jim started playing the keyboard as he listed to the scratch track, and I instantly knew we were dealing with greatness.  He had some pretty complicated work to do on this one, so I spent some time on the internet until he was ready for me to play my acoustic guitar part.  After I did that, I went into the vocal booth to record the melody.  Instead of a traditional harmony line, I did some scatting to match the instrumentation and the result was pretty, pretty cool. 

We got to work on Song 9 just after 10 pm, as my energy started to dwindle.  Jim got through the keyboards, bass, and electric guitar, and I somehow managed to make my fingers form chords and strum well enough to lay down the acoustic guitar.  He suggested I do vocals, but after one take, we laughed at my poor exhausted voice and decided to call it a night.

At that point, it was 11:30 pm and another engineer arrived to do some overnight tweaking on my vocals. I got to listen to each of the songs as Jim showed him what he would be working with, which was really fun. 

Coming tomorrow: a recap of my 4th and final day in the studio.  Thanks so much for following along with me on this exciting journey!

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