Thursday, March 31, 2011

Guest Post: BEADS!

I'm thrilled to pieces to share this with you today!  My dear friend Becca from my ASU days was generous to write up a post on The Coolest Thing I Have Ever Seen A Violin Teacher Do For Motivation.  Really, I LOVE how tangible and cool it is!   Becca is a violinist extrordinare who has been sharing her awesome skills as a private and public teacher and has now expanded the student pool by 2 adorable boys. She told me about this technique a good 8 years ago at least, and it has stuck in my brain like peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth.  I can't wait to try it with WonderGirl!  Thanks Becca!!!

When I first started violin, I was blessed with the best teacher EVER. Her name was Robin. If I had a good lesson, she would let me go outside and jump on the big trampoline while she would chat with my mom.  When they called me back inside I knew it was time for the best part… BEADS!!!  If I had mastered a song that week, or achieved a particular goal we had set, I got to pick—get this—one pony bead to put on the shoelace I kept in my violin case. Are you thoroughly impressed?  I don’t know what it was about getting to string a shiny plastic bead onto that rainbow-striped shoelace (yes, I picked it out myself), but it was BIG.

When I started teaching violin lessons I thought I’d try this out on my students.  Each week we decide together what they need to do to earn a bead the next week.  The goal could be mastering a new song, memorizing a page of music, demonstrating correct posture for the entire lesson, or even remembering to bring all of your music (you'd be surprised :).  The adaptability is the beauty of it.  I also offer an extra bead if they have an overall great lesson or impress me in some other way.  Extra beads have been earned for a story written about the song they’re playing, a drawing of their violin, making up a song and playing it, making up words to a song they’ve played and singing it...  It’s fun to see what they come up with.
Students turn their strand of beads into keychains, bracelets, etc.  A new favorite is tying a big loop on one end of the cord so you can hang it on the scroll and show off your beads while you play. Some kids can even look at their strand and tell what they did to earn each one.  Somehow, they love this simple reward.  Probably for the same reason I did as a child.  Each bead serves as a physical representation of what they have accomplished in an area of study where successes are often intangible. 

Have fun trying it out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #9

One little tidbit of trivia is that WonderGirl is a Brasilian.  It's a source of pride for her, although we've been uber-lazy teaching her Portuguese (I have a legitimate excuse - I'm terrible at it!).  I've been helping my best friend who has just given birth to her first child, so of course it's bringing me back to my own days as a new mother.

It was lonely, living far from home and unable to communicate with anyone around me.  It helped create a bond between WG and I, as she was having a fish-out-of-water experience too.  I'd been excited to come to Brasil and take in all their amazing music, but unfortunately all that was readily available was a style of pop music that... cannot compare to the samba.  Just can't.  So, I turned on my Sergio Mendez and we danced together in the living room, day after day after day.   I recently had a Brasilian friend tell me Sergio Mendez isn't as big in Brasil as he is elsewhere.  Pfft.

Anywho, his Maghalenha gave us joy on the cloudiest of days.  I know I say this about every song I use for Living Room Dance Parties, but seriously - I dare you to listen to it without dancing.  I mean it - at the 45 second mark, I go crazy.  

You can grab it on Amazon here.  Last year Mendez put out an album of his music remixed.  It's kinda catchy, and wouldn't be a bad additon to your library.   Dance on, my friends!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ode to Joy, by my Sunshine!

She did it!! She practiced it about 20 times yesterday (I did not... obviously:) - I was a little nervous because she's used to playing on a keyboard and a real piano needs much more pressure to play the keys, but she didn't miss a beat. Woohoo!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

E is so easy!

5 down, 19 to go!

The power of service

Today is the day we're heading over to the nursing home to plays some musics!  It brings to mind this happy helping song we sing with the kiddos at church, and WonderGirl was more than willing to demonstrate it for you (as you can see, she is experimenting with conducting, which is, as you can also see, hilarious).  We sing it while we tidy around the house.  The lyrics are super simple and catchy (plus the chords are an easy peasy I-ii-V-I pattern - I included it in D):

[D]When we're helping we're [Em]happy and we [A]sing as we [D]go,

for we like to help [Em]insert name, i.e. Mother, Sister, Brother, etc. for we [A]all love them [D]so.

Tra la la la la [Em]la la Tra la [A]la la la [D]la,

Tra la la la la [Em]la la Tra la [A]la la la [D]la

This brings us to a personal story I've been mulling about lately about the power of sharing your talents.  Back in college, I was going through a rough patch -I was nearing my senior recital, I had horrible stage fright and would shake every time I had to play a solo (my bow would actually bounce off the string).  My confidence level was shot, and I went to my bishop - the head of my church congregation - to get a possible referral for a therapist I could talk this all out with.  How was I supposed to graduate if I was too nervous to play??

He listened to me patiently, and then pulled a folder out of his file cabinet.  "I do have some names here," he said, "but I want you to try an experiment first.  For the next week, I want you to try to lose yourself in service.  Find some way you can share your gifts with others.  Then, come back to me, and we'll talk.  If you still feel like you'd like a referral, I'd be more than happy to give it to you."

I figured I'd give it a try.  What else did I have to lose?  I lived literally right next to an assisted living facility, so I went in and asked them if I could play my violin for them.  Nothing grand like a formal performance that would turn on the fear factor -  I could play some nice background music in the dining hall while they ate.  They were so excited they begged me to let them put me on their permanent calendar as a once-a-week musical guest during dinner.  I was reluctant, but agreed.  I'm kind of a push-over.

I showed up on time, stood in the farthest corner I could find and played all the hymns, Suzuki repertoire and fiddle tunes I had memorized.  I'm not going to lie - I was a little scared for a few minutes, but I started to calm down after a bit, because every few minutes someone would start yelling at me in approval and make a request.  It was too funny and distracting to be nervous.  By the time I was done, I was having a ball.  The residents were so kind, and I'd played a whole hour in front of other people without shaking.  As I headed home, I was walking on air.  The sky had never been so blue, and I had a permanent grin on my face.  I was on a service high.

I went back a few more times that week for good measure, and when I saw my bishop at church on Sunday, I told him I didn't need to meet with him or anyone else.  And thanked him profusely.  The rest of the year, I played at the home at least once a week, and each week my confidence and technique grew stronger.  I wasn't playing them my concertos and sonatas, but the time I put in playing their familiar songs for that hour or so translated into being able to play better and better the rest of the week.  My confidence levels shot up, and I felt uplifted and happy.  By the time my recital came around, I was able to play the very best I could, completely free of fear.

I learned a very valuable lesson that year and I am SO thankful for my bishop and his inspired advice.  I've learned that losing myself in service is one of the best ways to beat the blues.  My skills aren't the practical ones - like cooking, cleaning, remembering to bay bills, etc. - but I've been very blessed to have been given the chance to play music, and I am even more blessed when I share it.

So even if it's not so easy to coordinate schedules and keep the Dude from running around the nursing home licking every surface he can find, it's worth it to show get to show them how awesome service can be.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Music Class

Music Class, illustrated by Amanda Haley
I stumbled on this book in the early reader section of our library a few weeks ago.  It's a rhyming story of a class of children coming together to a violin class - and tells each step, from opening to closing their cases.  WonderGirl loved it - as it was an easy read as well as fun.  The only downside is - look at that picture - every picture is of the violin held exactly opposite of how it should be!  The upside is WG pointed it out herself and we had a lovely discussion of how it is supposed to be held.  Win-win!  The book says it's a Level 3, 7-8 year old level, but a new reader shouldn't have a problem with it.  Find it here on Amazon or check it out at your local library.  Happy reading!

Chaos around the Treblemaker house

Mom - the original Treblemaker
The next month or so is going to be a tad crazy around these parts - a lot of being here and there and everywhere for the Treblemaker family.  Because none of our plans are set in stone, it's been hard to decide anything - case in point, last week was St. Patrick's Day, but the Irish music is coming about this week.

We live down the street from a nursing home, and the kids I teach music to at church have sung for them a few times.  It's always such a rewarding experience that last Christmas, a drummer friend went with my husband and I to spread some musical cheer.  Just a violin, guitar and djembe - plus a hyperactive 4 year old SCREAMING Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the crowd and a 1 year old doing some kind of sumo wrestler dance in front of us.  It was complete chaos, but they were very sweet about it anyway.  They begged us to come back for St. Patrick's Day, and we are.  Better late than never!

WonderGirl and I are practicing a duet to play - a lovely arrangement of Ode to Joy from the Faber book.  She's super excited and I'm thrilled to have her get to share her talent.  Everyone wins!  I hope we can get some sweet video of our performance to share.

In my upcoming travels, I'm REALLY excited to be able to visit with my mom.  She's the original Treblemaker - 4 kids, and at least 10 instruments played between us.  She even got her masters in curriculum development and wrote an amazing thesis on teaching the harmonica (the history, the theory, the blues, ALL of it!) to 6th graders.  She's an absolute inspiration.  And if we're super lucky, I'll talk her into some guest posts!  If any of you are interested in sharing your treblemaking exploits, drop me a line - I'd LOVE to hear your stories and ideas!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Post-vacay playing and mashmallows

This is a magical, magical bag.  You know how a child will eat all the marshmallows out of their Lucky Charms before they get to any of that "healthy" cereal?  This solves the problem for the kid in you!  A bag of nothing but cereal marshmallows!  I found these in Iowa at a wee Mennonite grocery store that separates bulk items.  Oh, the possibilities for rewards/bribery!!!

Take a few weeks ago.  One of my students had just come back from a very well-documented vacation to Disney World (at one point I had to stop checking their family's blog - it was torture!) and his mom was thinking we should skip the lesson because he hadn't had a chance to practice during the trip.  I completely agree with the no practicing part - by the way - I'm no Tiger Mother - and a vacation should be exactly that!

Anywho, instead of skipping, I thought it would be good to have a bit of a lesson anyway to slip him back into the piano by making sure we warmed up his good technique.  A week or so off the piano, and it's all about sagging wrists and flapping fingers.  We started at the beginning of the Alfred Technic book and played through all the old warm-ups and etudes.  It was good practice, but made even better because I grabbed my sack of these dehydrated marshmallows and put one of the back of each of his hands at the beginning of each song.  If he could make it through the whole piece without a marshmallow slipping, into his mouth it went.  I've never seen a 7 year old so alert and attentive in a lesson...

At the end, he was slightly keyed up (the marshmallows are small, and though they're mostly sugar, I'm pretty sure he didn't ingest close to the lethal amount) and ran downstairs to his mom to declare he'd just had the Best Lesson Ever.   And I agreed.  It was simple, it was all review, but it was also very productive and a great way to remind him of all those pesky technique things I'm always hounding him about.  I'm totally filing this away for my kid's post-vacation practice and lesson sessions.  Of course... this means I need to start planning some vacations...

P.S.  You don't have to find a Mennonite grocery to get some of these.  Search for "dehydrated marshmallows" and the internet won't let you down.  I found some for you here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How to teach your own kid how to play the piano - More lessons learned!

As I've mentioned before, the jump from playing music written on the staff has been a challenge for WonderGirl.  We've been flying by with the first Alfred Prep book but it was quite a leap.  I have a 7 year old student who is nearing the end of the book who hadn't the slightest hiccup while making the transition, but WG is still very much a 4 year old.  Both of us were wringing our hands, so I headed to the local music store to see if I could find a book that spent a little more time introducing the staff.  

Voila, enter the Faber My First Piano Adventures.  I'd looked at the series a few months ago, but the first book didn't seem quite WG's speed (it's delightful though).  The second book is all about introducing the staff, note by note (it comes with a CD that we haven't tried out yet - I'll give you info on that when we do).  It moves slowly, but it's chock full of games, theory and cute songs with catchy lyrics - which is exactly what WG needs right now.  She learned how to read English, but she'd been speaking it for about 2 years already - she's only been speaking "music" for a few months now, so I need to remember to be patient.

The bright illustrations and cute stories have WG excited, and I'm thrilled to pieces.  I plan on coming back to the Alfred book in a bit and using both, because she responded well to it too.  Plus I know once we get a firmer grasp on reading notes on the staff, it'll give her a big confidence boost to be able to rock the songs that had previously been difficult.

The lesson I've learned here is:  if your kid seems to hit a brick wall, sometimes you need to head to the music store and find a book that has a different path around the wall.  The end destination is the same place, and  will be more peaceful experience for both of you!  Who knew great method books could make a mom so giddy??

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday inspiration: "Physician, heal thyself." 'Physician, compose thyself."

Are you raising your child to be a professional musician?  Neither am I.  Are you giving your child a skill that will give them - among other things - the discipline to achieve in all areas of their life?  Me too!  Here's an awesome stat for your Sunday:
Physician and biologist Lewis Thomas studied the undergraduate majors of medical school applicants. He found that 66% of music majors who applied to medical school were admitted, the highest percentage of any group. 44% of biochemistry majors were admittedAs reported in "The Case for Music in the Schools," Phi Delta Kappan, February 1994,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #8

The Dude was up far too early, coughing and sniffling.  We had no concrete plans yesterday, but with a sick toddler, we decided to stay home.  This is NOT good for the WonderGirl.  From the time she was just a few weeks old, she would start screaming by 11am if she hadn't been taken out on a walk to mingle with the locals and see the sights.  This is no mere want - it is a definite need.  My solution?  This song:

Nil Na La is one of the greatest songs to ever grace my ears.  I cannot listen to it without dancing - absolutely impossible.  Solas is the supergroup of Irish music and every single member of the band is the best at their instrument.  The absolute BEST.  If you want to dive into a bit of the Celtic music, you can't go wrong with any album by Solas - and this 2006 release one is one of my absolute favorites... and this song - OH this song...  it made our day 6 kajillion times better.

I dare you to listen to it without dancing.  Double dare.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Practice time in Fort Rox!

Our afternoon schedule involved piano practice, making a fort and watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  We decided to save some time and combine the first two.

My forts/tents are usually a disappointment, but this one was awesome!  I took 2 music stands and put them on either side of the piano, then a microphone stand behind her chair.  One sheet clothes-pinned to all three, and then instead of using two more sheets, I used the sheer curtains we've just had to take down from her room (the Dude wouldn't stop playing in them - he broke the curtain rod!) and used clothespins to attach them to each side.  Voila!  We actually had some sun today, and it felt great to have it shining through her fort walls.

We're making the transition to reading music, and it can get poor WonderGirl in a tizzy lately.  So today, I decided to have her go through all of her old songs and review them so she could get her confidence back up.  Playing in her own special fort didn't hurt either :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You're a grand old staff!

I had another HOORAY FOR MY MOM moment last week, as I stumbled on on some more music materials she'd bequeathed on me.  She just retired as an elementary music teacher and I am loving being the recipient of her spring cleaning!  I found a stack of these large grand staffs she'd made and laminated, and since we are starting note reading, they are being very used and loved.

Since they were laminated, I can write on them in dry erase marker or crayon and use glass cleaner to wipe it all off when we're done.  First, we practiced finding the G on the treble clef and the F on the bass clef.  I'd call a note name out and she'd put a penny on that note, lickety split.  Today I used Smarties - quite the hit!

I also used star stickers and put them on the lines and spaces and had her play them for me on the piano, then guess the the melody (sometimes it was just random notes to try and trick her).  There are a kajillion places online with free printable staff paper - you can customize your own at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

D D D D D D D D!

We have a Daddy, and a drum set and a stuffed dog. Let the D video commence!  It was awesome having Daddy as a guest star, and as much as our home and its inhabitants can resemble an insane asylum at times, I feel so amazingly blessed that this is my family :)

Dueling Rhythms

Remember the awesome rhythm activity my mom gave me?  We've been having some problems with half notes lately so I decided to add them in.  

As you can see, I cut them so they took up 2 beat spaces.  And as you can also see, WonderGirl insisted on making things complicated and adding a duet rhythm for me to clap.  I took a video of our attempts - I'm having trouble getting my head in the shots lately :)

 To help her keep count, we gave the name "Bu-ddy" for the half notes (2 eighths are "Daddy" and quarters are "Mom").  Using familiar words for the rhythms (Buddy is her brother's nickname) is a good intermediary step since she's only doing basic math - I have older students who are comfortable with basic addition and don't bat an eyelash at counting out rhythms.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's Sing Together video #2

It  has been a while since the first Let's Sing Together video - for a variety of reasons, but mostly because the Dude's approach to singing time is that of excited audience member.  It concerned me for a bit, because what parent doesn't want to have the most interactive kid at library story time??  Plus the only other child I've parented has the memory of an elephant and can sing you just about every song she's ever heard.... but I'm having a change of heart - because though our singing time usually consists of me singing to him, he is a VERY appreciative recipient of the music.  So what if he doesn't want to parrot out the actions with me?  It's obvious he's a human sponge.

This is an adorable fingerplay song called Open Shut Them that I learned with WonderGirl in her early library storytime days.  I've heard it with music, or just chanted, but either way it's a winner.  We're only doing the first 4 lines because I'm trying to focus on the "Open" and "Shut" parts of the song.  I can get him to open his hand, but when we shut them he starts giggling and it stalls things.  Not that I'm complaining - it's flippin' adorable.  Here are the actual wordy words:

Open, Shut Them

Open, shut them; Open, shut them,
Give a little clap,
Open, shut them; Open, shut them,
Lay them in your lap.
Creep them; creep them,
Slowly Creep them; creep them,
Right up to your chin,
Open wide your little mouth
But do not put them in. 

Open, shut them; Open, shut them,
To your shoulder fly
Let them, like the little birdies Flutter to the sky.
Falling, falling, downward falling
Almost to the ground,
Quickly raising all your fingers
Twirl them 'round and 'round and 'round

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday inspiration: Duh

This picture has nothing to do with the content of this post.  But doesn't it just make your day??

Time Invested In Practicing Pays Off For Young Musicians, Research Shows

We all know this, but when you add fancy numbers to it, it helps the resolve.  Save this article for one of those days when you're not sure if it's worth it.  (Spoiler alert: it is!)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Guest Post - How to teach your own child violin!

Sabrina and I, circa 1995-ish
We are in for a serious treat today - I talked my best friend Sabrina into writing a post for us about teaching your own kids violin!! Sabrina is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and mother to 5 positively adorable children.  She was kind enough to get married and start a family long before I did, so she could have lots of experience and advice for me when I'd need it most.  She's thoughtful like that :)  

Sabrina and fans, present day
We met in a local youth string orchestra in junior high, where we were stand partners in the 2nd violin section and unbeknown to her, mortal enemies.  Every time I showed up to rehearsal, she was sitting in my chair!  Eventually I got over it, we moved up to the youth symphony and have been thick as thieves ever since.  Oh, the stories I could tell you... like the time we both stopped the All-State Orchestra rehearsal by hysterically laughing about a knock knock joke about an orange*... but back to the matter at hand.  She is a mom to a whole gaggle of kids and is managing to teach them her violin know-how.  I'm swamped with just the two!  She's modest, sweet, and an inspiration, and since I'm about to turn up the heat on WonderGirl's violin time (I'm mucho nervous), I've been begging her for advice on how she has managed to do it successfully with multiple kids even!  Here we go!

When do I know my kid is ready for lessons?

I know when they're NOT ready for lessons.  I tried on two of my kids to start them on lessons before the age of 5 (hey - I was taking 'lessons' at why not?), and it was a disaster both times.  With my son, he really badly wanted to play the cello, so I figured he was ready for it.  Boy, was I wrong.  After about a month, he started to get really frustrated.  He wanted to be able to play a song, dangit!  If you start a little kid on piano, no matter how beginner they are, they can push on a piano key, and get a nice note as a result.  Not so on a violin or cello!  There are so many ways to do it wrong, that it takes quite a while just to figure out how to hold everything correctly to get a decent sound out of the instrument.  So after a month of working with my son, we had only gotten as far as playing "Pepperoni Pizza" on an open string.  And he was not happy about that!  He started becoming less cooperative during our practice time, goofing off and messing around.  When I asked him what the problem was, he told me he wanted to be able to play a real song.  ...So, I decided to put the whole thing on hold for a couple of years until he was a little more mature and could learn faster.  Boy, what a difference a couple of years made!  By the time we came back to it (he was in first grade then), he was able to catch on sooo much faster, and he got to play a song fast enough to satisfy his impatience.  Not only did he learn the songs quickly on violin, be he decided he still wanted to do cello, and taught himself all of the violin songs on the cello as well!
Obviously, not every kid is the same - there are going to be genius kids, and then kids like mine.  Some of them might be ready at 4 or 5 years old.  But in my family, I found that everyone was much happier when they could learn quickly and easily the concepts I taught my waiting until about first grade to start lessons. 

How do you approach a lesson so they treat it seriously, but not serious enough that it's a negative experience?

Well, they have to practice before getting anything fun, like a movie night or dessert or game cube time (only on Saturdays) or something.  My kids are fairly cooperative, and they come to me and ask me what to work on, and I just tell them what to play.  Then I am flexible enough to know when they've had enough.  I don't watch the clock with my own kids - we usually are in such a hurry to get on to other things, that we just practice until dinner is ready or it's time to leave or whatever. 
I have one violin student who is a bit sensitive and takes things really seriously  - too seriously.  If she has worked really hard on a song, and then I find something she's not doing right and have her work on it for a long time, she will sometimes start getting frustrated.  When I first started teaching her, I didn't pick up on the frustration, and sometimes accidentally worked her to the point of tears (not that I'm mean or anything, she was just frustrated that she couldn't get it right after working at it for so long).  Now, I watch her body language.  When we are working on a tough song for a long time, I will notice when her little face starts looking sad, and I STOP.  I give her a high-five, tell her she's done a great job...and we move on to something that is easy for her to review.  

How do you structure their practicing? (ie, by task or by time passed)

So when we DO have time for practicing, we don't watch the clock.  We just work on a song or two, until they start whining that their back hurts or they are tired of the song or it's time to eat dinner.  Half of the time I am frantically trying to cook dinner while having a toddler sabotaging any efforts to accomplish the practicing isn't very structured.  It generally goes like this: "Hey Mom, what should I play?"  " about you start by reviewing something?"  "Ok.  Hey Mom!  Andrew's eating cat food!"   ...after playing a song, "OK, let's work on your current piece for a while...better work on that measure a few times.  Can you play that part 8 times for me?"  "Mom, my back hurts, and I've been practicing longer than it took James to finish piano!"  "OK, can you just work on this one more time before you go?"  ...and then it's time for dinner before rushing off to cub scouts. 
Ideally, our practicing includes reviewing at least one song that they've already mastered (otherwise they forget those hard-learned songs!), then work on the current piece.  I try to get them to perfect at least one part of the song - even if it's just one measure.  They will play the trouble spot several times until I'm satisfied with the progress, then play through the whole song.  Then if we still have time, I like to have them do a page of sight reading music exercises.  That's usually about it. 

Why do you think it's worth the trouble for you?

Because it's so fun for the kids to play!  They don't love practicing (who does?), but they have SO much fun doing little performances.  The really cool thing is that somehow we have managed to end up with several friends of the kids who are also into violin and cello.  We did a performance at church for a Christmas party that involved a few of the kids' friends, and they felt like they were so cool.  It's the popular thing to do - who knew??  I have just been amazed at how many cousins are also playing - one of the kids' cousins is waaayyy awesome at violin (better than me), and he has played at family gatherings, and the kids are so inspired by it.  What a fun way to connect with other people, by having music to share with each other. 
I also believe that it helps their brain development in so many ways.  It takes a huge amount of coordination and concentration to be able to play, and music itself is quite mathematical.  What better way to learn about fractions than with musical notes?  And when we play together as a group, the kids have to learn how to follow everyone else and listen to each other and work as a group.  

Can you share anything neat that this has produced in your kids behavior or in their creative exploits?
One thing cool we have gotten to do is go and perform at my grandfather's retirement home.  It's been such a cool experience for my kids, and the elderly people LOVED it.  I couldn't believe how many of the residents came up to me after the performance and just had to tell me that they had a relative that plays violin or something.  It really has been such a great experience for the kids and the elderly.

A couple of months ago, James decided that it was time for Thomas (who was 4) to start learning how to hold a proper bowgrip.  So he just sat him down one day, got out a couple of bows, and spent a good 15 minutes just tutoring Thomas on how to hold a bow.  It doesn't get any better than that!

One morning, I came upstairs to get breakfast ready to send the kids out to school, and Michael was practicing the violin.  I thought that was pretty cool that he was on the ball and getting it done early.  Then I noticed Michael had an audience - he had a whole row of stuffed animals, all lined up to listen to his performance!!

Thanks a million, Sabrina!!!  And if any of you out there have experiences or advice you can share, we would LOVE to hear them!  E.mail me (or message me in the comments) and we'll get this show on the road!

* Q: Are you an orange?
   A: No.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More car talk

In the car yesterday, WonderGirl and I were playing our car time game, trying to decipher the instruments from the Warsaw Concerto on the radio (she compared the running piano line to a harp - so proud!) and it sparked another game.  We started taking turns shouting out a letter of the alphabet, and the other person had to come up with a musical instrument that started with that letter.  I got stumped by W (I could only think of washboard - and I couldn't adequately describe it).  That is why, afterwards when we were in the library, I shouted out "Duh!  A WHISTLE!"  I don't think it disturbed the other patrons though - the 1 year old Dude was doing that well enough on his own :)  A good reference for this would be the Wee Sing and Learn ABC book - which I need to get out so I can answer Jane's query as to what instrument starts with Q...
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