Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anatomy Week: teaching older kids

I've been talking about how I do lessons and practicing with my 4 year old, but I want to address older kids.  I've only been a mom for 4 years, but I've been doing this teaching gig for much longer, for 2 year olds up to sixty year olds.  I've learned a thing or two along the way....

Years ago, I attended a masterclass with the famed violinist/violist Pinchas Zuckerman.  In addition to his performing and conduction career, he is a avid educator.  The attendees were a mix of parents and teachers, and  Mr. Zuckerman opened up the floor for any questions they might have for him.  One parent stood up and asked - "How do you motivate a teenager to practice?"

After a good laugh, Mr. Zuckerman said: "You can't.  You make them do it, try and survive those years, and at some point they learn to love it and do it on their own."

I've had a few - VERY few students that picked up their instruments of their own free will and couldn't stop playing.  The rest loved playing, but didn't love the work that went into it.  I honestly don't like practicing either!  But I love the end result, so I muddle through.  And as parents, we know how hard it is to teach our kids to work, but we know it's necessary and we do it anyway.

That being said, practice time doesn't have to be an endless drudgery.  The trick is:

 Make them own it.

That's mainly it.  If they are doing it for themselves, they'll be more invested.  Is that easy to do?  Nooooo.  Is it worth it?  Yes!

Having the student research and choose their own repertoire (from an approved list), finding them friends that play that instrument as well to jam with, finding an honor ensemble they want to audition for, even giving them an audio recorder or video camera and having them be in charge of recording their latest solo as a practice assignment - all kids are different and their goals and motivators are different, but whatever that may be, they all need to want it for themselves to be successful.

And honestly, that goes for just about anything in life.  Which is why teaching them an instrument when they're young is such a powerful teaching tool that goes far beyond making music.  Now if ya'll would remind me of this when WonderGirl turns 13, I'd appreciate it :)  Stay tuned for getting toddlers to sing tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anatomy Week: violin lesson

I want to begin by saying this is how our early lessons go - of course with every child and every stage it changes dramatically.  We'll discuss practice for an older child later.

Me:  Which should we have first, violin or piano time?

WonderGirl: Violin!

Me, internally: wooohoooo!!!

We sit down in the middle of the living room floor on her red mat, I put her 5 pieces of candy/fruit snacks/pretzels off to the side.  We get the violin out togehter, I put the shoulder pad on and she gets the bow out and rosins it.

we say together as we bow.  This is something one of my violin teachers would do with me when I was young, and it signaled the beginning of our lesson.  It is used to give us both a formal transition into our time together, past the informal chit chat we'd had as I entered the studio. It means "good afternoon" in Japanese, but you can pick any phrase you'd like. We also practice bowing - the kind of bow a good violin student makes :)

1.  Bow time.  We start out making llama shapes with our fingers to practice the shape they'll make holding a bow - sometimes she gets me to make us a story about our llamas and we act it out together.  Sometimes I make her wait until the end of a lesson for a llama story.  Then we hold an actual bow and do all the typical games and exercises. 

kissing her "llama"

2.  Violin time.  She stands up - I get on my knees so I'm at eye level - and we get our feet into position.  She takes the violin from rest position to her chin over and over, and we make a game of it.  Currently, she loves to pretend she's a robot putting the violin up.  We sing some songs and do some dances with her violin under her chin to pas the time while she's practicing having it up there.  I'll play the bow on the strings for her sometimes, or she'll pluck the strings I call out.  It's mostly just activities to distract her while she's getting her "violin muscles."

Doing a dance without dropping the violin - woohoo!

3. Together time!  She plays the bow on the strings!  I control this time carefully, dancing the line between her getting to play and experience the sound - and concentrating on her bow arm technique (and that darn shoulder).  We play a few games, a few rhythms and basic songs all on open strings.  She's just moved to using her left hand, but we don't do it for very long.  I mostly want her to get really strong technique on the bow and violin holding before we jump ahead with actual playing of the instrument.  Together time is very short - maybe two minutes or so.  I want it to be a novel thing she looks forward to and isn't too frustrated or sick of it.

4. Domo arigato.  We bow formally and say "Domo arigato" to each other - which means "thank you" in Japanese.  This is for the same reason we say "Konnichiwa" at the beginning of the lesson, and it signals the official end of the lesson and start of us being mother-child again instead of violin teacher-violin student.

All in all, a lesson is rarely longer than 10 minutes.  The patience it takes to play the violin is not natural for a child, so I revel in the luxury of being able to have many mini-lessons with her as we build all that up.  We didn't start out by doing this much - we started just by having a mini lesson practicing bowing and listening without racing all over the room, then adding on to it.  

It's such a wonderful bonding experience!  I don't plan on her choosing to be a professional violinist someday, but I use the violin as a tool to teach patience, hard work, and to have something wonderful to enjoy.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anatomy Week: piano practice

Also check out Practicing practicing.

Me:  It's piano time.

WonderGirl:  YAY!/NO! (it varies on the day, hour and second.  Don't them 'em see you sweat!)

If you haven't noticed the massive apparatus on WonderGirl's head, they are some serious headphones we snitched from Daddy's tech stuff.  We have all our music time when the Dude is napping because it's impossible to keep a 20 month old boy out of a super cool big sister's bizness.  To make sure he STAYS napping, she uses headphones.  I stay close by and she stays on task pretty well, although I can always pull the cord out and ask her to play me something if I suspect monkey business.

1.  Let's make a plan.  First we discuss review (warm-up).  I attack this a variety of different ways.  This was one of her earlier charts, before she had a large amount of review under her belt.

I would verbally give her some instructions- play this part so many times, this part so many times, the who song this many times, etc.  When she finished a whole page, she earned some kind of nifty reward, like a Daddy/daughter date.

Now, she has more review and her ability to focus has improved as well, so there's more to do.  Sometimes I'll make a quick list for her.

She likes to have boxes to mark off since it gives her a sense of accomplishment.  Some days I'll make the boxes to decide how many times she'll play it, other times I leave that up to her.  I find out how much she likes a certain song or not.  (I've noticed she's not a fan of A B Bop... so I always add extra turns on that when I'm doing the picking!)

Sometimes I let her make the list.  She gets to decide, and write out the songs she's chosen (I LOVE watching her phonetic abilities blossom doing activities like this!  The spellings are so creative and thoughtful!)

My only musts are that she practices both her new song, and the one just before it.  This ensures that she won't forget a song right after she passes it off and she has a nice library of songs to play whenever he heart desires.

2. Step back.  It's SO hard as a mom to not get in there, but I have to tell myself I've given her all the preparation she needs, she really needs practice working things out on her own.  I'll walk by occasionally and give her a hug or a compliment, and remind her to play on her fingertips.  Sometimes when I hear her getting frustrated, I'll slip in and help her practice the difficult parts.

3.  Check in.  When the list is all done, she comes and tells me and I usually ask her to play her new piece for me.  I give encouragement and advice, and if it isn't perfect I have to bite my tongue, because I know she'll get there eventually as long as she tries every day.  Heck, her last song took at least 3 weeks of tears and sweat to learn, but when it was finally there, there was dancing and rejoicing.  Worth all of the tantrums I had to work overtime to avert!

And when she's done, we move onto the next activity.  She ends up back at the piano throughout the day to play something familiar, show off to daddy or work on the latest song, but I let her play on her terms then.  Structured time is over, and I think an instrument should also be played.  Come by tomorrow for the anatomy of one of our violin lessons!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Anatomy Week: piano lesson

Me:  So we have to clean the living room, have a piano lesson and fold the laundry.  What order should we do them in?

WonderGirl: Piano first and no cleaning.

Me: Yeah, that's not an option.

We sit down at the piano, I put her 5 pieces of candy/fruit snacks/pretzels off to the side.

"Konnichiwa," we say together.  This is something one of my violin teachers would do with me when I was young, and it signaled the beginning of our lesson.  It is used to give us both a formal transition into our time together, past the informal chit chat we'd had as I entered the studio. It means "good afternoon" in Japanese, but you can pick any phrase you'd like.

1. Review.  We start off with something easy, something she enjoys playing.  I gently remind her about posture, but save my main critiques for later.  I like to start off with commenting on as many positives I see her doing - she usually feels so good after that, she unconsciously uses her best form.

2.  The last song we learned.  For review we pick and choose, but we always play the last thing she'd learned.  It's always the weakest (because it's the newest) and we play it through a few times.  If she messes up too much and gets frustrated, I break it down into smaller sections and praise her when she can play those right. I don't want her too frustrated before we do the new stuff.

3.  New song.  We approach this many ways - I'll play it for her first and she'll sing it or clap the rhythm with me, or we'll listen to it on the CD, or if she's excited, she jumps in head first and starts trying to play it.  I don't like playing the entire song for a while, because there's always so many mistakes.  So to keep her from getting bored or annoyed, I like to start in different places, going from the end and working back, or some random place in the middle.

4.  Recital.  When I think she's had enough and we've made enough progress for one lesson, I pick something for her in that song to play for me.  If she's ready to play it all, she does, or I'll just ask for one part played nicely.  I don't sit next to her and critique her - I move to the nearby staircase and sit like an audience member.  When she's done I applaud, and she gets what's left of the treats.

5.  Hug.  I tell her how proud I am of what she's accomplished and how much I love her.  I mostly do this because I can't help it.  Seeing my little girl work hard at something makes my heart so full!

Now, off to fold laundry.  Stay tuned for tomorrow - piano practicing!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday inspiration: My favorite song

I love picking music for Living Room Dance Parties, but I also have music I love for myself when I need a pick-me-up.  My absolute favorite some of all time is George Harrison's Here Comes the Sun, and luckily for me, my kids don't seem to hate it.  Sometimes when life gets overwhelming, I lay on the floor with my eyes closed and let the music wash over me.  Except at this point in my life, when I do that, I end up with the Dude using me as a trampoline.  It's still worth it.

What is your favorite song to calm down to?  I'll see you here tomorrow with the anatomy of one of our piano lessons!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #12

I love how many of my favorite Living Room Dance Party tunes are under 3 minutes!  This is Khachaturain's Saber Dance and the second you hear it, I promise you'll have the urge to run around in circles.  It's a guaranteed energy booster!  I also found a neat video of violinist Vanessa Mae performing a rock/techno arrangement of it - with a clear violin, smoke machines, dancers, the works.  WonderGirl was impressed!

I randomly picked a good sounding $.89 MP3 download here.  You can also find it on almost any classical greatest hits albums - like this Bolero & Other Greatest Dance Hits.  There are lots of great compilations that feature just high power works that can really get your house rocking (these, for example).  And speaking of rocking - I've created a YouTube playlist with all the available songs from our Living Room Dance Party series!!  When you are in the mood for a quick pick-me-up, just click play and start dancing!

You can also access it here.  In other exciting news, I'm being featured on i can teach my child today!  I wrote a post about a song I use with WonderGirl and the Dude to teach selection of colors, letters, numbers, just about anything.  Pop over and have a look!


Also, next week is going to be Anatomy Week - I'll be featuring posts with ALL the things that happen in our practice sessions, piano lessons, violin lessons and music theory time.  I'll trying to add as many details as I can so you can get an idea about how we go about creating a lesson studio here in our home.  Is there anything you're curious about?  Anything you'd like to see a post on?  I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We watch PBS almost every day (Sesame Street is the 6th food group!) and they advertise their website constantly, so of course my VERY suggestible daughter is always begging to go to  It's a fun website, and a great motivational tool.  I like to try and find kids music websites she'll like and I found a GEM the other day.  Have you heard of  Wowza!!  It's a fabulous website chock full of educational games and information - from space to history to science - and a really nifty section on music!

There are ear training games, name that instrument or style games, music history time lines with music that plays when you scroll over the composer names, a music term glossary - and it's all kid friendly!  Last night when we found the game for writing music, WonderGirl HAD to figure out how to write the theme to the Cat in the Hat show.

We were playing around with pitches, note length - it was a music parent's dream activity!  It's all mouse based, so she can search around on her own, but I liked doing it with her so I could expound on all the things she saw.  We searched the whole music category and had a blast, and now she's just itching to get into the space menu and build a satellite (that'll be her treat today after she practices piano).  It did say I needed to update my Shockwave , but was very easy and quick.  Go check out and have fun!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bowhold practice

It's a typical violin teacher trick to use things in place of an actual violin and bow at the early stages.  I have a dowel rod that I use for lots of different exercises for early bow technique.  I taped a clothespin on to simulate the frog, and we practiced tapping her pinky up and down.  Then it occurred to me that this would be the perfect time to use that cool sport function on my next fancy camera!

Behold the awesome power of the gif!

Okay, that was fun :)  Another thing we came up with when trying to get more comfortable with bowhold was this little ditty:

One Two Three (place first second and third fingers on the stick on the first knuckle) and Thumb on the stick (thumb down) then you put down the Pinky on the tip tip tip (tap pinky in place three times)!

click on image for full size
Then we flip the hand over ans say Thumb check! to make sure her thumb is curved outwards and not bent inwards. I surprise her with Thumb check! every now and then while we're doing something else, and if it's bent inwards I correct it, and if it's right I fawn all over her (a really successful motivating technique for WonderGirl:)

So that's a great little song we sing every time she picks up her bow and her hand is looking really fantastic.  If anyone wants, I can make a video of myself doing it.  Being the teacher and cameraman is not always easy :)  Do you have any bowhold tricks you'd like to share?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On top of spaGHEEEEEEETTI!!!!!

We picked up a copy of On Top Of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer from the local library and it's now topping the charts in Casa Treblemaker.  Who can resist this silly song??  I loved it, and the next generation can't get enough of it.  Our library has the 1982 edition with illustrations by Tom Garcia which I find nifty because on the bottom of every page, it has a treble clef and has the notes written right above the words!

After we sang it about a kajillion times, I asked WonderGirl if she could try and play the melody on the piano and after some disciphering, she got it!  It's nice and simple in C major.  I love that it puts 3 things together that she adores - silly songs, reading and playing the piano.

The 2006 edition is here on Amazon and though the music isn't incorporated on all the pages, it's written out on it's own page - plus it has recipes for tomato sauce and meatballs included.  How awesome is that??  It has something for everyone!  Let me know how it plays in your house!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Practicing tricks: face graffiti

I got some of the "I can't DO IT!!"-s the other day, and after saying "Serenity now!" a few times in my head, I saw a sheet of stickers.  New rule - for every part played correctly, she got a sticker on her face.  It was so random and unexpected that she started giggling and I knew I had won.  S-U-C-C-E-S-S, that's the way you spell success!!  Woohoo!!

It reminded me a bit of Becca's awesome bead idea, because I was kind of arbitrary about when I decided she'd played enough right to earn a sticker.  It kept her on her toes and out of the crabby zone.

Funny thing - the sticker I put on her chin was of a planet, and as I quickly put it on there and tried to move on, she had to know which on it was.  "It has rings," I said impatiently.  "So it has to be Saturn."

"But Neptune has rings too!  Are you sure it's Saturn??" She asked, and after pulling it off and analyzing it for a bit, declared - "It's blue, so it's definitely Neptune."  It's so fun having a 4-year old resident genius!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday inspiration: keeping my cool

Things don't always go the way we plan - I wanted a cute Easter picture with the kids, but instead I got two hysterical children rolling on the driveway in their nice church clothes.  Serenity now!

A few months back, my husband and I were watching the train wreck that is Gold Rush Alaska on the History Channel.  If you haven't seen it, the show is a documentary-style telling of a group of men trying to strike it rich by digging and panning for gold up in the wilds of Alaska.  They're all novices so nothing ever goes as planned, and tempers flare constantly.  One man on the show had an incredibly short fuse and started fights with just about every person in the camp.

At one point he was at fault and screamed at one of the workmen, then stalked off.  The workman was visibly shaken, and explained to the cameramen why he hadn't fought back.  "It doesn't do any good - it's just the first punch that feels good."

That struck me as very wise and has rolled to the front of my mind often, especially when WonderGirl tests the boundaries of acceptable behavior during practice time.  When I'm tempted to lose my temper and snap, I remember his words.  It might release some steam for me to shout out "AAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!  If you'd just play instead of whining you'd be DONE by now!!!!" but losing my cool always makes the situation worse.

It's my new parenting mantra.  As good as it feels to just vent, it's nothing compared to the euphoria of vanquishing a bad mood and seeing WonderGirl giddy at being able to play something she'd thought was impossible.  Who knew such wisdom could come from gold miners??  

Friday, May 13, 2011

Practicing tricks: hat trick

What do you do when practicing the new song is pure torture (on both of you)?

Common sense says when a something is difficult, to break it up into smaller, workable pieces.  The latest song is 4 lines long, so we broke it down by line.  I asked WonderGirl to find me a hat, and wrote 1-4 on little slips of paper and put them in.

She had to wear a hat of her own, of course.

Then, she would pull a piece of paper out of the hat and play that line.  The novelty of the unknown was enough to disguise the fact that she was playing every section multiple times.  

I have to admit, I was surprised it worked - and for two days in a row, even!  Every little bit of trickery helps!

Living Room Dance Party #11

Did I mention my New Year's resolution for this year was to learn the dance from Napoleon Dynamite?  So far it doesn't look promising, but I have 7 more months to try!  Jamiroquai's Canned Heat is one of the greatest songs ever, possibly because Napoleon rocked it so hard, or possibly because when you play it, it feels like Friday afternoon.  Like right now, Hallelujah!!  I have a gig tomorrow, the temperature is above 40 degrees here, so I feel like celebrating - and nothing gets this house going quite like Jamiroquai!

Of course the movie cuts off the song, so go here for the tune in its entirety.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Alphabet playlist!

I made a playlist for our alphabet videos!  I love showing them to the Dude, and now we can watch them all without me fiddling with the computer in between each one.  You can also go here for the playlist.

Looking back, it seems I haven't explained WHY I've been making the alphabet music videos with WonderGirl.  So here goes:

WonderGirl's learning style is verbal/aural.  She hears something once, she has it memorized and analyzes it in her head like a computer.  Case in point:  this morning she showed me a pebble she'd found and wanted to find out what kind of rock it was.  We checked online and found it was sandstone, of the sedimentary family.  On the way to school she was talking about how excited she was to show it to her teacher and suddenly exclaimed - "We're DRIVING on sedimentary rock, aren't we?!"  She's so easy to teach that I simply can't take credit for it.

The Dude on the other hand, is incredibly kinesthetic.  He feels everything, gets into everything, analyzes everything and learns best when dancing is involved.  When we were in Colorado last month, he spent a week trying to figure out how to get the handle off of one of my mom's cabinets.  It took him that entire week, but at the end, he could unscrew it in a matter of seconds (not an easy feat, mind you).  I'm pretty sure he's going to be a violinist and an engineer, like his awesome violin-playing, kinesthetic learning, engineer uncle.

WG's learning style is easy for me to teach to - but I have no experience with kinesthetic learning.  He's 20 months, and by this age WG had been able to identify every letter in the alphabet for at least 5 months, simply because Sesame Street told her so (okay, I had a little to do with it, but for the most part she taught herself).  So how can I teach them to the Dude?  He adores Dr. Seuss' ABC book (as did WG) and we read it constantly, but I know just seeing and hearing me read isn't enough.  He responds to music strongly, so I put WonderGirl's dramatic flair to the test to start writing songs that would help him learn the letters.

He loves - LOVES to watch his sister up on the screen and dance along to her.  We sing them in the car and he sings the melody back to me.  We sing them while playing on the floor and I move different parts of his body to the beat.  I've even been sewing stuffed letters for him to play with and hold while we sing the song that goes with that letter.

Recycled letters - there's an Easter dress, some pajamas and some marching band shorts there!

We're getting some results every day, too.  A few weeks ago, he was running around a store with a friend of mine and went up to a large sign, pointed to a letter E and shouted "E!!!"  So something is sinking in!  Will he be reading Shakespeare by his 3rd birthday?  Of course not, but I'm learning how he learns, and WG is having a blast with her mild internet fame.  If you and your child enjoy them as well, that's just icing on the cake :)  Do you have a kinesthetic learner?  I'd love to hear tips if you have them!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Practicing tricks: 3-armed pianist/violinist

The latest song in WonderGirl's piano book feels like a brick wall.  She's been doing so well, she's actually been teaching herself the last few songs, but all of the sudden, this new song has created a crying, frustrated, angry little girl from what was - well, the exact opposite.  Does any teacher or parent love to hear "It's-so-hard-I-can't-DO-IT-BAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!"?  Because I'm not so much of a fan.  I've been taking it easy - focusing on review to get her confidence up, but today it was time to attempt it again.  Almost instantly she was declaring it impossible, and I was about ready to give up as well, when I remembered this video we'd made:

Before she could get too hysterical, I slipped my arm around her waist and declared I would be playing the left hand for her.  The sensation of a half-hug made her giggle, as well as the novelty of playing differently.  Her attitude changed, she was able to make it through the whole song within minutes and was excited to have conquered the "impossible."  Sometimes what we really need is a hug to clear our head.  I know feeling my little girl giggle and hug back helped me check my growing impatience.

We violin teachers know this is a common trick for violin lessons too - one person takes the bow and the other takes the fingers.  It's a welcome change of pace for a lesson, as well as helping the child focus more on one thing.  Do you have your own bad-mood busters?  I'd love to share them (and use them myself)!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday inspiration: Happy Mother's Day!

Mom, me and WonderGirl, circa 2007. Three generations of wonderful women!
I hope all the mothers out there are getting the recognition and love you deserve!  As a gift to you, I want to share something very special to me - this video featuring Elder Dieter F. Urchdorf speaking about the amazing power women possess.  It's a short motivational message that I watch often to remind myself what I should be doing do, and why I should and can be doing it.  I hope it energizes you too!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #10

This Living Room Dance Party pick reminds me a lot of Dance Party #1, Carmina Burana.  This is one of the Polovstian Dances - Wild Dance of the Men - from Alexander Borodin's opera, Prince Igor. The Polovstian (also spelled Polovestian) Dances are famous in the own right, and you can find plenty of albums with them on them, but if you want just this track, you can snag it on Amazon.  I'd suggest this entire album -

All the Polovstian dances are fantastic, plus it has Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition which will definitely be appearing as a Living Room Dance Party as well.  Bombastic, crazed, a flurry of sound, Borodin's Wild Dance of the Men was my personal first dance party.  My younger brother and I would beg to hear this song and then run around the house like we were monsters.  I don't know if I can adequately describe our choreography - the music rises, rises, rises - then faaaaallllllsssss!  It calms in the middle and builds, but wilds it up again.  It's short - around the two minute mark - so it's perfect for short attention spans.  Whirling dervish might come close to our chosen steps - be creative and find your own sweet dance moves!

Side note - Alexander Borodin is an incredibly fascinating person!  Russian-born, his main vocation was as a famous chemist, physician and teacher, but he also studied composition under Rimsy-Korsakov - he was even awarded a post-humus Tony award 67 years after his death for compositions included in the musical Kismet!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

F is one of my favorite letters!

The letter F song is finally here! We had a fabulous time, of course :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blue's Clues - Blue's Big Musical Movie

After our 15+ hour drive with the kids, I am even more thankful for modern technology, MP3 players and portable DVD players.  Technological manna, people.  We have a great collection of kid movies for road trips, and a big favorite for both kids is Blue's Big Music Movie.  It has all the fun problem-solving features of a Blue's Clues episode as the usual crew gets ready to put on a big music show - BUT - it also has a segment on composing with none other than Ray Charles as "G-Clef!"  Mr. Charles gives Steve directions as he dances on a huge staff and a piano, playing around with pitches until he finds the melody that works the best.  It's fantastic!

I love this movie because it's long - 78 minutes, which is fabulous for a long car ride - and engaging.  It never fails to entertain, and I love hearing my kids shouting answers to questions on the show.  If you are gearing up for summer road trips, I highly recommend adding this to your playlists.  What are your must-have movies and music for travel? 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chin rest cozies

Holding a violin for the first time is so odd, isn't it?  It's cold, hard, and unnatural.  Once you play about 20 years it becomes second nature, but it takes a while to get there.  

When we were on our vacation last month, I enlisted my mom's help in making WonderGirl's violin more comfortable for her.  Lucky us, she had a huge stash of fleece squares!

She sewed up some chin rest cozies for us.  Since the fleece was stretchy, we didn't need velcro or anything fancy, it just stretched on and fit like a charm.  (I had her make a pattern for future reference.)

Once we figured it out, Mom whipped up three more.  We start our violin lessons choosing what chin rest cozy she'd like and it puts her in a proactive mood.

Happy chin, happy WonderGirl, happy mom!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday inspiration: acting well

If you have an extra 52 minutes, this is very worth your time.  It's the story of an ordinary couple with 21 adopted children, and a scientist behind Eagle Eyes, which brings communication to severely disabled children.  I cried from joy and empathy, and resolved to live better.  As David O. McKay often related- "What-e'er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part."  Have a wonderful Sunday!
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