Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sidewalk staff

WonderGirl drew a big "WELCOME HOME!" picture on the driveway a few days ago, and has been very proud of her artwork.  I decided to put her love of graffiti to good use and we played a beanbag game outside on a sidewalk chalk staff!  Since I don't have bean bags, I put some rice in lonely socks and tied them shut.

uh oh... need to add some ledger lines!
To start off, we played the Throw the Bag on a Space Note game, followed by Throw the Bag on a Line Note game.  Then we stepped it up to either one of us calling out a note name and the other trying to toss it there.

We both had a great time!  I'm seriously considering making a bigger staff and doing Staff Twister on a day that is slightly more cloudy.  I spent the entire winter indoors and I'm still not used to all this natural sunlight :)  Super summer fun!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #14

This morning as I was waking up, WonderGirl climbed into my bed, dragging her little one-octave toy piano onto the covers, and exclaimed she could play a song she'd heard on Little Einsteins.  Then she proceeded to play me the main theme to Smetna's Moldau!!  I don't think I could have been more proud!  I told her all about how it was written to sound as if you were floating down a river, hearing the waves roll and the distant sound from the banks, but at that point she was more interested in breakfast.  So I'm telling you.

It's not a long piece - just over 10 minutes, but it's still a bit long for an attention span. 
  • It begins with beautiful rolling lines from the woodwinds, and as soon as it starts, pretend you are floating on the waves, getting bigger and bigger as the line drops into the strings. 
  • About a minute in, the main theme starts and you float and glide all over the room. 
  • Around the 3 minute mark, you hear proper dance music as played by a wedding on the banks of the river, and the dancing changes dramatically.  WonderGirl insisted I waltz with her.
After that, she and the Dude both wandered on, coming back in the room to dance when a familiar theme started to play.  It's such a lovely piece, great for dancing or background music.

Here's a lovely download version from Amazon with Leonard Bernstein: The Moldau (Vltava) - Symphonic Poem No. 2 from "My Fatherland (Ma Vlast).  Have fun!

PS - I also just added it to the Living Room Dance Party playlist on youtube.  I don't know about you, but we are really enjoying that! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime practicing

I'm back!! Did you miss me?  I missed you!  We haven't been slacking in the music department, though - WonderGirl regaled the grandparents with her piano skills, and I had 7 shows - yes, seven!! with my bands over two weekends!  It was fantastic and I am super warmed up right now :)

But now we're back and trying to get into the swing of practicing again.  It's not easy after a vacation - especially when it's summer!  There are so many more interesting things to be doing!  I stumbled on this post by a fabulous blogger, Music for Tots that gave me some hope.  Her plan for summer practicing is to give her students easy folk tunes to learn to keep up their note and sight reading, and to learn lots and lots of them.  It keeps them active and having fun!

I love the Faber 5-Finger Melodies books, and I picked up their PlayTime Piano - Level 1: Rock 'n' Roll (Faber Piano Adventures) a few weeks ago to give the summer some excitement.  We've been having fun with Rock Around the Clock and other tunes that are enticing enough that WonderGirl has motivation to learn them without too much pushing from me.  I'm taking Music for Tots advice and going back and getting more easy music for WonderGirl to play around with!  She also posts some great free sheet music to snag online!!

Oh, and the Faber Chordtime books are no slouch either.  I'm a poor pianist at best, but I was able to play some really well-written and great sounding tunes this past Christmas with the ChordTime Piano Christmas (Faber Piano Adventures).

Tis the season to have fun with practicing!

PS - Are you on Pinterest??  Holy cannoli, what an awesome site!!  I'm here, follow me so I can follow you!
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On a jet plane...

Posting will be sporadic at best for the next week or so - I'm heading out to the deep south with the whole family for a much needed vacay and 6 shows with my bands!!  I'm so excited I can hardly stand it.  Happy summer, everybody!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gee, I love G!!

Are we on G already??  Woohoo!!  We paid a little homage here to our favorite alphabet book, Dr. Seuss' ABC :)

Living Room Dance Party #13

My undying love for library story time is no secret.  I love the songs and stories it introduces to us - and I especially love how it's a place where I can go with my kids and teach them to sit and follow directions in a group setting.  Oh sure, I've carried one or both of them out kicking and screaming before, but those were merely battles - whereas I am winning the war.  Plus we have been seriously blessed to have the BEST children's librarians in the universe in our own fair cities.  No joke, they're all amazing.  And something that all the wonderful children's librarians we've ever had have all had in common was a love for Jim Gill's music.  
Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on his Toe Leg Knee

I've heard enough of him at story times and music classes that I decided I had to get an entire CD to check out and review for myself.  Sure, he's got some great songs, but how does a whole album sound?  I snagged his Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on his Toe Leg Knee from the library and turned it on in the living room.  Instantly, it was a dance party!  WonderGirl was jumping around, following all his directions and instructions, and the Dude - though too young to understand - loved the energy and was running in circles giggling hysterically (that's his way of showing appreciation).

I moved the CD into the car after a few days and it was a hit there as well.  I can't say enough about this album - it's just perfect.  I love Jim Gill's easy style and sound.  You know how some kid albums sound like they're trying way too hard with an in-your-face PLEASE LISTEN TO ME I'M FUN!!!!! attitude?  With Jim Gill you're invited to come join the fun.  It opens with my personal favorite, The Tempo Marches On - which is perfect for any age, as you march around the room while the tempo slowly speeds up.  I've heard that before and used it in preschool music classes and it's always a hit.  The rest of the album has silly, wacky, lots of physical activity numbers that WG has memorized and fallen in love with.  I totally recommend it for a Living Room Dance Party.  There aren't many things on youtube of Mr. Gill, but here's a great live performance of his Silly Dance Contest to give you an idea of how fun his music is.

Go forth, get some Gill and get silly!

Monday, June 6, 2011

WG's violin debut

This is a little ditty we call Leprechaun Song.  And it's her first performance on violin EVER!!  We only just introduced the left hand a few lessons ago.  I won't lie, I'm crazy giddy right now.  Great job, WonderGirl!!!!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday inspiration: Brainy

New research shows that musicians' brains are highly developed in a way thatmakes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the wholepicture, calm, and playful. The same traits have previously been found amongworld-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practicetranscendental meditation.
Check out the study here.  My favorite part of the article:  
If you are a very envious, angry, mean person and that's the way you think about people that's what's going to be strengthened in your brain. But if you are very expanded and open and supportive of others, there will be different connections," says Fred Travis.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 3, 2011

book review: unplugged play

Hello summer!!  Do you ever have days where you are scrambling for ideas?  You want to play with the kids but you are just too frazzled to come up with an answer?  Unplugged Play is my lifesaver!  The ideas are great and short - when I'm sitting in the living room and feeling lost, I can literally reach for this book and within 30 seconds be playing a fabulous game that the kids are gaga for.  And with the handy index in the back, you can find dozens of musical play or singing games.  The book says it's for ages 1-10, but I'm an old thirty-something that has a ball with them too.  The book was a gift from my mom (of course!) and not a day goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars for it.  Do you have any go-to parenting books?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Floor staff

Occasionally, WonderGirl forgets the note names on the staff.  She's only been reading music for a few weeks, after all!  I had planned on doing this a while ago, but only just got around to it today.  Now, my super awesome mom actually had a huge staff on the floor in her music classroom back in the day, made out of loooong strips of Velcro - and I was lucky enough to inherit it when she retired.  But I wasn't able to locate it in the basement today so I had to settle for vinyl tape (that I was running out of, hence the super short lines).

For the record, I've used the Velcro strips and it's fantastic.  But this sufficed, and masking tape does as well. Then we used a bean bag to place on the staff. The possibilities for using this are endless, but I'll just tell you how we used it today.

First, I'd call out a note and she'd put the bean bag on it as fast as she could.  Then, she called out a note for me - but I would try to trick her and put it on the wrong note occasionally, so she had to make sure it was in the right spot.

To finish up, we got silly and she tossed the bean bag onto the staff and had to tell me what note it had landed on.  And why yes, she IS wearing a superhero cape - which is not the most shocking thing she's already worn today (in public, nonetheless).

Another good beginner game would be to cut out paper notes with the names on them, and have the child put them in the right place.  Hrm... I think I'll try that next time.  It's so easy and fast, and the clean-up is a breeze (WG already tore the pieces off and is now playing with her huge tape ball).  I'm sure we'll revisit this again - but this was a good way to start.  Who knew music theory could be so fun?  ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

One of the nifty perks of blogging is all the equally nifty people you get to meet along the way.  Tuba Girl is a high school senior who I've been lucky enough to stumble across - and yea, she's a girl tuba player.  HARD CORE!  She's about to graduate and major in music, which I find oh-so-interesting since I have been wondering what motivates a kid to want to continue music.  I thought she'd have the perfect perspective for a parent like me, and she was willing to share her thoughts with y'all too!  Thanks Tuba Girl!!

Hi everyone! Tuba.girl here. I'm your typical teenage girl, a senior in high school in a little place in the middle of nowhere, and I play a predominantly male instrument. As you can infer, that would be the tuba. I started playing music on the piano when I was six. When I was in 5th grade I picked up the trombone and the clarinet and played both for about 4 years. And then I quit. I'm not sure why- probably because I was stressed out, but either way, I went into high school without band and/or choir to "bog me down" (because heavens knows they are SO HARD to pass *note the sarcasm in my typing). Instead I took a Piano for Beginners class, taught by the band teacher, for an easy "A".

I know, a diabolical plan right? Well, it backfired. Tenth grade was a tough time for me. I partially forget why (those were some dark days), but, in the midst of it all my band teacher decided to offer me a chance to play the tuba (of all instruments? He was pretty desperate). So I agreed, halfheartedly, but still.

Picking up the tuba was tough. From how the band teacher told, I thought I was set in stone from the beginning because of my trombone backround. Well, I was wrong. It took me about a month to be able to actually play out of it, then another month to learn the most basic scale. After that I gradually was able to play some simple music- mostly in the middle register, and even then it wasn't so great. At the end of my sophomore year, my band teacher deemed me "good enough" to be in graduation wind ensemble with my new tuba buddy (who, incidentally, keyed the phrase 'tuba girl' and is now a sophomore music education major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and on music scholarships too). It was with my tuba buddy that I learned to love and enjoy the instrument that is the tuba. It's a weird contraption, really. I mean, it's a cylindrical tube that opens to the sky. But it makes the nicest sounds when played correctly. 

My junior year in high school I decided that I wanted to make music a permanent part of my life. After much research and praying I came to the conclusion that I wanted to major in Music Therapy. From there I took all the necessary steps including talking to music professors and even taking private music lessons (*Gasp!) From terrible past experiences with private music lessons (another reason why I stopped playing the clarinet) I was suprised to find that my new tuba teacher was very friendly and personable. I loved going to lessons, which were coincidentally 45 minutes away from my house, and my playing took off. Before starting with him my audition score in my band class was 79 (and a merciful 79 at that- my band teacher was probably just being nice) and then after, at the begining of my senior year of high school it went to an incredibly competetitive 90. It made all the difference in the world.

In addition to starting lessons, my tuba buddy convinced me to audition for district band. In our district, the competition is pretty steep. I was up against 40 other tuba's for 8 spots. But you know what? I made it! And what made it even better? I made it dead last. 8th chair tuba. But you know what else? 8th chair was better than no chair at all. And so I worked my rear end off on my regional music. I didn't make it in, but the entire district band experience gave me so much more than what I could have ever thought.

The Saturday after my district band performance I auditioned at my first choice college (at the time). That too was a nervewracking, but rewarding experience. I learned two weeks later that they wanted to offer me a $16,000 music scholarship ($4,000 a year) and a spot in the music therapy department. I hastily accepted it. I wanted to go to that college very badly and felt for sure that I was going there.

And then, this past March, they sent me a financial aide package in the which they told me that I had to come up with $17,000 a year. Yeah freakin' right. There was no way I would pay that much for an undergrad degree. So I dropped it like a hot potato and went on a frantic search. On this search I found that pretty much every other college that offered a music therapy degree was just as expensive. I was frustrated and fell out of love with every single college that I had previously been interested in, but I still loved the tuba, and that's what kept me going.

In the end (as in, this past month) I decided to apply to a church college of mine, BYU-Idaho. I was late for the fall 'track' application, so I applied for the winter 'track' and was accepted to the college shortly thereafter. I will be entering a Musical Arts degree when I get there and hope to audition after two semesters of prerequisite courses. The future holds many musical things for me and I can't wait!

So what's the moral of my story?

Kids, stick with it. If music is what you love to do, then go for it. Two years ago I would have never in a million years thought it were possible for me to be able to make it into a music program in college, yet here I am. Dream big, reach for the stars, there are no limits to what you can do. I believe in you. And when you believe in yourself, that's when you become unstoppable.

Parents, us poor music students wouldn't be able to do it without you! I'm lazy. I hate practicing. I'm often less motivated to play than I am to watch TV. But my parents, though never forcing me to do anything, always encouraged me to do more, practice more. Mom used to tell me that I had a "God given gift" and then told me to repent once when I complained about not being good enough. That was a real wake up call for me. I doubt she remembers that, but I do, very clearly, and I have never complained about it since. Parents, you have so much influence over us. We love you. We listen to you. Don't give up on us.

And teachers, you have a golden opportunity to share your light. I would have never started on the tuba without the offer my band teacher gave to me. It wouldn't have even crossed my mind. And my private teacher (*sigh). He has gotten on my back about so many things- not practicing (that's a biggy), "what? can't you count?!" (also a biggy), not showing up for lessons on time, not showing up for lessons at all, not remembering the assignment he gave to me last week, forgetting to look up something online for him, forgetting my solo book at home, purposefully ignoring the double-tongueing exercises he gave me (ugh. those were nasty), and the list goes on and on and on. But he has always been positive, always been supportive, always been understanding and caring. Teachers have a gift for that I think, strict yet lenient. I still haven't figured out how they do it. And trust me when I say this. No matter how much we ignore and complain there is a part of us, no matter how small, that just wants to please you. Be patient with us. We look up to you and admire you for the musicians that you are and hope that we can become, someday, just like you.

And that, my friends, old and new, is the end of my random thought.

=D tuba.girl
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...