Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The Dude's birthday party centered around a mattress on the floor.  It doesn't take much with that kid!
A few months ago WG and I made a video of 3-armed singing and I likened it to when violin teachers will play the bow or the fingers for the student so they can focus on their other hand.  Then yesterday, in order to get a feel for how she's progressing, her entire lesson was simply a recital of her 3 songs for her dolls and I, who had to be good audience members and cheer and NOT give constructive tips or suggestions.  It was TOUGH!  But she had fun because it was THE WG SHOW DAY! (she LOVES to throw a show) and I was able to get a really good look at which things I should be focusing on.  First up was her left hand.

So today, I announced it was LEFT HAND DAY!!!  I said it with the exclamation points too.  Today I would be the bow, and she was the fingers the WHOLE time, WHAT A DAY!!!  I thought she'd see through my thinly veiled trick, but it totally worked.  I put a mirror 3 inches from her scroll so she could see how she was doing, and her technique was just fantastic.  Afterward I asked her if she wanted to put both hands together tomorrow, or have BOW DAY!!! (again, with all the exclamation points) and she fell for it.  "OH YES, BOW DAY!!  PLEASE BOW DAY!!"  Heh heh.

My point is that sometimes, it's nice to have a random Wednesday be a special day, with lots of extra exclamation points.  To distract us from the fact that it is, in fact, work.  It even cheered me up to think that I had something to look forward to tomorrow - a lesson where she's totally jazzed just because she gets to play the bow only.  It's the little things.

And now, I plan on using this the next time she's having a tough time with a piano lesson.  A day where I play everything in the bass clef, and she plays all the parts of the songs on the treble clef.  I'll call it CONJOINED TWIN PIANO PLAYING DAY!  Maybe.  Just another thing to mix stuff up and add superfluous exclamation points to my weekdays!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Two Grenadiers trick

I follow a super nifty blog by a Suzuki cello teacher who has some great stories about her teaching processes.  Today topped it all though!  To anyone who has ever tried to teach Schumann's The Two Grenadiers, you have GOT to try her "texting" approach!!  Click through to see what her student came up with! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday inspiration: Letting go

"Life is a lot like jazz.  It's best when you improvise." 
 -George Gershwin
This reminds me of another quote my mom has shared with me:

"Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape."
Letting go of what I think should be happening in our lessons has been one of the best things I've learned as a mom, and as a teacher.  When we keep our minds and hearts open (and my impatience in check!) magical musical discoveries abound!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Living Room Dance Party #15

I'm finally getting around to tell you about my fun new LRDP (and car dance party too, for that matter) find!  I won a giveaway from the super awesome Cathy over at Music for Tots and got a CD called Popcorn Bopping.  It's a collection of remixes and pop versions of all your favorite LDS Primary songs that your kids will love.

My favorite pick is the fun version of Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree.  WonderGirl and I actually used it last night when we threw an impromptu dance party on the doorstep of teen girl from church that we were trying to cheer up.  It's silly, but you can't help but smile when you hear it (plus see 2 adult women and a preschooler doing the funky chicken to a boom box at your front door).  Mission accomplished!

It's sold through Deseret Book and I highly suggest checking it out.  I love most of the tracks (though there's a few I skip - the rap on I Hope They Call Me On a Mission especially ;) and you can even buy it from their website in MP3 format!  Here's a video some random person posted on youtube of their kid being cute with the tune Popcorn Popping in the background so you can hear it for yourself (I added it to the playlist too!).  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Worth it

WG and I, circa 2009

I'm settling into the fall routine.  I'm relishing all the one-on-one time with the now 2 year old Dude, but I miss WonderGirl all morning and I get a bit giddy when I get to pick her up from school.  Thankfully, the Dude still naps like a champ for 3 hours, so we get plenty of music/us time too in the afternoon.

Except - does the afternoon slump do something to you too?  As I put the Dude down to sleep and think about all I need to get done, I have this insane urge to join him.  Some days I do.  Especially recently, since everything has been all up in the air.  We had Nana visit, the husband and I had a fabulous weekend away in New York City, and all of us have gotten varying degrees of colds.  Some days you just have to give yourself a pass and know that it's okay to drop a few balls every now and then.

But I notice on the days that I end up lazying out and we don't do violin and piano lessons/practice, things tend to go south later.  Sure, I had a little more initial energy since I didn't expend any turning on my inner music teacher, but both our fuses seem to get shorter as the day goes on.  The light in our home dims just a bit.

Today when the afternoon slump hit, I sat on the couch, breathing through only half of my nose, and tried to psyche myself into gathering up WG for violin and piano.  "I don't have the energy today," I thought, and tried to come up with all the excuses I could reasonably cite without sounding too lazy.  But another thought came in loud and clear - "you know that no matter what the cost, it's worth it."

I got up.  As we bowed for violin and said our usual greeting of "konnichiwa," I added a goal of "I will be patient," and she said "I will try."  It wasn't a perfect lesson, but she tried the whole time, I resisted impatience, music was made and we invented a new game  to play.  When piano time was done, we went upstairs and painted our nails with glow-in-the-dark nail polish.

Now she's drawing pictures and doodling about on the piano for fun.  And I'm taking a blogging break, mostly to remind myself that it's worth it.  When it looks daunting from the front end, when the work is done - it feels wonderful.
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