Thursday, June 30, 2011


I did it!  The first issue of the Make Me Musical newsletter has been delivered!  If you are a subscriber I think it should be in your inbox.   Enjoy!

Salzburg beauty
I leave for Europe in a few hours.  Next time you hear from me, I'll be in Salzburg:)  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The inaugural issue of the Make Me Musical Newsletter is coming out tomorrow! Are you on the list?

Brad and I in my dining room working on iMovie.
It's been a big learning curve for me to get my new newsletter ready to send out.  The newsletter is done and it's coming out tomorrow.

A huge thank you to Brad Morris of Cowabunga Life who offered to help me.  And help he did!  I think he spent 5 hours patiently assisting me to learn to videotape and edit, gave me valuable advice on the formatting and creation of my newsletter.  I'm twice his age and he definitely has twice the online skills I may ever have:).

If you haven't signed up's not too late to add your name to the list!  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

When you have your own studio, the work is never really "done"!

My assistant Carolyn taking a time out to flirt with Moka.  Carolyn and I have been working flat out to prepare materials for next September.   Now that spring classes are finished, we were able to set up big tables in the entrance area for her to work away daily compiling music books, creating my theory manipulatives and labelling instruments for the kids in September.  We didn't finish but I had to clear out the entrance for it's yearly clean and the keep-it-fresh-paint-job.

This is Susan's office floor getting a fresh coat of paint.  You can peek through into the wonderful storage area behind the pulled back curtain...see!  It's very full of charts and bins of everything I need to bring music classes to life for young children.  My studio is located in a 100-year old building. I love the space!  It was a dump when we leased the space though and it needed a lot of work.  When we renovated 2 years ago, the main studio space (not pictured) received sub-floors and then it was tiled.  That was not possible for the rest of space!  My budget allowed for painting of floors everywhere else. 

After many "wrong" colors (much to the chagrin of my talented and helpful designer friend) and huge laugh-fests over those mistakes (with the painter), we ended up painting the floors the same color as many of the walls...white!  It's a great modern floor color.  The only drawback is that it needs  fresh coat of paint a couple of times a year.  So last week, Carolyn and I moved all the tables and benches and boxes out of the entrance, hall and out of my office so I could paint the floors.  I completed that this weekend.

This is the empty entrance area with new white floors and a newly painted "barefoot zone" reminder for families as they walk in.  Now all we have to do is move the tables, area rugs, benches and chairs back in!  That's tomorrow's job!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Something new....look over here....

Make Me Musical has a monthly newsletter now!  Look...over the right hand column...there they are...sign up boxes!

I started this blog over a year ago and realized pretty quickly that sharing my experiences and expertise in this way gives me positive energy.   It was energizing to learn how to work the techie part of a blog too.  

Then I discovered there were people out there who found my posts useful or inspiring or interesting.  

The combo of having fun, feeling energized and being appreciated by you, helped me decide to give this blog more space to grow.

In January 
I hired Dream Up Studios to give my site a distinct visual personality.  I loved the process and the colorful, animated result and hired them again to beautify Piano in the Family, (my piano blog).

In March 
I hired the coaching services of Kimberly Sena Moore for an hour.  We spoke about what my next step might be in creating a professional online resource for teachers, therapists and parents.  

Now that my summer has started, 
I have more time to begin the next thing on my support-other-people-journey.  My next project is a monthly newsletter!  I'm excited!  

If you are interested in Orff orchestrations, music and movement games, songs, chants, book reviews, relaxation, self-esteem activity or other resources, then sign up.   

I will send you some creative resources (not found on my blog) each month.  How much fun would that be?

Come join my Newsletter Group!  

Sign up!.....over the right hand column!

or here...on the newsletter page!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shadow Puppets for our Alien Orchestra Shadow Puppet Play (part 2/2)

shooting star shadow puppets
back of shooting star puppets
Our story begins with the lights dimmed and the Morning Mood music playing (from Grieg's Peer Gynt suite).  All the children have gathered behind the shadow puppet screen with their puppets.  It was quite an experience for the class to learn how to share the limited space behind the screen (silently) while holding at least 2 puppets each for different parts of the story.  Check out part one of the Alien Orchestra blog posts.

Our Story Begins...
"Two bunnies are walking through the forest on a sunny day.

It is so warm they sit down to have a rest and fall asleep.  As they sleep they are dreaming.

They dream of a beautiful day in the woods where they come into a meadow.  In the meadow is a giant spaceship!  They are excited to find the spaceship and walk all around it looking for a door.  They enter the ship and suddenly it blasts off! 
The bunnies are peeking out the spaceship's portal

As the spaceship flies over the Earth, they meet up with the most beautiful birds.  The spaceship swoops and turns, flying gracefully with the birds.

As the  rocket leaves the Earth's atmosphere, the birds return to their perches in the trees below and the spaceship zooms through space.
back of the bird puppet - how the stick was attached
bird puppet with a moveable wing - two sticks attached to 1 puppet

Eventually, the bunnies land on the moon.  
When they open the door they see an alien orchestra.  The alien orchestra is playing a beautiful tune.  
back of music note puppet

alien playing violin - 2 sticks - 1 attached to alien and 1 attached to the bow so bow arm is moveable
alien playing flute - flute arm is moveable
alien playing xylophone - body of alien is moveable but attached to xylophone

The bunnies dance and move to the music.
this bunny has a moveable tail
back of bunny - see how sticks are attached to the moveable parts

Eventually, it's time to head back to the spaceship and take off for home.
red tissue was glued to back of spaceship puppet to create illusion of flames shooting out the bottom upon blast-off!

Good-bye, aliens!  Good-bye bunnies! 

It took hours to make the puppets.  I do it every year and I love it.  The parents always notice the beauty of the puppets and the children have what is possibly their only real performance opportunity to play with hand-made shadow puppets created out of their vision and ideas.  It's so worth it to offer this experience for the children!

Thank you for teaching me ukulele, violin and recorder.

Thank you card.  Notice how Moka (the dog) and Dolce (the parrot) make the front of the card!

The little boy who made the card draws himself playing the violin (because he loves it!) and Susan playing the piano (because he says I love that!).  I love these cards!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Making Shadow Puppets for our Alien Orchestra Shadow Puppet Show (part 1/2)

This year, my Maestros 1 group (ages 6-7 years) has been playing recorder, ukulele and violin.  At the end of our year together we have a celebration to show off our playing skills.

This year we did play our tunes on all our instruments but I have to say the most excitement came from our process work to create a shadow puppet show using the children's ideas.

I chose a piece of music in 6/8 time to use as a stimulus for our play.
Grieg's Morning Mood from Peer Gynt Suite was our focus.

Creating the Shadow Puppet Show Script

1.  Listen to Morning Mood (from the Peer Gynt Suite by Greig).
Children lie on the floor with eyes closed and just keep track of the images they see in their imagination as they hear the orchestral music playing.  

We gather together after listening and share all our visions.  Susan writes madly as they share their visions.  (see pix below)

2.  The following week at our next class, we listen again, add any new ideas and then begin brainstorming how to incorporate the ideas into a story that will be accompanied by the orchestral recording of the music.

We listed the main characters from our story and then worked out a simple storyline. (below)

Creating the Shadow Puppets - drawings first
3.  I don't try to nail down the storyline too precisely during the second listening but just get a general outline of the ideas that seem most popular to the children.

After our third listening, we reviewed the storyline and I introduced the idea of the shadow puppet screen and creating a set of shadow puppets for this storyline.

I asked the children to claim characters and bits of the story and to draw  a simple outline of the bit they chose.

Some children chose to draw birds, the alien orchestra, the space ship, the Easter bunnies.
I've posted some of their drawings below.

Due to time constraints, I actually spend many hours outside of our class time creating the actual puppets but I base the design on these drawings.

I'll post the puppet pix in my next post only because blogger is not letting me add photos to this one now!...what's up with me and blogger???

alien playing drums
birds flying in formation
an Easter bunny
alien playing xylophones
another bunny
the spaceship - notice the flames upon lift off!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

No More Saturdays...

Merci de Nathan!   (Nathan speaks French!)

Au Revoir!
Today was my last "teaching" Saturday...ever...well for at least a year or two!   

I predominantly teach classes at my studio and over the past few years, my private teaching schedule has grown...and grown...and grown...and taken over my evenings and much of Saturday and any little pockets of time in between classes.   

I decided that next year I wanted to carve out a little more family time in my schedule so I would let go of my evening and weekend teaching schedule and most of my private students.

Nathan playing and singing his good-bye song for me.   

Nathan's good-bye was one of the sweetest good-byes, especially considering he didn't even like music before he started his lessons with me in January.

Mom wanders in to Musicalia...
I met his mom just before Christmas when she wandered into my studio looking for donations for her youngest daughter's preschool fund raising auction.  I donated private lesson time.

She told me that both her husband and herself had taken lessons as children and didn't want that experience for their children.  After speaking with me and my philosophy about music for children she decided to bid on my gift of lessons.  She won the bid and after Christmas we started lessons with her 7 year old son, Nathan.

Nathan's love of music has a chance to sprout...
It's been pretty spectacular to watch this little boy's lights literally turn on as he sits at the piano.  He has realized how easy it is to make music and have fun doing it.  

He told his mom to tell me that he never liked music at school before he met Susan, but now that I've been his teacher, he is even is beginning to like music at school. 

He figured it out on his own!
What is so amazing to me is we only had time to experiment with writing chords for the left hand. (I call them "bridges" and "buddy notes".)  His lessons were only 15 minutes long so we really had little time to write much!

He did learn to read some treble clef, but we didn't have time to try writing melodies at all. 

His mom drew a 5-line staff for him and he figured out how to write this little tune and play it all on his own.  Honestly, I hope a traditional music teacher doesn't get hold of him!    He has so much creativity and natural talent that traditional methods might curb his enthusiasm. 

Thank YOU, Nathan!  It's been a blessing to be your music teacher:) 

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