Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Story of Ferdinand

Once upon a time we performed the Story of Ferdinand as an improvised opera!  
Author, Munro Leaf wrote this parable for his 5 year old son in 1936 during the civil war in Spain.  

It's a story about a peaceful, nature-loving bull who prefers sitting and smelling the flowers rather than fighting and butting heads like the other little bulls.  

I incorporated some of Manuela Widmer's ideas (shared at the national Orff conference many years ago) with my facilitation of the musical drama.  Manuela is an Orff teacher from the Orff Institute in Salzburg.  I found her ideas incredibly workable for my style of teaching.

Imagine, a class of 5 & 6 year olds...full of energy and ideas!
I sang the story to the children with operatic vowels and vocal trills, etc...

They were mesmerized at first and then they started joining in on the word  "flooooooowwwwwers".

That's all they needed and they were ready!  

Some of the kids wanted to be in the Orchestra and some wanted to act out the various roles.  They chose their favorite places and after we performed we switched up and everyone tried a new part.  

Orchestra parts include:
  1. flower music - glockenspiels and metallophones (I set them up ahead of time in C pentatonic)
  2. hop gallop music of the bulls - shakers, woods and drums
hop gallop gallop gallop
hop gallop gallop gallop
hop gallop gallop gallop
hop hop hop  OLE!

  1. Ferdinand's walking music - drums
  2. Ferdinand's sitting music - drums
  3. Ferdinand's jumping about music - drums
  4. the bee buzz and sting sounds - kazoos and
  5. 5 men from Madrid walking music - woods

Acting/singing roles include (this is an opera!):
  • narrator (singing like an opera star)  "Once upon a time in Spain..."
  • chorus (whole class)
  • hop gallop speech piece
  • Ferdinand
  • Ferdinand's mom
  • the other little bulls - play fighting with their hands used as horns on top of their heads
  • 5 men from Madrid - walking through the room side by side...
  • flowers
  • bullfighters

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The Amazing Body Percussion List

The Body Percussion List

What to do with this list?  
I'd play an echo game
  • you clap, they echo your clap
  • you snap, they echo your snap
  • it's an ear/eye training but it's playful...have fun!
  • one day, I'll make a video...and post it in our Growing Grounded Kids Community!  (join us!)

listed in general from high pitches to low pitches
tongue clicks
tongue clacks
full hand clap
2-finger clap
4-finger clap 
hand slide (clap with a slide) 
patschen (tap thighs)
alternate patschen (right leg, left leg)
tap top of hand
tap tummy
tap taut hollow cheeks

rub hands
rub thighs
rub face
rub arms

drag fingers - also try dragging hand upside down
drum fingers on a body part

drag feet
slide feet
hand to foot clap
slap foot

2-foot clap

B/P with a partner
partner clap (clap your partner's hands)
hip bump with a partner

Body Percussion Patterns
in 3 time, 5 time, 7 and 9 time. (a la Keith Terry)

1 = Clap

3 = Clap Chest Chest  (ladies may rather hit their stomach)

5 = Clap Chest Chest Leg Leg

7 = Clap Chest Chest Leg Leg Back of leg Back of leg
9 = Clap Chest Chest Leg Leg Back of leg Back of leg Stamp Stamp 

B/P patterns in 2 time 
(combine for 3, 4, 5, 6 time)

Z = rest

2 time 
clap  clap
snap snap
pat pat
stomp stomp
clap Z
snap Z
pat Z
stomp Z

clap snap
clap stomp
clap pat
Z clap


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

hands-on learning enriches language and motor development

Hands-on Learning  Enriches Language and motor development

Tapping rhythms (check out the body percussion posts) is important because when the hands are activated, there is more effective learning.

I encourage you ALWAYS to us the “hands-on” approach to learning.  

For instance, learning about eighth notes...how much more fun and experiential to walk the eighth notes...walk the quarter notes and then contrast with eighth notes.  Right away, we feel the difference!  

Movement and rhythm stimulate the frontal lobes and enrich language and motor development (Brewer & Campbell, 1991)....so that means move the rhythms you teach.  Find ways to feel the rhythm on your body, with your body, through your feet, using your hands, using a mallet.  

Be creative!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Playing handdrums

You need :)  a class set of hand drums.  

I invested in a large bin of small hand drums (20 drums each about 8 inches across) from Empire Music many years ago.  Now I have a hand drum for each child and each parent in my under 3's program.  And it's soooo much fun!

We play drums to:
1.  explore using our hands in a variety of ways to create a sound on the drum (tickly, rub, scratch)

2.  explore using various words to describe what our hands are doing (scrape, rub, knock, tickle, circle, tiptoe)

3.  explore using the drum in unconventional ways using our imagination (drag, roll, skate, fly, blow, wear it like a hat, eat from your drum, eat your soup, eat your cereal)

Tap, tap, tap your drum
Tap, tap, tap your drum
Tap, tap, tap your drum
and now let's stop!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What is an Orff teacher?

What is an Orff Teacher?

Me being passionate about something Orff-y

It always sounds so weird.  Orff.

Orff is a participatory art. 

Orff teachers engage people around them and involve them in whole body, whole heart, whole self music using instruments, voice, movement and dance.  

Orff teachers are interested in the process of creation with children.

Music and movement are inseparable.

When I was in university studying to become a classroom teacher I took music education courses and read about Orff. It sounded simplistic.  There was no life in the readings.  

I never experienced the MAGIC of Orff as an undergrad.

The energy, creativity and transformative effect of this approach to teaching music was just not conveyed adequately in ANY book or article I read.  

None of the professors I studied under used the approach and none of them had the unique qualities I experienced when attending Orff workshops and courses after I graduated.

I was never exposed to this way of learning or teaching until after I completed all my teaching practica and had already received my Bachelor of Education degree.

I can only imagine how my entire experience of university might have been changed had I been in the presence of a real Orff teacher, Orff instruments and Orff techniques and creative approach to teaching.

Better late than never, right?!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

What if...

What if...


What if something really amazing was just about to happen?

What if you were stronger than you thought?

What if it was safe to open up your heart?

What if it was safe to take that risk?

What if it was happening FOR you,  not TO you?

What if you let go of the emotional charge around the money?

What if you just focussed on one thing until it was complete?
What if you focused on creation instead of completion?

What if you allow a greater infusion of creativity to enter your life right now?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Piano for Children

 Piano for Children


The starting point in private piano lessons with a child who has maintained and developed their natural musicality before beginning private lessons  

is quite different than the starting point with a child who has not been exposed to songs, dances and instrument play in early childhood.

If you have dreams that your child will become a pianist, then I recommend starting early but not with formal private instruction.  

Begin early with parent/child music classes that incorporate movement and singing and playing instruments.  

If you have dreams that your child will love the piano, then make sure there is a piano in your family!    

Find a piano or keyboard that can live with you in your home.

I have been so fortunate that many of the students who currently study piano privately with me began their music education in my Orff classes before they were 2 years old.

The benefits of involvement in baby & toddler music and movement classes are HUGE!

1. Children develop a sense of rhythm and ability to audiate before they begin playing piano.

2. We build confidence in approaching all variety of instruments and in being in musical situations.

3. We play percussion from around the world; shakers, scrapers, metals and drums.

4. We try violins, cellos, guitars, ukuleles, banjos, dulcimers and harps.

5. We hear wind instruments from all varieties of whistles through recorders, harmonicas and some common band instruments like the clarinet.

6. I create and incorporate activities that engage babies in noticing symbols for sound and pitch.  They LOVE this!

7. We move our bodies to music feeling every type of meter, a variety of tempos and also show dynamics of music.

8. We engage in creative movement using language to describe how we are moving our bodies.

9. We play social circle games that teach us musical and social skills simultaneously.

10. In addition, these early group experiences develop a natural sense of music-making within a group of people.  We learn to take turns, stop and start together, feel tempo and show dynamics with our bodies and with instruments as a group.  We develop a sensitivity to the idea of making music in community.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

A pre-school music teacher asked (true story)

A pre-school music teacher asked, 

do you really think it makes a difference 
if kids are exposed to music in preschool?"

I responded with calm and certainty.  

"If you weren't there to do this, who would do it?"


How would those few children you spend minutes with each week gain exposure to using their voices and bodies creatively, expressively, thoughtfully, joyfully

Who would be their model?
(aside from the media stars and pop singers...
...and those models are not real-everyday-life-type-models...) 

I said,  
"music & movement are the first languages of the brain."  

The brain wires itself most happily and easily through song and rhythm.   

Setting a foundation for early musicality happens in these young ages.   We don't get to see the results of our efforts for almost 2 decades...so it can seem pointless at times.

I've been doing this for several decades now and I have seen results.

Did you know...when the child is still in the womb the first teacher is sound!

Just days after conception the fetus will withdraw in response to a loud sound.  

A few weeks later the ear canals are formed and are responding to sound.

The baby is born already in the habit of learning through sound and doesn't even have to be exposed to Mozart for this to happen!

Even newborn babies have non-verbal ways to let you know they like a song.  

Babies who have heard certain songs sung to them in the womb recognize those songs and respond to them.

Children learn to speak more easily through song.  So easily in fact, that I have had experiences where mamas withdraw a one-year old from an english-speaking class because the child was learning English too quickly.  Mama wasn't ready for her mother tongue to be replaced!

Yes, music and movement in preschool makes a world of difference to a child's development.  

We use the elements of music (rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, dynamics, tempo) to shift emotional state.  

Music is THE most amazing way to light up the ENTIRE brain!!!

Nothing does this like music does.  Nothing.  Best activity ever for brain development!

You're doing great work when you make music with kids!  


Friday, April 17, 2020

How times change!

How Times Change


Well....I moved this blog from blogger to a wordpress site in 2013.

All of that was done in coordination with the publication of my ebook, Growing Grounded: Movement and Songs to Organize the Brain.

Then my life took a couple of unexpected turns.  I retired from my group work with children and decided to release my obligation to maintaining a blog.   Make Me Musical disappeared as I took down my wordpress site in 2017. 

I'm regretting that decision only slightly right at this moment (lots of amazing content lost forever!) but looking on the bright side that this blogger site with all my work up to 2013 still exists and it's still extremely useful. 


Why have I come back to this work???

(aside from being highly specialized, highly trained and having decades of experience in all of it?)

I have recently been invited to create a new music and movement program for children at a local music school.  The purpose of creating that program is to have a live training ground to train new teachers in my unique and integrated way of teaching. 

I felt excited about the opportunity and so jumped right in this past January! 

The new program is called, Growing Grounded Kids! and you can read more about it here.

Facebook page here
Growing Grounded Kids !  


Instagram here
Growing Grounded Kids!


The ebook is now available as a real live paperback resource book!

You can get a copy here  

Our in-person children's program is now on hold during our covid pause.  While we're pausing, I'm resurrecting this blog and creating an entirely new Teacher Training and Mentoring program with a new teaching curriculum.

It feels exciting to be creating in this world again! 

I hope you find some useful resources here for your nurturing, healing and educating work with children.

xo Susan

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