Sunday, December 27, 2009

Parenting Tip #19 Best Toys this year

As a grandma, I'm always wanting to give my grandchildren "The Best Toy" there is-whether it's for their birthday or Christmas or whatever. This Christmas I tried to notice what toys were played with the most or enjoyed. It seems that dolls are always a hit--if the girls likes dolls. Boys like to play with cars, helicopters, anything that moves, etc. One grandson got boxing gloves that talked when you hit with them and though I didn't give them to him, he and I had lots of fun running around outside with one glove on each hand, trying to punch each other.

I always think, "if they already have a doll, they don't want or need another one," or "if they have building toys, they probably don't want another one." But then I remember I had 22 dolls at one time in my life! I gave them all to Deseret Industries one summer when I was a teenager.

Then I start thinking, "I want to have the coolest things at my house that they'll love to play with", like one of those IKEA chairs that swivel around or the scooters they use in P.E. at school And I once saw a really cool chair on some website that was from Europe. It was like half an egg shell that the child sat inside of. It looked really fun.

So---tell me. What are fun toys your children like to play with or that you have bought or seen lately.

Music Tip #19 Willoughby Wallaby Woo

One of my favorite Raffi songs is Willoughby Wallaby Wee, an elephant sat on me, Willoughby Wallaby Woo, an elephant sat on you ( This is a fun song because you can make up funny rhymes for the names of your children or anyone in your family. It's a great way to teach and reinforce rhyming words, which is a big help in teaching your child to read.

I like to sing this song with my grandchildren. I rhyme the names of their cousins, aunts and uncles and feel like I'm helping them keep connections with their extended family.

This is also a fun song to sing at school. We do it with the children all standing around holding onto a parachute. When the name of the child is rhymed, they get to run under the parachute and come out on the other side. If you don't have a parachute (and why would you?), then use a tablecloth or bedsheet.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Parenting Tip # 18 The true meaning of Christmas

I was teaching the Kindergarten class a new song called "Must Be Santa". After singing it, one of the little girls said, "Santa's not the true meaning of Christmas. Baby Jesus is." Wow, I thought. Her mother would love to know that her daughter had really grasped the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas time is such a busy, hectic time, that it seems hard to focus on anything at all except running here and there, buying this and that, and decorating more and more.

One year I wanted to teach my children that all our activities did tie into the "true meaning" of Christmas so I got a big poster board and divided it into 3 categories: Christ's Birthday, Love of Family, and Service to Others. We talked about how these 3 things are what Christmas is all about. Then throughout the Christmas season, we jotted down the activities we did and put them under the proper category. It was a relief to me to see that most of our activities did fall under one of these categories. It made the busyness seem worth it.

Music Tip # 18 Christmas CDs

Now is the best time in the world to listen to music. I love listening to Christmas music as so many of you do too. Every year I try to buy a new Christmas CD to add to my collection. This year I bought Josh Groban's CD called Noel. I really like it. Other favorite CDs are one by Amy Grant and a Celtic Christmas CD. It's a fun tradition to listen to Christmas music.

Other traditions kind of evolve and become locked in as you pass them on to younger children or the next generation. That's what happened to a Wee Sing Christmas video that I bought years ago. Every year my children would watch it and love it, but as they got older and older, they began to watch it so they could make fun of it! Now the grandchildren have to see it each year. But wait, I forgot. The VCR doesn't work. Yeah, a reprieve this year!

Do you have some favorite Christmas CDs or movies that you watch and listen to each year? Pass them on-I'm always looking for new Christmas CDs to buy.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Parenting Tip # 17 Imagination

While taking my morning walk yesterday, two little girls passed by me. They each had a doll stroller with a doll sitting in one of them and Winnie the Pooh sitting in the other stroller. The child strolling Winnie the Pooh was wearing her mother's high heel boots and necklace and earrings. I couldn't help but smile as they walked by.

I LOVE watching children play and use their imaginations. I LOVE listening in on children's conversations as they play and pretend. I LOVE hearing children sing or hum as they busily play.

One year for Christmas when I had three young boys, money was tight (well to be honest, money has always been tight-especially at Christmas). Anyway, there was no money for Christmas presents. I decided to hit the thrift stores and see if I could find some dress up clothes for my boys. It was the most fun I've had in a long time. It was like a scavenger hunt going from store to store looking for items to complete 3 ensembles. I ended up with a yellow slicker, rain hat and boots for one son, a hard helmet and tools and boots for another son and a football helmet and jersey and shoulder pads for another son. They were in 7th heaven that year as they opened their gifts and immediately put on their clothes and began to pretend.

Give open ended dress ups. You don't have to buy the cutest dance tutu you can find or make. Instead give a yard of the glitziest pink fabric you can buy and watch the imagination soar.

This year for Christmas, give the gift of IMAGINATION!

Music Tip #17 Most important concert

This is a true experience told by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory.

"I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do with Aaron Copland's Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland's, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70's, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece [but]...we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we desribed the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: 'During World War II I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team's planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn't understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?'"

Parents, music is POWERFUL! Give the gift of music to your children. Please.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parenting Tip #16 Speaking Childrenese

The preschool teacher was orienting the afternoon volunteer as to what their plans were for the afternoon group of preschoolers arriving soon. She showed the paper plate faces the children were going to make. "This morning", she explained, “I held up this mirror and had the student look into it to see what color of hair he had so he could choose that color of yarn to glue on his paper plate head.” The teacher continued, “Some of the children don’t speak English very well, but someone told me to say this sentence to them.” The teacher then recited in Spanish the sentence, “look in this mirror” as she had been directed. The volunteer, who spoke Spanish, began to laugh and said, “Oh, no, that’s not what you said. You said look in the envelope and see what color your hair is.”
“Well, no wonder the little boy looked at me with such a confused look on his face!” she replied.

Do you sometimes feel like you are speaking a different language to your children? Do they look at you in a confused way, or totally ignore you? Or go on with what they are doing as if you hadn’t spoken?

Maybe we need to learn to speak “childrenese”. The best way to learn childrenese is to understand children and know what they are capable of doing or not doing.

For example would you ask a 2 year old to “go hurry and get dressed”? Would you tell a 3 year old to share his favorite toy—and actually see him do it? How about an 8 year old? Would you expect a 4 year old to own up to doing something wrong and not blame it on someone else? Would you instruct a 5 year old to sit still for 30 minutes without moving while waiting in a doctor’s office? Would you take a 6 year old grocery shopping with you and tell her to walk quietly beside you and not touch or ask for anything? (Ha! You’ve all said that I bet! But it certainly doesn’t translate into childrenese—nor did any of the above situations.)

The next time you speak to your child and she looks at you with a confused look on her face, or just ignores you, think about what you just said. Was it age appropriate? Did you give too many instructions at once? It may take time, but soon you will become fluent in childrenese and suddenly life will become better.

Music Tip #16 Dance!

I went to my nephew's wedding this weekend. At the reception they had dancing and as I watched everyone dance I saw smiles, heard laughter and saw enjoyment on everyone's faces. The music was versatile and soon I heard the strains of "The Hokey Pokey" playing. My sister-in-law grabbed by arm and I found myself dancing with everyone else. It was fun!

But that's the only dance I danced (except for half a dance with my brother). I was too self conscious to join my nieces out on the dance floor. They were having a great time and when they started line dancing I really wanted to learn the steps and dance. But I thought how silly everyone would think I looked--an old lady out dancing with all the youth.

I missed out on a lot of fun. As the night wore on I noticed two older women about my age dancing on the sidelines. They were smiling and laughing and having a great time. I wished I could be as confident as they were so I could dance too. Oh well. I decided I would dance at home.

What a fun family activity--dancing. Put some music on and dance with your children. Dance by yourself. Dance to decrease your stress, to lose weight, to exercise, to have fun!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Parenting Tip #15 Play Dough

Ahh, the joy of play dough. What child doesn’t like to play with play dough? It’s such an open ended toy, just waiting for a child and his or her imagination. Put play dough on the table, set a child in front of it, put some music on in the background and watch the magic happen.

Here’s the basic play dough accessories: toothpicks—for poking into the dough, muffin tin—to hold pretend muffins or cookies, rolling pin, popcycle sticks or butter knife to cut the playdough with, cookie cutters, and anything else in the kitchen that looks interesting.

But don’t forget the music. Any upbeat or children's CD will do. I personally think that playing music in the background helps children play longer, more happily and helps them think creatively.

I always make my own play dough (though I hate washing the pan). It’s kind of fun to make and it’s nice and warm to play with. Here’s a site with some fun variations on making your own play dough.
So the next time your kids need something new and different to do, make some play dough, put on the music, and watch the creativity flow.

Music Tip #15 Singing Rounds

I love to sing rounds. I don't know why. I think it's because I love to hear harmony and when you sing a round you end up singing harmony. Growing up I liked to sing "I Love the Mountains", "Frere Jacques", "White Coral Bells", or "Don't Put your Trash in My Backyard".

I like to teach rounds at school, but they're harder to sing (and make sound right) than you would think. 3rd graders have a hard time keeping their group going without getting confused unless they know the song very well. But 4th-6th can sing pretty well, after lots of practice.

Some of my new favorite rounds are "Hear the Song of the Nightingale" from the movie Madeline, "Music Alone Shall Live", "Dona Nobis" (which is really, really hard), "Scalloped Potatoes" and "Jolly Red Nose". I can't wait to teach the Tacobel Canon. I just found a recording of it here as well as the Scalloped Potatoes one.

A friend and I go hiking once a week and we love to sing as we hike. I like to sing rounds with her and should be happy with the two part harmony we make. But then I think, wow, if we had another person we could sing three parts......

Do you like to sing? Want to come hiking with us?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Parenting Tip #14 Read Aloud to your Child

There my children were, pajamas on, teeth brushed, all snuggled on my waterbed, listening to me read the book, “Number the Stars”. Just as I got to a good part, I said, “okay, that’s all for tonight. Go get in bed.” You would have thought World War III erupted! “But you can’t stop there, Mom! It’s too exciting. Please keep reading, please!!”

Ahh, music to my ears, “You can’t stop there, Mom. Please keep reading!” Isn’t reading aloud to your child one of the most fun, warm, bonding experiences you can have? Not to mention one of the most beneficial experiences you can give your child. Research shows that children whose parents read to them become better readers. Their vocabulary increases, their language and speech development speeds up, and their listening skills are focused and ready for school.

Many of you are followers of Jim Trelease ( He has championed the importance of reading aloud for years. He has lots of suggestions for books to read aloud, too.

Here has been some of my children’s favorite books that we’ve read aloud: The Wheel on the Schoolhouse, The Hobbit (my husband read the kids this one), Mandy (by Julie Andrews alias Edwards), The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (another one by Julie Edwards), Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Summer of the Monkeys, (sniff, sniff) and the Boxcar series.

Share some of your favorites with us.

Music Tip #14 "Dad, that music is powerful"

My son took his family to a concert a few weeks ago. It was a pianist, Jon Schmidt, who has become a family favorite. The orchestra was accompanying Jon on one of the numbers and it was rich and full and loud. Kayli, my 6 year old granddaughter, leaned over and whispered to her Dad, “this music is really powerful!” Her Dad replied, “how do you know?” She answered, “because I feel the Spirit.”

Kayli, at age 6 could feel the Lord’s Spirit whisper truth to her. Music IS powerful! It affects our emotions. It can soothe, excite, relax, and energize.

When my daughter lived at home, she always had music playing in the background. The orchestra teacher at school, who was a colleague of mine and talked to me on the phone quite often, commented, “you always have music playing at your house. I need to do that more often.”

This daughter has since married and moved away, and I’ve noticed how quiet our house has become. I have lots and lots of CDs sitting on the shelf. But do I play them? I did one summer. I decided to go straight through all my CD’s and play every single one of them. I think I’ll do that again. Right now I’m listening to the soundtrack from Enchanted.

What are you listening to?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

ASU music class Harp Guest

Yesterday my friend, Debbie, came to play her harp for our class. She has just started taking harp lessons 5 months ago. The babies were enthralled by the music and there was complete attention and silence as she played.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Parenting Tip #13 Overwhelmed and Stressed?

My daughter called me on the phone from Texas. She was overwhelmed and stressed. She is single and getting a Master’s degree in cello performance. The next morning my oldest daughter called me from Florida. She was overwhelmed and stressed. She is a mother of 3 small children with a husband who is going to medical school. Two hours later my youngest daughter called. She was overwhelmed and stressed. She is newly married, going to school and trying to find a job.

As you read this blog, you’re probably overwhelmed and stressed yourself. So what do you do when you’re in that situation? Here are a few ideas:

Scream in a pillow in your bedroom (I mean it. Try it and see if it doesn’t help!)


Call your mother/friend

Eat Chocolate

Dance, go for a walk, jog, exercise, just MOVE

Read a book and ignore everything

Lower your standards (It’s better than abusing yourself or children)

Dovetail your “To Do List” where possible

Endure and know that “this, too, shall pass”

Be grateful because at least you are alive and active

Forget being perfect. It doesn’t exist.

Stop comparing yourself with others

Remember to enjoy the journey. This is part of the journey.

What do you do when you're overwhelmed and stressed?

Music Tip #13 Music Lessons

I asked a mother of one of my piano students (who has 7 children who are at various stages of music training) to give her thoughts and ideas about music lessons and children. Here are some of Lisa’s thoughts:

What is a good age to start? Our oldest son was six. He was so hyper that a 30 minute lesson was all he could stand. I have seen younger children begin music lessons, but the successful ones are usually those families with one or two children.

What are the advantages of starting early? It becomes a part of your life and a part of your routine. We have all learned a lot about music. We have also learned about baby steps and small amounts of progress over time. I don’t think it is always that way with other things, like sports.

What other areas of life are affected by music lessons? My son has gained focus and can concentrate better from all of his practicing. He also has learned about team work from playing in the orchestra. With chair auditions, he has been first chair and also 22nd chair, so he has learned that there is always someone in front of you and always someone behind. He has learned that if you practice you will have a good outcome (usually) and there are consequences if you don’t. Another son has learned to work at something that he finds difficult and he is starting to play the piano as a stress release.

How do you keep your children interested in practicing? I think we just do it every day, like brushing our teeth or doing math problems. I have never been big on elaborate reward systems. In the beginning I would help my son practice 10 minutes before his favorite television show came on and he would get to watch it when he was finished. If he messed around, it ate into his television program. Now he practices on his own.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Parenting Tip #12 I Love You Chart

I had just gotten home from taking my husband to the airport. He would be working out of town for 3 weeks and with three small boys at home with just me, well, I didn’t know how I was going to hold up. It looked like a long three weeks of fighting and crying (the boys fighting, me crying).
A friend stopped by and I told her my situation. She immediately said, “You should make an I Love You chart and hang it on the refrigerator.” I replied, “A what?”
“An I Love You chart,” she said. “Every time anyone in the family says I love you to another family member, they put a star on the chart.” I thought, “yeah, that’s really going to help.”

After she left, I decided to try her suggestion. I mean, it couldn’t hurt. So I hung a piece of blank white paper onto the refrigerator and told my little boys,
“okay now, whenever you or your brothers or mommy says,
I Love You, we can put a star on the chart. Let’s see if we
can cover the whole paper before Daddy gets home in 3 weeks.”

Guess what? It was a miracle! There was little fighting.
There was hardly any crying. What there was, though,
was a lot of family members saying “I love you”. And that
chart was covered in stars before Daddy got home!

Music Tip #12 Fun Songs to download

Here's some fun silly songs as well as lullabies that we've been singing in my ASU Music for Tots class. You may have heard of some of these, but if not, enjoy them now. Here are links to the lyrics as well as the mp3 download links:
If all the Raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops
mp3 download:

mp3 download:

Cuppy Cake
mp3 download:

Tell Me Why
mp3 download:!624868011%2Ci%3Adigital-music%2Ck%3Atell%20me%20why%2Cn%3A624899011

Jig Jog Gee

Monday, October 26, 2009

Parenting Tip #11 Hug Your Child

I use to love to hug and kiss my babies. They were so cute and loveable! But I could tell that one of my older children was dying for that same physical love and affection. She would constantly follow me around the house and be right in my face whenever anything was going on. I really didn’t feel like hugging and kissing her—she was too old---- 8 or 9 years of age. And it was kind of awkward; we weren’t a very hugging family. But I knew she needed it. One day, I said in a cooing, silly voice, “Do you need some love and attention? Come here.” And I pulled her onto my lap and covered her with hugs and kisses. She loved it!

Some of my other children started picking up on that line and when they were having a hard day would come up to me and say, “I need some love and attention.” And I would hug and kiss them and off they’d run a few minutes later—ready to face the world again.

Children need physical touch. They need--no matter what age--for you to hug them, put your arm around them, sit them on your lap. It's the best feeling in the world to hug your child. Do it often!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Music Tip #11 Songs my parents sang to me

I asked my family and friends to email me some of the songs they remember their parents singing to them. I acquired quite a list. One friend remembered sitting on a stool between the two front seats of their motor home and singing "I've been workin' on the railroad" at the top of her lungs. Others harmonized with family members while singing in the car. My son plays his guitar and sings to his kids at night.

Here's a song (?) a friend remembers her mom passing down:
"I spoke to my plants. There came no reply.
So I sang. And that's when they died."

Here's the titles of some of the other songs sent to me. See if any of them sound familiar to you:
Horsey, Horsey, I Once Had a Doll, Down in the Valley, 3 Little Fishes, Mairzy doats and dozy doats, Oh, You Can't Get to Heaven, Stars are the Windows of Heaven, The man who has plenty of good peanuts...

Then there's the song my mother always sang to me to wake me up in the morning, "Good morning, good morning, good morning, enchilada on a tortilla!" That's become a family favorite!
What songs are you passing down to your children?

ASU Class - Guest Cellist

Saturday we had a guest cellist come to our class to play for us. Andrea played The Swan and it was fun to watch the babies focus on her playing. Later she helped us learn the song, Tell Me Why, as she played the melody on her cello. Thanks Andrea for sharing your talent and for bringing Benjamin ( her baby).

A couple of weeks ago we had a ukulele player come and accompany us. Actually, she's a friend, Emily who is just learning to play the ukulele. If you want to play the guitar, but need to go cheaper and faster, choose the ukulele!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Parenting Tip #10 Happy Child Back

We were at the San Diego Zoo-- my 4 youngest children and my sister. We had been there all morning, had eaten lunch and were still walking and looking at animals. But my youngest daughter, Charity, age 3 kept whining and complaining. In exasperation, I finally said, “Charity, if you don’t stop whining, I’m going to take you back to the motel and make you take a nap!” She replied, “Finally! I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”

Do we really pay attention to our children or are we oblivious to everything but our own needs and our agenda. If your baby, toddler, child, teenager (husband)is crying—there’s a reason. If your toddler, child, teenager is exhibiting angry emotions –there’s a reason. Maybe it’s as simple as they need to take a nap, or they’re hungry, or need a diaper change (well, not the teenager!). Is something happening at school, or with their friends, or lack of friends, etc. Are they getting an earache, a cold, the flu?

My younger brother was always grouchy and irritable. Then my mother found out he had bad allergies and didn’t feel good most of the time. As soon as his health problems were addressed, he became a happy child again. STOP and figure out what’s wrong. Children—and adults—want to be nice and happy, and are, for the most part, when their needs are being met. Find out what those needs are, and you’ve got your happy child back.

Music Tip #10 Lullabies

What better way to tuck your baby/children into bed each night than to sing them a lullaby. Do you have songs your parents sang to you at night? Pass them on. Need some new songs to sing to your child each night? Here’s a cute song I happened to find on you tube. It’s become a favorite of mine.

Looking for other lullabies you can sing? How about: Tell Me Why, Skinnamarinkadinkydoo, All the Pretty Little horses, All Through the Night, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and A Bushel and a Peck.

If you are not familiar with a song, but would like to hear it, go to Amazon and click on Music, then MP3 Downloads. Type in the title of the song and you will be able to hear samples of lots of artists singing the song. You can even buy the download for .99 cents. What a bargain!

There are lots of lullaby CDs you buy. Here is a link to one that presents each song twice, once with beautiful vocals and again instrumentally, so your own voice can sing your child/baby to sleep.

Here is a wonderful site that has lots of beautiful lullabies you can listen to, download and view the lyrics. They are categorized by Welsh, Christian, Angel, etc. There is also a link to lullaby books.

Tonight let the cares of the day, the crying and frustration wash away as you tuck your little children (and don't forget the big children) into bed, sing them a song of love and kiss them goodnight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Parenting Tip #9 The Best things are the Little things

I am a mother of seven children. When my oldest was age 18, my youngest was age 4. The next youngest child was 6 and not in school yet, so I was a stay at home mom with two preschoolers. But I viewed myself as a mother of older children who should have more free time while the kids were at school to work on projects I wanted to do and use my creative energy to write music, etc. The problem was: in actuality I was a mother of two preschool children and needed to give them my time and nurture them as I had their older siblings.

I was frustrated with my life and felt my needs were not being met. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to tell me where my priorities should be. The answer: I am a mother of preschool children. I need to take the time to nurture them, enjoy them, and teach them. That is my first priority.

It was hard to accept this answer at first. But as I sat at the breakfast table with my 4 year old on my lap (she loved to sit on my lap to eat breakfast)I began to enjoy the wonderful way it felt to hold her and knew that I was giving her a sense of security and love. And as I helped my 6 year learn to read and play the piano, I felt love for her and knew I would cherish these memories with her.

I didn't feel like I was wasting my time anymore or missing out on some big project I could and should be doing. Instead, I felt peace, knowing that the little things I did during the day were really the big things--and the most important things.

Music Tip # 9 Car Time-Song Time

Do you feel like you're a taxi cab driver and spend most of the day in the car with your children? Want to make car time a happy time? Play music CDs. I'm sure you already do this. What are you favorite CDs to listen to? There are a ton of children's CDs you can buy or borrow from the library. My daughter just found a fun CD by Burl Ives. Ever heard of him? You might recognize his voice as Sam, the snowman on the old animated Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer movie. You could put in a CD of nursery rhymes and pass on the rich heritage of Mother Goose to your children. Or a CD of folk songs like My Bonnie lies over the ocean, Home, Home on the Range, etc. My granddaughter in Virginia insists on playing the same CD each week when driving home from Church.

Some Suzuki students listen to their music CDs while traveling in the car. Music can turn the drive time into a learning time, jam session, or even a lullaby time. Take advantage of car time to sample some different styles of music from CDs you've rented from the library. Leave a comment and tell us your favorite CDs to listen to.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Parenting Tip #8The wicked old witch!

Many years ago, my five year old son and I had been having a hard day. We were constantly at odds with each other and there had been much crying all day. That evening as I was getting ready to go to a Church play practice, he asked me, "what are you in the play? The wicked old witch?"

Another son didn't think much of my cooking and every evening we had to listen to him complain about the food. One night he asked me what was for dinner and I enthusiastically replied, "Chicken Burrito Ole!"
"Oh," he replied, "I wasn't hungry anyway."

Poor Moms! Especially moms with young children. You go unappreciated for years. You do the washing, cooking, cleaning, teaching and disciplining. It's seldom that you get the thanks and praise you deserve.

But please stay with it Moms! You are doing the most important job in the world! You are raising the children that will become the next generation. You are teaching your children to be responsible, kind, honest. You won't get any thanks for a long time. But trust me, someday your children WILL come back and tell you thanks for all you have done for them. Just be patient!

Music Tip #8 Let's play recorders!

Want to introduce your child to a new musical instrument? Here's a fun easy instrument that you and your child can learn to play. It's the recorder! You can buy recorders at the dollar stores and choose from a variety of colors. Some recorders come with books, or you can get the fingering and songs off the internet.

It's best to wait until your child is 8 or 9 years old because their fingers need to be long enough to cover the holes. Start with easy songs that use the notes B A G. To correctly hold the recorder, the left hand is on top, the right hand at the bottom. The left thumb will almost always cover the hole in back, and the left fingers will cover the holes in front. If you cover the back hole plus the top hole, that is the note "B". Two holes covered in front (plus the back hole) is "A" and three holes covered in front (plus the back hole) is "G". Be sure to press down lightly when covering the holes. Your tongue should make a "T" sound when blowing.

Here's a favorite song to play: Hot Cross Buns

How about having a recorder orchestra for your next family get together?
Oh, and better buy some ear plugs for Dad!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ASU Music class for Tiny Tots

Here's the link for the Cuppy Cake song and lyrics we did in class today. Hope you enjoy it.

If you want to play "Do Your Ears Hang Low" on your recorder, here's how it goes. Remember to cover the hole in back plus the 1st hole in front=B, 2 holes covered in front=A, 3 holes covered in front=G

Do your ears hang low? B A G G G
Do they wobble to and fro? (no recorder notes on this line)
Can you tie them in a knot? G A B B B B B
Can you tie them in a bow? G A B A A A A
Can you throw them over your shoulder B A G G G G G G G
Like a Continental soldier? (no recorder)
Do your ears hang low? G A B A G

Have fun! Bring your recorder to class next week and play with us!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Parenting Tip #7 Joy Journal

When I was pregnant with my 6th child, I was excited, but apprehensive about what people would say. Sometimes they would be rude and say things like: "Are you trying to populate the whole world by yourself?" Or mutter, "Can you really afford to give that many children a decent life?" So I decided that if I wanted a big family, which I did, then I should be enjoying a big family and find joy in having and raising my children.

I decided to keep a Joy Journal. I would write down things that my children (and husband) did that brought me joy. Then on those days when "joy" was elusive, I could read my journal and be reminded of those better days. I kept a Joy Journal for all the years my children were growing up until they all moved away. Sometimes I wrote several times a week, and other times just once a month or I would forget for several months. But I kept at it. Then on each child's birthday, at our family birthday party with the grandparents, I would read several entries about that child that I had written that year and how he or she had brought me joy.

This has been a fun and rewarding tradition. It helped me LOOK for joyous things my children did and helped me focus on my love for them. I like to think that it helped them too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Music Tip #7 Music and Special Needs Children

My brother and sister-in-law have 9 children. Matthew, their 7 year old has Down Syndrome. Music has helped Matthew in many areas--with speech, brushing teeth (which he used to hate), motor skills, and fears. Matthew rides the bus to school with other special needs children. He used to be really apprehensive about getting on the bus and leaving home. So the family started singing "The wheels on the bus..." and that would calm him down each morning so he could board.

Matthew and his younger brother love to dance. On Saturday nights the family will put music on from the 80's, 90's or current music and the whole family will dance and have fun. Matthew also loves to play the piano. He will sit at the piano and play whatever comes into his mind. He sits down like a concert pianist and pounds out notes, then takes a bow.

But when Matthew gets too much stimulus with music or tv, he gets hyper. There has to be a balance. His mother, Tammy, will play church songs to help calm him when he is upset about anything. Tammy writes, "I am definitely convinced that music is great therapy for any child, but absolutely helpful with children that have special needs."

Watch your children this week and see how you can use music to calm them, encourage them, teach them and just have fun with them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parenting Tip #6 The best age to teach

After a lecture by the late Francis Wayland Parker, a great Chicago educator, a woman asked: "How early can I begin the education of my child?”
"When will your child be born?” asked the educator.
"Born?” she gasped. "Why, he is already five years old.”
"My goodness, woman, “he cried, “don’t stand here talking to me—hurry home; already you have lost the best five years.”

What can you teach your child from birth to age five that is so important? It depends on who you ask. If you ask a Suzuki music teacher she would say you can teach a child to play an instrument as early as age 3. If you ask an educator he would say your child could be reading by now.

But here are some even more important things you can teach a young child: stability and security by responding to your baby’s cries, responsibility and orderliness by helping your toddler pick up his toys, happiness by playing with your child, love by touching and holding, self esteem by listening to your preschool try to explain something to you, respect by saying "please" and "excuse me", gratitude by saying "thank you", decision making by letting your preschooler choose the outfit to wear that day.

So don’t just sit here reading, go teach your child something!

Music Tip #6 Music Alone Shall Live

Yeah for the good old songs of our earlier years. They're called Folk Songs and Silly Songs. It's our job as parents to pass them on to the next generation. Here's some first lines of songs. How many do you know:

Do your ears hang low...
My Bonnie lies over the ocean....
In a cavern in a canyon excavating for a mine.....
Love me tender, love me true.....
Do, a deer...
God, Bless America...

The National Association for Music Education started a campaign in 1995 called Get America Singing...Again. It's aim was to establish a common song repertoire and promote community

Folk songs bridge the generation gap as grandparents, parents and children sing the old favorites and create lasting memories. The words to my favorite musical round state the value of folk songs
All things must perish from under the sky.
Music alone shall live, music alone shall live
Music alone shall live, never to die.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

ASU Music class for Tiny Tots

Yesterday was our 2nd class time. We moved locations and now have more room and AC! Yeah!
This semester we will be having guest musicians come and play their instruments for us. Today Karis's older brother, Carsten, brought his violin and played for us. It was fun to see the reaction of the babies.
We sang the song, A Ram Sam Sam, and used the parachute to keep the beat. The babies loved dancing on top of it as well as underneath it.

Parenting Tip #5 The Secret Ingredient

A woman who had a talent for baking gave a mini cooking class to a Church group and shared her famous brownie recipe. A few days later her neighbor called complaining that her brownies had not turned out like the talented baker’s had. She accused the woman of holding back her “secret ingredients”. The shocked baker asked her neighbor if she had used real butter. “Well, no, of course not, butter is expensive. I substituted margarine which is just as good.” The baker probed, “Did you use baker’s chocolate?” The neighbor replied, “everyone knows cocoa is a good substitute for baker’s chocolate.” And so it turned out that the secret ingredients were right there in plain sight; the neighbor had chosen to use substitutes and therefore could not achieve the desired results she had wished for.

As parents we often look for the secret ingredient that will turn our children into model children. It is so simple that sometimes we overlook it. It is so hard that sometimes we substitute other things instead. The secret ingredient is time. Giving time to your children is one of the most important ingredients in raising happy, productive children. There are many poor substitutes out there because as parents we are busy, stressed and tired. Too often we use TV, computer games, friends, soccer, etc for substitutes instead of giving quality time to our children. Quality time may be listening to your child tell about her dream, playing “Go Fish” with your son one more time, or just simply being home so your daughter can stay home and play.

Your baby is only going to be a baby for 2 short years---then you will never have that baby again. Enjoy giving time to your baby by touching, holding, laughing, playing, and being there with him. Your preschooler will be going to school soon and when she does, she will be gone for 7-8 hours out of your life and influence. Enjoy, play, listen with her now. Your teenager will only be a teenager for a few short years (did I hear clapping and whistling out there?) Listen to him, talk with-not at- him, respect him.

The secret parenting ingredient=Your time

Music Tip #5 Dads singing

Dads, you can make special memories for your children by singing them to sleep. My husband liked to sing as he would rock our children to sleep. Our youngest daughter mentioned this memory of her Dad singing to her and rocking her to sleep to her high school friends one day. All the boys said, "wow, that's really cool. I'm going to sing to my kids too, when I get married and have children."

Ammon, our 2nd oldest son said he sings a lot while he helps his children brush their teeth. "It always calms the kids and makes it easier," he said. He sings at bedtime too. Every Sunday night for the past 4-5 years he sings songs from the German hymnbook at bedtime. He says, "it puts them right to sleep--they're anxious to have the noise stop!"

Make some memories, Dad. Start singing!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Parenting Tip #4 Memorize Poetry

Brandon, one of my 3rd grade music students, stood to recite a poem. It was the first day of the month, and I let my music students share a musical talent with the class, if they choose, once a month. Technically, reciting a poem is not a musical talent, but Brandon was in need of self esteem building and besides, being one of the more "rowdy boys" in the class, I was curious to see what he would share. He stood straight and tall and launched into a well memorized, long poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Wow! My image of him changed dramatically. I had previously thought he was a little on the slow side, had no self control and I had lumped him into the "problem child" category in my mind. But now he leaped over into the "smart kid with lots of brain power" category. What made the difference? His ability to memorize a poem.

Why should children memorize poetry? It introduces them to phrases and vocabulary they might not hear in everyday language use, it instills a sense of rhythm and rhyme, it awakens a love for language and helps express emotions and thoughts in a new way. It teaches sentence structure, increases self esteem, helps one become a better writer.

If you have an infant, toddler, preschooler or elementary age child, read poetry to them. Additionally, encourage older children to memorize poems. Google "poetry and children" and you'll be at the computer for an hour! By the way, here's a snatch of a poem. Who wrote it?
Oh,I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it--one bit.

Music Tip #4 How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

I asked my married children to share ideas of how they use music in their homes. Holly, a daughter-in law, said that usually her kids tell her to STOP singing--she says she's a "tone deaf non singer". But her 3 year old, Maya, really likes her to sing songs like "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, 5 little ducks, and how much is that doggie in the window" (, , ). Holly will sometimes change the words of the song to see if Maya will catch her, which she always does and then corrects her. Maya thinks it's funny to have her mom sing "5 little alligators jumping on the bed" or 5 little monkeys jumping on the couch". Maya also likes to have cats with purple tails sold "in the window".

Holly mentions that lots of children's songs are good for math, pattern recognition, rhyming, story telling, motor skills, etc. Thank goodness Holly hasn't stopped singing. Being a "non-singer" or not, children love to hear their parents sing and interact with them on a fun one on one basis. It sounds like love to them!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Parenting Tip #3 - Having Patience

I was pregnant with my fourth child and lying on the couch watching my 3 boys wrestle, play and of course, fight. I didn't know at the time I was anemic. I had little energy, was tired all the time and a little depressed. I thought to myself, "how am I going to get through this?" I said a fervent, private prayer asking for patience.

I eventually did get more patience, but it wasn't the way I expected. I continued daily praying for patience until one day I learned that the way to have patience with my children was to enjoy my children. I began watching my children and noticing things about them. How they interacted with each other, how they problem solved, how they thought and came up with solutions. I learned about what stage they might be in ( and how that caused them to act certain ways. As I watched and learned, I became more patient with them. I enjoyed watching them and loved to see how their brains worked things out.

I learned that to have patience with my children, I needed to learn more about them, why they acted the way they did. I needed to enjoy them as they were at the moment. I needed to enjoy the journey, to savor them as they were at this moment in time. My love for them increased and amazingly, I had more patience!

Music Tip #3 - Sing Instructions

Don't you hate it when you ask your children to do something, and they ignore you? You think, "what? are they deaf-- disobedient-- why won't they listen and obey me?"

The problem: They're kids. They hear your voice so much, that sometimes they tune you out, especially if they hear you ask them to do something they don't want to do.

The solution: Sing. Sing your instructions, then whisper your instructions. Now you've caught your children's attention and hopefully they'll quickly follow through with what you've asked them to do.

This can work for toddlers learning to put away toys (Barney's clean up song or teens who need to clean their bedrooms or wash the dishes, etc. Try singing in an opera voice, or country style, or with a proper English accent.

As parents, we need to "lighten up" and have fun. Singing makes for family fun.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Parenting Tip #2 - John, John, the Atom Bomb

My younger brother John, was the typical two year old that got into everything. But instead of growing out of it, he just got better at it and would make one mess after another. My mother would be so frustrated that as soon as my Dad would get home from work she would tell him all the things Johnny had done that day. And when Grandma and Grandpa came to visit (they lived right behind our house), they would get the full blown stories of Johnny spilling flour all over the floor, and Johnny doing this and that. My mother even wrote a song about "John, John the atom bomb" and each verse highlighted all the diasters and messes he had made. My brother, Johnny, became quite the center of attention.One frustrating day, however, my mother was at her wit's end. She didn't know how she could go on much longer with a child like Johnny. Suddenly a thought came to her, "Johnny is getting so much attention by doing all these naughty things, of course he's going to keep doing them." She decided she needed to change Johnny's image. So each night when my Dad came home from work, she would tell him of the wonderful things Johnny had done that day (boy, were they hard to come up with some days!). And when Grandma and Grandpa asked about Johnny's latest exploits, my mother replied, "Oh Johnny has changed. He's the sweetest little boy now. He helps me around the house and picks up his toys."

And guess what? Johnny did change. He became that sweet little helpful boy and grew up into a wonderful man and has been a great father to his six children. My mother first labeled him as a "terror" and that's what he became. But when his label changed to sweet and helpful, he changed too.

Be very careful of the labels you put on your children.

Music Tip #2 - Diaper Song

Does your baby twist and turn and not lay still while you change his diaper? Does your two year old run all around the house with you chasing behind, trying to change her clothes? Try adding music to your child's routines and see if they help get the job done.

Just singing a simple nursery rhyme like "Jack and Jill" or "Here we go round the Mulberry Bush" will catch your baby's attention so you can complete that diaper change with less struggles. Add some silly words to add interest, "Here we change your diaper, sweet baby, your diaper, sweet baby, your diaper, sweet baby. Here we change your diaper, sweet baby, and now you're ready to play."

Don't want to chase your two year old around the house to get her to get dressed in the morning? Make up some words and sing while you're helping her get dressed. Try singing this to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb": First you put your green shirt on, green shirt on, green shirt on, first you put your green shirt on and then I'll tickle your tummy!

How else can you use music to catch your child's attention so daily routines will flow smoother?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Parenting Tip #1 - Training Wheels

Aaron, my third child (and third son) was learning how to walk. It was so fun watching him take a few steps, fall down, then get right back up and try again. My oldest son, Benjamin age 4, was watching his brother fall over and over again and said, "Momma, Aaron needs training wheels, doesn't he?"

Do you ever wish you could have "parenting training wheels"? After failing over and over again as a parent, have you ever just wanted to give up? But watch your toddler as he/she learns to walk. He tries over and over--and eventually learns to walk. We, as parents, can learn to take a step at a time toward good parenting skills and soon we, too, will be riding a two wheeler minus the training wheels!

By the way, this is Aaron today (and he has three children of his own). He really should take those training wheels off because he's a GREAT parent!

Music Tip #1 - Musical Temper Tantrums

Each week I will be posting a parenting tip and a music tip--something that might help you and your child in the daily routine of family life. You don't have to sing well or be musically inclined to enjoy the benefits of these tips. Just try them and see if they help!
Did your child wake up on the wrong side of the bed--nothing you do seems to be what he wants? If your child is having a hard time--no matter if he is 18 months or 8 years old--try singing. This is such unexpected behavior from you, that usually your child will stop crying or at least quiet down and listen to what is happening. Sing a favorite song, folk song, make up nonsense words, whatever. Sing out of tune, in tune, sing loud then whisper. Use variety. Add some tickling. Then some hugging. Get your child busy doing something else and hopefully you'll have averted a major meltdown.
Husbands: Maybe you should try this on your wife the next time she is having "one of those days"!

Feel free to comment and share your experiences with us.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ASU's Fall Semester of Baby/Preschool Music Classes

Registration for ASU's Fall semester of Baby and Preschool music classes will begin in August.
These are fun classes you won't want to miss out on! They are held on Saturday mornings and will begin September 5th. To register go to:

Can You Sing a Rainbow? Age 1 and parent

Parents and toddlers will discover the different colors of music, as they dance with colored scarves, bounce with balls, play instruments to jam sessions and sing a variety of songs. Experience the many styles of music and see how you can incorporate them into your home to make your child's home routines flow easier.

Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose, rhythms and rhymes and music sublime! Age 2 and parent

Wordplay, rhymes, music, and movement--all these activities and more will delight your child as he enters the world of words. Let music help your child acquire speaking vocabulary and prepare her/him for the wonder of reading to come.

Let's Sing, Let's Play, Let's Wiggle and Move! Age 3 and parent

You and your child will experience music with your whole body! You'll use your voice to sing, your ears to listen to music, your hands to play drums and your feet to dance. See how you can harness your child's energy through music!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

If you're new to this blog, read here:

I'm a music teacher with a passion for teaching music to children. I teach music classes for:
1. Babies and parents
2. Preschool age children and parents
3. Suzuki piano lessons and traditional piano lessons with a twist!
4. Homeschoolers at Eagleridge Enrichment Program through the Mesa School District
I teach music classes for babies and their parents as well as music classes for preschoolers and their parents through ASU's community school classes. This is a community education resource that offers classes in many areas. To view class schedules and to register for classes go to: (registration for Fall Semester begins in Aug)
(scroll down to view more pictures)

I also teach music classes for families with
multiple age preschool children. I love to teach
these classes at Retirement Centers where we can involve the "grandmas and grandpas" who live there. New classes will begin in September. To register for these classes email me at

I teach piano lessons in my home.
What a wonderful gift to give your child, the ability to make music and use it to enrich his/her life as well as others. Besides the gift of music, you are giving him the opportunity to learn self discipline, consistency, how to break a difficult thing down into manageable pieces, perseverance, math skills, listening discrimination, etc.

I teach piano using the Suzuki Method. Children as young as 3 or 4 years of age can easily be taught to play any musical instrument using this method. Children listen to their songs, then learn to play their songs, and finally learn to read music. (for more info go to However, since children learn in many different ways, I also teach "traditional piano" with a fun twist!
If you are interested in your child learning to play the piano, please email me at

Saturday, July 4, 2009

ASU Music class for Tiny Tots

The Tiny Tots Music class at ASU is in it's 5th week. The Moms and Dads have been having lots of fun with their babies as we chant and sing nursery rhymes and experience the joy that music brings. Did you know that nursery rhymes can prepare your baby for a successful reading career? Listening to rhyming words, alliteration, and rhythm creates connections in your baby's brain that start him on the future road to reading.

New preschool music classes will be starting for the Fall Semester through ASU's community school. Registration begins in Aug. To see classes offered and to register go to


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