Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Music Tip #69 Skype music recital

Saturday we had the 1st ever Shepherd Family Music Recital via skype. It involved 5 of my 7 children who live out of state in 5 different states and in 4 different times zones. I invited my grandchildren a month ago to practice the piano/cello and then said we would have a little recital via skype. (By the way, the other two children not involved live in AZ with me, but they don’t have children old enough to play the piano yet)

I was very apprehensive that our recital wouldn’t work. I found out you have to get a group account from skype, either as a one day use or permanent account. I chose the one day use for $5.00. Each participant has to have the most updated version of skype, which one of my daughters didn’t. But she was able to quickly update and join us.

And it worked!! It was so fun to see my children/grandchildren from Utah, Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Florida all on the computer screen at the same time.

I chose who was going to play their piece next on the recital by giving clues to who the person was. They would raise their hand if the clue applied to them. One clue was: this person has had a lot of snow this winter. Everyone raised their hands except the Floridians! A funny thing my daughter, who lives in Florida, said was, “why are all of you wearing long sleeves when it’s so warm outside?”

We are definitely going to have another recital again. It’s great motivation to practice, it’s positive peer pressure (for adults to get a piece ready too), and it’s a wonderful way to keep long distance family close to each other. The refreshments are a little hard to figure out, though……

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Parenting Tip #72 I'm Bored

"I'm bored," your child says.

What is your response? I recently heard a talk and the speaker said you should shout, "Hallelujah!" The speaker then went on to say our children need to be more "unplugged" and have less structured activities and lessons. They need more time to play and invent--which comes from being "bored".

I remember several years ago--okay, many, many years ago--my husband and I had taken our 7 children to visit his aunt and uncle at their cabin in the mountains. We had come up to visit so our children could sing for them. But after our little performance, there wasn't much else to do. My husband promptly took a nap, the aunt and uncle disappeared, and the kids and I had hours in front of us with nothing to do. Well, the kids had plenty to do--exploring the woods and creek. I was the one who was TOTALLY BORED. No book to read--nothing.

I was about ready to walk the 100 miles home when I told myself to get a grip on myself. I thought, "what can I do while I'm here with what I brought." I had brought our camera so the thought came to me to make an alphabet book with photographs of the kids in nature. The next 2 hours were the most fun I've had. We brainstormed and found lots of ways to demonstrate the letters in the alphabet. Then a few days later when we were back home, my children helped put all the pictures in order to make our alphabet book.

This has been such a fun book to look at over the years, that at Christmas last year, I took alphabet pictures of my grandchildren who were visiting and made them their own alphabet book.

So if YOU or your children ever get bored (you're saying, yea, like when was the last time I was bored), just say, "YES! Hallelujah!" Then look around and start creating!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Music Tip #68 Gourd Instruments

The art teacher and I are collaborating on a unit—gourd instruments. I’ve been interested in making musical instruments with gourds for several years, and made some a few years ago for an African unit. This year I thought it would be fun to have the students paint and decorate their own gourds in their art class, then we would use them and create rhythms in our music class and then perform for the parents.

In February, Casa Grande had a gourd festival and my husband and I went and bought over $300 worth of gourds. Do you realize how many different varieties there are of gourds? Lots! I was prepared, though, because the art teacher, Shannon, and I had already decided which classes would get which type of gourd (3rd grade – 6th grade).

Now for the past couple of weeks the students have been painting their gourds and today during music we started using them to plan a musical performance to show the parents. Here’s the scary thing, though. I didn’t plan the lesson or musical performance for each class. I decided I would let each class create their own musical number.

I love these guided, open ended lessons because the students come up with such fun, creative ideas—better than what I could think of. It’s also a great way to provide an activity where cooperation and communication is needed.

Since the students researched and used Native American symbols on the gourds, I played several different selections of Native American music for them to listen to. We read about different tribes and their music and instruments in our student music books. Then I told them a couple of Native American folk stories, showed them some dances and suggested how we could use both recorders and their gourds to enhance the music or add interest.

Then came the creative part. I let the students suggest ideas for our musical presentation, we voted on the ideas and then started putting our performance together. It was a rewarding day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Parenting Tip #71 Cementing Family Values

When I go for walks in the morning, I pass several houses which have gravel yards. Almost all of them have weeds poking up through the rock. I always think to myself, “you better get out your grass/weed spray and spray before they get out of hand.”

One morning as I walked passed a gravel yard, I noticed that in front by the fence they had dug out a square area and had poured cement into it. I thought, “wow, they are serious about not wanting weeds in that area. They’ll never have to worry about that spot again.” Then as I continued walking pass the house each morning, I saw more areas cleared away and more cement poured until they had the whole front section full of concrete. It looked nice and there was no chance of grass and weeds overrunning it.

Now since my mind seems to always want to find a correlation in life or to make a parable out of a situation, I immediately thought, “how can I use that in my blog? How does that apply to parenting or raising children?”

I’ve had fun pondering it and here are some ideas I’ve come up with.

If you are raising children, you need to be serious about your responsibility in teaching and nurturing them. You need to ponder and consider how you can solidify your family’s love and cement in moral values. You need to find concrete things to do that will foster family love and weed out those materialistic things that continually pop up.

Instead of being passive, my neighbors were active in ridding their yard of weeds. They dug a foundation and then poured in a strong substance that weeds could not penetrate.

What is your family’s foundation built upon? Does it have a strong spiritual base? What are you pouring into your family that is solid? Do you accept your children’s individual uniqueness and weed out the tendency to compare them? Are you open minded and see the positive things about your children instead of labeling them as lazy or sloppy?

Are you cementing in family love by trying to be understanding and having fun traditions and saying, “I’m sorry”? Are you tucking them into bed at night and saying “I love you” (even though you’re thinking what a ---- they’ve been all day)? Are you teaching concrete moral values like being kind to others, sharing, and praying for each other?

I think you are most likely doing GREAT! Keep taking one day at a time, one child at a time. Enjoy the strong family you are creating.

Now help me think of more connections. What are your ideas?

The Give-away Winner is....

Congratulations to Michele--the winner of the book "5 Spiritual Solutions". I used random.org to generate the lucky number, which was number 13!!

I will have two more give aways of music CDs coming up in the next week or so. Watch for them.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Give-Away is Here!

Announcing my FIRST FREE GIVEAWAY!! I will be giving away a copy of the book: 5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting to one of my readers. That could be YOU! All you have to do is write a comment on this blog post. Make it short and sweet, or just say “enter me”. One of the comments will be randomly choosen to receive this amazingly helpful parenting book.

Enter now. This Give away closes next Sunday. Leave your email address or sign in with your google account because I'll email the winner!

Parenting Tip #70 The DAT Formula

Have you heard of the DAT Formula? This is for parents who do a good job of parenting but still want to improve.
D stands for decibels. Turn your volume down when speaking to your children. Be calm.
A is for agency. Give your children simple choices to make. This actually shows your children that you trust and respect them.
T is for tone. Do you use the same respectful tone when you speak to your children as you do when speaking to colleagues and friends?

The DAT Formula is just one of the ideas I got from a new parenting book I was asked to review. It is written by the New York Times #1 Bestselling authors, Richard and Linda Eyre. It’s called 5 Spiritual Solutions for Everyday Parenting Challenges. I wish it would have been written earlier when I was raising my seven children. It would have saved me from a lot of worry and guilt about whether I was doing this right or did I say that wrong.

The 5 solutions are to remember. Remember your children’s true identity, remember God’s parenting patterns, remember your direct channel to the Father, remember the Church’s “scaffolding” and remember the Savior’s Power.

A feature I really like about the book is at the end of each chapter. It’s a list of good things that will happen to your children when you remember the solution in the chapter and also a list of bad things that this solution will help your children avoid or overcome.

In the chapter on remembering the Savior’s Power, an incident was told about a fireside that was held with a Church leader. The leader opened it up for questions. A young father asked “How can I have more spiritual experiences? I had them all the time on my mission!”

The Church leader told him to “Use the priesthood more.”

How do you use the priesthood more? Give a young daughter a blessing before the test she is so worried about. Give a little boy having a hard time learning to read a blessing. Give a son a blessing because he is troubled about an inappropriate movie he saw at a friend’s house. Give a wife a blessing so she can handle the stress of the upcoming week. Remember the power of the Savior’s love for us.

Music Tip #67 Found Instruments

I’m doing a unit on “found instruments” with the 3rd and 4th graders at school. This week they brought instruments they found from home and we had a great time playing them. First we grouped the instruments according to how they are played, such as: shakers, scrappers, or tapped. Next we made up a recipe for chocolate chip cookies and extracted ingredients and phrases to become our rhythms. Then the rhythms were assigned to each group. For example, the tapped instrument group said the words, “chocolate chips, chocolate chips,” over and over while tapping the rhythm of the words. The scraper group said and played, “rest, rest, rest, eggs!” while the shaker group said and played, “bake them in the oven.”

We layered in the different rhythms one group at a time and it sounded, well….. pretty good. Especially as we talked about beat and how each group had to keep the same beat though they were playing different rhythms.

The students also had a jam session playing to the song, “Pots and Pans” by The Bacon Brothers from the CD called Dog Train. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_13?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=pots+and+pans&sprefix=pots+and+pans It’s a really fun piece that has pots and pans banging in the music. Another fun song to play recycled or found instruments to is a Sesame Street song called “Clink Clank”. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=clink+clank&x=0&y=0

Let your children loose in the kitchen or back yard, have them gather up “instruments”, put some music on and have a great jam session of your own!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Give-Away is Coming!

I'm so excited! I'm going to be giving my FIRST give away on my blog. I won't tell you what it is yet, but it might be ........

Look for next week's post to read more about it and to enter!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Music Tip #66 Steps in learning a new piece of music

I’m trying to help my piano students visualize the steps toward learning a piece of music, especially if it is a longer, more challenging piece than you can learn in one week. I gave them a chart with a ladder that shows the steps towards learning their piece. Then as they accomplished each step, they put a sticker on that step. When the top and last step was achieved, they put a BIG sticker on that step and was rewarded with a piece of candy.

I tried to attach my chart, but can't figure out how to do it. So here are the steps I teach my students:
1. learn the notes (right hand then left hand)
2. learn the correct fingering (while learning the notes)
3. put both hands together
4. play piece with a steady beat
5. add dynamics
6. listen for balance of hands (melody louder)

This chart accomplished a couple of things. It taught them how to break down a big task into smaller, attainable chunks. It taught them the pattern and order of learning a song. And it rewarded them along the way (the stickers).

When you think of it, isn’t that a great technique to incorporate into other aspects of our life, like school, work, relationships, and chores? Break hard things into smaller manageable pieces, find an order to your chaos and reward yourself along the way.

Ahh....music teaches more than music!

Parenting Tip #69 Mold or Unfold?

Children are not things to be molded, but people to be unfolded.
As a part time music teacher, I eat lunch twice a week with other teachers. We talk about this and that, but always about our students---and always the ones that are not fitting “the mold”. Sometimes I stop to listen to our talk and think, “are we upset because this child is not fitting into our class mold? Do we really want to help him or do we just want him to act like everyone else and make life easier for us?”

What about your children? If you have more than one child, you know that they are each born with their own distinct personality traits, likes, dislikes, and talents. But are you trying to fit them all into the same mold. Are you parenting them all the same way?

One of my children was very creative in doing his chores. He would take the baby in her stroller and go into his bedroom and pick up things and drape them all over the stroller, creating a masterpiece of ----something,I certainly didn’t know what! To me it looked like he was playing around and making a mess. To him, he was cleaning up, but having fun and creating while doing it. I had to learn to give him his space for creativity and not demand that he “just go clean up the room!”

A friend was trying to learn how to communicate with her 2nd oldest daughter. She wasn’t as verbal as the eldest daughter and the mom had to try and guess what she was mad or upset about. Has this ever happened to you? The mom started noticing the events and actions that would happen before and after “difficult situations” and began to see that her middle child had leadership abilities and tendencies, but was thwarted in them because of her older sibling. As the mom began to give choices to her daughter, she experienced more positive outcomes because her daughter was now able to choose and control certain aspects in her life.

Notice your children this week. How and with what do they play? How do they react best to your requests? Does one need more physical touch than the others? What is your “whiner” really saying to you? What is the “hitter” experiencing or getting frustrated about?

I thought I caught a glimpse of Sadie the other day, one of the students we always complain about. I was in the temple and saw a beautiful black woman. I thought, "that's how Sadie will look in 15 years, but only if someone starts guiding and helping her--not just complaining about her."

See your child as a plant that is starting to blossom. Is she a tulip, a poppy, or a rose? Help her as she unfolds and blooms!


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