Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music Tip - How's That Bubba Section Coming?

Some of my students are playing intermediate level songs and need some guidelines in practicing them effectively.  It’s easy, when you practice short songs to just tell your students to play them 4-5 times every day.  But when the pieces get longer, playing the whole piece 4 xs can get really tedious, besides being very unproductive. 

So I like to teach my students to practice in sections.  If you take a section and then play that 4-10 times (depending on size), you get a much more productive practice session and learn the piece faster and easier. 

But sometimes it hard to notate on the student’s practice sheet just where those sections are.  Of course, you can always write down the measure numbers, but what fun is that?  So I like to create weird, funny names for the sections and even have the students help think of names for the sections.  This involves them and helps keep up their interest in practicing.  You can also name sections as the “star” section and put a star sticker on the page to denote it.  I found some really cute fairy stickers once and the girls loved to use them.  

I divided one student's piece into three sections
and called them Larry, Curly, and Moe.

Silliness, funny names, stickers—anything for the sake of good piano practice!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Parenting Tip - Save the Cookie Cutters for Cookies

Cookie cutters.  Metal or plastic shapes devised to cut out cookies so they will all turn out uniform and identical. 


Mothers.  Teachers of offspring, responsible for teaching them to become law abiding and loving citizens.


Does our society produce cookie cutter mothers?  Do we put pressure on ourselves to become a cookie cutter mother? Do we look at our neighbors and try to mother the way they do?    Do we try to get our children to look the same way? Act the same way? Be involved in the same activities?


Every family is different because the make up the family—the Mom and Dad and children—are different.  Celebrate these differences!


Are you a Mom who is active and likes sports?  Then run and swim and dance and have fun with your children.


Are you a Mom who loves to draw and paint?  Then get out the crayons, markers, and play dough and draw and sculpt with your children.  Have fun being an artist.


Are you a Mom who loves to read?  Then read with your children.  Go to the library or sit at home and read, and laugh and share books.


Are you a Mom who doesn’t know what she likes to do or is good at?  Then explore.  Go to the park and play, go to the library and read, go to the museum and discover new ideas.  Involve your children in your discovery.


Be a mother YOUR way.  Be a mother who lets her children discover THEIR way. Put blinders on what the other mothers are doing that cause you guilt and envy.  Allow them to be mothers in their own way and take advantage of your differences.


                                               Be a MOM and enjoy doing it YOUR way!




Sunday, January 15, 2012

Parenting Tip - Press Here

I just discovered THE coolest book.  It’s called “Press Here” by Herve’ Tullet.  I found it in the gift store at the Phoenix Children’s Museum, which is THE coolest museum!



The book is so clever.  You start with just one yellow dot on the page with the instructions to “press here and turn the page”.  The next page has two yellow dots with the instructions to press the yellow dot again. Guess what?  Yes, the next page has 3 yellow dots.  But now the directions say to rub gently the dot on the left.  Turn the page, and poof, it has become red.


On each page the child is asked to do something, like lean to the left, or shake the book, which then changes the dots and colors on the following pages.  I was so intrigued with it.  Then my son said, “it’s like an e book, but it’s not.”  Right!  That’s what caught my interest.  It is what you would expect from technology—touching the screen and dots change color and move around—but it’s in a simple old fashioned book.


I took Press Here to school and used it with my Kindergarten and 1st grade music classes and they LOVED it.  They squealed with excitement each time I turned the page.  I let them take turns pressing the dots and gently rubbing them or whatever the book said to do and they were totally engrossed.

 Then I divided the class into three groups (representing the yellow, red and blue dots in the book) and gave each group a different instrument family.  This time when I read the book, they got to play their instrument at the appropriate time.  There’s even a few pages where I turned the lights off—but you’ll have to read the book to find out where that might have been.


Check your local library for other books by Herve’Tullet.


Thanks for reading,



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music Tip - Hand Clapping Games

I love hand clapping games.  They are so fun.  Even as an adult I love them.  Of course there are more benefits than just having fun that are connected with hand clapping games. A  study conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel (BGU), “has found that young children who engage in hand-clapping songs and games show an increase in the development of a range of cognitive abilities including social integration, spelling and handwriting as well as a reduction in rates of dyslexia and dyscalculia.”  

Other research  shows that rhythm and a sense of timing has an effect on our brain and body functions.  Children diagnosed with dyslexia may be deficient in their sense of timing.  Brain training using a metronome is helping children with their reading fluency and language processing.

Babies usually learn to clap by age one.  By playing and singing clapping games with your toddler you are helping him develop his eye hand coordination. Songs like Pat a Cake and If You’re Happy involve simple clapping that you can do with your child.

I’ve been teaching clapping games to my 3-6th graders at school. They are loving it.  I found some really fun routines on you tube but they looked so complicated, I wondered if I could learn them myself, so I could teach them.  But the two girls doing them on you tube, slowed the patterns down and it was surprisingly easy.  In fact, there was a trick.  You only sing 3 words and each word has a different movement.  So all you have to do is learn 3 movements, then figure out the pattern.

I pointed the pattern out to my students and even wrote it on the board.  I really believe in helping my visual learners by writing patterns on the board.  I’m a visual learner and I need to see something before I can learn it. 

Here’s the pattern of part A (do it twice)

Bim   Bum   Bim   Bum                         Bum           Bum                      Bum    Bim   Bum
(clap) (snap) (clap) (snap)
                                          Biddy biddy           Biddy          Biddy biddy
                                            (pat legs 2x)


Part B  (2xs)

Bim            Bum                         Bum           Bum                      Bum    Bim   Bum
(clap)         (snap)
                               Biddy biddy           Biddy          Biddy biddy
                             (pat legs 2x)

So go have some fun.  Do the hand clapping games with your family.  Have a contest to see who can do it the fastest.  Can you beat Dad? 
And if you want more fun, look up Boom, Snap Clap.  It's a really fun one too!

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Music Tip - A New Music Class is Starting

For those of you who live in the Mesa/Chandler/Gilbert/Tempe area, I have a new music class for preschoolers/babies that is starting this coming week.  

It is free!   We meet with some of the residents who live in a retirement apartment complex and call them the "grandmas and grandpas".  We have lots of fun as the preschoolers and "grandparents" interact with each other through music.  We dance with scarves, play instruments, do clapping games, sing with the guitar, jump in hula hoops, tell puppet stories and lots more.

The class is the 2nd and 4th Tues of each month, Jan-April from 10:00-10:45.  The Courtyard Towers, 22 N. Robson, is located in downtown Mesa by Country Club and Robson, across the street from the Youth Museum. The room is small, so I need to limit how many families can be involved each semester.  If you are interested in coming to the classes I need to have you commit to coming each month (unless sickness or other problems crop up, which they sometimes do).

If you are interested in coming this semester, please reply back quickly to reserve a spot.  Babies are welcome too!  If you have neighbors or friends or family you think would be interested, please invite them. 

Thanks for reading!

Parenting Tip - Ways to Filter the Internet on your Computer

My Church had a special Fireside last night and though I didn't want to go, I went.  I hated every minute I was there because it was on a subject I hate--pornography.  But the information was so positive with a twist on parents teaching their children good things, I felt impressed to share it with you.

The title was "Shepherding Your Son's Sexuality".  The speaker, Dan Oakes, talked about positive things to do with your children and said it is our duty, as parents, to teach positive sexuality to our children because Satan is teaching them otherwise.  Here are some points to consider:

*Teach your sons (and daughters) early about developmental facts of their bodies (He suggested age 8 for the "mechanics" of reproduction, then again at age 11 before puberty really starts to happen-though sexual feelings start gradually at a earlier age too)

*Focus on the physical development of the body and also the moral issues.  Talk about how it's natural to feel the feelings they are experiencing.  God made them that way on purpose, but there is a time and place for expressing love and these feelings. 


*Talk about what is normal and what is not acceptable behavior.

*Acknowledge sexuality as a gift from God--that's how families are made and how husbands and wives remain close to each other in marriage

*Show strong and abiding affection for your spouse

*Talk regularly about sexual feelings, computer use, things you see on TV, happenings at school—
on a monthly basis!

*Control your computer!!!  Filter the internet before it gets to your house by using a DNS server company.  This is a free service and filters about 80% of the pornography.  See OpenDNS.com

Some routers are designed to filter even banner adds.  Pandorashope.com
Filter by limiting the access through the log-in screen. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Turn-the-guest-account-on-or-off

Filter the internet with tools already in internet explorer to filter content.  Open Internet Explorer by clicking the Start button.  In the search box, type Internet Explorer, and then in the list of results, click Internet Explorer.  Click the Tools button and then click Internet options.  Click the Content tab.

Filter the internet by utilizing Safe Search on the major search engines.  You must have an account with these websites like a Gmail account or a MSN or Hotmail account, and has to be activated in the account settings.

Parents, you must TEACH your children correct principles before the world teaches them false lies.
What a blessing we have as stewards over our children to teach them of a loving God and His plan for happiness.

Thanks for reading-Cathy



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