Song Recommendations

I love recommending delicious music, because there is SO much of it! (“Delicious music” fits these standards.)

Here’s a pop song that is so cute: “All the Pennies” by Mindy Gledhill.

Religious music is a huge part of music history and includes some of the most beautiful classical music ever. Tonight a song came to mind that I heard when I was a child and haven’t thought of in years:

“How Lovely are the Messengers” by Felix Mendelssohn

And then I saw a video on the side bar by Kiri Te Kanawa, an world-famous soprano whose amazing voice my parents shared with me (The video is nothing to watch. But the listening is wonderful!):

Good Vibrations: Deaf Musicians Justin Osmond and Evelyn Glennie

Justin Osmond book

(The book pictured above is called Hearing with My Heart. I’m not sure why the image cut off at the top!) I’m listening right now to an inspiring interview with Justin Osmond, on a streaming radio channel, which is amazing. He was born with a profound hearing loss and grew up in a very musical family. His parents, because of their extended family’s involvement in music, searched for ways to help him to learn to hear, speak, and make music. His mother would wake up the children in his family at 5:30 am, and after a family study time, she worked with him for 30 minutes on intense speech therapy. He learned to play violin, viola, and drums through vibration.

This was fascinating to me in particularly because I’m listening, as I exercise and do housework at home, to The Power of Music. The first chapter shares the story of Evelyn Glennie, a famous full-time solo percussionist who is deaf. She performs solo as well as with orchestras internationally. How? She takes her shoes off and feels the vibrations. The purpose of her TED talk (also amazing!) is  to teach people how to listen. In fact, she begins her talk saying she feels this is her purpose in life: to teach the world to listen.

So both of these deaf people learned musical instruments through vibration. WOW! So much to explore in this concept! Both Justin in his radio interview and Evelyn in her videotaped talk explain how they learned to differentiate vibrations in order to differentiate pitches. Incredible.

Justin Osmond talks about the gift his mother gave him by the hours spent helping him as well as the gift his grandmother gave him. What did his grandmother do? She had two sons who were hearing impaired, and so her musical family (9 children, The Osmonds, which included Donny and Marie Osmond) started performing in small gigs at places like the local fair, in order to raise money for their brothers’ hearing aids! That effort grew into a charitable organization they named The Osmond Foundation which in turn became the Children’s Miracle Network!

Justin learned for himself the joy of helping another person to hear when he wanted to raise money for a friend whose family couldn’t afford to give him a hearing aid. He did so, and for the first time in his 14-year old life, his friend heard his mother tell him “I love you.”

We had a concert (recital) series at our elementary school two years ago called “Instruments for Good,” in which local young performers came and performed on the first Friday of every month for students. Those young performers and these two deaf musicians remind me of the power of music, service, and good help others access beauty in their lives.

I love it!

Young guitarists

This is astounding video reminds us of the capacity for children to learn music. I am guessing, with great confidence, that those children did not learn how to do that without an incredibly dedicated parent at their side and hours upon hours of daily practice.

Those of us who don’t have or don’t want to spend hours every day practicing with a child can still be encouraged that our smaller but persistent efforts will also pay off, because it’s simply a proven principle: “That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do, not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


Utah Symphony Youth Guild

Youth Guild Education and Service Opportunities 2013-14

Here is something that is new to me: a chance for children to get involved in the symphony on various levels. You can attend pre-concert masterclasses, backstage tours, and get discounts on symphony tickets. A child can write a review of a concert they attend for their school newsletter, and they can earn credit for doing all of the above!

So if you want to take your child to the symphony and take the experience to another level which includes service, literacy, or just added depth, check out this information!

Plato quote

Saw this quote today: “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.” Plato.


“Pay what you can” tuition for a children’s choir

One of the challenges of having a children’s choir is funding it. You can teach for free and often find a practice place for free, but sheet music and other related materials are generally not free. Or your choir might not be a community volunteer endeavor: might need to earn a wage, and so you need to charge some kind of tuition.

Today I saw this and thought it was a new twist on funding a choir! It’s “pay what you can” tuition. Wow! Here’s the link to my friend’s choir and how they decided to fund their program this year:



Practicing Patience and Allowing Creativity (Practicing at home, Part 2)

german mother and child at piano

Check out this beautiful painting I found this morning while searching for an image of “mother and child practicing piano happily” for this page I was creating! It reminded me that parents–particularly mothers–and children have been at this practicing business for a LONG time!

This week had more good learning moments during piano practice time for both me and my children. Especially me!

One day I was getting ready to go to work at my husband’s office and the time was tight. I needed to get myself ready and finish my work prep as well as be practicing with my children. I was a little stressed.

I decided that the practice time was in the long run more important, but I needed to be prepared and on time for my paid work as well. So I decided to see how trying to do both would go.

It went OK. Actually, I could see that if this wasn’t the regular norm, it was doable. I sat next to my daughter and worked on my laptop while she practiced. I could see that while I wasn’t paying as close attention, because we had been more consistently practicing the past three weeks, she was carrying on pretty well. I videoed her playing something she made up while doing one of her technique exercises. (She likes it when I video her with my phone.)  We both celebrated her creative moment. Hooray for celebration moments!

5 finger scale invention

On the other hand, yesterday was not as fun. Another child was stressed about getting to school on time (not a bad thing!) and primed for an argument. I was tired and not feeling my best, and I didn’t respond well to his initial crankiness. Our interactions went from poor to worse, any forward momentum fleeing.

After some personal reflection yesterday and this morning, I considered that I had some more progress to make in handling his negativity. When I sit down with this child again today to practice, I’m going to clarify my expectations and invite him to recommit to a more positive practice effort. I’ve recommitted myself internally to showing more kindness when he is not eager to practice while standing firm on my expectations. I can’t expect him not to fight when I put up my dukes (figuratively speaking) at his first little gripe.

I also prepared this visual (Positive Piano Practicing Page) to stick in the inside of both of their practice binders. I made it especially to remind myself of what I’m practicing while I help them practice music: I want to create happy moments while helping my children along their learning path.

Here are some other great articles I found this morning on helping a child practice:

“How to get your child to practice without a fight”

“Ideas to encourage practicing the piano”

Happy Practicing,

Mrs. Livingston 🙂

Practicing at home, part 1

Being a mother of 7, I have had some experience practicing music with children.

I will say that most of it–at least the sit down with a child at the piano (or violin or harp or bagpipes or guitar) probably won’t be among my most “fun family memories.”

It’s like what I told my son this morning: “The reason the ‘Daily Note Search’ and sight reading isn’t very fun right now is because you are still learning the notes. When you know the notes and where to find them quickly, it will become easy, and then it might even be fun!”

That’s how it has been for me with practicing with my children. I didn’t know how to practice with a child–at least not very well–when I started with my first three. When I practiced with a child, we would get so frustrated with my lack of ability to help them effectively that we both wanted to stop the experience as quickly as possible.

But now I’m down to my last two children. I haven’t given up yet! I am determined to figure out how to make practicing together a successful experience.


Because I know that practicing together will provide a foundation for much more rapid and successful music learning and enjoyment in the future. And aside from the musical benefits, they will have learned some fabulous life skills: how to break down something new and challenging into smaller bits, and then how to work on those bits until the task is mastered. Think of the applications in any other walk of life!

It’s called learning discipline/hard work/perseverance/etc.

(For me, it includes lessons in interpersonal relationships.)

Really, if you have someone who loves you helping you to learn a new skill in a way that is pleasant, the odds are that you will learn that skill and want to do that skill. So if I can figure out how to practice in a way we both enjoy that is still effective, then I will be able to add these memories to the “fun family moments” mental album!

As we started practicing together when we got back into the new school year, I noticed that there were some things that really have helped us to be successful. I have been learning a lot, and so have my two children. I decided I want to blog about my learning in hopes that another parent might benefit.

So here’s what went well today:

1. All of our practice tools were in place. This included:

  • their piano bags and music, with flashcards and practicing instructions for the week
  • a metronome
  • a timer
  • a pencil (sharpened)
  • good lighting
  • something for me to sit on at the side of the piano
  • a garbage can
  • fingernail scissors

2. We had all eaten breakfast and, amazingly, were well-rested.

3. I had a positive attitude, and frankly, so they did they! Wow! A pat on the back for all of us!

One thing that I did today that I haven’t before was to sit next to my son while we practiced. Another was to give him 5-second back massages after he finished something hard. He really loves physical proximity and a kind touch. I hadn’t thought of that before. Other times he hasn’t wanted me to sit right next to him. But today it worked. Hooray again!

Another thing that went well was I didn’t get mad! YES! If I could just get a few more of those days in a row…

So, onward ever onward.

I’ll keep you posted.

No pun intended!

Happy Music-making,

Mrs. Livingston 🙂