Calling all young artists!

In 2013, I wrote a story called “The Story of Music” for our curriculum. I would love to have children illustrate it! You can read the story here.

If you would like to color a picture for the book, please do! Then scan it and email it to me! (Or for my students, bring it to class.) If I use your illustration in my book, I will give you the credit, so be sure to write your first name in the corner of your illustration.

Thanks so much!

Lesson 1.1.4 “What’s for dinner?” Week 2

Last week we worked on learning to play do on D (open D). When we say “open string” that means playing the string with no fingers on it.

Remember, any note can be doDo is simply the first note in the scale, and for our purposes this year, it is the first note of a major scale.

When you put the first finger down a whole step away, it is re. So we practiced playing do and re the first two notes in our Solfa scale.

The new song we started learning, “I Am Like an Apple Seed,” contains only do and re, as you saw when you practiced with your child. This week we keep learning the song. Our goal is to have the song memorized in our mind and in our hands so we can play it at 60 bpm by the end of two weeks from today’s lesson.

When we accomplish that goal, we’ll play it together as a class. Then we will ask those children who know Twinkle well at 60 bpm to play it while we play our song at the same time: our first duet! We will be a real orchestra!

We will begin singing the song at home as a duet next week. If any of you want to try it this week and email me a recording (either audio or video), that would be awesome!!! Remember that recordings don’t need to be perfect. They simply encourage others to try. Mistakes can actually be comforting and encouraging because they see that the other child hasn’t perfected the song yet, either.

To read the lesson plan and see the practice instructions, go here.


Pilgrim Song


Last night, I had a hard time sleeping. I remembered the song I posted about yesterday, and I searched for a version of it on my phone. “Where Can I Turn for Peace” came up, and I listened. Wow! I had forgotten what a beautiful version of this song is on this album! I love the arrangement. Her voice is a great example for someone learning to sing to listen to. Wish I had a video of her song to post here.

2_never_give_upIn looking for a video of that song, I discovered another darling song she and her daughter sing called “Come and Play,” from this album, “Never Give Up.” It’s beautiful! If you have ever enjoyed a moment pushing your child in the swing, give this song a try!

There is one more song on that first album that was a part of an etched-into-my-memory moment. Several years ago, I attended my oldest daughter’s choir concert at her high school. Her choir was singing the song, “Pilgrim’s Song,” which I had never heard before, and it was being sung by (I found out later) a young woman who had fought leukemia for nearly 13 years and was just praying to make it to graduation. There was a feeling in that room that was unbelievable. I am guessing I wasn’t the only one with tears streaming down my cheeks. And so it is a special song to me, and when I hear it I think of brave Emily, who passed away not long after her graduation. She made it!

I think “Pilgrim’s Song” would be an awesome song to choreograph a ballet/modern dance to!


Solfa, strings on “Where Can I Turn for Peace?”

Here’s something to give the children a little vision of where learning to play Solfa on their D string can take them.

I sincerely welcome replacement recordings! I am neither a professional singer nor professional violinist. The notes are not perfectly in tune, and the breathing is poor. (I didn’t have time to do retakes.) PLEASE: if anyone would like to re-do these recordings and email them to me, I’d love it!

“Where Can I Turn for Peace” is a hymn in the key of D with no accidentals (no added sharps or flats), so it’s an easy transfer from learning to play a D major scale, beginning on open D, particularly for a child who knows the hymn already in their head.

The Solfa for the hymn goes like this:

s f m f f m
s t l s r
m f s l l l s
f l d r
s f m f f m
s t d’ d’ d
d’ t l s d l
f m r d

Usually, the note the song ends in is the key for that song. So in this song, the last note is do on D, and it is in the key of D.

“Setting the Table” again for the rest of the class

Today was fun! Thank you for your patience for those parents watching for the second time. I goofed on a couple of things:

1. Minor detail on the practice instructions: The third line of the poem goes “‘Till your good gets better.” The “r” was missing from “your.”

2. I failed to teach Solfa to the children! Yikes! That’s a little major. (Hopefully they got the idea from the sharing time.)  Here’s a video to help out:

Another link (embedding was disabled on this video).


Parent Meeting Summary

Many thanks to all of the parents who attended our parent meeting this week! It was great to visit with you! I am so excited about our semester ahead and the work we get to do with our capable children.

Please remember to check this blog each week for updates on the lesson from that day. The more connected you are, the more you will find resources that can help you in practicing with your child.

For example, you can find all of the papers that are in your binder online here. If you or your child loses one, you can print it out again. Phew.

I talked a lot about giving feedback. I wanted to remind us all that it’s great when we try to give feedback at a 6:1 ratio–6 positives to one negative. I may not need that many positives, but I sure will feel overwhelmed if all I get is negative feedback :). So thank you in advance for texting, emailing, or posting positive comments about how things are going.

PLEASE let me know if there is something you don’t understand or a link that is missing, etc. If something doesn’t make sense, tell me! I’ll happily fix it.

I have added content to the website today. Check out these pages to see what is here for you:

Please check your child’s violin and bow hold, and make sure they begin practicing in tune.

Also, remember that your child earns one smile simply for completing all the steps in the lesson each day. Be sure that at the end of the week (i.e. the last practice session before class) you add up the smiles, write how many they earned, and initial it so I know you are aware.

I also need one parent volunteer per week to attend. I will send a sign up sheet around today in class. Parents will help record smiles earned and which skills a child passes off each class. They will also help reward awards at the end of class when a child has earned them.

I have treats (candy) that are nut-free and most that are dairy-free. They are not sugar free.  A child who earns 6 practicing smiles is awarded one treat each week. If you have concerns with that, let me know. (These are small treats: single Lifesavers, Tootsie Rolls, etc.)






In Delicious Music, we work for smiles. ☺

You earn 1 smile for each day you complete all of your practice instructions.

You earn 1 smile for coming to class.

You earn 1 smile for getting on the sharing box and performing.

You earn 1 smile for participating with a positive attitude in class.

You earn extra smiles for doing something from the Extra Smile list.

While the teacher will plan for some individual and group rewards, parents are responsible to plan for and dutifully carry out those planned rewards. Be aware that what your child dreams up will more than likely be achieved, so only promise what you are willing to do or give.

Here’s an example: When I was about 9 years old, my best friend’s family moved to Switzerland. (I lived in California.) I desperately wanted to go visit her. My dad promised me that if I earned half the money for airfare, he would pay for me to go. Over a 2-year period, I earned the money. He did not expect I would. But he kept his promise, and I, my mom, and my sister went to Switzerland on a wonderful, life-changing trip.

First day of Beginning Orchestra (Lesson 2.1.1)

Yesterday we had a “preview” class for Beginning Orchestra for those eager students who were dying to get started. And we had fun!

I set up the table with a snack and colorful plates, napkins, cups, chips, salsa, apples, oranges, and water. The children were thrilled to have an after school snack before starting!

I reviewed names and visited while they snacked for a minute, and then we started. I started out by teaching them the Delicious Music theme song, including the new phrase (second to last phrase in the song) that says, “We will work to train our fingers how to play our inner music.”

I explained that when we have a song in our head, we want to be able to write it down so we can play it again and share it with someone else. That is what we will do this semester: begin learning not only how to play our instruments better, but also how to hear, read, write, and move to the notes we hear–whether they are in our head or coming from outside our ears.

We began by learning how to sing and sign a Solfa scale. Solfa is a music language in which we use hand signs for notes, kind of like ASL (American Sign Language), but for music. We learned the signs for low do, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, and high do. We practiced singing and signing an ascending Solfa scale and a descending Solfa scale.

Then I showed them how you can write down a tune using the abbreviations (first letter) of each Solfa note. For example, if you were to sing the first line of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” it would look like this: m r d r m m m.  

Then we learned to sing two more songs in Solfa: “Making Music Makes Me Smile” and “Let’s Go Build a Snowman.”  We sung them in using our soldège signs and then just with the lyrics.

Finally, we talked about our practicing homework. I shared the analogy of preparing a meal, and all the steps that are required (hence the snack first to help them imagine it!). I showed them the practice reporting page, on which they must cross off one image each day they follow the instructions for that part of practicing. They earn one smile for each day they complete their practicing.

It was a great day!

Our parent meeting will be Tuesday night at 7 pm at my home. (See your email for directions.) Then Thursday will be our first OFFICIAL day! Those who came yesterday will go to work on their instruments after our beginning sharing time.

If you have any questions about the practicing instructions, please email me! You should begin practicing with your child (if they attended class) immediately.

P.S. The lessons are numbered to indicate the semester (2nd), month (1st), and week (1st)= 2.1.1. Our themes change monthly, and the lessons will support the themes. The theme for this first month is “Making music takes preparation, hard work, and fun!”