5 Movies I Watch for Inspiration

This past weekend, while my husband was out of town for yet another bachelor party, I spent both Friday and Saturday evenings parked out on the couch watching movies with my dog. (Easy A, The Back-Up Plan, 50 First Dates, and Zombieland, if you were curious.)

Lo and behold, all of that movie watching inspired me to write a blog post about the movies that inspire me!  So here they are, in no particular order:

Mr. Holland's Opus

Growing up, I owned the VHS tape of Mr. Holland’s Opus and watched it all the time.  I wanted to be just like Rowena, the ingenue who had such a beautiful voice and inspired Mr. Holland’s composition.  But now that I’m all grown up, Mr. Holland inspires me to be a better teacher, and to get my students excited about music.

Field of Dreams

Every knows the most famous line from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.”  Everyone thought Ray Kinsella was crazy for turning his farmland into a baseball field, but he did it, witnessed some pretty amazing things, and even made a living out of it by turning it into a tourist attraction.  I can sort of relate, with my journey from music major (which plenty of people thought was a crazy idea) to music therapist with a soon-to-be full time private practice.

Moulin Rouge

I first saw Moulin Rouge (five times in the theater) as a high school graduate, getting ready to move far away for college and pursue my dreams of performing.  So naturally this movie was inspiring; lots of creative, talented people pursuing their dreams of putting on a show.  It didn’t hurt that I had a huge crush on Ewan McGregor :)  The love story, the songs, and the visual effects are stunning, and I can feel my creative juices pumping every time I watch it.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada might very well be one of my favorite movies of all time.  Not only do I love the main cast (Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, and Stanley Tucci), but I think the way they portray the inner workings of a fashion magazine is so interesting.  And even though Andy (Anne Hathaway’s character) lets her job negatively affect her attitude as she climbs the ranks, she finds her way back to her true self and purpose in the end.

Julie & Julia

Duh, Julie & Julia had to be on this list! After all, it’s about a blogger who writes about her passion…sound familiar?!  And although I’m not getting movie and book deals (unless you count my songbook) I’ve had lots of cool stuff happen because of Listen & Learn.  Also, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are in this movie — see above.

I find inspiration in some of the strangest and most unexpected places, but I think movies are a pretty common source of it.  I would love to hear about the movies that inspire you.  Please share them in the comments!

Sunday Singalong: A Lot Like Summer

I recorded this video on Friday, so my comment about the weather being gorgeous wasn’t a lie! But this weekend has been gross (we’re talking highs in the 50s and rain), so I guess this song isn’t so timely after all.

But the discordant weather does NOT change the fact that summer break is a mere 20 days away, and that there are only 13 actual school days remaining. Not that I’m counting. It’s just that summer is my very favorite season, and there are lots of exciting events happening to kick it off.

One fun pre-summer event is happening today, and that is the baptism of my niece, Maggie. I’m taking a whirlwind roadtrip to St. Louis for this occasion, and then booking it back here for the early childhood music class I teach this afternoon. I’ll be exhausted tonight, but it will be totally worth it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I hope it’s actually “beginning to look a lot like summer” where you are, or at least a little less cold and soggy than it is here!

The Top 3 Items On My Birthday Wish List

I may be turning 28 next month, but I’m still allowed to make a wish list for my birthday!  With my new studio transformation in progress, most of the things I’m asking for relate directly to my work — though that is almost always the case.  (Last Christmas, my parents insisted that I put at least one thing on my list that didn’t concern music or technology.)

So here are the top 3 items on my loooong list of wants.  Let’s just say I would be more than pleasantly surprised if I receive them on June 5.

Ipad 2

iPad 2: I’ve actually gone back and forth on this one.  As awesome as the iPad is, I just don’t know if I really need it.  For one, my husband has one and gives me free reign over his whenever I want.  Also, I already have an iPhone.  But the more I read about the iPad and explore the apps that are available, the more convinced I become that it would be a useful tool in my studio.

Airturn

Airturn Page Turner: This is one of reasons I want the iPad.  The idea of my students and I being able to play using sheet music displayed on the iPad or Mac (of course, I would also need this) and use a foot pedal to turn the pages is just awesome.

Blue Mikey

Blue Mikey: A microphone for my iPhone.  I am a huge fan of Blue Microphones and have been using the Snowball for years.  But sometimes during a lesson or music therapy session, I don’t necessarily want to set up my computer and microphone.  I’d love to be able to just plug this bad boy into my iPhone and start recording.  I do this every once in a while with the voice memo app, but it would be nice to get a more high quality sound.

What music & technology related items are on your wish list?

TV or no TV? Survey Says…

No TV in Studio Waiting Room

Yesterday, in the hopes of receiving advice from my fellow music therapy and studio teacher friends, I sent out this tweet:

Quick poll: Should I put a TV in my new studio’s waiting room? Husband votes no; I have a feeling ALL my students would vote yes. Thoughts?

And once again, my tweeps did not let me down.  (Have I mentioned how much I love social networking?)  Within minutes, I had all kinds of feedback pointing me in the right direction.  Here are a few of the responses I received.

  • Nope. Video killed the radio star. (@KnightMTBC)
  • Would it cause problems with transition into your session? Most of my kids need to finish the entire program before they go. (@rebwellman)
  • I would vote no. You could have radio/ipod instead ;) (@playyourpartmt)
  • I’d say no as well, esp for special needs kids. I dread walking into session and see kid watching TV, can’t pull them away. (@FSUAndrew)
  • I vote no. mp3 player and speakers, maybe? Quiet music, books, magazines. My $.02. (@jparkerneal)
  • You could also include programs (like when you go to the symphony/concert/musical) and music magazines. Fun and #music-al! (@playyourpartmt)
  • No, plenty of mags and books instead. (@Murph232)
  • No, as much as that would be cool… How about setting up a computer with an appropriate and educational game? (@emilyapeterson)

The responses I received backed up my husband’s thoughts on the matter, and pushed me over the fence.  I was only ambivalent because I do have a TV in my current waiting room (which is my family room during non-studio hours), and it has never caused any issues for me, my students, or their families.

But really, it is only used on occasion, and I think the alternatives that I plan to offer in my new waiting room are much better.

For one, I already have one of my keyboards set up on a stand with a bench, which students can use to practice (with headphones) before their lesson or while they are waiting for their sibling(s).

And as many of my tweeps suggested, I’ll have books and magazines for both children and adults available, as well as my bookcase full of songbooks for practice and repertory exploration.

This important decision will allow me to move forward with decorating and furnishing my studio, so thank you to everyone who voiced their opinion.  More pictures are coming soon, now that the waiting room couches are in and the space is beginning to come to life!

Achoo! (A Sneezy Song for Spring)

Achoo - Children's Song About Sneezing

With all of the allergens floating through the air and the bipolar weather we’ve been experiencing here in Illinois, I’ve heard a lot of “achoo-ing” going on lately.

So much of it, in fact, that it inspired my latest song. You know how much my students and I love a song that starts out slow and speeds up as it goes along (as evidenced here and here) and that is exactly what my newest song does, too:

When you feel a little tickle in your nose,
Then you know how the next part goes:
You shut your eyes tight,
Cover your face just right,
And then you have to sneeze!

Achoo, achoo!
Excuse me, and bless you!
Achoo, achoo!
I sneezed, and you did, too!

{Repeat, speeding up each time}

Even some of my not-so-verbal students are saying “achoo!” right along with me, and it’s so much fun to hear them keep up with me as the song speeds up. I’ve been having them play egg shakers and chiquitas, since the “ch” sound they make fits perfectly.

Oh, and speaking of songs about sneezing, please check out the song “Spring Fever” by Mr. Heath. It’s a staple at our annual spring singalongs. Do you know any other tunes that celebrate the joy (ha!) of spring allergies?

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