Sunday Singalong: The Crawdad Song

I have one of my former classrooms at The Hope Institute for introducing me to this song. They had heard it on a children’s CD and asked if I could sing it during music therapy, and I happily obliged.

I don’t really have a whole lot to say about this song — other than what I already said in the video! It’s just a fun tune that’s perfect for playing in the summertime, and the possibilities for new verses are endless.

Happy Sunday to you. Mine is off to a busy start, but I’m hoping for some downtime this afternoon so I can just hang out, learn some new songs, and maybe even write one to share with you later in the week.

Friday Fave: Heat Wave!

Egg Frying on Sidewalk

It seems like all anyone can talk about this week — both on Facebook and in person — is how darn hot it is outside. Here in central Illinois, we’ve been under a heat advisory since Sunday…but the truth is, I don’t mind one bit.

Yep, I’m one of those people who likes it hot. It came as no surprise to anyone that I chose to attend college in Florida, and as hard as it was to adjust back to winters in the Midwest, I like the summer heat here. I can even handle the humidity, as long as there is a pool nearby!

All this heated talk has got me thinking about the songs revolving around that same topic. So if you’re currently experiencing a heat wave, too, here are some tunes to serve as a soundtrack:

  • “Heat Wave” from White Christmas
  • “Summer in the City” by Lovin’ Spoonful
  • “Hot, Hot, Hot” by Buster Poindexter
  • “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas
  • “The Heat is On” by Glenn Frey
  • “Too Darn Hot” by Ella Fitzgerald

Are you melting over in your neck of the woods? And what songs would you add to my list? (For more children’s tunes about summer, take a look here.) Have a good weekend…and stay cool!

A Quick Fix Can Make All the Difference

Quick Fix

Can you guess why Dawson looks so happy in this picture? It could be the fact that he LOVES guitar lessons so much…or it could be that we’ve finally figured out a way for him to comfortably play his guitar.

That box underneath his feet was such a simple solution, but it has made all the difference in the world. We spent Dawson’s first couple of lessons trying to figure out a way for him to keep that giant guitar (comparatively speaking) propped up on his leg. Even though my stools are child-sized, they’re just a little too tall for this situation; and the floor was no good either.

So when I spotted that box underneath my desk — I actually have two of them — I pulled it out and told Dawson to rest his feet on it. Voila, the perfect fix! I now have three or four students who use that box for the same purpose.

I’ve implemented several other quick fixes in and around my studio that have been quite effective. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • My “MacGuyvered” ukulele strap (here’s a picture)
  • The tubano drum which stands in as a side table while I teach piano lessons
  • A waiting room coffee table that provides extra seating (here’s a picture)

What are some easy solutions you’ve come up with to make your life (and your students’ lives, too) a little easier?

Do You Keep Parents in the Loop?

Do You Keep Parents in the Loop?

I have found that some methods are more effective than others when it comes to keeping parents up-to-date with their music students’ progress.  As in, my old method didn’t work so well…but luckily, my new one does.

Old method: I sent a form home in each student’s binder outlining that day’s assignments, practice tips, and new repertoire. There was a space where daily practice could be recorded, as well as a signature line for both parent and student. While I did have a handful of families who very diligently filled this out each week, most did not.

New method: I send an email to parents (and/or students, if they are old enough to receive email) outlining that day’s assignments, practice tips, and new repertoire. While not all families record practice time in the log provided on my website, many of them respond to my emails with notes of their own, or even specific questions related to the lesson.

I wrote about my method for taking notes during lessons in a previous post, in case you’re curious. But the purpose for today’s post is to stress the importance of parents being involved in their students’ education.

Just today I received an email from a parent:

Thanks for this great information every week! I like being able to show Elly what she needs to do/remind her what she needs to work on.

If the parent values his or her child’s progress, then the child is more likely to do so, as well. My most motivated students are those who are encouraged (but not forced) to practice at home, and whose parents take the time to respond to my feedback and pass it along to their children.

When I was growing up, my mom dropped me off for my piano lesson, I was sent home with nothing but my current piece or book each week, and there was never any communication between her and my teacher. No wonder I didn’t apply myself very well back then!

I love the fact that my students’ parents call me on my cell phone to discuss practice strategies, chat with me before and after lessons, and keep in touch regularly via email and Facebook.  All of the above makes me a better teacher, and my students are more successful as a result.

Tally Me Some Fruit!

Tally Me Some Fruit!

Last week one of my students’ parents mentioned that her daughter was really into “Day-O” — otherwise known as The Banana Boat Song, by Harry Belafonte.  Oh, and my student wondered if there was a version about oranges, too…which of course had my wheels turning immediately.

I’m always looking for ways to incorporate my fruit shaker instruments, so this struck me as the perfect opportunity. I did a little reworking of the original song, and this is what I guess you could call the “fruit” of my labor:

Day-o, Day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Day, me say day, me say day,
Me say day-ay-ay-o
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Come, Mister tally man, tally me banana
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

It’s six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH!
Daylight come and me wan’ go home
Six foot, seven foot, eight foot BUNCH!
Daylight come and me wan’ go home

Come, Mister tally man, tally me some oranges…
Come, Mister tally man, tally me some apples…
Come, Mister tally man, tally me some lemons…

I’m obviously no Belafonte, but I sure am hopeful that my version meets my student’s approval. I have a feeling that getting out the fruit shakers will help!

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