Making Musical Gifts with Students

Musical Gift Ideas

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I know what I’ll be hearing about from my students throughout the next couple of weeks: the next major holiday! Whether they celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, giving and receiving gifts is an important topic for almost all of them.

I do like to give my students a small gift before the holiday break, but I’ll save that for another post. Today I’m going to tell you about the gifts I’ve helped my students make to give to their families. I know you’ll be shocked to hear that they all involve music.

  • CD containing recordings of current repertoire. This is the least labor-intensive gift, because my students (primarily those who take voice lessons) are already recording their current songs, anyway. I normally save those recordings to the students’ flash drives, but it’s super simple to create a playlist of them in iTunes and burn it to a CD. If the student is planning to give it as a gift, I’ll create a customized CD label using DiscLabel — I highly recommend this downloadable software for Mac users; for PC, I like Memorex’s exPressit Label Design Studio.
  • Holiday songs or album. Let me qualify this by pointing out that as much as I love holiday music, not all of my students do; working on holiday songs is always optional. I do have many who choose to record 1-2 such songs for their families. Learning, practicing and recording an entire album (for my students, that’s 5-8 songs) of holiday songs is a huge undertaking, so only a few students have gone this route. They sure are proud of their hard work once that final product is in hand, and can’t wait to present it to their families.
  • Video recording. For some of my students, especially those who receive music therapy, a video is the better option. Many of them already love to make and watch videos of themselves, so this is a fun way to let their families see their progress and new skills. (Of course, I always make sure to have full written permission before making such videos.) As far as sharing those videos go, there are two different routes I take. One is to save the video to a USB flash drive, and the other is to upload it to my Vimeo Plus account, where only those with the link can view it.

I have over 50 students, and not all of them are interested in creating musical gifts for their families. But for those who are, doing so is a fun and productive way to spend our December lessons. Do you help your students create gifts? And if so, please share the details!

Cyber Monday Music Sale!

Cyber Monday Music Sale

While I’m not a fan of Black Friday, I must admit that I love Cyber Monday (its online counterpart). You’ve no doubt seen sales and deals popping up all over the internet, and Listen & Learn Music is no exception.

Starting now through Friday, all of my digital downloads are 50% off. That includes individual songs and entire albums. All you have to do is enter the code yay50 at checkout (you can pay using a credit card or PayPal).

Cyber Monday Music Sale (Albums)

These are only just a few of the albums up for grabs — there are almost 40 to choose from. I’ve written songs on just about every topic, so now is the time to stock up. Remember, the code is yay50 and here’s the link. Happy shopping!

Sunday Singalong: A She & Him Cover

This was a super busy week for me! Between getting back on track after my trip to Atlanta, the holiday, and two big performances, I barely had time to breathe — let alone record a “Sunday Singalong” video :(

But as I was downloading some video from last night’s gig, I had an idea: since I have mentioned the band She & Him several times here on the blog (and turned several readers into fans!), why not post a cover of one of their songs as today’s video? So that is exactly what I’m doing:

Call me lazy, but it’s better than no video at all…right? :) Next week I’ll go all out with more traditional Listen & Learn fare, and that’s a promise!

Friday Fave: Not-So-Black Friday

Not-So-Black Friday

Last year, my friend Katie and I ventured out at 4 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving to participate in the absolute chaos that is Black Friday. I do have to admit that we had fun, and I did score some great deals on items for my studio, but I am not sad to have missed out this year.

Instead, I slept in and then went to the Festival of Trees with my dad. This afternoon I’m going to eat some leftovers, work on a song with my mom, and maybe even start getting out the Christmas decorations (we’re putting up the tree tomorrow).

My poor husband has been outside stringing up lights all day, which might be even worse than fighting the Black Friday crowds. What about you? Did you brave the mania and take advantage of the sales?

So Much To Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving 2011

Last night as I stood in front of a huge crowd of family, friends and strangers, doing one of the things I love most — singing and playing my heart out — I was reminded of just how much I have to be thankful for.

Not everyone is lucky enough to do what they love (for me, music) on a daily basis in various capacities. The fact that I get to share it with so many people, whether on a professional or personal basis, just makes life that much sweeter.

Reading through my past Thanksgiving blog posts (2008, 2009, and 2010) this morning, it’s nice to see that the things I was thankful for 3 years ago are still constants in my life now. My family, beautiful home, career, and students bring me joy and fulfillment every single day.

I’m celebrating all of the blessings in my life today with both my family and my husband Zach’s family (we have become pros at eating multiple holiday meals, which I’m not sure is a good thing!). Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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