January Sponsor Shout-Outs!

It’s time once again to give you the run-down of all of the wonderful Listen & Learn sponsors. I’m extremely proud to feature all of the following resources here on the blog — please take a few minutes to check them out below:

Songbird Serenade

I’m thrilled to welcome the newest Listen & Learn Sponsor: Songbird Serenade. Emily Sevcik is a board-certified music therapist who shares original songs she has created to enhance the lives of both children and adults through music. Her hope is that other music therapists, teachers, and parents find her simple songs to have a sophisticated purpose in their work and lives. Emily shares with L&L readers that she is thrilled to have made it through her first month of blogging, while continually learning about the process of blogging, songwriting, and recording.

A Perfect Lullaby

A Perfect Lullaby is a CD that helps moms and dads sing to their babies. Research shows that singing to infants has many benefits for babies AND parents. Make sure to visit the website for educational resources including podcasts and articles, and to hear the music. A Perfect Lullaby will be for sale at the Midwest Regional Music Therapy Conference in Iowa City, as well as on CD Baby and iTunes in the near future.

Mundana Music Therapy

Kimberly Thompson and Megan Resig are the fabulous music therapists who run this private practice in Portland, OR and manage the popular blog by the same name. Check out their Wellness Wednesday column, join them on Facebook, and follow Kimberly and Megan on Twitter.

If you would like to get your young children started on piano lessons, you can start teaching them at home, even if you have no music training. All you need is a keyboard or piano and You Can Make Music at the Keyboard, Young Beginner Book I. Leslie Denning, better known as Miss Leslie, is a piano teacher and early childhood music education specialist, who has put together a package that makes it easy to teach piano at home. Through colors, audio, and video, you and your child will learn to recognize the keys on the piano, notes on the staff, and rhythmic and melodic patterns. There are many fun activities to reinforce the feeling of steady beat, musical direction, and high and low. This method is written for children from 3 to 7 and may also be used with children who have learning disabilities. To find out more, go to Preschool Piano with Miss Leslie.

Opus Music Education offers a searchable database of music teachers in California and affordable private music lessons in virtually every instrument. Every first music lesson is always free. Opus also offers Opus Music Worksheets, a database of high quality, free printable music education resources, including free music theory worksheets, free music flashcards, free music business forms, and many other free music learning resources for music teachers, music students, and parents.

OnlinePianist has launched a new section to the site, the virtual piano, where the users can play the player themselves. The section includes a virtual keyboard with features such as zoom, sustain and the ability to play with the mouse or keyboard. Coming soon: a brand new feature to the Premium player — transposition. Users will be able to change the song’s scale in order to learn their favorite song in an easier scale. Also, the ability to “favorite” specific songs and mark them on the user’s profile page, instead of searching the song every time they log into the site, will be available in the near future.

Theta Music Trainer as added some new features on the site this month for teachers and students. Teachers can now view all of the training reports for their students on the same page, without having to click on each individual student. It is also possible now for teachers to reset passwords for students who have forgotten them. Additionally, the option to use solfege syllables instead of numbers for some of the games is now available. It is also much easier for teachers to send assignments to students now, and students can click on a link in the mail to go directly to the assigned game and level.

Music Therapy Tunes

Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, manages Music Therapy Tunes and has a new video called “15 Hello Songs” accessible here as well as a winter clothing song, and two other songs to help kids sing/follow directions/use conceptual skills. Margie is also working on a Valentine’s day song that will double as a great end of the year or graduation song.

Make Me Musical

Susan at Make Me Musical writes: “I’ve been tidying up my blog.  After almost 2 years of posting songs, games, planning resources, photos and downloads there was a lot to sift through and some things hit the dustbin!  I’ve added some new features to make it easier for new visitors to have some fun exploring the site though.  Come on over and see what’s up at Make Me Musical!”


Have you heard about the Soundbeam? This seriously cool system detects the distance, direction and velocity of body movements in a defined space, and translates these body gestures into control signals for creating electronic music or manipulating multimedia. It’s being used in special education, music therapy, the music classroom, museums, and science centers…and you can learn all about it at the website of our wonderful sponsor, SoundTree.

Involve Me Music Shout-Out

Involve Me Music: Solutions for Music Educators provides a blog, individual and group consultation services (live and via phone and skype), workshops and presentations. Board-certified music therapist Jennifer Sokira offers a down-to-earth and practical perspective, with the intention of helping music teachers develop relationships with their special education students, allowing them to better participate in, enjoy, and benefit from music education. Be sure to sign up for the free Involve Me Music newsletter.

More With Music

More With Music is a song resource website where parents, teachers, and therapists can find songs to help teach the students in their lives. Amanda Ellis manages More With Music and works as a full-time music therapist in a public school setting with students ages 5-22. Songs posted on More with Music can be purchased online for 99 cents each and song sheets (complete with guitar chords and lyrics), are free by request. Do you need a song to help teach a skill or accomplish a specific goal? Amanda also takes requests and can write songs for specific goals and skills by request. It all starts with an email to morewithmusic@gmail.com.

Stefanie Anderson Eckert, MM, MT-BC is the owner of A-Z Music Therapy Services, which provides services to individuals with disabilities in San Antonio and South Central Texas. Stefanie works in many different settings, including schools for children with autism and assisted living facilities. Her website offers additional resources and contact information for individuals interested in her services.

Music Therapy Maven Shout-Out

Kimberly Sena Moore, the Music Therapy Maven also co-manages Music Therapy Pro and just started the second semester of her doctoral studies at UMKC! Join Kimberly’s newsletter and “like” her Facebook page to keep up with the latest music therapy happenings, musings, and much more!

Rhythm Ring

Rhythm Ring has some exciting news to share. They’ve got a new logo they’re preparing to release, as well as a black ring. They’re working on a new web presence, too.  Rhythm Ring has recently entered into a promotional marketing market where they’ve placed other’s logos on their rings.  They have actually approached some music therapists who facilitate corporate team building events to partner with Rhythm Ring.  They offer discount wholesale pricing with this. Very cool!

Joyful Noise Music Therapy

Joyful Noise Music Therapy, Inc. is a private music therapy practice that focuses on clients with neurologic disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Stroke, or Brain Injury. Stephanie Shehan is the owner of JNMT as well as current president of the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association. Check out JNMT on Facebook!

Music Therapy Tween

The Music Therapy Tween recently got a face lift! Check out the new look and see what Michelle Erfurt, the tween herself, is up to. Also, be sure to take a look at Michelle’s specialty: Boom Totes! These boomwacker bags were a huge hit at the national music therapy conference in November, and are still selling like hotcakes. Order yours today.

Interested in becoming a Listen & Learn sponsor?

You can get the full scoop on sponsorship, including all the perks, right here. Sign up now and get your first shout-out in February!

Penguin Party

Peguin Party Album CoverAre you ready for the most info-packed song about penguins you’ve ever heard in your life? Okay, so I probably didn’t have much competition when I wrote this, but I do have to admit I’m pretty proud of the amount of penguin facts I managed to include — and they rhyme, no less!

You might be wondering: why penguins? The answer: why NOT?! Actually, this was written as a custom music therapy song for Rene, a 1st grade teacher who is teaching a unit on penguins this winter. Thanks to the fact sheet Rene sent along with her custom song order, I was able to wrap up the most pertinent information into a fun tune that I hope her students will not only learn from, but also enjoy.

And since I figured who doesn’t love penguins, I decided to go ahead and share “Penguin Party” with all of you, too. It’s a little long, but it’s catchy! And educational!

Writing custom songs is one of my favorite things to do, because I get to tackle subject matter that I otherwise might not even think to write about. And now I’m off to ponder next week’s song topic…hmm…this one is going to be hard to top!

Sunday Singalong: Left & Right

This song is an oldie, but honestly, it might be one of my favorite Listen & Learn originals. I like the melody, and I also like that it explains the concept in a relatively easy-to-understand manner.

I debated including a picture-in-picture view of the actions as I sing them, but decided it would probably be confusing since my left is the opposite of your left. When I sing this song with my students, I turn around so that our left and right are the same.

Do you have any go-to songs or methods for teaching the concept of left and right?

Friday Fave: Square Credit Card Reader

Square Credit Card Reader

There have been many occasions on which I wished I was able to accept credit card payments. Here are just a few: when selling my CDs and songbooks at conferences, peddling demos at gigs, when a parent of a student forgets his or her checkbook and has no cash…the list goes on.

So when my friend and fellow studio owner Lisa Casciola told me about the Square Credit Card Reader, I was intrigued. I went to the website, where I found out that I could order the tiny little device for FREE, start an account for FREE, and immediately begin accepting credit card payments.

Square Credit Card Reader

The square accepts all types of major credit cards and charges a flat 2.75% rate for every transaction. The best part is that the money is transferred to your bank account the next day. How convenient is that? The Square app can be downloaded to the iPhone, iPad and Android for free, and is super simple to use. Here are a couple screen shots of the app in use:

Square App Screen Shot

You simply enter the dollar amount and title of your transaction and then either swipe the card or enter the card number. It seriously couldn’t be any easier, and better yet, each transaction is completely secure.

For each item or service you sell, you can upload a picture that is displayed as an icon next to the item name. You can also personalize your receipts and let customers choose between paper (you can print wirelessly if using the iPad), email, or text. There is also an option for customers to add a tip. You can create reports to track sales and income, and even set up custom rewards programs for certain credit card types.

This device has opened up lots of new possibilities for me! Have you tried it yet, or do you use another method of accepting credit card payments on the fly?

Clackin’ On the Ice

Clackin' On the Ice

Last week’s song featured a picture of a ukulele on a sandy beach…so this is just about as opposite as it gets! But it is January, after all, so I’m getting in those wintery songs while I can.

I actually wrote “Clackin’ On the Ice” in just a few minutes while putting together my Church Mice curriculum for this session. I needed a song that would go well with rhythm sticks and provide the opportunity for changing dynamics.

When I use this in person with my little mice, we start by singing and playing loudly. Each time we repeat the verse, we get softer and softer. In my recording, I reflect the gradual diminuendo by removing instrumental and vocal lines after each verse.

The rhythm sticks make the perfect “clackin’ on the ice” sound, though castanets would work very well, too. It might also be neat to experiment with vocal ostinatos and other instruments for a really progressive sound. I love a song that covers all kinds of objectives and provides so many fun possibilities!

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