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!

Friday Fave: The ULTIMATE Fake Book

The Ultimate Fake Book with 1200 Songs

I love fake books — so much so that I have an entire shelf of them here in my studio. The latest in my collection, pictured above, was a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law. And like most non-musicians, I’m pretty sure they have no idea what a fake book actually is.

A fake book contains the bare bones needed to play the songs within it: the melody line, lyrics, and chords. It’s up to the musician to come up with his or her own accompaniment, whether on guitar or piano. Fake books are great because the songs are succinct (usually no page-turning involved) and easy to pick up quickly.

This is the Ultimate Fake Book with Over 1200 Songs really IS the ultimate fake book, as I’ve come to find out. In the last month, I’ve opened it in search of a particular song, and found what I was looking for every single time. Amazing! It has come in very handy both in voice lessons and music therapy sessions. It has a permanent spot in the drawer next to my piano just because I use it so often.

There are definitely times when I prefer the real deal, where the accompaniment is already laid out for me. But I like to have options, which is why I keep both types of music and songbooks around. Are you a fake book fan, or do you prefer full arrangements of songs in most cases?

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