Friday Fave: The Pencil Trick

Pencil Trick

Yesterday during Sergei’s piano lesson, we were working on C chords. Forming chords is a new concept to him, and when he was having trouble getting his 2nd and 4th fingers to stay out of the way, I introduced him to the pencil trick.

I’m not sure where I came up with this idea, but I’m positive that there are others out there who use it as well. As silly as it looks, the “pencil trick” really does help my students get the hang of playing chords.

Sergei was more than happy to serve as my hand model for the photo above, though just a few moments after I snapped the picture, he was ready to put the pencils down and play his C chords without them. Success!

Do you have any funny-yet-helpful little tricks like this that come in handy with your students? My motto when it comes to teaching is whatever works — no matter how seemingly ridiculous or silly. Long live the pencil trick in my studio ;)

We’ll Tap and Tap…and Tap Some More!

Tap Tap Your Rhythm Sticks

This week, I decided to give one of my OLD songs some NEW life. Tap Tap Your Rhythm Sticks has been a staple of mine since I wrote it way back in 2008 (here’s the original blog post to prove it!) and believe it or not, it’s by far my best-selling song out of the 200 or so I’ve written.

There are several reasons why I think this song has been so popular and effective. First of all, it’s meant to be used while playing rhythm sticks, which are always fun for my kiddos. Secondly, it’s upbeat and catchy. Third, the lyrics are repetitive while still varying enough to keep everyone’s attention.

Not only does this song encourage rhythmic playing, but it also addresses the concepts of loud and soft. Playing and singing softly can be difficult for kids at times, but for some reason, this particular tune does the trick almost every time.

My original recording was low in quality and didn’t include anything other than my guitar and vocals. I think it works much better with a little bass, piano, and of course, rhythm sticks!

Friday Fave: It’s a Round Table Reunion!

Music Therapy Round Table Reunion

The gang is back together again! Last summer we had our first-ever “Meeting of the Minds” in Florida, and this year we’re on my home turf in Springfield, Illinois.

The Music Therapy Round Table is a podcast hosted by myself, Michelle Erfurt, and Kimberly Sena Moore.  We’ve been working together from our respective states (Illinois, Florida, and Missouri) for the past two and a half years, and after launching Music Therapy Pro last August, we’re putting our heads together for the next wave of brainstorming and project planning.

While we will be spending most of the weekend getting some serious work done, we always factor in some “fun” time, too. This afternoon we have plans to hit up the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, followed by dinner at one of my favorite downtown restaurants.

And now I better get back to work…hope your weekend is as productive and enjoyable as mine promises to be!

“S” Is For Summer

"S" Is for Summer

Okay, so maybe it’s not technically summer yet…but ask any kid what season it is and they’ll most likely tell so! It definitely feels like summer has arrived, now that school is out and I’m enjoying a nice little summer break.

“S” Is For Summer was actually written as a custom song for a child with specific language-related needs, especially when it comes to the letter s. And since it’s almost summer, which happens to begin with that very letter, her teacher and I decided to stick with the seasonal theme.

You’ll notice that there are LOTS of s’s in this song, not just at the beginning of words but in all positions as well as blends. So while it addresses one child’s needs in particular, it will hopefully be beneficial and enjoyable for other children, too.

What other summery “s” words did I miss? Snorkeling, sailing, snoozing, seashells, surfing…enough to write an entirely new song! And there’s no such thing as too many songs about summer, so I just might go ahead and do that ;)

Friday Fave: Let the Birthday Festivities Begin!

Rachel's Birthday

Don’t go wishing me a happy birthday just yet, because the big day isn’t actually until Tuesday. But who doesn’t love an extended celebration…especially when it’s a milestone year? No, I’m not turning 30 quite yet, but this is the beginning of the LAST year in my 20s, which is a pretty big deal!

My husband and I celebrated my 29th birthday last night with an amazing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, and my family and friends are getting together tonight for what has been dubbed Rachel’s “I’m Not 30 Yet!” Birthday Party. I’ll be spending my actual birthday in Austin, Texas — a fun little mother/daughter trip courtesy of my awesome mom.

28 has been a pretty amazing year, between launching my full-time biz, taking a few wonderful vacations, and seeing my family grow (I got a new niece earlier this week!). But I have a feeling that 29 might be even bigger and better, both professionally and personally.

Thanks for stopping by and taking part in my birthday festivities! I hope your weekend is filled with lots of great things, too!

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