Colors All Around

Colors All Around

This week’s song topic comes courtesy of my mother-in-law, a special education teacher who works with young children. Every month I make her a CD of Listen & Learn songs to use in her classroom, and she creates amazing visual supports to accompany the songs.

This weekend I asked her what kinds of goals her students were working on, and she gave me a long list. At the top of it was learning the basic colors, and since I hadn’t written a color song in a while, the choice was easy.

Colors All Around focuses on the colors of the rainbow — though I simplified a bit, leaving out indigo and substituting violet with purple. I included three examples of each color and envision the song being used as a sort of “I Spy” game.

When it came to recording this week, I kept it super simple. Guitar and vocals, a throwback to the original Listen & Learn song style. This one is all about the lyrics, after all. Which songs about color are you digging lately?

The “La La” Song

The "La La" Song

Earlier this year, I had the chance to see one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Eilen Jewell, in concert. Pokey LaFarge was the opening act, and I haven’t been able to get his song La La Blues out of my head ever since.

So I used that to my advantage and wrote The “La La” Song! Only my song isn’t about the blues — it’s about being happy, singing, and working towards speech goals.

I used all kinds of consonants throughout the song, but the idea is that they can be changed to accommodate a child’s unique and specific speech goals. I wrote a greeting song a few years back that followed the same model, and was able to adapt it for use with many of my students throughout the years. I’m thinking I can do the same with this one.

Side note: I’m really digging the piano lately! Sometimes it’s refreshing to put down the guitar and use another instrument, not only for recording, but for music therapy sessions as well. I need to do that more often :)

The Magic Word

The Magic Word

We all heard it as children, and most likely even say it now: “What’s the magic word?” It’s probably the most frequently used method for reminding a child to say “please” — so I wrote a song about it.

The idea for The Magic Word came to me as I was brainstorming language and social skills topics last week. I was surprised to realize that I hadn’t touched on this particular topic in all my years of songwriting! But now I have, and here is the finished product:

As I was writing the song, I wanted to include specific examples of the “magic word” in use. What I like about the verses is that you can easily replace those examples with your own sentences and questions, targeted to the specific child or group with whom you are working. Or better yet, let them come up with their own!

To check out the entire Listen & Learn song collection, click here. And remember, I’m always up for song topic suggestions, so feel free to share your ideas with me.

Beatles à la Brothers

One of the highlights of my week is working with Tony and Patrick, two multi-talented brothers with a penchant for Billy Joel and the Beatles. Tony sings and plays the piano, and Patrick plays guitar and piano. Both brothers have been taking lessons with me for less than a year, but have proved to be extremely quick studies.

Last week we had our very first recording session, during which the boys sang and played Imagine. We actually recorded two versions — one with Tony on vocals and Patrick on piano, and the other with Tony on piano and vocals with Patrick on guitar. Below is the latter version:

Next up for Tony & Patrick? Piano Man, Strawberry Fields, Come Sail Away, and several others. I’m looking forward to lots more recordings from this duo!

Friday Fave: Making a Guest Appearance…

Guest Post at Mundana Music Therapy

…over at Mundana Music Therapy, one of my favorite blogs by two of my favorite music therapists! If you’re curious about how I organize and access my insanely huge repertoire of music therapy songs, then hop on over and check out my guest post, 5 Ways to Organize Music Therapy Repertoire.

Kimberly Thompson and Megan Resig are the owners of Mundana Music Therapy, and recently relocated their private practice from Rochester, New York all the way to Portland, Oregon.

Kim and I ended up in the same elevator at last year’s AMTA national conference in Cleveland, where she introduced herself and told me that she and Megan would be attending the CMTE presented by myself and my Music Therapy Round Table colleagues. They did, and we have been in touch ever since. In fact, Mundana Music Therapy is the newest Listen & Learn sponsor.

Kim and Megan are doing big things in the world of music therapy, and I’m honored that they invited me to make an appearance on their blog. So go check it out, and have an amazing Friday!

Sunday Singalong: Vocal Warm-Ups

After having taken over 10 years of voice lessons (including studying as a voice major in college) and teaching voice lessons myself for the past 8 years, I’ve learned a few vocal warm-ups in my time.

I could probably have gone on for another hour, but I decided to spare you of that and just throw out a few favorites ;)

As I mentioned in the video, I would love to hear from you — which vocal exercises do YOU use, whether for yourself or for your students? Please share them in the comments. My students thank you in advance for the fresh new ideas!

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