Sunday Singalong: Three is a Magic Number

I don’t know what it is about these Schoolhouse Rock songs, but they’ve just been invading my head lately! Two in one summer, sheesh. (Here’s the first video, from a few weeks back.)

But it’s true, what I said in the video — I’m reminded of this song each time a couple I know has their first child. One of my best friends is getting ready to welcome a baby girl, so she was the inspiration for my song choice this week :)

The Rhythm Sticks Waltz

Song for Children Counting to 3

Every time I use this song in a class or music therapy session, I start by having my students count to 3.  We do it once to begin with, very slowly, and use our fingers as well as our voices.  Gradually we get faster, counting to 3 again and again in rhythm.  Then I explain that they’ve just counted a type of song called a waltz.

Rhythm sticks are a great instrument for this type of activity, because the beat can be heard very clearly.  Younger students seem to have better impulse control while playing sticks as opposed to drums or other types of percussion instruments, though I may experiment a little.

This is a relatively new song, but so far I’ve had lots of fun and success with it.  The concept of counting to 3 over and over again is a bit difficult at first, but once my students can do that, they have laid the foundation for some pretty important music (and non-music) skills.

If you can count to three (1, 2, 3)
Then you can do the rhythm sticks waltz with me.
Just click your sticks and feel the beat,
The rhythm stick waltz is so sweet.

1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, go,
Keep tapping, don’t stop yet,
Just feel the flow.

If you can count to three (1, 2, 3)
Then you can do the rhythm sticks waltz with me.
Just click your sticks and feel the beat,
The rhythm stick waltz is so sweet.

1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, pause,
And take a rest,
Let’s hear the applause!

Of course, when I use this song in a live session or class, we make our own applause :)  We also vary the tempo, going very slowly at first and then seeing how quickly we can play and sing while keeping the steady beat.

I don’t write many songs in 3/4 time, especially not songs meant to be played along to with instruments.  But it’s good to have a few in the mix.  Which waltz-tempo songs do you sing and play with your students?

Let’s Count: Hold Up 10 Fingers

boy-counting-to-tenAfter four years of actively writing songs for children, I’ve lost count of the songs I’ve written about counting (no pun intended, hehe). It’s definitely not for lack of other song topics; it’s just that counting is a skill that every child needs to learn, whether it is through signing or speaking.

My latest counting song employs the use of our fingers. Not only does this give the child something visual and concrete to represent each number, but it also involves fine motor coordination and imitation – two more important areas of development.

Hold up one finger,
Hold up just one,
And wave it around
‘Cause we’re almost done.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up two fingers,
Yes, hold up two,
I had a wonderful
Time with you.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up three fingers,
Yes, hold up three,
Now join right in
And sing with me.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up four fingers,
Yes, hold up four,
Wiggle and wiggle
And wiggle some more.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up five fingers,
Yes, hold up five,
Fly up to the sky,
Then take a dive.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up six fingers,
Yes, hold up six,
And tap them like
They’re rhythm sticks.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up seven fingers,
Yes, hold up seven,
Down on the ground,
Now up to heaven.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up eight fingers,
Yes, hold up eight,
Close them up
Just like a gate.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up nine fingers,
Yes, hold up nine,
Climbing up
A great big vine.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up ten fingers,
Yes, hold up ten,
And wave goodbye
To all your friends.
La la la la, la la la la.

Hold up one finger,
Hold up just one,
And wave it around
‘Cause we’re almost done.
La la la la, la la la la.

Before and after singing the song, I invite the children to verbally and manually (with our hands) count to 10. I added lots of movement to this song so that it’s not just about counting. I also designed it as a cool-down song, meant to be sung near the end of the class, music therapy session, or what have you.

Like I mentioned at the beginning this post, I’ve written lots of counting songs. But it’s not all Listen & Learn, all the time, around here. I want to know: what are your favorite songs for teaching kids to count? Which have worked best for your own students and children? Let’s see how many we can round up!

Today it is September

Can you believe it? I barely had time to get used to August, and it’s already over! It has felt like September for the last few days (seriously, 40-degree temps at night), but hopefully we’ll have at least a few more summery days before fall really sets in.

This is going to be one busy month…my calendar is almost full and it’s only day #1. I have several performances lined up, the start of Church Mice, a big event at the Hope Institute, and lots more to look forward to. Bring it on, September!

If you’re a regular reader, then you know that I begin each month with a song all about that particular month. Since Listen & Learn made its debut almost a year ago, I have already shared my “September” song. You can refresh your memory by listening to it here. So today, in the spirit of all things fall, we’re counting apples!

Counting time, it’s counting time,
So let’s all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little apples in a row,
Now let’s count them nice and slow:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Again!
1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

How many apples?
10 little apples,
All lined up in a row!

How are you welcoming the new month? Do you have your own September song? I’m off to go refresh my own memory (it’s been a while since I’ve sung it!) before my first class. Have a fantastic Tuesday!

Ten Little Suns

I know I’m always complaining about our crazy midwest weather, but in these last few days, I haven’t had much to complain about. We had a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the low 80s, and of course, lots of sunshine. All of these sunny days got me thinking that it is time to do a little counting…summer style!

Counting time, it’s counting time,
So let’s all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little suns in a row,
Now let’s count them nice and slow:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Again!
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

How many suns?
Ten little suns.
All lined up in a row!

I’ve been so busy this summer that I haven’t taken complete advantage of the summer sun; I wish I could stockpile a few days for the winter months, when I really need them :) August will be here before we know it – go out and enjoy the last few days of July!

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