Better When I’m Dancing

Better When I'm Dancing Album Cover

My business partner Katey recently shared with me a video of Meghan Trainor’s song “Better When I’m Dancing” from The Peanuts Movie and asked if I had heard it. I hadn’t, but I loved it and knew immediately I wanted to adapt it for use in music therapy sessions and classes.

I might have had just a little too much fun with the instrumentation and vocals on this recording — and by that I mean I was literally dancing in my chair while I worked (it kept my baby entertained, at least!).

As much as I enjoy writing completely original songs, I love to throw in a good cover every once in a while, especially one from a popular artist that many of my kiddos will recognize.

Listening to this song is an instant mood lifter and will hopefully inspire my students and clients to dance along, too. Can’t wait to sing it with them this week!

Members of Listen & Learn Plus! have access to all of these songs (along with tons more) right inside the Dropbox folder I share with them — come over and join us!

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We Love Our Parachute

Parachute for Music Class

Those of you who already own one of these will never believe that this is the NEWEST addition to our collection of movement props.

We have just about everything else (including most of what is available from our friends at Bear Paw Creek) but for some reason, a parachute didn’t make it into our hands until just a few months ago.

We’ve been having a blast using our parachute in the current session of our early childhood classes, and it’s a huge hit with all the kiddos. Most of them are getting used to holding the handles, but there are always a few who would rather stand underneath or right on top of the parachute. Needless to say, we are just as entertained as the children every time it comes out.

There are lots of songs that lend themselves to the parachute, like “Ring Around the Rosy” and “Pop Goes the Weasel”, and it has also given me an opportunity to write some new ones. Can’t wait to share those with you soon!

As often as we’ve been using this fun prop, we need to keep it fresh with a variety of material. What are some of your favorite parachute tunes and activities?

We’re Gonna Wave

We're Gonna Wave Album Cover

I’m really lucky that my colleague Katey is crafty, because when it comes to anything involving sewing, I certainly am not. She volunteered to make ribbon streamers for the most recent session of our early childhood classes, and I did my part by coming up with a song for them.

This is a simple song with a repetitive, familiar melody, because the focus is on movement and following directions. Each verse features a different way to manipulate the streamers, and it is so much fun to see our kiddos get creative with their interpretation of each. They also help come up with additional movements.

The streamers that Katey created are perfect for the 0-3 crowd, because they are attached to loose fabric-covered elastics that can be worn around the children’s wrists. While the older kids like to see how many they can pile on to each arm, the tiny ones can participate without having to actually grasp and hold onto the streamers.

Here’s a photo of Katey’s creations, pictured with one of our monkey friends (which we use for this song) from class.

Colorful Ribbon Streamers for Music Class

Of course, the streamers can be substituted for fabric scarves or other props you already have on hand. I simply change the words when I use this song with scarves or ribbon rings in other settings.
P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

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Wiggle Your Fingers When I Say “Go!”

Ready, Set, Wait Album Cover

The first time I sing this song with a group of kids, it catches them off guard — which is exactly what I was going for when I wrote it. There they are, all ready to wiggle their fingers/toes/knees/etc. and BOOM! I drop the “W” bomb on them.

No child likes to wait, but learning to be patient is an important skill even at an early age. So is listening carefully, which are two goals for the song Ready, Set, Wait. The other include body part identification, motor skills, and following directions.

Once my students get used to hearing “wait” before it’s time to wiggle, I like to change it up on them and skip right to “go”. This is an excellent way to test their listening skills (and give them a good giggle).

I included this song in our current early childhood music class session, and it’s been an earworm around our studio these last couple of weeks. As annoying as that can get, it’s also the sign of an effective song…especially where kids are concerned!

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

I Have a Bean Bag

I Have a Bean Bag Album Cover

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned what a HUGE fan I am of the movement props created by Bear Paw Creek. Their stretchy bands and connect-a-bands are both staples in my collection, and I just recently added their bean bags as well.

There are so many ways to incorporate bean bags into my music therapy sessions and early childhood music classes, but I knew exactly how I wanted to introduce them for the first time — with a brand new song, of course :)

I wrote “I Have a Bean Bag” with several goals in mind: listening skills, body part identification, and imitation. An added bonus skill this song addresses is balancing, which is funny to watch my kiddos try to do once they’ve placed the bean bag on the correct body part.

Although this song was written with bean bags in mind, I’ve already adapted it for scarves in bigger groups where I don’t have enough bean bags to go around (yet!).

A special thanks goes to Janet Stephens, owner and creator of the products at Bear Paw Creek, for her support of Listen & Learn Music. Everything in her shop is made right here in the U.S.A. and is of the utmost quality. Please check out her movement props and other resources if you haven’t already!

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