Sunday Singalong: Remembering 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was getting ready for my first class of the day when I heard the news on the Today Show, just as it was happening. I watched as the second plane hit the Word Trade Center, and then I went to class. The rest of that day is a blur; all I remember is sitting in the basement of the student center with what seemed like the entire student body, watching hours of news footage and feeling completely numb. I was a college freshman, one thousand miles from home.

You’ll probably read and hear dozens of stories like this today — I already have, just scrolling through my Facebook news feed. Ten years may have passed, but I think for all of us, the tragedy of 9/11 is still as fresh and raw as if it happened just yesterday.

Today is about remembering those who died, those who risked their lives to save others, and those who have fought to protect us. Today is about calling your parents, hugging your child, and being thankful for every single one of life’s blessings.

Never forget.

Custom Song: The Texas Pledge

Texas State Pledge Song for ChildrenDid you know that Texas state law requires all students to memorize and recite the state pledge each day at school?  Neither did I, until I received this email from Rene, a Listen & Learn reader from the Lonestar State:

What I have wanted, what my kids have requested for several years, is a song to help us learn the Texas Pledge (which is required of all students by state law). When I saw on your site that you wrote a song for the Pledge to the American Flag, I thought you’d be perfect for writing this song for our Texas pledge. The song we sing for the American pledge is quite long and we dance to this, I have added lots of motion crossing the midline, up/down, bending, leaning, etc. I know the reason my kids learned the U.S. pledge within the first two weeks of school is because we sing it!!! The Texas Pledge is short. I know you will know best because that is your gift.

Rene went on to include quite a bit more information about her students and her expectations for this custom song, and I was more than excited to get to work on it.

Rene’s students are young (Pre-K) and for many, English is their second language.  So I kept the lyrics simple but engaging, emphasizing the most important lines — the pledge, of course.  Here is what I came up with:

Stand up where you are,
Place your hand over your heart,
And look to the flag that has one star:

Honor the Texas flag,
I pledge allegiance to thee,
Texas, one state, under God,
One and indivisible.

The Texas pledge is what we say,
Each and every single day.
To show our respect for the Lonestar State,
A state so great we have to celebrate.

By waving our arms in the air, up high!
Back and forth like our flag they sway.
Now we’ll bring them down, right by our sides,
As we say the pledge today.

I also created an instrumental version without my vocals.  Rene has not only been using this song with her students since receiving it, but she has also purchased downloads to pass out to her colleagues throughout the state. If you live in Texas and have students who are still learning the pledge, hopefully this song can be helpful to you, too.

I’m already hard at work on Rene’s next custom song (she has enough ideas to keep me busy for months!). If you’re in need of a song for a specific topic, skill or concept, click here to learn more about my custom song package.

Set to Music: The Pledge of Allegiance

As the Fourth of July approaches, I’m probably not the only one with patriotic themes on the brain.  Songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” are being sung and taught to children all over the country this week, and I know that my own students are hard at work learning the Pledge of Allegiance.

In fact, the occupational therapist at my school emailed me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I had any songs or resources for teaching the Pledge.  I didn’t at the time…but I do now!

I came up with a simple rhythmic line, and that serves as my foundation for the chant and song I created to teach the Pledge of Allegiance.  Listen below as I speak it in rhythm, and then download (for free) the rhythmic line for your own use.

I pledge allegiance, to the flag
Of the United States of America.
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.

Next, I came up with a super simple melody on top of the rhythmic line, which I orchestrated with trumpets. Here is my sung version:

And here is the same track, only without my vocals. You can download (again, for free) the instrumental track for yourself:

When I was in elementary school, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was part of our classroom’s morning routine. Nowadays, most schools don’t do this, but there are other times at which a child might need to know it. It doesn’t hurt to learn, especially when it’s done through music!

Counting Time: Fireworks

I know the Fourth of July has passed, but I decided to write this post anyway. After all, the holiday weekend isn’t over yet and next to celebrating our country’s independence and those who protect it, fireworks are a central feature of the Fourth. In fact, I can’t recall a single Independence Day when I didn’t attend at least one patriotic display. You can find them all over our city, from the park to downtown to neighbor’s front yards, and despite the inclement weather, this year was no exception.

I think fireworks deserve their own place in the “Counting Time” collection, and my students agree. We have been counting them for the last week or so, along with flags, suns and ice cream comes. You know the tune by now, so go ahead and sing along:

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

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

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

Hope you had the chance to enjoy some fireworks in your neck of the woods, and that you have the opportunity to relax on this lazy Sunday (which is exactly what I’m doing). Bye for now!

America, the Beautiful

I’m always looking towards the next major (or minor) holiday with anticipation, because holidays mean special songs to go with them. And everyone knows that one of the biggest days of summer is the Fourth of July. I love this particular holiday because there are so many great songs just waiting to be played and sung. Recently, Songs for Teaching asked me to record a few for their website, and I was more than happy to do so. Follow the links to listen to a sample of each:

America the Beautiful

The Star-Spangled Banner

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

I have strong memories that accompany many of the patriotic songs we all know and love, and I bet you do, too. A few include being the designated high note hitter whenever my high school choir performed the “Star-Spangled Banner” (though I doubt I could hit that note these days!), playing “Yankee Doodle” obsessively on the piano as a little girl, and middle school choreography to “You’re A Grand Old Flag”. Ahh, memories!

What are your favorite patriotic tunes?