Friday Fave: The Next Alicia Keys

The Next Alicia Keys

I can’t help but share the work of my students, because it never ceases to amaze me. You’ve heard from Jayla before (here and here), and while all of her performances are impressive, the recording I’m posting today might be the most impressive of all.

Jayla is not only a talented singer, but she also plays the guitar and writes her own songs. Over the summer, she attended a prestigious camp for songwriters in Los Angeles, and her songwriting has come such a long way in a short time. We’re working on recording some of Jayla’s original music, but in the meantime, here’s the Alicia Keys song that almost seems to be meant for her to sing.

When I played this for my mom, she could hardly believe that Jayla is only 15 years old. She has such a mature sound, something I noticed at her very first lesson. Jayla takes her music very seriously, and if she keeps it up, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear her on the radio in a few years.

Next, I’ll have to introduce you to Gabby, Jayla’s younger and also extremely talented sister. This family has some good musical genes!

Find Your Name

Find Your Name Sign

Like so many others, this song was written specifically for one of my music therapy students. She is working on identifying her name from a field of several others, so now we sing Find Your Name at the beginning of each music therapy session.

The visual I use is pictured above, and was super easy to make. I just printed a simple sign I made using Pages, slipped it into a page protector, and then attached Velcro dots to the front and back where you see the name cards. There are also Velcro dots on the other side of each card.

I made several cards so that I can switch them out each week, which makes finding her name just a little bit more challenging for my student. The simple song is short and lets her know exactly what is expected of her.

I have started using this song with quite a few of my other students as well, though for some, a field of 4 is a little too overwhelming. But that’s an easy fix — I just remove 1 or 2 cards as needed, and will gradually increase the field as they start to recognize their names more easily.

What songs, visuals, and other resources do you use to help your students pick their names out of a crowd?

Student Spotlight: Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”

Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain"

I can pretty much predict the songs that will be the most requested by students in my studio by what is popular on the radio.

Let’s just say that this has been the year of Adele: over the summer it was “Rolling in the Deep”, in the fall it was “Someone Like You”, and the current front-runner is “Set Fire to the Rain”.

Jayla P. knocked this one out on the park in just one take (and only a few weeks of practice). Her voice just gives me chills, like so many of my students. Here’s her lovely version of Adele’s hit.

This song is appropriate for today, since the rain is on its way after several days of beautiful sunshine. In fact, rain has been on the brain this week — you’ll understand when you hear my latest original song on Monday. It is spring, after all!

Student Spotlight: Cydney Sings “At Last”

Etta James At Last

When Cydney returned to lessons after winter break, she informed me that her cousin had asked her to sing several songs at her wedding reception. (If I was Cydney’s cousin, I would have done the same…she has an amazing voice!)

Her cousin had picked out ‘The Only Exception” by Paramore, “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele, and “At Last” by Etta James. Cydney already had a good handle on the first two, so we concentrated on the Etta James classic.

Etta James passed away the week following Cydney’s performance at the wedding reception, so as a little tribute, we recorded her rendition of the song.

This girl’s voice gives me chills! “At Last” is not an easy song to sing, but I think she definitely did it justice…especially considering her age (she’s 17). I love that my students are willing to tackle big challenges like this — they make me proud!

“It’s Like a Lightning Bolt With a C at the Bottom!”

Jake & Quarter Rests

Last night at Jake’s lesson, we were talking about quarter rests. As I was trying to describe how to draw one for an exercise in his theory book, Jake said, “I know…it’s like a lightning bolt with a C at the bottom!”

Quarter Rests

I looked at the quarter rest, and realized he was exactly right. How come I didn’t think of that?! All of these years I’ve been teaching, yet never once had a good way to explain how to draw quarter rests. Thank goodness for my students, with their fresh perspectives and boundless creativity.

Have you been enlightened by any of your students lately?

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