Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pick a card, Any card!

You may be wondering, "What are those?"

Well, they are a very helpful teaching tool I use with my private violin students.

These rhythm cards (as I refer to them), have proven to be very motivating and educational for many of my students!

We as teachers know that each student is unique and different. Each student has their own likes and dislikes about practice time, learning scales, learning technique, drilling challenging measures of music, performance postures, sight reading, and the list goes on and on, and on!

I use the rhythm cards during lessons to help with several situations that come up from time to time.

The first time I introduce these rhythm cards to students is when they start learning how to play their major scales.

After students have a basic understanding of a scale or two, I ask them to memorize the scale(s). During the next lesson, they play the scale for me. We make sure it is in tune,etc., and then they get to pick a card. We talk about the meter and the rhythm on the card they picked. We clap and/or speak the rhythm on the card. Then I ask them to play the rhythm on the card for each note of the scale they memorized that week.

This is such a great way to assess their counting and sight reading skills!

Here's another peek at the various rhythms I introduce on the rhythm cards. These are usually rhythms we're targeting in their pieces as well.

There are a few more ways to incorporate rhythm cards into your private lessons. Be sure to come back tomorrow for another post about rhythm cards and ideas for incorporating them in private lessons!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Another great book!

Today's post may be short, but it is about such a great book!
I'm anxiously awaiting my own copy in the mail and highly recommend this book to anyone who works with children with special needs (especially children with autism, PDD-NOS,etc.).

Many students that music therapists typically see (especially students with autism, PDD-NOS), have various sensory issues that effect nearly everything they do. Students may have sensory issues with food, textures, water, heat and light, sounds,etc. and the list goes on and on.

After gaining knowledge about a few of the sensory issues listed above, I can personally say that some of my music therapy sessions were much better and were much less stressful for the students as well. Learning about these sensory issues and how to read each student as they participate in music therapy sessions definitely helps me as a music therapist.

This book,Insights into Sensory Issues for Professionals: Answers to Sensory Challenges, is a compilation of articles from the award winning S.I. Focus magazine.

Founded and published by Kathleen Morris, The S.I. magazine is the first of its kind serving as an international resource to parents and professionals. The articles included give readers more knowledge on how to improve sensory integration and how to address sensory processing deficits.

You can purchase this book here.

What other books have you read that helped you understand sensory issues?

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a great day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Connect with More with Music!

Did you know that More with Music has a page on Facebook?

Just search for More with Music after you login to your Facebook account, and then you can see all posts duplicated there.

I also have a Twitter account, but quite honestly, I'm still trying to figure the whole Twitter thing out. I understand you follow and have followers, but I'm just trying to figure out the whole active "tweeting" thing.

If any of you wonderful readers of this blog and/or fellow bloggers would like to explain Twitter to me, please don't hesitate to email me at

Thanks for stopping by! I hope your week is off to a great start!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

But how can I help at home?

This is a question I have heard from many parents of children with special needs who are receiving music therapy.

If you think about it, it's actually a compliment.

They bring their child to you. They watch as their child achieves goals and learns so much with this nonthreatening medium called music. They observe and see that the music therapy interventions are motivating and fun, and these interventions allow their child to succeed on so many different levels.

How can they tap into all of that at home?

You can't exactly carbon copy each music therapy session, nor can you expect the child to respond the same way every time. You can recommend styles of music or certain standard children's songs/CDs,etc. that the parents can purchase and use with their child. You can also share particular songs you are using in sessions that their child particularly responds to each session.

I think parents need to think outside of the box in order to be really successful helping their child at home. I think a good start is to have a small assortment of rhythm instruments available to their child in their home (these can be homemade as well) and the parent can allow their child to initiate music time in their home. It is very helpful if parents are aware of their own child's goals beforehand, so that they can create fun experiences on the spot that help target those goals.

An example for this would be something like learning left and right.

Maybe the child gets out his drum and starts banging away with his right hand. The caregiver can instantly join in with a drum or just sit in front of the child and clap along while chanting something very simple like, "Playing with your right. Playing with your right. Playing drum with your right hand and that's alright."
Then the parent can encourage the child to switch hands and change the chant to, "Playing with your left. Playing with your left. Playing drum with your left hand and it's the best."

Keeping it fun and simple is really the key. Children love music and they love interacting with people with music.

How do you encourage parents to help their children at home?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Use the Force

Play is a very powerful "force".

As a music therapist, I find it so much easier to get students to challenge themselves when play is involved in the song and/or activity. As a mom, I use play as a motivating force with my own son throughout each and every day.

Yesterday, I was helping my son with his piano music. I have to be honest and say he wasn't overly excited that it was time to practice, but he came to the piano willingly when I asked him to, along with a few of his Star Wars Lego characters.

Sometimes, the legos (and other toys) can be a huge distraction, but yesterday, I decided to use the force..the power of play, to get him to do what I needed him to do.

The lego characters sat on top of the piano and "watched" my son to see how long he could look at the music and not down at his hands. They "watched" for good hand posture, and "listened" for the half notes to be a full two beats long. The lego lightsabers came in extra handy when my son played an incorrect note. He no longer showed frustration after making mistakes because a lego lightsaber was pointing to the correct notes.

The power of play made our piano practice time much more enjoyable and less stressful as well.

How do you use the powerful force of play?

Thanks for stopping by and please be sure to stop back soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Music Lab

Welcome back!

Today's post is long overdue! I've been enjoying my summer break and have found lots of ways to fill my time. I've also been gathering ideas and making lists of future posts that you will see here on More with Music.

So, even though my summertime posts may be fewer than I had intended, I'm still here and I have enjoyed hearing from many of you this summer.

I want to share a website with you that has been a lot of fun (for me anyways), to play with and use for additional instrument voicing ideas for some of my songs.

The website is The Music Lab.

There are TONS of sounds and effects from a wide variety of musical genres in the Sound Library to choose from. It's relatively easy to use as well!

I was working on some songs and tunes earlier today, and wanted to share a little composition I created. It's short and sweet! Click here to go to my composition. The song should start playing automatically.

Check it out and see what kinds of tunes you can create! It's so much fun to play around with and put different voices and instrumental effects together.

Thanks so much for stopping by and be sure to come back soon!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A great accessory!

While I'm finishing up my last day of vacation, I wanted to share a great accessory I use when practicing songs and recording my own songs.

It's called a copyholder and it holds any paper or even some small music books at an upright level for you to read while you're practicing. There are a wide variety of copyholders out there. I use a simple one that I found at a local office supply store which is made of a wire/mesh material and has two magnets that hold the document in place.

I am slowly but surely learning about accessories like this.

One of the main reasons I use a copyholder is to hold my music/song lyrics upright. It really does make a difference if you're going to be sitting there practicing and/or recording for half an hour, an hour and beyond. It reduces neck tension and strain and ultimately back tension because you are looking straight ahead, instead of leaning forward and looking at a document lying flat on a table or desk.

There are lots of little things we don't think of, that make a huge difference. Way back in November, I lifted my cart of instruments as I was going into a school to do music therapy sessions. I twisted my upper body to grab one more thing from my trunk as I was lifting. I didn't think of it at the moment, but later that evening, I felt it in a big way. After several weeks of self treating, icing, and stretching, I found I had a bulging disc in my lower back. It is one of those things that seems small, but effects everything you do.

I've learned a lot about chronic pain, nerves, discs of the spine and proper standing, sitting and bending this summer through working with a physical therapist. I've been so impressed and interested with the amount of knowledge physical therapists have of our bodies and body mechanics!

Very soon, we're going to be looking at my music cart in my trunk and discussing my options with that and how to manage traveling with all my instruments and accessories without hurting my back again. I'll keep you posted on my recommendations in case any of you traveling music therapists want a few tips for your cart (and back!).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do it Yourself (DIY) rhythm instruments

As a blogger, I read several blogs each day. One of my favorite blogs, Kidz, posted some awesome Do it Yourself rhythm instrument ideas today! You're gonna love these ideas and I can't wait to make some of them myself.

When making homemade instruments, the ultimate question is, "How long will these hold up?" No one really knows for sure, and we all work with different populations that cause different wear and tear on our instruments.

One thing in particular you want to be careful about when making your own instruments, is making sure items, like bells, are firmly attached. They are one of the first things to come off of homemade and store-bought instruments and they pose a huge choking hazard too! I routinely check my bell collection to see if any of the little bells appear to be almost ready to come off.

If you're going to make homemade egg shakers or maraccas, just be sure whatever container you're using is firmly sealed. I have yet to find a way to make maraccas that withstands the use of most of my clients. Somehow they eventually crack open and beans or rice go everywhere!

With homemade rhythm sticks, after they are cut to the right size, they need to be sanded. They should feel smooth anywhere clients are going to be holding them. Also, if you're going to paint them, make sure you finish them off with a clear coat of sealer so that young (and older) students don't get paint residue and/or paint chips in their mouth if they happen to put the sticks in their mouth. Painting them with a coat of sealer also makes them easier to disinfect with a Chlorox wipe without wiping coats of the paint color off.

What DIY rhythm instruments have you made? Feel free to share ideas below!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A great summer read!

While I'm out of town on vacation (and away from my personal computer), I have discovered that the computers here won't readily read my flash drives. So....while I wholeheartedly intended on posting another song about maps, I decided to post about a book I'm currently reading.

(Don't worry, I'm in the process of figuring out the flash drive problem, so song posts will be coming soon!)

The book is called The Brain That Changes Itself.

First of all, I think this book is awesome!

This book is about brain science, but you don't have to be a brain surgeon to read it. If you're curious about the brain and how it can affect our psychology and what we think, then this is a good book for you!

This book explains and introduces many case studies involving neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment.

While that all sounds scientific and straight from a text book, this book actually relates what all of that means with real life situations and examples. The reader can learn alot from the very clear and easy to understand case studies and the science involved within them.

After reading the first few chapters, I had lots to think about and reflect on how I work with clients as a music therapist.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the brain and how it works. People who work with clients with strokes, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, learning disabilities, obsessive compulsive disorders, etc. will gain a wealth of knowledge from this book!

What books are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

North, South, East & West song sheet

Welcome back!

On Monday I posted a song about the directions on a map (North, South, East & West). If you missed it,just scroll down below this post.

Today, I wanted to share the song sheet to go along with this song.
I hope you find the song sheets helpful!

If you have questions about how to use the song sheets, just send me an email at

I hope you enjoy your day, and stop back soon!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Are we there yet???

Summertime is a time for traveling and vacations.
In our fast-paced, technology-infused lives, we depend on many things to help us get from point A to point B.

Most of us can quickly go online to Google maps and look up directions from our home to anywhere we want to drive. Many of us also own GPS devices in which we can type in an address of where we want to go and the device will tell us, step by step, how to reach our destination.

But what about maps? You know, those paper things that have a compass, legend, and longitude and latitude lines? Can you get somewhere by only using a map and NO technology?

Today's post is part one of a few posts about the concepts of maps and the parts of a map.

There are four main directions on a map: North, South, East & West. That is exactly what this song is about!

Stay tuned for more songs about maps and have a great week!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Polar Bear, Polar Bear Song Sheet

Yesterday, I posted a song I wrote to go along with Eric Carle's book, Polar bear, Polar bear, What do you hear? If you missed it, just scroll down below. :)

Today's post is the song sheet for that song. If you would like the song sheet emailed to you, please send an email to me at

Happy 4th of July!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Songs for books

Children love books and they also love songs that go with the books. Many times, children are more engaged and will focus for a longer period of time if there is a song or simple chant that is used to help read or tell a story.

Today's post is another song to go along with another popular children's book. I discovered that many of you like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle when I posted a song for that specific children's book.
So today, I'll share another song I wrote to go along with another book by Eric Carle.

The story is Polar bear, Polar bear, What do you hear?. It's a great story (because Eric Carle wrote it, of course!), to read during the winter months and/or when you're talking about the 5 senses, (the sense of hearing to be specific).

I made a visual to go along with this song and with the help of a teacher I worked with this year, we found sound files to represent each animal in the story. The students were able to hear what each animal sounded like as part of the extension activities for this story!
So, here it is. I'll post the song sheet for this song tomorrow.