Sunday, March 16, 2014

We all have Favorites

Welcome back to More with Music!
Last week I posted about Self-Awareness.  If you missed that post, just scroll down below.
As a follow-up to that post, today I'm posting about favorites.
We all have favorites.  Favorite foods, favorite colors, favorite songs, favorite times of the year, etc.  The students/clients we work with have favorites too and sometimes, learning about their favorites can help you learn a lot about the students and what motivates them as well.

I wrote the song below to help introduce the topic of favorites and to give several examples.  I use visuals with this song (power point slides with examples of each item listed in the song).
After singing the song I ask students to share some of their favorites and then include that in the song (if you want a recorded example of this just let me know via email

Here are the lyrics:
A favorite is something I like a lot.
It can be anything.
A favorite color, a favorite food, a favorite person, place or thing.
We all favorites. This is true.
It's okay if they're not the same.

A favorite is something I like a lot.
It can be anything.
A favorite color, a favorite food, a favorite person, place or thing.
© 2014 Amanda G. Ellis

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 14, 2014


Welcome back to More with Music!
Today's post is about self-awareness.  I'm also excited to share a song that I've been incorporating in music therapy sessions that addresses self-awareness.

First of all, what is self-awareness?
If we refer to the dictionary (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary), self-awareness is defined as:
an awareness of one's own personality or individuality.

In several classrooms I serve, we've been focusing on self-awareness.  This topic in and of itself can be challenging to think about teaching when working with students with disabilities.  We've been approaching the topic with a wide variety of approaches, activities and songs.  Some of these approaches include talking (and singing), about feelings as well as favorites.  We also introduced strengths and weaknesses in one classroom, as we were discussing personality/individuality and how we are all different.  The song I'm sharing today fits perfectly for this topic and I love it's message of "I"ll keep getting stronger".

I came across the song online one night as I was planning for sessions for the week.
The song is "What I Am" by  The song and its lyrics are below:

 There are so many different ways of using this song in sessions.  In most of the sessions I've used this song with rhythm instruments (specifically maracas).  We shake to the beat, raise our maracas high ("I'm a keep my head up high"), and then bring them back down ("And nothing's gonna bring me down..").  We shake faster each time we hear the drums too!  As we clean up the maracas, I ask each student to share a word that describes their personality/them.  For students that need help with this, we insert different words mentioned in the video (i.e. "Are you musical?" or "Are you helpful?",etc.)
How could you use this song?

As always, thanks for stopping by More with Music!  Check back soon for another blog post!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Who knew polar bears could groove?

Welcome back to More with Music!
Another batch of cold, icy weather has hit eastern North Carolina.  With schools closed, this gives me the perfect amount of time to get some blog posts ready!

For today's post, I want to share a song I wrote and recorded and have been experimenting with the past couple of weeks.  This song is about a big and a small polar bear.  So far, this song is a hit with students ages pre-K to third grade, and it has unlimited possibilities, depending on how you decide to use it with your students/group.

To start with, I love this song because one thing it requires is for the students to listen.  They have to work together and listen to find the big polar bear's beat, as well as the little polar bear's beat.  I usually start this activity by showing the picture above and talking about the big polar bear and how he's so heavy, he stomps around, he moves slowly,etc..  We practice stomping from our seats first (stomping once for each half note beat if you count this song in 4/4).  Then I talk about the small polar bear, how he is not heavy, he moves faster and he taps as he goes.  We pat our knees for this one (patting each quarter note on the beat in 4/4).  The last verse combines the two, so I encourage the students to pick a bear-big or small, and keep that beat.
After going through the above, with some groups, I get them up and we move around the classroom with stomping feet and tapping feet so they really "feel" the beats as I play the song (I use this recorded version so that I am free to model the beat and participate).  For groups that are not quite ready to freely moved across the room in a group (or groups that cannot handle a quick transition like that, sensory issues involved, etc.), I pass out rhythm sticks or drums for this activity.  After identifying the big and small beats, they are ready to transfer those sounds to a rhythm instrument and we do the song one more time.
Another option would be to divide your group into two groups and/or partners,  and have each assigned to one of the beats. This would be great with students assigned in pairs to share a hand drum or floor drum.  Then in the last verse, the students would each play their beat at the same time.

Near the end of the song, I encourage the students to listen and try to stop when they hear the music stop.  This helps them stay focused as the song is coming an end and sets up your group to be ready to listen to directions as the song comes to an end.

My greatest discovery was that almost all the students loved this beat and wanted to get moving with this song.  I've seen shoulders moving up and down, upper bodies bopping to the's definitely a catchy beat!
What other ways could you use this song?

As always, thanks for stopping by and have a great day!