Site Moving!

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My blog is moving!  I’ve just launched a new website that includes my blog.  However, if you follow me at this blog, effectively immediately I will not be posting anything here.  Everything will be on my new website.  My blog will be there alongside tons of great resources.  So follow me there please!

http://www.moversandshakersmusictherapy.com

Melanie

Making a Ukelele From Scratch!

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Making a Ukelele From Scratch!

Hello all of my wonderful readers!  Today I’m happy to share with you a little project for kids to teach them about string instruments!

Last week I set out to find a way to let kids make their own string instrument.  I wanted to be able to talk to them about the features of the instruments, the different parts of it, the sounds different string instruments make and so fourth.  But I knew I couldn’t hand them each a violin to play, so I set my creative juices in motion and figured out a way to create a ukelele with them!  I felt this would be a good instrument for them because the kids see me play the guitar each week so they’re familiar with the basic structure of the guitar- and hence ukelele.  Many times they want to play my guitar, so I thought it would be great to have an instrument they could strum on.

In order to make a ukelele from home, you need:

  1. 3 paper plates
  2. A hot glue gun
  3. 4 rubber bands
  4. Markers
  5. Stickers

This is how you make them!

  1. Cut out a hole in the middle of one of your paper plates (to create a sound hole.)
  2. Cut out two long strips (for the neck of the ukelele)
  3. Glue the two strips together
  4. Draw “frets” onto the “neck”
  5. Glue the “neck” onto the paper plate without the hole (or the back of the ukelele)
  6. Glue the front of the ukelele onto the back
  7. String 4 rubberbands around the body of the ukelele
  8. Use hot glue to reinforce
  9. Let the kids decorate!

It’s true that these don’t look as true to a ukelele as they could, and maybe look more like a banjo than a ukelele, but if you really wanted to be true to the instrument you could shape the plates a bit more than I did.

In my group, we talked about the differences between the guitar and the ukelele (we listened to the differences and saw pictures of them).  We also used the ukeleles to strum along with a few songs.  I asked them to try to keep the beat in their strumming, and they did very well at this!  They also LOVED having these ukeleles and couldn’t wait to show their parents.  They were a huge hit with the kids and a very easy project on the wallet.  Enjoy!

 

Together We’re Friends

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Together We’re Friends

Admittedly, I haven’t written in my blog in a long time!  But, have no fear!  It’s not because I’ve suddenly chosen to abandon my web presence for a career in spinning plates.  It’s because I’ve been diligently working on a CD of children’s songs that’s set to drop TOMORROW!

This CD has been months in the making.  I began writing music for it back in November and had the dream of offering a CD for parents, teachers and therapists since then.  I invested in some pretty awesome recording goodies and have been hard at work recording this album called “Together We’re Friends“.

Many of the songs I’ve posted in video format on this blog appear on the CD in a much more put together fashion.  What I mean by that is, they’re at a level of performance, not so much the talking and sharing format that I use when I’m presenting my videos.  I’ve added cool instruments, effects and much more to make listening to this CD fun and engaging for kids AND parents!  My husband calls this “The Disney Effect” as I hope this CD can appeal to the adult as well as the child.

This CD is an overall glossing of material for kids ages 3-6.  It ranges from movement songs, to songs about colors and numbers, to songs teaching rhythm and there’s even a bonus track to teach kids about instruments (available only with full album download).

I want to stress that if you decide to buy this album, the songs are meant to be used and tailored to your own usage!  Play the piano if you want, change the key if you prefer singing lower, change the words if you want, just have fun and make some music!  I’d love to hear feedback on what you think, how you use it, and what your kids think!

Check HERE to download the album!

Look out in the future for more albums on the way.  In the works are a CD of chants for any age and a CD on emotions for kids!  Also, look out for a brand new website coming your way in the next month!

Join the e-mail list for updates and never miss the latest and greatest materials for kids!

Rainbow Chew Tree!

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Today I’m going to show you how to make a “fruit tree” to go along with a song I introduced to you the other day called “Rainbow Chew“!  If you haven’t seen it, check it out first so you can get some context as to what I’m going to show you.  The overall tone of the song is teaching children their colors through song and applying their knowledge of colors to objects they see in their everyday life!

I wanted to make a visual aide to go along with the song.  Children learn in so many different ways and having multiple means for creating a point will assist anyone in greater understanding, I wanted something visual that they kids could interact with.  I decided to make a tree (for only $8!) and I wanted to show you how to make it because I think you could use this in multiple ways!

 

 

What you need to make the tree is:

  1. Poster board (you decide how big, but I wanted something sturdy and easy to see)
  2. Construction paper or card stock to cut out your fruits
  3. Magnets with stickies on the back
  4. Markers
  5. Scissors
  6. A good eye for drawing!

Basically what I did was:

-I started by sketching out a tree.  I then colored in the branches and leaves to have my basic tree.

-I then looked online for pictures of the fruits I wanted.  I tried to have two of each color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple).  I then sketched out some fruits and then cut them out.  You can print up some that you find online and cut those out if that works better for you.

-I then attached magnets to the poster board and the backs of the fruits.

Voila, you’re done!  This took me about two hours to do total, but if you’re a painter this might go much faster for you.  Most of that time was coloring in my tree.

I plan on using the board with my song, “Rainbow Chew” to give kids options for colors to pick that are their favorites (along with the fruits).  I also wanted to mention to you that I chose to include a Purple Mangosteen in my list of fruits to vary the typical, introduce a new fruit to many of the kids and be open to those who may know it!

Let me know how this works out for you!  Hope you enjoy!  Happy crafting!

Creating a Musical Space

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Recent weeks have me undergoing many changes (positive ones!) and thus my time for blogging has been cut short.

Currently I’m working on developing my website!  I had thought I might be ready to launch in March, but my goal has been pushed back to a launch in May.  This is namely because I want to fill my website with tons of songs and resources and so I need to go into recording overhaul!  More on that later…

With my expanding online business and therapy business I’ve decided it’s time to get organized!  Spring cleaning is fast approaching, so I thought it only fitting to get into overdrive with my musical space.

Before today I didn’t have a space per se.  I’d whip out my guitar and play in the living room, the bedroom or even the hall way!  I didn’t have a space to record videos or songs.  Until today!

My husband and I rent an apartment with a half bedroom that we’ve mainly used for storage, but today it became a little offi

ce/studio!  I laid out a card table to set out my printer, speakers and computer and set up my keyboard next to me on my right and my guitar next to me on my left!  It’s a teeny tiny space, but it’s doing just nice by me- and the view out onto the street isn’t too bad either!

I have to say, I feel great about designating a space in my home to my music.  It makes everything so much easer and accessible, and it also helps me to “shut the door” on things when it’s time to just be at home and not worrying about work for the night.

How have you created a space at home for your music making?

Listen, Listen, Listen to My Heart’s Song

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Here’s a song I recorded tonight in honor of Valentine’s Day!  I didn’t write it this time, it’s actually believed to have been written by Paramahansa Yogananda.

The lyrics are:

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you,

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

Try this song out teaching children how to keep a steady heart beat by listening to their hearts and then keeping a simple 1-2 beat on their chest.  Also try a songwriting with this to have kids listen to what their heart’s telling them!

Enjoy!

The Incredible Edible Alphabet Book!

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Today is the first time I have written in nearly ten days!  I can’t believe how the time has flown!  I wish I could tell you I was busy doing something amazing and interesting that kept me from blogging, but truth be told, most of that time was me confined to my bed and a large bottle of extra strength tylenol with two dog heaters keeping me warm under the blankets.  Thankfully I’m back in good heath again despite a tickle in my throat and I have something fantastic to share with you!

Above is a picture of a book I developed for children!  I was inspired to make a tool that I could use with children that was fun, colorful and that taught multiple skills at a time.  Around ages 4 and 5 kids are learning their letters, their sounds, and also basic rhyming skills.  They’re also sponges for new words and love to hear new sounds.

The premise of the book is that there are two alligators who have been stuck eating bread and butter and really want to sink their teeth into something more exciting.  They’re tired of eating bread!  So they talk about all of the foods that they’re craving and would like to eat, and they think about how they could get them!  One of the cutest parts is that the alligators are actually little cake pops themselves.

The basic structure of this book is that it uses each letter of the alphabet for each line of text.  Each segment also rhymes.  I’ve done the best that I can to use only words that start with the chosen letter for the line to try to teach children all the sounds that letters can make.  Here’s an example of a page of the book:

"Enough is enough! This food is a freight!" Gabbed the gators with guff, huffing at each bite's height.

As you can see, I’ve tried to use some words that most kids probably don’t know so that we can expand their vocabulary.  I’ve also inserted the letters I’m using to help create a visual cue for the letters I’m saying.  This is also a great book to ask, “what do you think they are going to do?”  “How can they get the food they want?”  It can help teach kids predictions and problem solving.  I’ve also used this book to explain to children that this is how songs are written.  You start with a story, and often times songs have rhyming lyrics.  I then try to get them into basic songwriting activities (word substitutions like “Down By The Bay”) and demonstrate how to create rhymes.

In the future I will be creating a song to go with this book to demonstrate how stories can be turned into songs!  More excitingly, I’ll be making this book available to all of you!  So stay tuned to figure out how to get your hands on it in a few weeks! 🙂

Learning in Unexpected Places

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Mavi is the topic of my post today.  You might be wondering how he got to be the topic of a blog on music therapy, but trust me.  There’s much I have learned from him about how I view people.

Mavi is a three-year-old rat terrier mix that my husband and I adopted about a month ago.  He was found roaming the streets back in August and was taken in by a local shelter.  At first he showed a bit of aggression toward humans.  Nipping and growling when they’d come near to pet him or touch him.  They put him on antidepressants to ease his anxiety and began rigorous training with him.  He’s suspected to have a history of abuse because of the ways he responds in certain situations, although there’s no real way to tell.  When we first decided to meet Mavi we were warned that he is slow to warm up, may nip, bite or growl but that once in the “club” he’s the warmest dog there is.

When we first took Mavi in he didn’t want much to do with us.  He was so anxious he had kennel cough for the first week, he slept much of the time and he didn’t want much of us petting him.

To be honest it was quite discouraging.

I felt bad for wanting him to be a certain kind of dog.  For wanting him to be pet and loved by us.  For wanting him to be excited when we came home.  It was also hard that we had to spend all of this time developing a relationship with him.  At times I wondered if we’d always be walking on eggshells.

We have grown immensely in our relationship with Mavi.  He’s nestled behind my legs right now as I write this.  He cuddles me daily, hugs me, kisses me and loves sleeping under blankets with us.  But Mavi has his limitations still.

A few weeks back he bit my husband on the hand for touching his foot while it hurt from the salt put down on our streets in the snow.  At first I was very upset, again wondering when Mavi would trust us completely.  A few days later he growled at me as I tried to tuck him into some blankets.  (Mavi does have a cute way of putting himself into timeout when he knows he’s wronged someone!)

At times I’ve felt completely frustrated and I’ve wanted him to “be like the other dogs”.  But I read something last week that resonated with me.

It’s ok to know your dog’s limitations and to work within them.

It’s made me ponder how I want other people to live in my limitations (and Mavi, too).  Who says what normal is?  What healthy is?  Sure we can make a general guess of it, but my list is likely to be different than yours.

It’s ok to know that one child needs different care than another, or one person needs different attention than another.  We’re all unique and different and have our own baggage and history.

It’s amazing what animals can teach us about how we view the world.  And how we often think we’re the only ones living in it!

I can’t wait to see the ways Mavi grows with us over the years and the ways he learns to trust because we took the time to understand him and love him.

Mastering My Own Domain!

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This past weekend I took to a major task that I have been putting off for some time.  Partially because I feel I’m still starting up my business, start up costs can be just that *costly* and because I haven’t taken my MT-BC yet, I’ve waited to start a webpage.  Until now!

Opportunity arose and I decided to sign up for an online class that will lead me through the process of starting my own webpage.  Something that I’ve been looking forward to for months!  The class is called Online Zennn and its run through the website:

www.rhythmforgood.com

Each week new material is posted to a special website for people taking the course, and it helps give you greater clarity on how to build and run your own website!  So far I’ve learned how to buy my own domain and hosting package and run WordPress through it.  I love the way it looks so far and through much finagling, I’ve found out how to make drop down menus, specialized boxes of material using some coding (AH!), make the page look more like a website than a blog and import my entire blog from this website!  With the help of my husband of course (above)….

We’re having so much fun with it that we were up until the wee hours of the night last night messing around with it and having little victories when something became magically formatted the way we wanted it to.  I find this whole process so exciting, invigorating and empowering (and dumbfounding at times!)  I have so many ideas for what I want to put into my webpage that I can’t wait to see how it grows over the next year.

For now the website is private to only those who know the domain, but I’m getting ready for its release in a few weeks!  Stay tuned…

Visual Aides for Songs

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Ok, get ready to harness your inner crafter, because today we’re making visual aides for music classes and sessions!

Today I dedicated much of my afternoon to making these visual aides for the songs that I use!  It’s clear that I’m no artist, but I really like these fun little slides for use in groups!  I decided to draw mine out using markers and pencils, but I’m sure printed images off the computer would work just as well.

Since learning words and letters are a big part of what 3-5 year olds are learning I thought it important to have the words of the songs along with some picture that clue the kids into what the song is about.  As you can see, I have a drum for “Gathering Song“, some instruments for “The Jazz Band” and so fourth.  This way we can learn some letters while choosing songs to sing!

I also color coded the backings of the cards to demonstrate what type of song it is.  This could be either for your own personal use in trying to balance a session out with various activities, or it could help children learn colors in sessions (or both!)

Yellow= Songs where a story is told to learn a skill

Pink= Relaxation songs

Purple= Call and response songs

Red= Drumming songs

Orange= Movement Songs

Finally, they’re laminated for extra durability.  That way they’ll last through traveling from site to site and you can even let kids handle them without fear of rips.  I think they’d be great to use with the kids for a review game of songs learned or even just for day to day use!

Visual Aides for Songs