Thursday, May 31, 2007

Among the top 100 Top Growing Wordpress Blogs

The lovely lady you see waving here through the doorway of her Kindermusik studio is Merri Williams. AKA, blogger of one of the 100 "Top Growing Wordpress Blogs."

Check it, she's number 87 .... 87 and risin'.

Water bottles, loose change, and a soundtrack

A friend of mine teaches writing and rhetoric at the local arts high school. Enviable job. Even when the kids are mentally gone on summer break and the air conditioner in Meredith's mobile classroom is kaput--the hour back in time was a breath of fresh air.

Instead of doing what's been done the last two times I've talked with her class (blah, blah, career in creative writing, blah, blah) I thought we could do something, well, creative.

And musically, my head has been in a soundtrack project for a friend's film. The film is sponsored by Green Pictures, a collaboration between filmmakers and the community theater.

The film is locally written, and produced. It's about an older woman who decides she doesn't want to be buried in the ground when she dies, and goes about convincing her stubborn son otherwise.

We watched the flick. Split into groups. And using only materials found in the room as instruments (it's an arts school, so somebody had a guitar, and a mac, with garage band) the kids had to illustrate the following scenes:
  • Film intro
  • Sitting in the cemetery
  • Driving in the car
  • Outro
You'll hear each of these sections respectively, plus some serious snickering.

Is this Kindermusik or what? Also, I've uploaded the song to my myspace page so the kids could hear it. Listen here, and click "Weaver Soundtrack" in the music player.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Not necessarily the way mother goose wrote it, but ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Thank you

Darcie Brown taught her last Kindermusik class this weekend. With two artful little ones in the house and her husband's booming photography business, Darcie needed a little more room in her life.

A musician, advocate, entreprenuer, and a savvy talent, Darcie was the recipient of an Abbottsford community program designed to help new business owners get started. After starting her Kindermusik studio, she also joined and supported an all-women's group of small business owners who met each month to network, swap ideas, and help each other grow.

I'm personally grateful to Darcie for hosting me almost one year ago this month for some Kindermusik focus groups. She's opened my world to Tim Bits, my heart to her son Xander, my eyes to her husband's photography, and my ears to her voice. Search her blog for the audio clip she posted to odeo of her singing summertime.

And for many Kindermusik bloggers, she was an inspiration, as well as the "Educator Voice" on the Family Time blog.

All of us here at Kindermusik wish her the very best.

Little something for a Tuesday post-3-day weekend

Friday, May 25, 2007

Facts behind the funds

A new EPI book, by Robert G. Lynch, investigates how investments in high-quality pre-kindergarten have significant implications for future government budgets, both at the national and the state and local levels, for the economy, and for crime. Lynch concludes that high-quality pre-kindergarten pays for itself.
Also this study talks about the overlooked benefits of a pre-K education, like Kindermusik classes. This study also suggests that such programs, actually make for better parents, too.

Back on the mound

My little brother Ryan is a ball player. Has been since I was taller than him. He played ball all through high school and in college, he was team captain. Lately he's been stepping up to the plate of manhood, focused on his sales pitch with a new job, starting a life with a woman he loves, and for those reasons and more, baseball has been benched.

Last night I got a voicemail from him and he's back on the mound--pitching for a league in Charlotte.

Welcome home, Ryan.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Yes it does

Great Big House

Angelica (our Italian-accented International rep.) and Jessi made this video. We're sending it to the Kindermusik Educator's Convention in South Africa--so that a little bit of us, can be there.

You'll notice the voice singing the song is Dan Pratt, Kindermusik's founder. And you'll also notice quite a few other friendly faces.


My mom will break into song mid-conversation, no matter what the topic. If there isn't a song to match the topic, she'll make one up. Last night's topic: Maybe the tree house isn't where I want to live after all. I have a few good Mary Tyler Moore years in me yet, why not just go for the small apartment, and the noisy traffic, where everybody on the sidewalk is your neighbor.

This one's for you mom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Appeal to the Grammarians

We, the naturally hopeful,
need a simple sign
for the myriad ways we're capsized.
We who love precise language
need a finer way to convey
disappointment and perplexity.
For speechlessness and all its inflections,
for up-ended expectations,
for everytime we're ambushed
by trivial or stupefying irony,
for pure incredulity, we need
the inverted exlamation point.
For the dropped smile, the limp handshake,
for whoever has just unwrapped a dumb gift
or taken the first sip of a flat beer,
or felt love or pond ice
give way underfoot, we desrve it.
We need it for the air pocket, the scratch shot,
the child whose ball doesn't bounce back,
the flat tire at journey's outset,
the odyssey that ends up in Weehawken.
But mainly becuase I need it--here and now
as I sit outside the Cafe' Reggio
staring at my espresso and cannoli
after this middle-aged couple
came strolling by and he suddenly
veered and sneezed all over my table
and she said to him, "See, that's why
I don't like to eat outside."

Garrison Keillor, as passed on to us at Kindermusik today by founder Dan Pratt.

If I could trade a voice with another

It would be hers, Astrud Gilberto. Years ago I spent every Wednesday night at Expressions, a club in downtown Raleigh. There I met musicians and artists, and a man whose name I can't remember right now. He was from Brazil and working in the states, and he taught me to play this song on the guitar. He talked mostly about the simplicity of the chord changes, and how in this style of jazz, you move your fingers on the fret board very little. Later I found out about another musician who was influenced by the same style, Suzanne Vega.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Activity idea for Imagine That! parents

Next time little ones pull out the paper and pens for drawing, position a video camera above and capture the process, just like this artist did for a home-made Wilco video.

About the song: "California Stars" was written by Woodie Guthrie and performed by Wilco in this special tribute album called Mermaid Avenue, with featured performances by Billy Bragg and Natalie Merchant.

This album is an all time, top favorite. Right up there with Willie Nelson's Stardust.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A bed fit for a treehouse

Never mind the price, for a second. Just dream.

We can change the outcome

Today marks the official launch of the ABC Music & Me for Schools Web site.

Why an early music education is so important

...because one day, you could grow up to be president, and you could ruin a beautiful moment by not knowing the words to "Imagine."

Laugh and learn

I think I've figured out how this Teacher helps the children laugh all the way through the song. Still, this is very much a Kindermusik style of learning, captured in a series of videos on this You Tube channel for a school in Argentina, Beunos Aires, Daddy Ross Preschool.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sing it, girl

A tale of two instruments

In this video, "After the Gold Rush," Neil uses a church organ with a harmonica for a very unusual effect. I like the contradiction, and for a heavier song, it works--the complicated church organ with a very simple harmonica instrument.

The combination got me thinking: I've been toying around with another soundtrack project and thought about using a church organ with the ukulele. The comedic sound of the uke, with the heaviness of the organ may musically illustrate the main character perfectly: A feisty 80-year-old woman who decides she doesn't want to be buried when she dies ... much to the grief of a conservative son.

Ever heard a song with the ukulele/church organ combination?

Update: Above and under the table

Every Wednesday night around 7, I meet up with a group of women where we eat sweets, drink hot and cold things, and put our troubles on the table. We also, occassionally, make fun of ourselves. Actually, more than occassionally we make fun of each other. At this table:
  • One single mom, LA-transplant-turned aspiring nurse
  • One single grad student in UNCG's historic preservation program and part-time broker or something (Cathleen, I'm sorry, I don't know what you do for your day job)
  • One divorced mother/grandmother who is now going back to school to get her college degree and, after a recent class, is our resident jazz historian. Taking the picture is Jessi, our aspiring photographer. At one point she crawled under the table for a shot.
  • I'm not sure who the other girl is, she's still new.
  • Not pictured is Ebony, who came late. She'll be starting a new job at Sears in the lawn mower repair center. Jealous.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Puppy with a combover

To find home, ask for help

It was only a minor little meltdown in our morning meeting today. A few tears, you know, before the big burst (ask Lisa about it, she does a great imitation). "I have no where to live," I choked.
It's been three months of searching for the right place. When you're single, and on a budget, the choices are very, odd. Every "look-see" felt like a horrible, blind date. The kind of date where you want to leave as soon as the door opens.
But I was tired. I'd spent last night's sleep actually sweating out the living options ... as if I could think my way into a solution, by sheer brain power. It never happens that way.
So as I blubbered this morning, dreary and weary, I asked for help and I got it. My co-workers turned their sad eyes, and support, towards me.
And now, I think I've found the place. It's on the top floor of a third floor building. It's the corner room, with high, vaulted ceilings. A sunroom with French doors--perfect for songwriting. An actual place for my actual washer and dryer. Big, bright windows in the bedroom. A fireplace. A lake just a short walk down the drive. Only 5 miles from KI.
And trees. Trees. Trees. My own little tree house, where the shimmering green leaves whisper and wink in the breeze.
Leaves I'll never have to rake.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Silent Beats

For John

A young Townes Van Zandt, makes an old man cry.

A proposal

I hadn't seen John in a while, so I was happy to recognize that face under the hat, headphones, and characteristic unlit cigarette. He gave me a big hug, said trouble can't seem to leave him, and offered to marry me.

I told him not until he figures out how to leave those troubles behind.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Carolina boys croon on Conan

You can't say "Avett Brothers" to a 16-year-old girl in North Carolina with out her losing her cool. It's true. These boys, who hail from the Carolinas, play a fascinating mix of punk and bluegrass with their unapologetic brand of rock and roll that always asks permission before blowing off the bar-room doors.

I'll admit it, I'm smitten. Especially given banjo player Scott Avett's former life as a painter, the poor boy must suffer something fierce, because his art is beautiful.

Erin and Joel

He played Cello, she played Euphonium in band at Appalachian State University.

Erin is my office mate here at Kindermusik, and she's also the reason the first Kindermusik Convention happened with out a single glitch. And even though her outdoor wedding had a mini-shower, the rains parted and left us with a staggeringly-beautiful silver lining over everything.

Best of luck to both. Take a look at the pics bridesmaid Jessi Hagood took, and you'll notice a bunch of KI folks: Lisa Rowell, Carol Penney, and Paige Turner.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My new house

In the last seven years, I've moved seven times, and I'm on the move again. This time, my landlord is selling the house I rent. In the past, the moving reasons have been: robbery, neurotic roomates, too expensive, now twice the reason has been because the landlord is selling.

So after deciding I wasn't ready for the big committment of buying a house (I want to date around some more) I've settled on this beauty.

I've been told I have a sideways disposition. And Angelica, my cube-mate here at Kindermusik, and our "live with your heart, and not your head" Italian, says: "I wonder how you sleep in it?"

Reminds me of this story, "The Crooked Old Man."

I aspire

The video quality is not so great, but she is.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New graphics you can use

I know it's hard to explain why Kindermusik is so important to a child's life. Especially when looking into the weary eyes of a parent, who, on a daily basis, is making decisions that would give her a heart attack if she dwelled too long on the "what ifs?"
So, we put together some visual aids that might help you explain all the things Kindermusik can do--and how it's scientifically proven to help children become exactly who they're supposed to become. And then some.
Also, click the graph, and you'll link straight to the study from which these pretty pictures were created.

Resurrecting the Mozart Effect

"What scientists say at the moment is that music instruction will make you smarter about music, and that for music to help children they need to begin instruction really, really early."

Hat tip: Injoy Your Day

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Unicorn humor

A show poster for our home grown booking folks: Lookalive

Patty Griffin: No Bad News

The Jem Flickr photo stream

You can see all the dolls, plus Jem's motorcyle.

Amazing Grace

A very fine, local musician, who fronts the local outfit "Old Stone Revue," as well as plays in the band I play with--Thacker Dairy Road--sent me this video.

With it, Chris wrote, "This is what I strive for as a musician."

And what I see in this video, is a man who, somehow, gets out of the way of the instrument, and lets the guitar speak for itself.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Would beauty transcend?

A real musical experiment with the world's greatest violinist, disgused as a street player in the Washington Post. As an aside, I audibly gasped when I read who was the street playing violinist.

Hat tip Kindermusik with Miss Terri and Friends

No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

Hologram-fighting glamor queen

I used to love this show. I mean c'mon, a crime-fighting rock star with all the latest technology at her fingertips, be it musical or technical?

Plus, every episode was basically a mini-musical with the Misfits riffing in with their minor, rock chords, singing about how they were going to take the Hologram's down.

Good times.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sad, but true

Don't worry about people stealing your

ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll

have to ram them down people's throats.

Howard Aiken

Why music?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Rachel and Stella

This is Rachel, my best friend in 7th grade. She's holding her daughter, Stella.

Keep your eyes out for Rachel's book this summer, which she wrote for her daughter--to help her feel more connected to her father, Craig. Also the love of Rachel's life, Craig passed away in his sleep almost two years in October.

The story, called "Stella's Dance" (is that right Rachel?) will be available in bookstores this summer. I'll keep you posted.

That's how they do it in the 'Hood

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Dollars for Bloggers

If you can help, fantastic. If not, a wish, a thought, a kiss, always does some good.

Hey, Molly!
I've put together a team on behalf of 2 of my KM families who have children with cancer. The annual HSBC Childrun raises funds for research regarding the causes and treatments of childhood cancer. I've set a goal to raise $1,500, and we are woefully short. Would you be able to put the challenge out to KM educators?

If everyone who read your blog donated $10, we'd blow our goal off the charts!

I've posted it on my blog:

Thanks a bunch!