Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Upcoming Workshop - Jump into January with Joy!

Music Workshop - Jump into January with Joy! Tuesday, December 29, 11:00 AM EST. This 1.5 hour workshop will be recorded for all registered participants. Registration fee: $5.00. Let's play our way joyfully into 2021!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Mabel Mabel Set the Table Game

Mabel, Mabel Set the Table

 I always loved this jump rope rhyme but decided it was time to give it a bit of a twist. I posted a video on facebook @o for tuna orff just moments ago with ways to play the game but you will get the idea from the pictures below. If you would like this as a pdf please email me at and I am happy to share. 

If you enjoy these materials, consider buying me a cup of coffee!


Friday, November 13, 2020


Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year for Hindu people.  Diwali or Divali comes from Deepavali, a Sanskrit word meaning "row of lamps."  Small clay lamps filled with oil are lit, signifying the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, hope over despair. The lamps remain lit throughout the night and homes cleaned to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. Noisy firecracker sounds scare away evil spirits. Everyone wears new clothes and share sweets and treats with family and friends.

This music I play as students enter the room and I engage the students with a movement and body percussion copycat game.  Some of the movements prepare students for the Dandiya stick dance we will perform later in the class.

I use a Mystery Instrument of the Day to start my classes off. It ties to each lesson in some way. This week is the sitar. I found this video which, though a cartoon, does a great job introducing the sitar.

Then this video filmed just this spring during Covid times (April 2020) with Anoushka Shankar and several students of her father, Ravi Shankar, famed sitar player. 

Then I share the refrain of this song, "Diwali" from Manju Durairaj. Manju was born and raised in India. She is an Orff educator, Seesaw guru, and loves to share her culture and music.  I read the book Diwali, below, inserting the refrain every 2 pages.

Then it's time to show some excerpts of Indian Garba and Dandiya dances.  These are some videos I have used before: 

Level 1 Dandiya Dance

I have a very sweet Mom at school who has been an enormous help in teaching me and helping me develop Dandiya dances for students.  So very fortunate to have a culture bearer who loves to help others learn!  Thanks to Mrs. Shah for this lovely (and accessible) dance!  

 A Section (refrain of song):  Half note pulse - Clap R, Clap L, Clap both, Clap both.  In non-Covid times I would teach it first with clapping a partner but with social distancing we modify it to clap own hands on the right side of our bodies, clap own hands on the left side of our bodies, and clap our hands twice in the middle.  

B Section: Half note pulse - Step one foot forward, tap sticks overhead at the same time. Step same foot backward, tap sticks behind backs at the same time. Repeat. 

The Dandiya sticks are passed out (I have some a parent brought from India and they are amazing - the kids LOVE them) although I have made them in the past using ribbons and dowels and they work great- rhythm sticks also work well. We perform with the sticks and the "Diwali" song from Manju above. 

Level 2 Dandiya Dance

A Section: Same as above but face partners and the Clap R and Clap L become tap R stick with partner, tap L stick with partner, tap own, tap own. 

B Section:  Same as above but turn in place at same time.

Level 3 Dandiya Dance

A Section: Same as Level 2 - tap R stick with partner, tap L stick with partner, both sticks "windshield wiper" to the R (tap partners sticks; this will make a # sign), both sticks "windshield wiper" to the L (tap partners sticks; this will make the opposite # sign). 

B Section: Same as above, turn in place one direction for 1st phrase, opposite direction for 2nd phrase.

and we learn a very basic Dandiya dance!  


You can also find a lesson from Teaching with Orff featuring a Diwali Dance from Manju here. 

If you have time, students would love making these diyas from The Joy of Sharing. 

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2020

Checking In, Checking Up

 My daughter, Caiya, is about to turn 13.  With that is all the expected eye rolling, sarcasm dripping from the tongue, and the need for independence. She is an awesome kid- funny, incredibly artistic, and still loves hugs and talks with Mom. She loves to be around us (yay) and is very sweet and tender-hearted, all of which I am incredibly grateful for. Here is some of her amazing art: 

I chose this image my daughter drew below because I think many of us are feeling all the feelings - lonely, sad, angry, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed, and so on. I hear that - I see you.  

While my daughter was in hybrid mode this fall I was full-time with students at school. She would be home, in the craft room at her drawing desk online with classes. She is incredibly responsible and on top of things- well organized, and a good student. My husband works from home, and did pre-Pandemic, so nothing has really changed for him except that we have been underfoot. He would wander in occasionally to "check in" on Caiya. She saw it as Dad "checking up on" her. We had to talk about the importance of understanding there was CARE behind it, not accountability. 
So, how are YOU handling your CARE of yourself right now?  Are you taking walks, reading a non-PD book, indulging in Netflix and Prime, baking, making time for a hobby, and making some music for YOURSELF these days? Are you reaching out to friends and family and staying connected?  All of these things are not just important, but they are vital right now. 
Recently some beautiful music teacher friends got together to chat about our various situations - we were spread across the US - Michigan, Washington State, North Carolina, and Connecticut. Not one of us are teaching in the same situations - we all have various ways of doing and being but we all deeply love and miss our students and normal music making. Not one of us is teaching with the same schedule/mode/model this year.  I will be updating this post early next week and will share the link from my dear friend, Elizabeth of  
Please take CARE, my friends - there is only one you and YOU MATTER!


Thursday, October 22, 2020

in the Hall of the Mountain King Part 3

 The saga continues.. Peer in the castle, Troll King nearing... 

This piece of music will forever be my favorite for this time of year!

I published Part 1 of this in early October 207 - check out Part 1 of In the Hall of the Mountain King here.

Then Part 2 was published a short while later - check out Part 2 of In the Hall of the Mountain King here! 

Today, a few MORE ideas for you! 

Body Percussion with Sevens! 

 Did you know you can play the hand game, Sevens, along with In the Hall of the Mountain King? This is SO much fun!  The game is from my Hands to Hands, Too Book: 

Need a more visual demonstration of how to play the game?  Here you go! 

Movement/Body Percussion/Instruments with In the Hall of the Mountain King from Musication

Perfect for these times of not sharing instruments- this one is SO fun to add lots of various movement and/or instrument sounds from Music Packs! 

Super fun! Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

 From September 15-October 15 Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated in the US.  The dates coincide with  national independence days in Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Mexico.

Here are a few resources I have found helpful:


Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist

Best Mariachi in the World

My Name is Celia

Tito Puente Mambo King

Most students are familiar with this tune - here is Tito Puente performing Oye Como Va: 

Conejito A Folktale from Panama


Drum Dream Girl


Video on my facebook -@o for tuna orff. 

El floron from my Sing a Song, Play a Game book published by Beatin' Path Publications.

Al citron, from same book above
SO many other wonderful resources included here: 

El patio de mi casa:

Arroz con leche

De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Song for Children


Carnavalito from Bolivia - here is how to modify it for physically distant dancing: Video here.
Chililin from Bolivia - Yes, that is the correct spelling, often seen as Chilili - modified on the same video above. 

Dance with Legos: 


Los Machetes- here is the incomparable Rob Amchin with a wonderfully modified version:

Check out these kids in Cuba performing salsa dancing- amazing!

These are just a FEW resources to get you started. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Friday, September 4, 2020

Zoom and Face to Face Music Games

 I began compiling these a few months ago and modifying them for music classes. These are SO fun and I wanted to put them into card format to make them more user-friendly.There are also some empty cards for you to write your own games.  

Click here to download them as a pdf. 


Monday, August 31, 2020

Your Name is a Song

Updated 9.24.2020

Names are SO important! I fell in love with this new book, Your Name is a Song, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow. This is a VERY new book and was just released July 2020!  Here is a video of the author pronouncing the names included in the book: 

Dreamer of Names

You can choose to speak the created rhyme or sing, or sing and perform with Orff instruments.  If choosing virtual, students will be able to play the melody but not the score as written with most virtual instruments as they would need a 2-octave set but you can modify as needed.  The Chrome add on Xylophone is excellent! Many thanks to my friend, Jody, for introducing it to me! You can search on google for xylo playsprout and you can also use the internet-based version.

Names and Movement

Many thanks to Casey Goryeb for this BEAUTIFUL idea: 

  • Research meanings of students names.
  • Develop movement to represent meaning while saying the name. Names could be for all family members, pets, relatives, etc. If no meaning to be found, students choose a meaning to represent their name.
  • Eventually pass the name movement silently from one student to another in the room. 


  • Create a chart of one, two, three sound names with everyone in class. Put names together into a 4-beat phrase, use body percussion to play, transfer to instruments.  
  • Name games like Ickety Tickety and Jump In, Jump Out. There are MANY here on this previous post! 
  • Use Chrome Music Lab Song Maker and have students create a song to go with their name. Customize instruments, percussion, number of beats in measure, notes (settings to create pentatonic scales), etc. 

  • Chrome Music Lab Kandinsky - use this one to have students draw their names and turn it into music!  Such fun! 

Here are some free printables to go with the book:

Happy Days in First Grade

Stories by Storie

Worksheet by Jody Petter


Happy back to school!