Monday, November 14, 2011

Two significant updates in my world:

1. I'm the Music Director at the Mistwood Montessori School in Eureka, CA, having returned after a long absence there, and

2. I am in between homes, having sold the family home and studio of 23 years, while preparing to move into our new place.

These are both wonderfully rewarding experiences for which I am thoroughly grateful!

At this time, I am preparing a special Holiday Program with the young music stars of Mistwood, and one of the songs is "I'm Lucky" by Nancy and Cody Cassidy, which I'm preparing for the show.  It's a lovely song and everyone who hears it is enchanted.  I've added some minor and diminished chords which sweetly fit my sense of the melody.

If you're in the Eureka, CA area on December 11, please join us for this and more holiday music at the Morris Graves Museum at 5:00.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Grow it At Home"

"Grow it at Home" is another gem from the prolific singer/songwriter, Peter Alsop. Peter's latest album is ripe with family fun and bursting with tunes about relationships, sustainable food and resources, animal rights, and social issues. As with all of Peter's projects the emphasis is on healthy families.

Peter's irreverent humor and openness to any topic under the sun get kids thinking with subjects like asking questions on "Ask Away", who not to trust on "Strangers" and parents' admonishment to do what I say, not what I do on "No, No, No!". Like the giraffe who tells us to be vegetarians----even the lions----in "Stick my Neck Out", Peter gently aspires to save the world through songs about recycling, "Use it Again" and the title song about growing our own food.

He balances these with the tender messages and heart-lifting melodies in "Wish", "Dragon Who Flies By My Window", and "Use It Again".

There are spoken intros and outros woven throughout the album, so listeners who like dialog mixed in with the songs will enjoy the exchanges between the kids and grownups. This CD will make a great companion on the next road trip.

Whatever he's sharing, Peter's big heart and courageous spirit shine through.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Singing and Signing

One of the most rewarding things I've learned over my 30-plus years of sharing music is that adding sign language to lyrics is universally appealing. The mother of a toddler with a disability first showed me some basic signs that her son responded to with enthusiasm and success. This got me started, and inspired me to write a song, "Hearts and Hands" about how we can all benefit from each other's differences by using our hearts and hands. (Links shown below.)

Since then....many songs and signs later...I have found that all ages, from babies to elders, respond instinctively to learning and using signs (referring to American Sign Language/ASL) especially when they accompany the rhythms, melodies and storylines of songs.

Here is a short and sweet song that I wrote that you can easily teach to others. "One World/Un Mundo" adapts itself beautifully to sharing with sign-language. In this video I'm shown performing it in several settings in Spanish and English. You will notice that not all words are signed and that there are some subtle variations in signs (for instance, watch for "sing" shown 2 different ways.) Signs may vary depending on your source, so when faced with a choice, decide with your students which ones you prefer. The important thing is to do what you're comfortable with, but be willing to learn and grow, and above all, have fun! You can also hear this song in Russian on my album Circle Time 2, Track #9. (See "Albums" link below.)

I encourage you to add any other language that you're familiar with. The signs you use remain the same so that as you sing each language, the signs are reinforced.

You will find many other songs with strong images that lend themselves to signing. Try typing this: american sign language "you are my sunshine" in the box. As you work on a song, start by inserting a few key signs, and as you get more comfortable, keep filling in with more. Older students might be given the task of researching several signs each and then teaching them to the group.

To help you further, visit this ASL site that is wonderful for clear modeling of countless individual words/signs.

Happy singing and signing together!
Lisa Monet

Hearts and Hands video:
Official site and contact info:
Albums and song samples:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Music Advantages

Seeing "The King's Speech" has drawn me back to early classical memories when my parents would crank up the volume on their beloved vinyl discs. I keep playing a recording of Beethoven's Symphony #7, a part of which rings out in the final scene of the movie.

Music has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I know that's true for you too. We respond to rhythm, melody, lyrics, and all the aspects of creating and listening to music. This is such a fundamental part of the human experience.

During a brief 4th grade fling with the violin, an on-and-off relationship with the piano, then finding true love with the guitar, I've encountered many ways to enjoy playing and singing. The styles I favor reflect an eclectic background. I'll always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to Handel, Count Basie, Bud & Travis, Nat King Cole, Edie Gormay; and to my big sister for playing Streisand, Gilberto, Lennon/McCartny; and my brother for showing me Stairway to Heaven, Pink Floyd and Los Lobos. My mother took her daughters to the premiere of Hair, a rock musical at Los Angeles's Pantages Theater. That was enlightening!

We all have unique backgrounds and memories of that song or piece that first stirred our emotions and made us want to hear it again and again. And all of these are valid. There are no wrong ways to appreciate music! And there is no end to the ways of introducing children to music, from the traditional to contemporary, and from hand play and lullabies to embarking on the study of an instrument.

Here are three of my favorite guides to music. From unique angles, each one speaks of the joy and advantages that participating in music gives us. (Note: Find them at your library or at your local bookstore.)

Nurturing Your Child with Music, John M. Ortiz, Ph.D
Raising Musical Kids, Robert A. Cutietta
Musicophilia, Oliver Sacks

If you've read all the way to the end, I appreciate it! It's a pleasure sharing ideas and inspiration with you, and I wish you an ever-expanding experience of joyful listening, playing and singing together!

I invite you to post a comment: what early music memories do you treasure?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Music Therapy

Reading about the topic of Music Therapy recently, I was fully engaged in learning more about a colleague, Amber Bobnar of Boston Children's Music, and her son, Ivan. She lists the benefits of incorporating music with children:

Music can facilitate:

fine and gross motor skills
social skills
patterning (such as counting or pre-reading skills)
fostering memories

Amber goes on to discuss why you might want to "bring more music into your home to help encourage your child's development."

This is a subject I am keenly interested in and want to learn and share more about. You can read more here at Amber's "Wonder Baby" site.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year and New Dreams!

I recently got asked to join a renowned singer/songwriter at a family concert he was doing in our area. I consider this a milestone in my music career. He’s a Grammy nominee and has traveled all over the world sharing his beautiful, life-affirming songs. Here’s more about him: And he wanted to sing—with—-me.

I almost said no. It would be a stretch for me and take me out of my comfort zone. I knew I'd be feeling those stabs of adrenaline and pre-show jitters more so than usual. And I’ve been doing shows for many years. But then I thought, “if I don’t do it, how will I feel?” You know the answer to that. So I did it---gulp---and am so glad I did. The main reason? Meeting him, Red Grammer. He was so amazingly professional and gracious and grounded. A role-model, a gem, a loving co-creator.

This opportunity must have resulted from the goal-settings and raising-the-bar work and affirmations I’ve been doing : )

What do you aspire to? Do you spend much time thinking “in your wildest dreams” type thoughts? If there’s one thing I’ve gotten from connecting with all the positive movers and shakers in Social Media it’s definitely: Go for your Dreams! Focus on what you most desire in Life! Believe in yourself, and know that we believe in you too! Here is a community that knows the power of positive thinking!!!