The Musical Play Dates Guide

Kids absolutely love music, and they love to play games set to music! Nothing can quickly grab or hold their attention more easily than music. It is a strong catalyst for learning, creativity and development of language, movement and social skills. It has the power to captivate and charm young imaginations, giving children the wings to explore the world that surrounds them and delight the senses.

Musical play dates offer parents the opportunity to share in their child’s discovery of the music and singing, social skills and help them begin to grow a circle of friends. You can have a lot of fun when a play date incorporates the world of music! Here is our musical play date guide to turn your play date into a number one hit!

The Hokey Pokey

I’m sure you remember the song… “You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out…” a favorite of every child. The Hokey Pokey is one of several circle dances. It is a great song to teach your child their right from their left, teach body parts and body movement. For younger children, you can use colored stickers on their hands to identify which is their left or right.

Animal Walk Parade

While playing music, have the children dance and walk the way their favorite animal would. Include all kinds of animals, such as a bird, snake, bear, etc.

Music & Motion

This is a fun activity to have children experience movement as it relates to the music or rhythm they hear. Simply instruct each child to physically move how the music makes them feel. You’ll soon see them tiptoeing or swaying to soft music, marching to the beat of a parade song, run for fast music, hop and bounce for music that makes them feel happy, or stomp their feet to the rhythms they hear.

Toot! Toot!

This fun song activity will help your child learn to listen. Take a fun song the kids are very familiar with, such as Jack & Jill, Humpty Dumpty, This Old Man, or Old MacDonald had a Farm. Sing the song to your child, but substitute wrong words or names in obvious places. For example, perhaps instead of a farm, Old MacDonald had a dog or maybe Jack and Jill went up the tree. When your child hears the wrong words have them sing “Toot-Toot!”

Musical Hugs

This puts a twist to the musical chairs game, but in this case, no one looses! It’s a great ice breaker for play dates. Simply round up some of your favorite kids CD’s. Instruct each child to dance and move to the music. When it stops, the children have to stop dancing and hug a friend. As the children become more acquainted, you’ll soon find 2 – 3 kids hugging each other in a group. End the session in one big group hug!

Pass the Bear

Another good ice breaker and helps children learn each other’s names. Have the kids sit in a circle. Hand a stuffed bear to one of the children to start the game and sing this song to the tune of Row-Row-Row Your Boat: “My friend (child’s name) has the bear— hug him with great care! Pass him on to my friend (next child’s name) because we like to share!” On the word “share,” instruct the child to give the bear to the next child named. Repeat for each child.

Freeze Dance

A twist on the Red Light, Green Light game. Instruct the children that when the music plays, they can dance, jump, hop and move about. When the music stops, they have to freeze in whatever pose they are in when the music stops playing— still as a statute (you may need to demonstrate to younger kids). Instead of holding a pose, you can also have everyone drop to the floor and sit until the music starts again.

What Music Looks Like

This activity incorporates both the world of music and art. Pick 2 – 5 songs—- anything from funny songs to classical or slow music (make it a mix). A couple of our original songs are great for this activity, such as A Sweet Little Silly Song or the City Zoo. Hand each child enough sheets of paper for each song, and some crayons. Instruct them to draw what the music of each song sounds like to them— what they hear and feel. You’ll see some creative art. At the end of the game, have each child pick their favorite picture, and hold it up for all to see.

Follow Me!

A musical version of follow the leader will get the kids moving! While the music plays, the leader leads the group around. When it stops, the leader goes to the end of the line and the next child leads. Usually best to have an adult start. As you lead the children, wiggle your arms, turn in circles, flap your arms, hop, squat like a duck, fly like an airplane— demonstrate lots of different movements to give the kids ideas when they lead.

A-B-C & 1-2-3 Dancing

This is the perfect game for toddlers starting to learn their letters or numbers. It is best done in a large family or recreation room. Use masking tape to make the shapes of the letters or numbers the children are working on learning. Make it as large as possible. Turn on some fun kids music and have your toddlers dance around. When the music stops, have them go to the letter or number you call out.

Great Balls of Fire!

A twist on the old game, hot potato— instead of a potato, we use colored flashing light balls. This one is fun on rainy or snowy day with the lights dimmed. Hand each child except one, a flashing light ball. Have the children sit in a circle. As the music plays, the children pass the lights around the circle until the music stops. When the music stops, the boy or girl not holding a light sits in the middle now out of the game. Remove a ball from the circle and continue the game. Be sure to let each child leave with a light ball when they go home!

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved (c)

Music Review of Fantasy Black Channel by Late of the Pier

“Late Of The Pier” are a four-piece indie rock band from Castle Donington, London. Late Of The Pier are Samuel Eastgate (Vocals, Guitar and Synthesizers), Andrew Faley (Bass and Synthesizers), Sam Potter (Sampler) and Ross Dawson (Drums). All of them have pseudonyms and known as Samuel Dust, Francis Dudley Dance, Jack Paradise and Red Dog Consuela respectively. Late Of The Pier are very much into electronica and their music genres cover indie rock, electronica, synth pop and dance-punk.

Late Of The Pier’s Fantasy Black Channel opens with roaring guitar instrumental “Hot Tent Blues”. It seems that Late Of The Pier have been using a sampler to make this track. The guitar on this track revives the 80s rock scene where it’s filled with pitching and echoic guitar. The bass and drums provide cushion in the background as the guitar plays on. Once it reaches the remaining 13 seconds, the track gallops again but this time, with some start/stop guitar riffs. It’ll gradually bring you to the next track. Very energetic opening!

Once entering “Broken”, oh my god the guitar just brings you on. You couldn’t help it but to move your body to this crazy filler track. Very awesome guitar work i would say. Shortly after that, it’s followed by a series of music created by synthesizers and sampler. Only by the time Samuel enters with his vocals, Broken seems to slow down a bit to allow him to express himself. Broken is filled with various guitar playing, you can’t help but to love this track. Just my first listen, Broken already got me wanting for more. Very addictive!

“Space And The Woods” comes in right after Broken. If I’m not mistaken, it sounds like Late Of The Pier are playing keyboards here. Catchy keyboards playing by them. Samuel has a robotic voice-like as he sings on. When it comes to the part which i assume is the chorus, the guitar just comes in, without affecting the earlier keyboards that we first heard. In the bridge, Samuel sings in a very ignorant voice that goes, “I’m shit hot so say what you think about me, I’m not gonna cry because I don’t care…” It sounds kind of cool here. The music on Space And The Woods definitely matches the previous track. Love the keyboards!

“The Bears Are Coming” has a very cool opening. African-influenced percussion belting with the synthesizers. Once Samuel comes in, it just adds extra weight to the already really good music. After each paragraph of his singing, the music just plays on. And it’s not just some ordinary music, it’s the type of music which is going to at least make you nod your heard. The Bears Are Coming also vibrates some disco-feel to it. In the bridge, Late Of The Pier just takes a short break with the slow tempo and Samuel enters with his yell-like vocals layered with heavy-heart elements, “I saw you wading in the water, i saw you ride along the sea, shine on a nightmare, shine through the trees…” Once after that, the music again kills me on the spot. With some voice in the background, it’s like a party track in the making. Before ending, it seems that Late Of The Pier are not done with the track yet, they just play around with their synthesizers and sampler. Amazing feeling!

On “Random Firl”, the music in the beginning is just way too cute. The synthesizers-influenced guitar are very cheeky as well. If you pay attention, you would notice a slight sound of exclaimation (Like a woman’s gasp) in the background when the music are just warming up to get to the verse. It just sounds so funny to me. Slowly, Late Of The Pier seem to be adding more instruments to this track, making it sounds much better gradually. The cheeky and catchy guitar just work its way throughout the track, very sweet feeling.

“Heartbeat” begins with some 80s-like music before the real deal comes in where Late Of The Pier enter with loud guitar riffs. When it gets to the chorus, Heartbeat seems to get into another level, it gets rougher and groovier here with Samuel going, “A heartbeat, a flicker, a line…. It’s just a line…” in repetition. The best moment on Heartbeat definitely. Entering the second verse, the bass also gets groovier and louder. It just never fails to pump up my blood and the volume. It’s not a line, it’s the music!

“White Snake” has a somewhat slow beginning. But it suddenly bursts with the loud guitar of Late Of The Pier. Samuel also seems to be gasping for air when singing as it’s fast and loud here. The guitar also plays at a speedy rate. When it gets to the chorus, the whole track just loosen up slightly. Piano can be heard playing in a repetition of notes rapidly as the track goes on from here. In the bridge, Late Of The Pier add some creepy music to White Snake, it comes in as a surprise, really. But it’s still good as the track is so fast until it gets you rocking as well. Even Samuel sings and yells like a true rock star!

“VW” continues with some clever music playing. Horn can be heard here as the music goes fast and slow throughout the track. When it’s fast, the horn seems to be louder and the music sounds kind of eerie, as if something bad is bound to happen. When it gets to the slower part, Later Of The Pier seem to be getting ready for the next speedy break. Listening to VW makes you think that you’re running out of time and something bad is about to happen. Dangerously fast!

“Focker” has a very strong electronic influences to it. On the verse, Samuel sings very fast as if he’s gulping down the lyrics. However in the chorus, things get a different approach. Samuel just sings and drags on, “I want to be you friend… Oh yeah…” With the heavy electronic music in the background, sometimes it just drowns out the voice of Samuel. Focker can be said one of the wildest tracks on Fantasy Black Channel. Even the remaining 30 seconds are filled loud guitar and synthesizers, looping and echoing to the end.

“The Enemy Are the Future” has a cute beginning. You would know what i mean after listening to it. It seems that this time Samuel share his vocals part with other members of Late Of The Pier. It has a deep and playful voice once it comes in. As the chorus comes, the whole track as i never expect, sounds very good with the bass going on. With Samuel going in a catchy tone and in repetition, “Easy life, is it an easy life?…”, i feel obliged to sing along as well. I just don’t know why, the way Late Of The Pier play and sing is really good! Needless to say, the music is just great on The Enemy Are The Future. Deeper into the track, it just turns into another track totally. The sampler and synthesizers just hit the invisible magic button as it’s no longer a rock track, it’s a dance track. Very, very highly evolved.

“Mad Dogs and Englishmen” starts with a bell chiming from afar. Sooner than later, the bass comes in and eventually it gets louder with a certain rhythm to it. The guitar and the bass on this track seems to be working together here, layering and covering one another. When the bass goes, the guitar waits; when the guitar goes, the bass waits. The bass especially, makes me smile as it possesses some funny elements in it. In the bridge and until the end, Late Of The Pier just play their stuffs which resulting in some playful and great music. It makes you want to play…

“Bathroom Gurgle” opens with steady drum beats (That resembles “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis) and soon joined by synthesizers. The music itself is already catchy enough to make me want to get up and dance. It’s infectiously groovy! In the chorus, Samuel yells, “Find yourself a new boy…” with the music adding in some xylophone-like sound. I really enjoyed myself listening to that particular moment. Other than that, Late Of The Pier’s Samuel also plays around with his vocals on Bathroom Gurgle as he imitates the voice of females at some points of the track. Few seconds after the chorus, Bathroom Gurgle surprises us with a cheering part that goes, “So put your hands on your waistline, and move you body to the bass line, and get your hands on some cheap wine…” Late Of The Pier really show everything they have on this track. One track that covers a variety of singing and playful music.

Learning to Play Piano – Benefits of Learning Music

Playing piano can be learned by several methods. Self taught by copying others and generally working out tunes. This is basically trial and error learning. This can be effective and some great musicians have learned this way. Some take the traditional route learning music and others learn chords without the benefit of music and play that way. This system can be particularly successful without learning to read music.

The benefits of learning music out way other methods in many ways, here are a number of benefits that learning music may provide you with.

· A wider range of musical styles can be played and understood quickly rather than having to work out each new style by trial and error.

· Composing of your own music can be carried out and recorded on paper for yourself or others to play. Composing your own music without understanding music can be done but needs to be remembered which can be difficult to do. This is especially true when a large number of music pieces are being composed or if the music is complicated.

· Music contains a number of instructions about the mood of the piece to be played. This aspect of a piece of music cannot be known unless the instructions are understood. The player can only copy what has been heard when others have played the same piece.

· The correct balance of left and right hand notes with the correct octave for each hand to provide the correct mood of the music is automatically played when reading music. The alternative is trial and error or experience which you will not have when learning to play.

· The notes to be played do not need to be remembered as they are written on the music allowing expression within the music to be concentrated upon.

· New music presented to you can be understood and played. Not understanding music would require the piece to be played by someone who did understand the music for you, to allow you listen to it and then copy.

· Music is an international language or at least western music is. No matter where you are in a western country you can play with others by the use of music regardless of the native tongue spoken in the country.

· Knowledge of music can only enhance your piano playing or any other instrument. No one ever played worse for possessing too much musical knowledge.

· Other than starting your own band, music as a career is not open to none readers of music. Those that read music can add musician, composer or conductor to name just a few possibilities to their possible job prospects.

Sight Reading Music Vs. Reading Music

I’m writing this article because of a debate that recently occurred in a piano forum I participate in. The argument was on the proper use of the words when describing reading music, specifically the term “sight reading”. If you are sight reading a piece of music, is it the very first time you are playing it or have you played it before, and therefore are only reading music and no longer sight reading it? Some in the forum felt that the use of the term “sight reading” didn’t accurately describe the process I was talking about at the time. I hadn’t realized there were such strong thoughts around the way we describe playing sheet music, but I learned quickly that there are more than a few people with varying opinions on the use of words. I’ll share both sides of the argument and offer up my own thoughts on the subject.

Many in the music community view the term “sight reading” to mean “reading music on first sight”. This may be your definition as well, and is often the end goal for anyone trying to read music. Many sites and forums are dedicated to the ability to play music at first sight, a skill that is very difficult to master, and can be frustrating, especially for the beginner piano student. Most piano players need to play through a piece of music numerous times before being able to play it straight through. So this definition would lead many to believe that sight reading is an impossible task for the beginner. I personally don’t like this limited view and therefore I tend to agree with the more general definition.

The other side of the argument is more where I stand. The term “sight reading” to me simply means “playing music by what you see” as opposed to playing by ear or by rote (mimicking another player, like on YouTube). I don’t make a determination as to whether it is the first reading or the hundredth. In fact, I would define one’s sight reading ability not only by the difficulty of the pieces they can play, but also by how many times it takes them to play it before the mistakes are minimal. Even for a seasoned pro, every additional time reading through a piece of music usually results in more accuracy. If you could be able to play a piece of music by spending 5-10 minutes with it, playing it through a few times and then able to play it flawlessly, wouldn’t that be an accomplishment of your ability to read music by sight? There are advanced techniques to improve the skills to minimize mistakes on first read, but I don’t want to diminish someone’s skill level just because it takes them a few more times playing through to really get it.

One more point on my side of the argument. As someone who has been called on to read music at first glance often (for example, playing for musical theater auditions) I can honestly say that I rarely, if ever, play the music without reading through it first. I read through the piece I’m about to play, looking for difficult sections, analyzing the various notes and patterns. So I could argue that my first time playing the music is actually my SECOND time reading through it. So would that mean that by definition I’m simply reading the music now and not actually sight reading it? I wouldn’t make that distinction. It would be like reading through a speech before giving it. Even if you are reading off your cards and giving that speech for the first time, it’s not technically the first read-through.

That is how I define sight reading, in the broader definition. I understand how some put a stricter meaning to the word, but in the end, aren’t we all trying to learn and do the same thing? We want to be able to look at a piece of music and play it with as little mistakes as possible, whether it’s the first time through, or the millionth.