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Music for the Long and Winding Road

I have been on a mini-tour of the West the last few weeks.  What was supposed to be a quick trip in and out of Denver has now extended into a month long road trip.  After Colorado, I headed to Salt Lake to spend a few weeks with my parents.  We immediately packed our bags and headed to Yellowstone--- my favorite place on Earth.  Yellowstone National Park is the natural Disneyland and the very thumbprint of God.  One of my very wisdomous British friends informed me that Yellowstone is on an active volcano and there currently is an advert running in the UK about it.
Here the weather changes on a dime--- as I am writing this it is currently snowing in Salt Lake, yesterday it was 90 degrees.  I am always surprised at the kid that emerges in me when I am in the park- things shooting out of the ground, bubbling, animals roaming.... it's just the best.  The best of Yellowstone is seen off the boardwalks though only about 5% of visitors hit these back country trails.  My Dad and I climbed one of the mountains... and though we usually pride ourselves in being overly prepared... we learned that "pride cometh before the snowfall" and the entire hike was on top of snow... that we often fell to our waist in.   Please note my Hi-So fashion:)   

feel safe?!
The day after we got back from Yellowstone I got in the car with my brother and headed to Southern Utah. We met up with my cousin and hiked Zion NP--which has an amazing hike through the Narrows and the fattest squirrels you've ever seen.  The hike goes in and out of water and at some parts you practically have to swim while holding your gear over your head.

After Zion we hit Bryce Canyon, Grand-Staircase Escalante, and Capitol Reef.  
Capitol Reef
Petroglyphs in Capitol Reef
I gathered various types/colors of soil that I will be using in an art and writing project for our soil/rocks/mineral study (stay tuned :))

Now, this entire time I'm with my brother--- my classical musician, opposite personality, oil and water--- or vinegar and baking soda sibling.  As in all good relationships... compromise, compromise... compromise.  The big thing for us is music--- as a music teacher and classical musician his preference is ALWAYS classical and bust your ears opera while I appreciate it and enjoy it from time to time.. on most any day of the week I prefer most ANYTHING else.

Here is a prime example from our recent road trip

We took turns with playlists--one hour each and all was at peace.... and where I tie it in to education :)  

I love music--- it's playing for the majority of my day.  In the classroom---it is utterly invaluable.  I use a bluetooth speaker and am able to play music through my phone wherever I am in the room which pretty much rocks my world.  I keep my music organized in various playlists for different times of the day--- morning, lunch, line up, pack up, etc. etc.  In each playlist I have 1-2 songs that cue the kids and then afterwards I always include various albums that don't have words.  

As a fast fact-- as learned from my brother-  when students are working using the right/logical side of the brain listening to music helps to stimulate the left/creative side.  Listening to music that doesn't have words supports focus and the firing between the two halves.  As a consequence music with words distracts and can cause confusion--- because who doesn't want to sing along and forget how to use that new strategy?!

Here are the playlists I use every day so that I don't have to say a single word to my students and they have the time they need to get to wherever they need to go.  At the bottom I will include the other albums I attach on to the transition songs  playlists ( nobody likes an awkward silence or the same songs repeated over and over if the always on it teacher somehow forgets where the phone she just had is and doesn't stop the music).  

Good Morning- from Singin' in the Rain I clipped the song at 1:31-- students clean up from morning work/centers
Wake up Little Susie-- students at the carpet, greeting each other and asking 1-2 questions to each friend  
next year we will start singing Star Spangled Banner after greeting

Clean Up:
The Price is Right
Mission Impossible

Food in the Belly- Xavier Rudd

Paperback Writer- Beatles-- get writers notebook and meet me at the carpet

Handwriting Without Tears--I don't care who you are those songs are catchy!

Wednesday Wipeout- Clean out desk and sanitize using wipes:
Wipeout- Sufaris
Respect- Aretha Franklin

Line Up:
Jump in the Line- Harry Belafonte

Pack Up:  
On the Road Again- Willie Nelson
Happy Trails to You- Roy Rogers
A Little Less Conversation- Elvis Presley
Hello, Goodbye- The Beatles

Chill Fabulous Wordless Albums:
The Ballad Artistry of Miles Davis or Kind of Blue
My Favorite Things- John Coltrane
Valtari- Sigur Ros  (also beautiful Icelandic scenic videos online that connect with the music)
Dvorak: Serenades for Strings and Winds
The Ballets- Tchaikovsky
The 50 most Essiential Pieces of Classical Music- London Symphony
25 Bach Favorites-- anything by Bach is the best--- I play him during math because much of his music is mathematical, rhythmic, and repetitive.  
Chopin Nocturnes  (nocturne in Eb-- my all time fave)
Without Words- Bethel Music
Finding Neverland Soundtrack
Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack
Saving Mr. Banks Soundtrack
Punch- Punch Brothers....Chris Thile rocks my world and I love anything and everything he puts out on that Mandolin--- he also has a great album with Yo-Yo Ma called the Goat Rodeo Sessions and a solo album of Bach 
Beethoven:  The Complete Symphony Collection
Mozart for the Mind
Vitamin String Quartet-- for more pop songs set to strings
Silence-- is golden and sometimes necessary.

I keep all of these on one giant "Chill" playlist as well as one or 2 of these albums included after the transitions songs listed above.  I often just let the kids vote on what to listen to with these albums.  I love it when they request the musicians by name:  "Can we listen to Miles Davis or 'Chai-cough-ski'"  

I am also a HUGE FAN of this is a sight of brain breaks for kids.  The site gathers videos from other places and organizes and complies various videos and activities together so the teacher isn't left searching for something and having something not necessarily school friendly pop up.  It keeps track of time through characters that grow.... the kids LOVE IT!!!

Many song clips.. and a whole lot of transitions songs can be found at

I'm going to sign you off with a clip of my favorite musician Chris Thile and his utter genius

and I totally have his autograph :)   

 If I am am missing or need other songs on my playlist let me know!!!

Cheers to a solid summer!

June Currently!

I can't believe it's JUNE!  Party fingers.  I have been in Colorado for the last 9 days.  My cousin got married and I felt it was a solid opportunity to make a holiday out of it.  The original plan was one week in Colorado then hit it back to Nashville.  Well---one thing led to another and now I will be out West for a month.  I leave for Salt Lake today and will be hitting Yellowstone and then down to Southern Utah to hit up a few more National Parks with my brother.  Pray for us!  :) We are like oil and vinegar.

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs, CO

Devils Head Lookout