Neat stuff from Julia: inspirations, observations, & research

Beach Day
By Julia Priest on February 21, 2011
Yet another of the perks of teaching early childhood music classes: I get to go to the beach whenever I feel like it. Well, at least in pretend-play land! Today I wore tropical colors and a hibiscus-print cover-up and we rocked the beach balls right outta the classroom. I'm still feeling the luv. I literally tricked my brain into thinking that I had a Jamaica vacation today.

"Sounds of laughter everywhere,

and the dancing girls swing to and through.

At the market you can hear,

ladies cry out while on their heads they bear,

acky rice, salt fish are nice and the rum is fine any time o' year."

Kingston Town, Harry Belafonte.



By Julia Priest on February 05, 2011

One of the things about teaching early childhood music classes is that I get fresh smiling faces every morning, children who are not yet jaded by the snow. I'm going to share with you here this great song that I use in my preschool music classes because the kids love the idea of building a snowman. and because I love seeing them learn the major scale:


"I have a handsome snowman
He is so big and round
I made him from a snowball
I rolled upon the ground.
I gave him eyes, a nose, a mouth,
a nice warm scarf of red,
I put some buttons on his coat,
a hat upon his head.
Watch him as he melts to the ground."
Here's how to sing it: the first phrase is on C, the next on D, then next on E, and so on all the way up the C Major scale. The last line goes all the way back down the scale in one single phrase. Act everything out with hand motions, and you have a mesmerizing, infinitely-repeatable activity for any child from birth to five years old!

Schubert v. Percocet
By Julia Priest on January 24, 2011

The day after this season's first snowstorm, I slipped on the ice and broke my elbow. Naturally a skeptic, I discovered for myself the healing power of music. In the aftermath of bone-setting surgery, when the Percocet wore off and I experienced that cold bone pain that you hear about, the kind that comes from interstellar space, I listened to music on my iPod until it was time for my next dose. To my surprise, music worked better than the Percocet. I was off pain-killers in three days flat.

Now people will ask, “which music works best?” Should I answer “Mozart, of course. . . ” or “Buxtehude, of course. . . ” and sound erudite? The truth is, the music you know and love best works best for you. I’ll confess that my go-to music is a set of Schubert Impromptus which I’ve been listening to, over and over, since my early twenties. Your mileage will vary.