A Short Post on Frustration with Children

I just finished a long day and my teaching today made me think about ... frustration. And balancing out the positive and negative so that we always keep things in perspective. Sometimes it is so easy for us adults to get frustrated with kids. It happens all the time in the process of learning in stages of life-as a parent, teacher, or as a child. How often do we have frustrations outside our family only to come back home and to be faced with chores, more work or more frustrations. Often allowing children to grow means that we need to be strong. Some days we all feel that we are the child who needs support and understanding.

Now think, how easy really it is for us to over react when talking to children?

When you are frustrated, how do you behave at home? Do you take that frustration with you, do you talk about it, do you expect others around you to act differently?

Also, is there really a right answer? Probably not as we are all in the process of learning. It just the awareness of our tendencies that will help us re-direct our thoughts. 

Next time, when I get frustrated, I will appreciate somebody around me for something they do well. I will let positive emotions balance out the frustration. 

How about YOU?

Feta Cheese and Butternut Squash Eggs

There is nothing better than making something super easy and adding just a bit of a twist that will make you family or guests love it! Fall is a very busy season for me as I am sure for many other women. So making cooking easy and delicious helps. This weekend, try a Fall inspired breakfast or brunch by adding butternut squash and feta cheese to your scrabbled eggs or omelet. The taste combination is absolutely delicious!

Looking at brunch recipes always makes me feel of spending free time at the house and enjoying a lazy morning. This is exactly what I need right now and now many of my friends do too! This is why I am posting this recipe!

4  eggs
3  oz fetta cheese crumbled 
12 oz butternut squash
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper

Well...scrambled eggs don't need that much instruction. Pre-roast butternut squash. Crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk them. Add the salt, pepper, butternut squash, and the feta cheese. Stir the batter well.
Heat a pan on high. Grease the bottom of the pan. Poor the egg batter. Stir very gently once when the batter starts cooking to ensure that the eggs don't stick to the bottom. Too much stirring while the eggs are cooking will not result in fluffy eggs. Simply do it quickly to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. You may also sprinkle green onions black pepper, or parsley on top!

Recipe also shared on www.myrecipemagic.com

Enjoy your weekend!
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I Ate a Cicada Today 
 Wonderful Children's Book
by Jeff Crossan
Enjoy a review of this children's book and CD hot from the publishers as well as the guest posts from the author himself!
There’s a little blond-haired boy who appears several times in I Ate a Cicada Today.  I drew him to look like my son, Jon, when he was still small.  As a boy, Jon loved all animals.  His pets have included a Guinea pig, a chameleon, an octopus, a tarantula and a python, some of which share his room to this day.  That’s because he loves animals as much as ever.  But I’m sure he loves music just as much, if not more.  He plays guitar, bass, drums and piano.  He writes songs and sings in a rock band, The Elevaders, with friends who have played together in various groups since they were in middle school.  Jon graduated from college this year with a degree in environmental studies but he’s focused mostly on music right now. 
I understand.
 When I was invited to write an entry for Music Teaching and Parenting I thought it might be a good idea to interview Jon.  After all, he’s a character in my book and a musician.  I’m a musician, a former music journalist and Jon’s parent.  It just felt like the planets had lined up here.  Let’s see.
Tell me one or two of your earliest music-related memories, Jon.
Some of my first memories involving music are from when I was in elementary school. I remember going to piano lessons and being upset because they were at the same time as my favorite show, Dragon Ball Z. I also remember the day that my music teacher Ms. Bonner asked us all to sing for her. She walked around the room listening to all the other kids sing and when she got to me I remember thinking, “Uh oh, I better sing really well.”  She stood next to me for a lot longer than the other kids and I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time but I guess she thought I sounded good.

Your first music lessons were Suzuki piano lessons.
How do you think they helped you?

I’d say they helped train my ear and familiarize me with musical structure, which helped me later when I played French horn in the middle school band.

You were the student from Williamson County chosen to sing with the Nashville Symphony as a member of the Tennessee Treble Choir in fifth grade. I remember peeking through the door during your first rehearsal. When you spotted me you raised your index finger and thumb to your head like a gun to express your lack of enthusiasm, shall we say, with the tedium of the rehearsal. How did that whole experience turn out?

I hated the rehearsals at first because I was the only kid from my county so I didn’t know anyone or have any friends there with me. And the music sounded very strange without the entire orchestra there behind it. But once we got to rehearse with everything together I got really excited because it sounded awesome.

What did I do right or wrong as a parent in regard to music?

You were very supportive and encouraging when it came to my interests in music, which helped me grow as a musician. I remember riding in the car listening to oldies 96.3 and you asking me “Who’s this playing Jon?” and I would try to guess which artist it was. That type of game helped me develop a good ear because I learned to listen for certain sounds that identified certain artists. The only criticism I’d make would be to say it might have been better to change my piano lesson time to after my favorite shows were over so I would have been less resistant to going to them.

What does music mean to you today?
 That’s a pretty hard question to answer and I could probably go on and on trying.  But long story short -- music is my passion and what I believe I was put on this earth to do. It’s my way of expressing myself. And I’d definitely say it’s a form of therapy when I’m feeling down. Writing music has always made me feel better when I do it and I want to share those feelings with the rest of the world.

We don’t have the same tastes when it comes to some types of music but we do agree on The Beatles. Who’s your favorite Beatle?

That’s a hard choice to make but I’ve always admired Paul McCartney’s bass lines and writing prowess. He’s definitely one of my biggest idols when it comes to music. And listening to his and the rest of the Beatles’ music as a kid definitely helped shape me as a musician today.

Finally, do you have a favorite children’s picture book with accompanying CD?

Recipes on a Budget
Who doesn't need easy recipes that are also tasty and inexpensive? I know I do at the beginning of the school year. This is great idea for brunch or breakfast. It is also a very inexpensive meal you can quickly put together for guests or for potlucks. The whole recipe takes only three ingredient, all of them available in each household and very inexpensive.

1 onion
4 eggs
1tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs fresh thyme or parsley (optional)

2 portions. The recipe doubles easily. In that case I would use 8 eggs but the same amount of onion and potato.

10 min cooking time + 10-15 min chopping and boiling the potatoes beforehand


 Cut the potatoes into cubes. I like using russet gold potatoes so that I don't have to peal them but you could use any type. You can either soak them in water over night or spend 10 min, biolinig the potatoes beforehand. In this case, I was in a hurry so I put them in the microwave for 5min to get soft before adding to the egg bake.
Chop the onion. Grease a pan with the olive oil. Put the chopped onions in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5min until the onion is soft.

Add the potatoes. Let cook for additional 3-5 minutes. 

Reduce the heat. In a bowl, break the eggs gently. and poor over the onions and potatoes. Leave for 1 min until the eggs get slightly firm. Make sure that the pan is not too hot when putting the eggs in. 

Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley by choice. 


Tell us what you did during the break...using only your instrument!

Suzuki Music Activity for the Beginning of the Year or After a Longer Break

Why this Game:
This game was born after one of my Suzuki classes teaching Suzuki Bk 3 students about improvisation. I do this game with my kids at the university's prep school at the beginning of each semester now. It is a great way to connect with students by asking them about their break and apply that to music at the same time. It helps students to think creatively. It gets them out of their comfort zone and it is a great deal of fun for them. At the same time it is a "lighter" activity that helps students get back on track after the holidays or a longer break. It helps me break down the intensity of a more technical lesson. Or it helps me ease students into the school year.

This activity can be done at any age Books 1-5. The younger students will have very simple instructions. The older ones will get more complicated tasks to engage them. Usually students and parents enjoy this activity quite a lot! The students love sharing about their time spent during the holidays. They also enjoy when the rest of the kids have to guess about it.

The students form a circle. They need to create a sound, sequence of sounds, or a short melody representing one activity they did during the summer break. The students get a few minutes to practice their melody. Every student plays from the class showing the rest of the students what they did during their break. The rest of the students try to guess what the performing student did during his break. After three wrong guesses the students tells them the activity.

The game can be very short or it could last almost the whole class. That would depend on the teacher's instructions, how many students get to perform as well as the size of the class. This could also be a good activity to break and do over a few classes if the students like it. This way you would provide a nice break or a game at the end of class.

Examples of the activity:
The youngest ones would pick only one sound to identify the activity they did during the break. For example a slide may mean that have been ice skating. One steady note only may mean that they were sick/ bored, etc. A higher pitched tone may mean a happy summer, etc. I would instruct young students to choose only one sound to start with to keep it simple.

Older students would be instructed to create a more complete story in music. They would be asked to come up with different sounds and melodies that can identify their activities during the break and present them as one musical composition. At the later parts of the Suzuki instruction the students get very experiences at reproducing sounds and melodies. You may hear them playing the tunes from video games, favorite movies, etc. They will have a lot of fun with that. If they find the experience fun but difficult to accomplish from the first time, then the teacher will give them the instruction and leave the activity as HW.

This can be a great start for a sequence. Every time the students' melodies will get more complicated. They would be assigned HW to practice their melodies at home.

This would be a Suzuki activity getting the students out of their comfort zone. It is important for the teacher to model first and give them examples, or choices of what they could do. I always start and model the activity for the students to ease students' anxiety. I also model different melodies that they may choose to include so that they have a starting point. If a student doesn't feel comfortable playing in front of class, then they get to watch and I ask them again at the end whether they have changed their minds. It is also important to respect of a students feels shy to do it. I have done this with students who feel uncomfortable playing, but have great fun listening and interacting with the other students.
Want to join a music program but not sure whether you should choose orchestra or band at your school? The following tips may make it easier to make that decision:

The instrument you want to play is most important. Yet there are other factors to determine the best fit for you. 

 See if you can talk to others about the programs and the teachers. Perhaps you know older sudents or even your siblings who have gone to the same school.  By talking to more experienced students, you may find out that one of these programs has a very good and supportive teacher, or that they do lots of trips and concerts. That will help you make a decision between the two. However, if you find out that both music programs are strong then:

The instrument you want to play is the most important factor. Simply join the music program that has the right instrument for you. School orchestras will offer violin, viola, cello, double bass. Band will offer wind and brass instruments as well as percussion. Keep in mind that some school programs are in need of students for a certain instrument. For example, your school orchestra may need an extra viola player. If that is the case, it will be a good opportunity for you to fill this spot. You will be given attention and important parts to play.

Listen to youtube to different school groups play. You can find plenty of videos. See what speaks to you more.

Try talking to that teacher. Simply walk up to their office and ask about the program. You will get the best information straight from the music director. Most imporant. se if that person is approachable. If he is enthusiastic about having you in the music program, and if you feel you are getting a good information about the program, then this is the right place for you.

Opportunities Outside School
You may also want to check for extra opportunities in your city. If you have a strong string or youth symphony program, starting on a string instrument in orchestra will be a wonderful choice.
Thinking about a calmer day and meditating on a piece of mind...

How do you survive the teacher staff meetings at the beginning of the school year?