Christmas Caroling!


children-1096462_1280.pngOne month from today, we are singing Christmas carols at a nursing home here in town! I am not giving out the location online purposefully – so if you’re interested in going, let me know at your next lesson and I’ll give you directions on how to get there.

Caroling is taking place on Sunday, December 4 at 2pm.We will be arriving to set up around 1:40pm.

I was hoping for multiple options but they didn’t really have any for that weekend, and there isn’t really another weekend that will work.

Here is a list of all the songs we’ll be working on for the Caroling. Please note, we may not be able to sing all of these songs depending on how much time we have or all of the verses that they have, but we need to be prepared enough so that we don’t run out of songs. They actually go by pretty fast πŸ˜‰

  • Jolly Old Saint Nicholas
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Jingle Bells
  • What Child is This
  • Up on the Housetop
  • Deck the Halls
  • Here We Come A-Caroling
  • Silent Night
  • Twelve Days of Christmas
  • The First Noel
  • Feliz Navidad*
  • Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer*
  • Carol of the Bells*

*Not Public Domain Songs

Please continue to check back on the post as I will be adding lyrics, chords, and videos for the Public Domain songs so you can be preparing in advance for singing or playing on your instrument. Please let me know if you are interested in playing your instrument for one or more of the songs.

Here is a video of some of the songs to practice with. It’s important to know what the beginning of the song sounds like so you know when to start singing and also if there are pauses in between the lyrics of a song.


Also, notice that there are sections labled [chorus]. Whenever you see the word [chorus] later in the song, you are to sing the words that went with the first [chorus] that you saw. If you are confused, just listen to what I sing in the recording.

The songs in this recording are as follows:

1. Deck the Halls
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen 1:30
3. Jingle Bells 3:16
4. Jolly Old Saint Nicholas 7:00
5. Up on the Housetop 8:28
6. What Child Is This 11:42
7. Here We Come A-Caroling 14:35
8. Silent Night 16:00
9. The First Noel 18:10
10. The Twelve Days of Christmas 22:30
11. We Wish You A Merry Christmas 26:40

Click here for the lyrics for the public domain songs: christmas-caroling-lyrics-2016

Click here for the chords to the songs:christmas-caroling-2016-chords

*PLEASE NOTE* I am not making recordings or providing lyrics online of songs that are not in the public domain. The lyrics for Feliz Navidad and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will be available when we are performing on Dec. 4. If you are not familiar with those two songs, please make sure that you listen to a recording and look at the lyrics.

Hand Flexibility and Finger Dexterity for Piano and Guitar players





As a musician, your hands are the most important part of your body when it comes to your instrument (unless you’re a singer, of course!). Because music is not a sport, it may not be immediately obvious that we can do things to make our hands stronger and more flexible. But our fingers, hands, and arms have muscles and tendons that really do affect our ability to play. There are also exercises and stretches you can do either with your instrument or away from your instrument that can help make your hands even better at what they’re trying to do when playing a song. How we use them makes a difference as well – working towards your fingers being relaxed at all times and not moving when they aren’t being used gives your music a better sound and avoids injury.

Here are some links to some exercises you can do to work on strength, flexibility, and control in your fingers. DO NOT practice these exercises for more than five minutes a day, and if something hurts, stop immediately. Talk to me about it in your next lesson before resuming the exercise.

I would encourage you to check out exercises for all instruments, even if you just play one. Some of the exercises explained that are not instrument related are helpful for both piano and guitar.


Finger Dexterity Exercises | LIVESTRONG.COM



Guitar Exercises to Strengthen the Pinkie Finger | LIVESTRONG.COM

Guitar Exercises to Increase Finger Strength & Flexibility | LIVESTRONG.COM

8 Excellent Guitar Stretch Exercises to Develop Flexibility – GUITARHABITS

Tips for Strengthening Your Fretting Hand – Guitar Tricks Forum

TE-101 β€’ Finger Stretching Exercise | free guitar lesson from


8 Essential Exercises to Reduce Pain and Increase Dexterity While Playing Piano

5 Exercises for Relaxing Your Hands at the Piano

Improve Dexterity on Piano

Finger Exercises for Piano When Not Playing – read through the comments

Practice Posters to Print





Having trouble remembering to practice? Here are some cool looking reminders that you can print and put up on the wall, or save to your computer or ipad.


Right-click on a photo and click on “view image.”

Then, right-click on the image and click “save image as.”

All of these photos are public domain from, and the words were added with a Windows app called Font Candy.


New Way To Get Practice Points: Blog Post Quizzes!

If you’re looking for a way to earn more practice points, some blog posts on the HOME page now have questions you can answer to earn points! Each quiz will tell you how many points you can earn.

PLEASE NOTE: These practice points are not earned by the amount of time you spend working on answering the questions. Do not add how many minutes it took you to finish the quiz to the practice time log.Β You will get practice points for getting the right answers! πŸ™‚Β 

A quiz will be at the end of a blog post, so you will find it after you read the blog post. It will look something like this:


After typing your name, click on the CIRCLE next to the answer that you think is correct.

Don’t forget to click the submit button!

Afterward, click on “view my score.” There, you will find out if you got any questions wrong. You may try again if you got a question wrong.

Have fun!


Practicing Effectively


Additional Questions on Practice Time Log

In the Practice Time Log section, you will see that there are some additional questions for you to answer about how you practiced. The reason for this is that it’s very important for you to think about how you’re practicing.

Let’s pretend you’re working on a song, let’s say Arabesque for example. What is the first thing that we generally do when learning a new song?

If piano is your instrument, we’ll probably start with playing through a little bit of the RH part by itself, then a little bit of the LH part by itself, and then we’ll try playing through with both hands at the same time, very slowly.

If guitar or violin is your instrument, we won’t need to do RH and LH by itself, and we’ll just start very slowly playing a small section from the beginning, or we’ll work on being able to play the chords we’re using in the song before we go on to playing the actual song.

What needs to happen before we can go on to the next part of the song?

1) Do the notes need to be correct?

2) Are you playing the right notes with the right fingers (are you following the finger numbers?)

3) Does the song or exercise need to be played with a faster tempo (the speed) so it will sound like how it’s supposed to sound?

4) If you’re playing piano, do you need to be playing both hands together?


When you’re playing your instrument during the week, how can you think about and make these things happen so we can learn the next part of the song in your class?

This is one very important point that you need to remember:

The more you teach yourself to play the right notes with the right fingering and right tempo during the week, the more we are able to learn new things in class – like the next part of a song or a whole new song!


One thing that it is VERY EASY to do when practicing is to just keep playing the song over and over without really doing anything to fix the problems that are coming up. If you’re playing Arabesque, and there are two notes that you keep playing wrong over and over, will those two notes get fixed if you just keep playing the song over and over? Probably not. What is a good way to fix those two notes?

  1. Practice just the section with those two notes by themselves until you are playing them correctly.
  2. Play that little section much slower to make sure you can get those notes correct.
  3. Don’t let yourself play the wrong notes – go back and fix it if they are wrong.
  4. When you can get the notes right, play the little section several times to make sure you can KEEP playing it right.

AFTER you are able to play the notes correctly this way, then go back to the beginning and play the whole song. The problem should be fixed! If not, go back and practice the section again.

Take a look at this videoΒ  – the guy in this video is talking about something similar. Sometimes we might have a section in a piece that is a lot harder, so we play it slower than the rest of the piece. See what this guy does.


Remember, playing something the right way only one time does not mean that you have mastered it and can go on to something else. You only know that you can officially play a song or exercise the right way after you have played it the right way many times.

Practice does not mean playing until you get it right and then stopping – it is continuing to play when you do get it right to make sure it stays right.


If you use these ideas, your practicing at home will help you get better much faster!

Contact me if you have any questions πŸ™‚



Lead Sheet Major Chord Chart


Here is a chart of all 12 major chords and their inversions. You can download the pdf here: Basic Lead Sheet Major Chords and Inversions

Remember, the three notes in the chord are all played at the same time, and the first note in the chord is the starting note. It will be the lowest note you are playing in the chord, so if you’re using your Right Hand, your thumb will be playing it, and if you’re using your Left Hand, your pinky will be playing it.

You’ll notice that the blue chords are all connected by brackets. That is because they are the two enharmonic versions of the same chord – in other words, it’s the exact same chord but using flats instead of sharps.

You may also notice that some notes have an x next to them instead of a #.

X is the symbol we use for a double sharp.

A double sharp means we sharp the note twice by going up two half steps instead of one – so we’re really going up a whole step.

For example, if you see Fx, that means you’re actually going to play a G note πŸ™‚

Cx = D

Fx = G

You can use this chart whenever you’re not remembering a chord in a song that we’re working on in class. πŸ™‚

Instruments of the Orchestra

This is a great video that introduces you to the different instruments of the orchestra and what they sound like. Watch the video and fill in the worksheet at the bottom for 20 points! Click “next” to go to each section.

Orchestra and Band instruments are grouped into what is called Instrument Families:

– Brass
– Woodwind
– Percussion
– Strings
– Keyboards

We’ll have more on this soon.

In this video they call them sections because in the orchestra, each family has its’ own section on the stage.

Have a great day! πŸ™‚

Melodic Direction: Little Birch Tree


Melodic Direction

We’re also going to use the Russian Folk Song, Little Birch Tree, to talk about Melodic Direction. Melodic Direction is a fancy term that essentially means how the notes are moving in a song. Take a look at this video to learn about how a melody can move by steps, by leaps, by repeats, and up and down.

Listen to the melody of Little Birch Tree below:


Now take a look at what the different types of melodic direction look and sound like:



Now, listen to the recording again while looking at the notation for the melody of Little Birch Tree. Even if you don’t know how to read music, the names of the notes are there, and you can see how when the melody steps up or down, the notes move by just a little and the note is the alphabet letter before or after the first note. When they repeat, they stay at the same level and have the same note name. When they leap, there is space in between them.

Birch Tree - Melodic Direction

Danielle πŸ™‚