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Music Education archive at Kid’s Music Matters

March 27, CD Release Concert!

March 24 2010
The Debbie and Friends Band

Dear Friends,

What’s better than a Debbie & Friends Concert at the Regent Theatre?

A Debbie & Friends CD Release Concert at the Regent Theatre!

Please join us this Saturday, March 27th at 10:30am. The Regent Theatre is located at 7 Medford Street, Arlington, MA.

We have a great show in store that you won’t want to miss! In addition to our fantastic band, we have lots of surprises:

- Darcel Wilson joins us on vocals
- Sue Lindsay joins us on sax and flute
- We’ll perform with one of our cartoon music videos
- And, we’ll be raffling off copies of the new CD (signed by everyone in the band!), t-shirts, and more!

Don’t wait! Call for tickets 781-646-4849, or order online here.

I hope to see you at the show!


In the Recording Studio with Debbie and Friends

October 14 2009
In the Recording Studio with Debbie and Friends!

Debbie and Friends’ second CD, More Story Songs and Sing Alongs is going to be released in January 2010, and we’re having so much fun recording the songs. Many of you have asked about the recording process, and so I thought I’d share how we constructed our new song, “So, So Happy,” in the studio.

First, let’s listen to the whole song. Then we’ll listen to the individual parts (or tracks) we recorded.
So So Happy - in production by Debbie and Friends

With our producer Mike Carrera guiding the way, we recorded the rhythm section tracks for “So, So, Happy.” The rhythm section includes Drums, Bass, Guitar, and Piano.

Let’s listen to each individual rhythm section instrument we recorded for “So, So, Happy,” and meet the players.

Drums with Bill D’Agostino.

Bill D’Agostino on drums.

Drums - So, So Happy by Debbie and Friends

Bass with Danny “Mo” Morris.

Danny Mo
Danno Mo on bass.

Bass - “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Guitar with Kevin Belz.

Kevin Belz on guitar.

Guitar - “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Keyboard with Dave Limina.

Dave Limina on piano (also plays organ).

Keyboard - “So, So Happy” by Debbie and Friends

Kids: My nephews and niece had a lot of fun making cheering, clapping, and shouting sounds for the chorus parts of the song.

Picture 10
My superstars!

Even though we captured each instrument on its own track, the parts were recorded at the same time, as a band. That’s why, when you listen really closely to the drum track above, you can hear a hint of guitar coming through the drum mics.

Now that you’ve heard the different parts, listen to the full song again and see if you and your family can pick out the individual instrument parts when they are all mixed together. It’s fun to do this with other recordings you listen to as well!

For an added challenge, click on the individual instrument tracks in this post, one at a time, and take turns guessing which instruments you are hearing: either drums, bass, guitar or piano.

Have any of you had any experience recording music? Please post your comments, or questions, below!

iPhone + Smule Ocarina + Three Pigs = Family Jam Session!

August 28 2009

What do you get when you take an Apple iPhone, a Smule Ocarina App, and the music notation and recorded tracks to Debbie and Friends’ song “Three Pigs and a Wolf” and put them all together? A Family Jam Session!

Here’s a link to download our fun play-along PDF for you and your family to enjoy!

Picture 3
Debbie and Friends Play-Along for Smule Ocarina

Here’s a quick orientation to the play-along file:
The triangle in the upper-right hand corner will start the recording. The square boxes above the music notation are Ocarina TAB. The blue holes are the ones to cover, the white holes are left open. And, the music notation, chords, and lyrics are there for all of the singers, guitar players, and piano players in the house! (Don’t forget to add some percussion instruments)

Have fun making music together with Debbie and Friends’ “Three Pigs and a Wolf” song. Please be sure to post a message and share your experience.

Bang on the Drums All Day! Part 2

January 4 2009

Now that you’ve made your own drums, let’s put them to good use with games and activities for the whole family.

Drum Games and Activities
Now that you’ve got your homemade drums, let’s put them to use! Here are six different kid-tested drum activities for the whole family.

1. Percussion Popcorn Game
One person (or a group) crouches down on the floor like popcorn kernels ready to pop. The leader plays a popcorn-popping rhythm on the drum: starting slowly with just a few popping beats. The kernels listen closely and try to jump up like popcorn on each beat. The leader can play faster and faster as the popcorn pieces jump all around. Take turns being the popcorn-rhythm maker (the leader) and popping kernels.

2. Rhythms All Around

Listen to the rhythms all around your world. Some rhythms are steady and some are free. Here are examples of some steady rhythms that can be found every day.
The windshield wipers of a car
The ticking of a clock
The clippety-clop of a horse walking

Here are some common free (or unsteady) rhythms.
Popcorn popping
Raindrops falling
Someone typing on a keyboard

What steady and free rhythms can you find together (inside or out)? Make a steady/free rhythm chart. Play the rhythms you hear on your drums together. Then, make up some of your own.

3. Secret Drum Code

There are lots of interesting facts about drums. For example, they are the oldest instruments known. Did you know that drums were used throughout the ages as a communication tool between different tribes in Africa? Different drum beats and patterns were used as signals, warnings, and messages. See if you can come up with special drumbeat patterns to communicate with each other. Make up your own secret drum code for, “Dinner is ready,” “I finished my homework,” and other ideas.

4. Let’s Go, My Team!
Four steady beats played over and over again: this is the beat used at many sporting events to cheer on the home team. Bring your drum the next time your family goes to a soccer or baseball game, and lead the crowd in a cheer: “Let’s Go Red Sox” (insert your team’s name). Get the crowd going with your homemade drums and team spirit. GO TEAM!

5. Play-Along Fun: Family Jam!
Play a steady beat as you sing along with some of your family’s favorite songs. Try “Twinkle, Twinkle,” “Five Little Monkeys,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Eency Weency Spider”… they all sound great! Then, try playing and singing along with your favorite recordings!

6. Sing-Along Fun: “Drum” the Clapping Parts for “B-I-N-G-O”
Your drum is a great instrument to use to fill in the “clapping” parts for game songs like “B-I-N-G-O.” Follow the instructions below and play the clapping parts on your homemade drum.


1. Sing the song as written.
2. Repeat the song and play your drum together on the letter “B.”
3. The third time, play your drum together on the letters “B” and “I.”
4. Continue until you play your drum together on all of the letters.
5. End by singing, “And Bingo was his name-O.”

I hope these activities inspired even more music-making ideas to share with your family. For now, I will leave you with a special percussionist’s knock-knock joke, dedicated to all the “drummers in the house.”

Knock Knock. Who’s there?
Ivana. Ivana who?
Ivana Bang on the Drums All Day!

Have fun with your homemade drums!

Bang on the Drums All Day! Part 1

January 3 2009

Everyone loves the drums! They’re fun and expressive and there are so many different kinds. Drums belong to the percussion family meaning they are played by being shaken or hit. Drums are at the heart of any musical groove. They provide a driving beat that can make us want to dance and move. We’re going to discover how drums can be used for musical games and activities, too. Let’s start by making some drums of our own, and then exploring family music-making activities so you can bang on the drums all day!

Make Your Own Drum
It’s easy to do with just a few household items. Here’s what you’ll need:
• One empty coffee can with a plastic lid (one can per drum)
• Two wooden spoons (two sticks per drum)
• Construction paper, markers, crayons, paint, glitter and other decorative items of your choice to make your drum festive and fun!
• Scissors
• Glue or tape

Decorate your coffee-can drums and play them with the handle end of the wooden spoons. For a unique drum sound, put a layer of coffee beans, rice, small pebbles, or popcorn kernels at the bottom of the can. Experiment with different materials and discover together how the sound (timbre) of the drum changes.

Next we’ll add some drum rhythms and games for the whole family to play!

Your Child’s First Concert

December 27 2008

Three “M”s to maximize the experience!

Do you remember the very first concert you attended as a child? Whether it was a symphony orchestra, a rock band, or a sing-along with your favorite children’s artist, your first-time concert experience was probably a memorable one. There is nothing like the sound of a live musical performance, the excitement of the crowd, and the connection felt between the performers and the audience. If you are getting ready for your child’s first concert, here are some fun things you can do—before and after the concert—to help make it an even more meaningful experience.

Three “M”s, to focus on before the concert: Music, Milieu, and Manners.

1. Music: Getting to Know You!
The best way to maximize the concert experience is to listen to the music several weeks before the show. Buy the artist’s most recent CD and actively listen to it together. Familiarity is bliss! Although the saying isn’t an elegant one, it’s true. (Can anyone say “oldies” collections?) Take some time to help your child get to know the music she will be hearing at the concert. Dance to it, sing with it, and discover your favorite pieces together. Read stories or articles about the band or composer. Draw pictures of what the band might look like on stage performing. Your child will feel more connected to the overall concert experience if she’s gotten to know the music ahead of time.

Talk about the band, the musicians, and their instruments. What kind of group will it be? Is it a concert band, orchestra, jazz band, folk group? What are the names of the instruments will you be hearing? What instrument families do they belong to? What styles of music will the band be playing? Do you have other recordings in those styles? Listen to them together and compare.

2. Milieu: Here at last!
What is this place going to be like? Talk about the concert/theater setting. It is a very different place for first-time concertgoers. Explain that there will be musicians on stage. They will be playing and singing through microphones that are connected to a sound system with speakers. Explain that the sound system enables vocalists to use their regular singing voices and still be heard by everyone in the audience; even the ones seated way back in the last row.

In addition to the sound system, talk about the show’s lighting system. The lights will project different colors on stage to support the songs. Speaking of lights, be sure to share that they will probably flicker on and off when it’s time to be in your seats, and they will dim as the show begins.

Talk about who you will see on stage. (conductor, instrumentalists, singers) Who will you interact with before the show? (ticket-taker, the usher, the snack vendor) Explain that there will be other people there to see the show sitting in front of you, behind you, and on either side of you. Being aware of the surroundings ahead of time will help your child to relax and enjoy the show.

3. Manners: Excuse me, Pardon me, Excuse me…
Talk to your child about concert-specific manners known as “concert etiquette.” The time to clap, for example, varies by the style of music being performed. Some of us have learned the hard way that you don’t clap in between movements of a classical piece, but in a jazz concert, you clap in the middle of the song each time an instrumentalist finishes a solo. Talk about what’s appropriate for the concert you’ll be attending. There are other concert etiquette considerations such as when it is ok to talk and move about. Will there be an intermission? What is a standing ovation? Why does the band come out and play another song after they’ve already said goodbye? The more your child knows about the rules of the concert game, the more comfortable she’ll be, and the better the overall experience.

Postlude: The Reviews Are In!
Once the show is over, it’s time to put on your critics hats and review the performance together! Talk about your favorite part of the show. Was there a least-favorite part? Were there any surprises in the show? Would you recommend the concert to your friends? Why or why not? Compare/contrast the concert to the recordings you listened to at home weeks before the show. How was the live performance different from the recorded version? Which did you like better? Why?

I hope these tips help you to maximize your child’s first concert experience. Studies show that experiences in music are important to developing the whole child. Attending musical performances are an important part of those experiences, and so much fun to share together.

Enjoy the show!

Family Music Activites, Part 3

December 11 2008

Here is the third installment of some fun family music activities to share. Enjoy!

Rhythms All Around
Car wiper blades, heartbeat, washing machine, dryer, clocks, raindrops, etc. Help your child to listen for the rhythms of the sounds all around. Talk about the sounds you’ve found together that have a steady rhythm, and sounds you’ve found that have an unsteady rhythm. Play examples of steady and unsteady rhythms for each other using instruments, pots and pans, or even clapping hands.

Musical Listening
Listen to music together and ask your child about the sounds he/she hears. Is it high/low (pitch), fast/slow (tempo)? What instruments do you hear? Is the singer a male, female, or child’s voice? Try this activity using all different kinds of styles of music. Look for similarities and differences across styles. Have fun discovering music together.

Live Performances
Go to concerts, recitals and other musical performances—including performances with Debbie and Friends—whenever possible! Check out for local listings.

Family Music Activies, Part 2

December 11 2008

Here are some more family music activities to share.

Name that Tune
Hum the first several notes of a familiar song and challenge each other to guess the song. Give clues: Is the familiar song about an animal, a holiday, or something up in the sky? Take turns being the singer.

Hide and Go Play
The listener stands in the kitchen. The player takes a drum or shaker into another room of the house and plays some beats. The listener has to guess what room the player is in by the way the beats sound. Take turns.

Make Instruments
Drum: Fill a coffee can, oatmeal carton, or other large cylinder with dried beans to make a snare drum. Use wooden spoons as drum sticks.

  • Shaker: Fill and empty plastic bottle or film canister with dried beans or popcorn kernels.
  • Kazoo: Cover one end of an empty toilet paper roll with wax paper, fasten with a rubber band and hum through the open end to make a kazoo.

Family Music Activies, Part 1

December 10 2008

Here are some fun ways to add music making to your family’s day. This is the first of a three-part series.


Sing Together
Studies show that a parent’s voice is a young child’s favorite sound. Sing with your child every day, and don’t worry about how you think you sound!

Make Up Your Own Songs (Parodies)
Make up new words to familiar songs together. You can try songs about a pet, friends, family, the morning routine, school, putting toys away, or anything at all.

Name that Sound Game

Play a typical sound from the kitchen and have your child identify the sound while listening from the next room. You can play sounds that are as easy as running water, or as challenging as pouring cereal into a bowl.

Kids and Parents Sharing A Musical Experience

November 9 2008
Uploaded with plasq’s Skitch!

I feel like the luckiest person in the world when performing a Debbie and Friends concert. This past weekend, my trio had the great honor to perform for 300+ kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends at the Needham Public Library in Needham, MA. It was an incredibly moving experience! Everyone was singing and clapping and making music together. Here is a link to some pictures.

Music is important part of a child’s development, and sharing music with family is a powerful, wonderful bonding experience.

I really do feel lucky to be able to share in those experiences through Debbie and Friends!

Uploaded with plasq’s Skitch!
    Story Songs and Sing Alongs CD

    Winner of nine national awards including Parents' Choice, Dove Foundation, and iParenting Media. Debbie and Friends is Kid's Music that's All Grown Up! Learn More