Friday, October 16, 2015

To sleep or not to sleep!

Latest research tells us that the optimum time for sleep is 7-8 hours a night. Any less or more time is detrimental to our health and has been linked to weight gain, diabetes and heart disease just to name a few problems.

Not only does your body use this time to regenerate and heal, but your brain uses this time to re pattern and organize thoughts and ideas.

Try a few of these techniques to ensure a deeper and longer night’s sleep:

1. Use a nightly pattern (30 – 60 minutes) to de-stress and wind down from the pressures of the day …yes, that includes turning off your phone and computer.
2. Lower the lighting, put on some soothing music (examples follow), and make a cup of herbal tea like Mothers Little Helper from David’s Tea.
3. Once in bed, lie on your back and put your hands on your belly or abdomen. Take long, deep breaths into your belly or abdomen to make them rise into your hands, like filling a balloon. Keep your attention on your breath instead of daily “mind chatter”.
4. Another one of my blog posts guides you through a sequential tightening and letting go of each body part starting with your toes.
5. Put on the sound of waves or Largo tempo (50-70 beats per minute) classical music. There are specific CDs that have been sequenced at the correct tempo to help slow down your heart beat. Suggestions are MOZART EFFECT Volume 2 by Don Campbell and the series RELAX WITH THE CLASSICS by the LIND INSTITUTE.
6. Don’t forget to put essential oils (1-3 drops) in your diffuser. My favorite potion is 1 drop each Marjoram, Lavender, and Lemon.

Sweet dreams!

Check out my book on Kindle: Quick-Ease: 100 Stress Management Solutions or here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Barbara’s Favourite Discoveries: Encouraging the Arts in the Classroom

From time to time I come across products or companies that support the use of the arts in the classroom. These are a few of the companies that I recently came across at conferences and would like to give them a "shout out". If you don't know about them take a look at their products. I highly recommend them.

1. Themes and Variations from Red Deer Alberta. An excellent source for music resources for the classroom teacher.

2. Sharon’s Felts and Finger Fun from Rossland, BC – Handmade felt teaching aids to support songs and storytelling. View Sharon's online portfolio. For more information email Sharon.

3. Barefoot Books – Celebrating Art and Story. Great source for children’s books that are also songs. Email Veronica Riches for more information.

Stay tuned for more news!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Flash Mob (Flashmob) Choreography - Dynamite by Taio Cruz

"Flash Mob" dancing continues to be popular around the world.  I have now released a supplement to my successful and popular “Flash Mob Dancing in Education” which introduced you to the basics of Flash Mob dancing.

This latest handbook will teach you the specific Flash Mob choreography moves for “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz. I will guide you through the dance moves so that you can have a successful Flash Mob Dance at your school this year.

The 11-page guide "Flash Mob Choreography - Dynamite" is available for purchase from

If you are located in Greater Vancouver, BC, I am also available for a negotiable fee to organize or assist with your school event.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

CURRENT (V1 N2): Today's Music In The Classroom

What is CURRENT?

CURRENT is a series of teaching units designed to teach teachers how to teach music in the classroom using “current” songs of today. It is aimed at Grades 5-9 or Middle School grades. Each volume follows curricular learning outcomes for Canadian provinces and USA National Standards.

CURRENT focuses on student creativity through expression of feelings and ideas. Students are encouraged to evaluate their own achievement and refine their performances and presentations with the goal of improving their ability. Group support is encouraged.

CURRENT chooses songs from English popular music around the world. I have taught students from over 40 countries. The songs come from the experience of middle school students. The focus is not so much factual as it is creative and an extension of valuing the arts from all cultures. Students are encouraged not to make quick judgements but develop personal choice based on knowledge, experience and practice. Teachers should learn the vocabulary specific to the arts (music, art, drama, and dance) and incorporate this vocabulary into lessons. There is a vocabulary sheet with each volume.

CURRENT chooses songs that invite emotional and intellectual responses. Students are encouraged to analyse the song in terms of lyrics and musical concepts through the student analysis and evaluation forms in each volume. There are no right or wrong answers so students are more comfortable taking risks. A safe environment is encouraged with support of classmates and teachers.

The Creative Process

CURRENT encourages the creative process through the following activities:
  • The songs are inspiring and have a positive message. Lyrics are screened for language. 
  • The lyrics encourage discussion and imagination. 
  • There are opportunities for group and individual performances. Each activity has a specific focus on a musical concept through listening or singing. Guidance is provided in the teacher notes at the end of the unit. 
  • Students are encouraged to explore and experiment using basic skills which are taught in class. Guidance is provided in the unit plans. 
  • Students are encouraged to produce work in stages of difficulty. 
  • Students are encouraged to constantly revise and refine through individual and group efforts. 
  • With each song, students are presenting, performing and sharing through the use of contemporary music. 
  • There are opportunities to reflect and share ideas through student worksheets which provide the framework.

Volume 1, Number 2, uses DYNAMITE by Taio Cruz as the focus for this unit.

Click below or click the link for a full online preview [requires Flash], or purchase online in PDF format at TeachersPayTeachers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Teaching Students the Value of Relaxation

Relaxation can be taught in the classroom but students need to know they can use this technique any time they are stressed. Use a calm soft voice, pronouncing the words slowly but not unnaturally. Listen to examples on the Internet and see if you can tell which voices make you relax and which ones are irritating. Start by teaching the difference between inhale (breath in through nose) and exhale (breath out through mouth).

Music is an incredible aid to relaxation. New research shows that slow music produces a relaxing effect and causes a decline in heart rate.

Some good music suggestions are:
Relax With The Classics - any in the series
Kim Robertson - gentle harp
The Mozart Effect - Heal the Body
Carlos Nakai - native flute

  • Find a place where you can have space to lie down. Lie down on your back, feet slightly apart, arms by your side. When you are comfortable, close your eyes.
  • Keeping your upper arms on the floor, rest your palms lightly on your stomach. Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe into your hands with easy slow breaths, feeling your stomach rise and fall. Consciously slow your breath down, making it smooth and deep. Continue focusing on your breath for few inhales and exhales.
  • Now bring your attention to the top of your head. In your mind, feel your scalp. Imagine it turning into Jello, releasing any tightness.
  • Now bring attention to your face. Begin with your forehead. Feel it turn into Jello, nice and loose. Now feel your eyes and your eyelids. Imagine the feeling as they become Jello. Continue with your chest and your jaw.
  • Now, turn your attention to your neck. Gently turn your head from side to side as the muscles release tightness. Breathe slowly and deeply and concentrate on releasing tension from your neck.
  • Let your awareness shift to your shoulders. Ask your muscles to release tension in your shoulders and start to sink into the floor like a wet noodle. Feel the tension releasing. Be gentle with yourself. Continue breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Next, move your attention down your arms and to your fingertips. With a deep exhale, release any tension that is stored in that area. You might feel like giving them a little wiggle.
  • Now, bring your attention to your chest. Breathe deeply as you sink deeper into the floor. Feel the tension leaving your body.
  • Next, turn your attention to your hips. Take few deep breaths and with each exhale, ask your body to release tension from your hips.
  • Continue with this through your thighs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes. Feel the stress leaving your body, replacing it with a sense of peace and calm.
  • When you have completed the cycle of releasing tension from all the parts of your body, continue breathing slowly. Be gentle with yourself. Feel the peace and relaxation flowing freely through your body.
  • When you are ready, bring yourself back to the present. Wiggle your toes, your fingers, open your eyes, and stretch gently.

Enjoy the sense of quietness and relaxation in your body. Return to this muscle relaxation technique often. With each practice, your relaxation will deepen.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teaching Moments: Pyjama Day

So ... My school had health week where we focused on something different every day that week. I was looking at the focus topics and came upon "Pyjama Day". "Great!" I thought. What on earth can I do with my music classes on "Pyjama Day"?

I started looking around on the internet and found lots of relaxation music and guided imagery stories so I decided to do that. I told the students to bring their favorite cuddly toy, blanket and pillow to music on this day. It was so great to see a long line of students, class after class, toting their teddy bears, pillows and blankets.

I had a carpeted room that I used for performances next to my classroom and had decorated it with a number of those battery fiberoptic lamps that change color (from the Dollar Store). When the students entered, lovely music filled the air as they found a place to lie down and get comfortable. I had a few stories prepared, and one on tape (Quiet Moments by Greg and Steve). I left the music on very soft and helped them do a simple relaxation starting from their toes up to their nose, taking deep breaths. Slowly the room became very still as the students felt themselves "become wet noodles" and sink into their blankets.

After that we took an imaginary trip on a cloud with Greg and Steve. Greg's voice is so velvety and soothing. To finish the class I put on another piece of soft music and started the story to a magic garden. Then I let them finish the story on their own using their own imagination. From grades 1 through 5, the students said "I want to stay!" When the class came to an end ... and from then on, students asked for our little piece of "magic" to finish every class.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Enhanced Learning Workshops

For those looking for someone to present a music related workshop, you have come to the right place.

1. THE MOZART EFFECT or the use of music to enhance learning in the classroom. Participants will receive a beginners course in accelerated learning with a focus on the use of music in the classroom. For NON-music teachers.

2. ACCELERATED LEARNING TECHNIQUES based on the most recent brain research and learning. This workshop includes brain compatible note taking, exercises to reduce stress in the classroom, and brain friendly tips with regards to color and furniture arrangement.

3. BRAIN BODY CONNECTION - simple techniques that will reduce stress in the classroom and rebalance left/right brain hemispheres.

4. FLASH MOB DANCING IN EDUCATION - Learn how to do an educational flash mob dance and how to properly choreograph a routine. Detailed handout.

5. COMBINATION WORKSHOP - You tell me what you need and I will custom design a workshop for you.