Girls With Guitars


Girls with Guitars! Last week, I taught a beginning guitar day camp that introduced  these young ladies to the guitar. Thanks Ruby (my daughter), in the pink shorts, for helping me this week! We had a blast. We met for two hours every day Monday-Friday and our week culminated in a performance for family and friends on the deck.

Our songs for the week included…..  Firework by Katy Perry, You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift, This Land is Your Land by Woodie Guthrie, and a traditional camp song… Ain’t No Bugs on Me.

I’d like to give a shout out to Rob Hampton of Heartwood Guitar. I love Rob’s site and  frequently pull from his 600+ chord charts for inspiration.  Thanks a million Rob for all of the great work you do! (I’m convinced you never sleep)  These girls certainly appreciated learning such cool and accessible songs!

Here are two wonderful links to the song: Girls with Guitars who was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter performing it here.  Also check out the incomparable Wynnona Judd performing it here. Oh, to be that fierce on stage!

Everyone love guitar, including French composer, Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944), who wrote this piece for solo piano: Guitare , which I recorded a couple of years ago on Women with a Past.IMG_3776.JPG

Buckets of FUN!

Bucket Drum

Simple Equipment

The Shoreline Jam

Remember that old song, I don’t Want to Work? Well,  last week,  I got paid to bang on the drum all day!  Among my music offerings including performances and private lessons, I work in communities near and far as a teaching artist. This means I utilize my skills and knowledge as a music educator and performer to tailor music experiences for a variety of audiences. For example, I’ve crafted tambourines and danced the Tarantella with elementary students, I’ve taught singalongs at retirement homes, and I’ve taught teenage Spanish classes the  Salsa!

This past week, I taught classes in bucket drumming as part of an arts camp offered to elementary aged kids and teens through the  Shoreline Lake Forest Park Arts Council.  I was one of several teaching artists offering unique arts experiences including, movie making/editing, theater  improv, print making, fiber arts, cartooning, silhouette creation, and cooking, to name a few. The goal of the camp, according to Kelly Lie, Shoreline Lake Forest Park Arts Education manager?   The Three E’s: Expose, Experience, Experiment!  I’ll say, the campers  experienced the three E’s in a big way!

My class, Rhythm Explosion, included Latin American percussion, bucket drums,  body percussion, and repurposing recycled materials into percussion instruments.  I met with two groups of students each day for a week.  The overall experience culminated in an Arts Showcase where all participants  presented their work to family and friends. Our final performance included both improvisation and composed pieces.


The great thing about bucket drumming?  It only requires a five gallon bucket, a pair of drum sticks, and imagination.  (Ear plugs don’t hurt either!) There’s something cathartic about banging out rhythms in a group, or solo experience.

The work the students (with the help of some outstanding teachers) completed during the week was impressive.  The showcase included a professional looking gallery of  visual art  along with  a variety of  live performances.  Upon exiting the showcase, audience members were offered an icy cold fruit pop made by the culinary arts class.

Lorie Hoffman, executive director of the Shoreline arts council gave a presentation during the week about being an artist.  She told us, “Making art makes my heart sing.”   This week made my heart sing.  I can’t help but think experiences like this have ripple effects and  improve the world little by little, poco a poco.

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”
Steve Jobs, in introducing the iPad 2 in 2011


For more on bucket drumming, I encourage you to check out this clip:

Here are two websites offering tips on getting started with bucket drumming:




Yellow House Salon #7, Rubato


Ruby with the Eckstein Senior Orchestra at Icicle Creek Retreat


Statue on grounds of Sleeping Lady near Leavenworth Washington




This week’s recording is a Gershwin Prelude, Rubato. Rubato means to play with expressive freedom,  a give and take of the tempo without altering the overall structure. (recorded on my Roland hand held digital recorder)

The first thing about middle schoolers, they eat a lot!  As a chaperone on a recent Icicle Creek trip, most of the duties consisted of food shopping,  feeding the kids, tucking them into their cabins at night, and  letting them out of their cabins in the morning. Just over a week ago,  I accompanied my daughter, Ruby, a member of the senior orchestra of Eckstein Middle School, to the snowy wonderland retreat at Icicle Creek/Sleeping Lady resort near Leavenworth, Washington. We were a group of 50 including the orchestra, coaches, the director, and chaperones.

Aside from a few Faulty Towers moments where we had to shuffle people in an out of rooms to make sure everyone had a place to sleep, the retreat was a huge success.  The kids worked their tails off, rehearsing as much as 11 hours a day in the full orchestra, sectionals, and chamber groups.

I am in awe of the commitment of the director, Brad Smith,  the students, the high school coaches, the professional instructors and the parents of all of these kids to make this all come together. It’s not just the support to pull of this  weekend retreat, but the long-term commitment to music education.  I listen and watch the students and I think of the weekly lessons, the daily practice, the extra rehearsals, the shlepping of instruments back and forth, the patience of the instructors, the juggling of schedules, the endless repetition in the practice room, and finally, the  glorious music  that is the end result of this team effort. Ultimately, the pursuit of music is an act of love on all parts, and it definitely takes a village.