Author Archives: jarobinson

Eclipse Playlist- songs for the sun, moon, stars!



^^ Click our Image for a direct link to the playlist!^^

We all seem to be enamored with the upcoming eclipse- schools are counting down, doing district wide events, families are finding their prime location, and eclipse hunters have been tracking down their ideal location for years!

As I started compiling this list I looked a bit into last total solar eclipse, in 1918 and started thinking about how different times are, yet how captivated we still can be by such an event. Then, just months shy of WWI’s end, cars were becoming an attainable fixture in the landscape, penicillin was still 10 years away from being invented, radio was the way to stay up on the war effort abroad…my own house was only 4 year old! What a spectacle this day must have been- to see connect with the entire country from your own environment.

Map showing path of total eclipse of the sun across the United States, June 8, 1918

Map showing path of total eclipse of the sun across the United States, June 8, 1918

Today we can hop across the globe without ever leaving our phones, not to mention our multiple cars in the driveway. We can do pretty much anything we desire, yet we’re still longing for more meaning… maybe that’s why this event seems so intriguing. The older I get the more I start to appreciate the world around me, as children naturally do. I want to take more time to truly see things, rather than let them pass by.

In this playlist you’ll find some of those favorite tunes from soundtracks (E.T., Star Trek, etc.) that captured a space in our memories of what space might be like. These can be fun to share with our younger ones before they may be able to see the movies and shows themselves. When you’re ready to move on, there are pieces that seem to capture those thought provoking questions of, “What is space?” “How big are we?”, sometimes you can even picture that space station look down at the earth with movement through space …. “A Model of the Universe” by Johann Johannsson really does this for me, or “The Planets, Op. 32: Mars, The Bringer of War” by Gustav Holst”. As much as I’d like to witness this event with all of it’s spectacle, these pieces makes me want to just lie in my backyard reflectively, by myself- maybe with a couple friends.  (A couple tunes in here are lighthearted as well, hopefully you find the theme in them pretty quickly)

Our List: 

  1. The Creation (Die Schöpfung) Part 1/The First Day: Introduction: The Representation of Chaos- Franz Joseph Haydn
  2. The Planets, Op. 32: 1. Mars, The Bringer of War- Gustav Holst
  3. 12 Variationen uber “Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman”, K. 265- Franz Joseph Haydn (can you hear all 12 variations of the theme “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”?)
  4. Main Title, Alien- Jerry Goldsmith
  5. Mr. Sun- MaryLee (something fun to sing along to) 😉
  6. A Model of the Universe, The Theory of Everything- Johann Johannsson
  7. End Credits- From “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”- Jerry Goldsmith
  8. “All That Is or Ever Was or Ever Will Be”, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey (Music from the Original TV Series) Vol. 3- Alan Silvestri
  9. Samson, HWC 57: Total Eclipse (arr. for brass quintet) George Fredric Handel *This aria originally from the oratorio Samson discusses the character Samson actually going blind from looking at an eclipse of the sun! 
  10. Enter the Galaxies- Paul Lovatt-Cooper
  11. The Planets, op 32: 4. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity- Gustav Holst
  12. Main Title and The Attack on the Jakku Village, Star Wars, The Force Awakens- John Williams
  13. Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30: Prelude (Sonnenaufgang) “Sunrise”, Richard Strauss (2001: A Space Odessey)
  14. Main Theme, “Apollo 13”- James Horner
  15. Adagio in D Minor, “Sunshine” – John Murphy

*FYI- this playlist does tend to break all the rules in the “2 minutes or less” department on How I Create a Playlist… but it was too fun of a theme not to put it together. For those of you traveling to your Eclipse destinations, hopefully it will help pass the time, there are 15 days between now and then- and 15 pieces (one a day!)


Not included- but worth honorable mention for parents and irony-

-Eclipse- Pink Floyd
-Total Eclipse of the Heart- Bonnie Tyler
-Here Comes the Sun- The Beatles
-Sound of Silence- Simon and Garfunkel
-Endless Night- The Lion King
-Fly Me to the Moon- Frank Sinatra…

NASA also has compiled a great extended list of more popular tunes!eclipse-spotify

However, or wherever you are celebrating this event- don’t forget your eyewear! There are a A LOT of not safe products out there! The good folks over at NASA have not only listed the safest ways to view the eclipse, but also added a list of reputable vendors to their site 

Enjoy your tunes! And we will see you for classes in September!




Sound Stations- Make Noise At Home!


Sensory Stations can bring great, natural learning opportunities to a child’s everyday; yet still providing you opportunities, as the parent, to teach concepts that would otherwise be taxing or potentially lengthy (like learning by rote).

Sometimes sensory stations seem obvious, but so much so that we forget to do them, or how to use them in an educational way. I went ahead and *used what I had* (this is a key phrase… do not go out and get something! You can do this right at home and still have fun!) and put a couple things together here to discuss some ways you can start to incorporate “noises” at home, particularly when trying to develop hearing and listening skills.

img_4899FOUND SOUNDS: Found sounds often become an important discussion when we talk with older students about instruments; for example it’s important that they are aware of how to describe that sound, and know how that instrument produces that sound. This is a precursor to that, by providing a discussion, an ear training, and a vocabulary for those later years. Discussing loud sounds, soft sounds, high, low, rough, smooth, and silent sounds (that’s important too!). Go on a walk, or go around the house with some containers- you can buy some or use old film canisters, pill bottles, or tupperware to hold your treasures- then you display everything and do some compare and contrast. For little ones, you can do as I have it here, I have everything preset with lids taped shut and they’re easy shaker containers, when one gets used I am sure to mention what I see inside and what I hear.

*Everything in this photo I either already had or snagged at the dollar store through my days of teaching, so don’t feel intimidated or as if this is a big project, it’s as big as you want it to be! if I didn’t need to use it for classes, I probably would have just scooped up some dirt and rocks from my backyard, some noodles and sugar from my kitchen and gone from there (which I recommend) In the containers I have… macaroni, rice, coins, styrofoam balls, wooden dowels, sand, glass stones, beads, puff balls, and rocks. 


TEACHING LISTENING: A great introduction (or re-introduction) is the book “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers.  It takes a child on a walk with her father and dog as she recognizes what she hears. She notices how her father “thinks” as she “listens”, and then she shares all the sounds that fill her ears along the walk. Once you’ve graduated from animal sounds, this is a nice book to introduce as you can review lawnmower, chainsaw, airplane, shoe, sprinkler sounds (which have more than one sound!) and more sounds from your environment. Now, since we don’t all live in the same place it’s so important to read this book (more than once) and then practice taking your own listening walk and take stock of what you hear in your OWN world! If you have preschoolers or kindergarteners at home, afterwards they can help you write a list of everything they can remember from the walk, with younger ones see if they can recognize sounds by asking them questions about what they see and hear.

I also have a pack of paper doll bodies that I reference to label what parts of the body we use to listen. You can keep this simple with just the ears, or you can expand – especially if your little one is headed to a classroom this fall- “ears on, mouth off”; or “hands down and still” (sometimes this looks like crisscross applesauce) … you can check out any ‘whole body listening’ concept and find the phrases that work for you.

a51cc86b048530a64dc61fc61373c079-person-outline-templates-person-template-for-kidsSince we are able to get outside right now, you could trace their body with chalk and ask them “what do our hands do when we listen?” I like the paper dolls because they can fold the arms themselves and further manipulate or add to the body as they see fit. (There are also great pre-made charts already out there that you can easily grab) 🙂






fullsizerender-2WATER PLAY:  Children love water play! Be it the calming, repetitive nature of scooping and pouring, or the release of energy that it brings us all (either relaxing or exciting). It can also help develop gross and fine motors skills along social skills when we have to share space, or experience something like water on our face unwillingly.

It’s also another opportunity to recognize the names of sounds that you might not get to hear elsewhere, “splash”, “spray”, “plop”, “drip”, “sprinkle”… these are your average onomatopoeia words, but highly specific to a water based area. In addition to these special words, you can throw in some metal bowls and kitchen utensils and discuss how they sound in the water- maybe they sound the same as they do out of the water? Maybe one has a lower sound or a higher sound when it has water inside? Does a wooden utensil have a different sound than a metal utensil? You can do this in the bathtub on a rainy day, or add everything to your little pool or water station outside.


Your options with developing listening skills are truly limitless! Sensory Stations, listening and identification all go hand in hand as long as we are able to provide an opportunity for examples!


Keep trying and keep having fun!


Summer Playlist- Marching through Summer!


Welcome to summer! We’re kicking off our Summer playlist with a series of marches for your littles enjoyment. There won’t much historical information this time as the goal is for you to enjoy your holiday and play with your kiddos! (Some pointers on how to vary marching for ages are written below) Enjoy!

If you have a little one at home you know from experience that the drum, egg shaker, or tambourine some one of the first go-to instruments- and music with a strong sense of beat can be some of their favorite ways to express themselves. Marches are a perfect way to incorporate these instruments!

Variations: Surround your infants with options like instruments, metal bowls, and their favorite toys (in addition to our best accessories, hands!) and watch them participate! Toddlers will love mimicking by marching around or in place with their favorite instrument, while preschoolers will begin to anticipate what’s coming next through patterns in the form of the music- showing grander expression and playing the leader of the band. Have fun! Get the whole family to participate by march around the neighborhood or the backyard! These are some of the best, most expressive marches out there!

This playlist is great to get into the 4th of July spirit, especially for our littlest ones who maybe can’t get involved in everything the big kids can-  Be safe and Enjoy the Summer!

-Echo Music Studio


How We Choose Our Playlist Music


While we may occasionally get caught in a theme or find a song we really love and want to share, we try to always find pieces that fit the criteria of our curriculum “First Steps in Music” which outlines how to make song choices for what we call “Beat Motions” to illuminate expressiveness in children in the early years.

Things to Remember: 

*There will always be various criteria that we will consider when making our choices:
-use of instrumental music (although you will still hear some voices)
-examples are 2-3 minutes in length
-genres may vary between classical to jazz or instrumental folk music
-provide examples from many historical periods
-quality recordings
-instrumental recordings
-varying style, meter, and tonality

*When listening in your home, try to consider the following:
-how can we move to this song?
*if you have an infant be sure to hold them and tap the beat either in a burping motion,
sway side to side, take a few steps in and few steps out- don’t forget to find a mirror!
*if you have a toddler bounce your knees, flap your arms or hands, swing your arms, twist
twist at your waist, tap on your body- watch for your toddler to imitate, and later initiate!
-does your movement reflect the song? (fast/slow, loud/soft, is there a story to be told, or an emotion to convey?)


Happy Listening & Dancing!

Katie, Echo Music Studio

Spring Playlist Now on Spotify!


In our ongoing effort to make music readily available to young children and families, we have added a Spotify account to our public offerings! Seasonal Playlists will be curated and posted here for what we feel meet the needs of children during the season.

I started out right away with Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.” Copland being known for his ability to paint the American landscape and pioneering spirit got me on the path of featuring American composers. This sort of feeling- the feeling of nature, spirit for the outdoors is what I feel when I think of spring. I might be stuck inside on a five-day spring rain streak, but I know that when that rain breaks it will smell great, look great, and best yet, we haven’t reached those summer temps yet… we can conquer anything in spring!

*It’s important to know that musical history is rooted in either sacred or secular meaning. Whether you are religious or not, putting reflections into a historical context is what I find the most important. We have plenty of folk songs in our curriculum today that my personal self would not prefer, however, they also teach history- and if you think from that perspective there are plenty of discussions to be had with your little ones about how far we have come.*

Now, back to America…  

William Billings wrote some of the most common four-part vocal hymns and anthems of the colonial era. You will note the distinct style of the singing is unlike most you hear, these traditions are now carried out through the Sacred Harp singing tradition. You might remember similar sounds from the movie “Cold Mountain”. The group singing features arm raising and toe tapping in keeping the beat. If this peaks your interest- here’s an informational video (and yes there are groups nearby that meet if you like this sort of thing, like me 🙂  )

Stephen Foster was known as America’s first professional songwriter, and being born on the Fourth of July it’s quite ironic how memorable and nostalgic his songs have become to Americans. He is known for “Old Kentucky Home”, “Oh, Susanna!”, “Camptown Races”, “Beautiful Dreamer” and more! I highly suggest rolling back through some of his pieces with your grandparents and children in the same room. For some fun historical context, the song “Oh, Susanna” was first performed in an ice cream parlor!

As we reach the 19th century we find ourselves enjoying parlor songs, many of which are taking place in the home, surrounded by this idea of tradition and family involvement. However, although women are sitting at the piano playing we are not seeing female composers come forward. We know now that many were composing, but were not in position to use their own names even up through the 20th century. As stated on states “The image we have provided…. is a most fitting depiction of women in music prior to 1900 (and even well beyond.) The “piano lady” was the predominant image of women in music. The direction was that women would perform music, not make music.”

womeninsongComposition was considered a man’s work, and women were often forbidden from the process by their fathers or husbands. As we know, women in fact dominated the area of music education and much of the musical field, therefore it was only natural for them to create original melodies and compositions. It is important to acknowledge this omission of history, to signify how important it would have been to be a female composer in that era. Amy Beach was the first successful American composer and pianist traveling for performances in both America and Germany. She has a vast repertoire of songs, and quite frankly choosing one is difficult.


Scott Joplin, moved to Sedalia, Missouri in 1894 to start teaching piano and later in 1895 started publishing his Ragtime music which quickly brought him to fame when he published “Maple Leaf Rag” in 1899. It is important to note Joplin’s place in history, not only an African-American composer, but also considered the model for ragtime composers.

John Phillip Sousa is known for his military and patriotic marches- most notably “The Stars and Stripes Forever” which is the National March of the United States of America. It was written on December 25, 1896- he wrote the piece in his head as he was traveling home from Europe and then put the piece to paper when he arrived back to the United States.

Now we arrive in 1942 and Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” premiers. This is considered one of the earliest examples of truly American ballet, and includes one of the most recognizable movements in popular culture. “Hoe-Down” has found it’s place in our culture through cinema, product placement, and the classic ability of Copland to paint a landscape through instrumentation (you can picture exactly where you would be in the country for this piece, right?) For me, I feel like I grew up with this piece somehow… it was used in the “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner” commercials (which apparently went on for at least 10 years!) , in “An American Tail: Fievel Goes West”, and it also inspired the “Magnificent Seven” theme later written by Elmer Bernstein in 1960.



Check out our Winter playlist when you’re done- along with our post about how we choose our songs!