Musical Theater: BEST activity for kids.

Written by didipop on . Posted in kids activities, parenting

My daughters are now practicing their lines and songs for their play. They have so much perseverance and passion. So much energy to get it right, smiling and laughing and loosing their breath as the Grandma from Little Red Riding Hood and a junior tracker. They engage in such an active way – you know that feeling when you are doing your dharma and you lose track of time? Like that!  It helps that they have good content.

Summer camp (and after school too): musical theater that’s really fun and smart. Acting for my girls massages all their chakras (power centers) – action, creativity, emotions, LOVE, voice, dance movement, inspiration, social interaction, vocal projection, public speaking, reading. Musical theater is simply the BEST non-school activity that i’ve found for my daughters. The confidence they are developing is incredible.

I can’t recommend it enough!!!

Next week – it’s Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Look at this site if you want to get an idea of what they are up to.


Break a leg!


Written by didipop on . Posted in kids' music, parenting

Music is magic, and magic is exciting. Kids, grown-ups, babies and even animals THRIVE with music. New research from Science Daily suggest that music decreases perceived pain for kids in pediatric ER. Isn’t that wonderful! The most harrowing times of parenthood for me, are the times when my daughters are in pain and I would do anything to make it stop. Now we know that music helps!

When I was young, my parents got divorced and it was awful. Music got me through it. The Beatles, my old LPs and sitting at the piano helped me play my way through those hard years. As a grown-up, when I feel down, 15 or 20 minutes at the piano can cure me faster that anything else. It’s just so magical! All those lovely black and white notes you can touch and push and caress (or bang on!) to change the energy, alchemy. MAGIC.

Have you ever walked up to a child and just started singing to them out of the blue? Want to see magic? Try it and you will feel the wonder in their eyes. Once, on a drive up the California Coast near the Hearst Castle in Cambria, I pulled over to the side of the road and saw cows as far as my eyes could see, all spread out on the hill grazing. I stood on my driver seat and popped my head out the window and started singing Paul Simon’s “loves me like a rock” at the top of my lungs. It was a music-human-bovine experiment. All the cows stopped what they were doing, looked at me and began to move toward me. They were compelled, magical entranced. Pretty soon they had formed a semi-cicle, an amphitheater of cows and continued to enjoy the song. Cars heading up to Big Sur were pulling over, people emerging out the doors, and taking pictures of the crazy girl singing out of her sun roof and the enchanted cows. I will never forget it.

So, I spread the magic my making music and videos for kids. I get many of my ideas from my daughters (now 7 and 9) and I feel my music grows as they do as I tackle blossoming subjects. It’s nice to win awards and have so many views on youtube, but the best thing is getting notes from children and parents that tell me how I helped them learn, or picked them up when they were feeling blue. This summer I’ve connected with a little boy across the country who is vision impaired. Here is a note from his mom:

Hello Deborah,

Thank you so much for the cd! It came at a critical time and really saved
the day as Declan had started his next round of chemo. (he lost his vision because of a brain tumor) We
got home Monday and your gift was waiting for him. He’s been a little sad
lately (mostly happy, but upset about needing to be a regular at the Jimmy
Fund Clinic again). So, Monday we listened to your cd so much that he knew
“I Like Pigs” and “Coconut Candy” by heart. Tuesday, his first day of
chemo, we got stuck in traffic and listened to your cd for two and a half
hours! He was singing the songs all day, to the point that the music
therapists have asked me to bring in the cd next week so they can play

Declan made you and the ladies some bracelets that I will put in the mail

Thank you thank you thank you,

Thanks for visiting DidiPop and please sing and dance with your kids as much as possible for they go off to college. They will never for get it. It’s MAGIC!

How to be a good mom? Inspire yourself!

Written by didipop on . Posted in parenting

My goal is to live a rich, thoughtful, loving and creative life. In other words, to be and stay inspired. Do you overflow with love for your child? And at the same time do you NEED to nurture yourself and stay passionate about things beyond homework, shopping and diapers? I, personally, need to create music, teach, perform and inspire others. I want to be a more mindful, more content mom (and woman) and also share thoughts that might inspire you in the parenting, working woman and housewife arena. I think we can raise kids, live a passionate life and even save the world. The Dalai Lama, himself, at a Peace Summit in Vancouver in 2009, proclaimed: “The world will be saved by the Western Woman.”

I work at balance everyday… to balance the energy I give to my husband, family, friends, and to MYSELF…not to mention the house, the cooking, the bills, the pets and our school. I know you work hard everyday. I kn0w what it takes to keep a family thriving. I know we can have it all! Maybe not all at the same moment in time, but all in the same day.

The connection between child and mother is magical, powerful, intense and eternal. My girls pick up on my moods and feelings. They are psychic sponges. I felt my mom’s feelings and still do. I believe that to be conscious of these connections as we are mothering will help us be better parents and help us to raise children who can individuate and thrive. The beauty of this philosophy is that, the better we take care of OURSELVES, the more connected and aware mothers we become to our CHILDREN. Just like on the airplane, fasten your grown-up oxygen masks first, so that you can more effectively help your child.

I know that we as moms, can live the full life we have always dreamt of…. being creative, healthy and moms too! Really being ME will support my kids in a positive way. Really being YOU will inspire your child in deep and real ways. Living in tune with ourselves sets an example by showing, by doing. Actively honoring dreams, the inner world, the delicate balance of love, art and family and FUN is what it’s all about. Inspiration – to be filed with spirit – to live in animation – to truly live in the presence of the divine. Let’s go moms!

Please watch the funny mom videos on this site and show your child the children’s music videos. My music is my soul and I give it almost as much love and attention as I give my girls. Please write with any topic you’d me to vlog about… I will answer any questions I can!

Eight Ways Parents Can Inspire Their Children to Have Fun While Practicing Music

Written by didipop on . Posted in kids' music, learning an instrument, parenting

“While it is important to teach basic technical fundamentals, I believe the goal of a teacher is to inspire the hearts and minds of her students.”
Why do so many adults feel that they lost the opportunity to learn music as children?
What can parents do to inspire their children to play music?

Whenever I am out with friends and I mention that I teach piano, there is almost always a grown-up person who looks at me with a regretful longing in her eyes. “Really? You look so young and nice. I wish I had had a teacher like you when I was younger.” She’ll continue, “I loved piano and I loved music, but I hated my strict teacher. I hated to practice and I’d fight with my parents about it non-stop. Ultimately, I gave up, and I’ve always regretted it”.

I’ve been a piano, guitar, drum, and singing teacher in Los Angeles for 20 years. In these new millennium days, with the fast-paced world of video game technology pulling children’s minds into a passive abyss, children need music more than ever. Parents and teachers can encourage children to turn off the games. This will give children space to learn to create music that truly stems from the heart and that is uniquely their own. Also, music can bring families together, soothing and healing, in times of confusion. When the outside world gets complicated, parents can help to create beauty, art and a sharing community.

The main theme idea to remember is that parents should stay active in the process – from selecting teachers, to participating in the lessons and helping to make practicing fun. I see parents who lovingly ask their young children, “Did you practice yet?”

The whole family may be laughing and talking in the kitchen before dinner and the child replies, “No, not yet” feeling a bit guilty. “No? Ok”, says the trying-to-be-supportive parent. “Go and practice and then we will have dinner” says the mom or dad. The child then reluctantly walks OUT of a happy, warm kitchen, and into a lonely and sometimes dark living room to sit down for a required half-hour to practice. There is nothing fun or inspiring about this. We can change that!
Eight Ways Parents Make Practicing Fun
1. Duets
Parents can play music with children. That means singing along or even having the student teach the parent. If the parent can play the recorder, a drum, or the guitar with the child – GO FOR IT!
2. Centering
Move the child toward the center of family activity and get them out of the isolation of a lonely living room. Can you move the piano into the dining room? Can the family be in the living room while the student is playing? Put the instrument and the child in the center of the action to show the child that the family respects and supports the practicing.
3. Get Your Game On
Students get frustrated, adults can make it fun and relieve the pressure. Turn the energy of practicing songs, scales or reading notes into a game. Offer cool rewards like m&ms, pennies or stickers for perseverance and willingness to try. See if kids can beat the clock or beat their own record. Put the play into playing music!
4. Light Light Light!
Make sure there is plenty of light at the piano. There is nothing better than sitting down at a well lit instrument. Light brightens the keys of a piano and sheet music, giving students a more joyous feeling. Light helps students concentrate and focus on their playing. Light supports kid’s efforts and helps them know the spotlight is on what they are doing and that it is valuable and important. What’s more, they know that the family values what they are doing because the family helped create the place and light for them to play and practice.
5. Clutter No More
Clear off the instrument of coloring books, rulers, napkins and other odd items that can end up on a piano or in a practice area. A clear space helps to facilitate clear playing. And, keeping the space clear also shows that the family respects the student’s work, playing and determination.
6. Eenie Meenie Minie Moe ~
Pick 4 days a week when practicing can happen. Pick days without too much homework. Use weekend time. Try and get it 5-10 minutes of scales before a soccer game or while waiting for the bus! This shows the child and the family members that everyone cares about the music and the practicing no matter what else is going on in a busy family life. And it shows that nothing wonderful has to be sacrificed in order to play. A way exists for all happy activities to co-exist in the child’s life.
7. Mix It Up
Update the instrument of choice. Sometimes a child will start with the piano and be a natural born hip-hop drummer. Sometimes a singer in choir might be called to the cello, and maybe even just for a few years, only to switch to songwriting and harmonica in high school. It is important for parents to recognize and honor these trends and changes within the student’s heart and feed students what they are hungry for during the formative years of a their musical life. There are no wrong instruments. It’s all music and it is all valid, inspiring and wonderful.
8. CD Jam/Iphone
If your child is learning to play a recorded song (pop, musical theater, rock, country) put a CD or ipod on the piano and have them play along. This is a sure-fire way to keep kids learning and playing!We play music for many reasons. Many well-documented studies state that music education significantly improves a child’s spatial-reasoning ability. (And by the way, this is the skill that is necessary in order to learn math, science, chess and engineering). New studies link continued exposure to music and melodies with heightened memory and emotional capacity. But most importantly, people play music for the joy it brings and the confidence it inspires. Families become close when they share in playing music together. Children become empowered when they play music on their own.

By playing on their own, kids learn to become self sufficient and that the people they love respect their effort as well as the music itself. Songwriting, singing, and listening are also wonderful ways to express the music in our hearts. And parents, you can delight your child by learning an instrument and playing with your children. Family jam sessions are the best way to inspire children and a brilliant way for families to bond. Hopefully, parents will take note and sign up for music lessons too. Tuba anyone?

We can make learning music fun for everyone. Let’s fill our world with beautiful music and happy families. And remember: when the young girl arrived in New York City and asked for directions to Carnegie Hall, the wise New Yorker responded, “Practice – practice – practice”. And – don’t forget to have fun!

Deborah Poppink has been a private music teacher teaching since 1991.
She bases her teaching on listening to her students and respecting their individual passions, goals and dreams. She writes for TV and film, raises a family and is the creator of DidiPop: Hip Family Music for Everyday Adventures.

(This was originally published in 2002 but is worth reposting i think. It all still works.)