A Lovely Gift

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I'm lucky to live in musical neighborhood. Within the span of just a few blocks, there are several choir members, band members, a piano teacher, and many instrumentalists. One of these neighbors is a woman named Judy, a guitar player and retired teacher. She said she had a binder full of kid songs, which she used when she would play guitar to her students. She no longer needed it. Was I was interested? YES!!!!  

The binder looks well-loved. Many chord sheets have been typed on a typewriter, some pages are old Xeroxes that remind me of my elementary school worksheets, and there are handwritten notes all throughout. It's the perfect representation of what I love most about folk music— there's magic in making music with others and sharing songs that have been sung throughout multiple generations. As I play through the songs (many are familiar but happily there are a lot of new-to-me songs, too), I can't help but imagine Judy singing to her students. It's a lovely thought, and now I get to share these songs with my loved ones. 

Judy, thank you for this special gift! Happy holidays, everyone!

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The Christmas Gift I Give Myself

The Christmas Gift I Give Myself

About five years ago my husband surprised me with a piano for Christmas (big surprises are kind of his thing). We had talked about wanting one for our family, and I had visions of listening to our children sit down to play and sing for us. Of course, our son was only two at the time and I was very pregnant with my daughter, so no one really had much time or ability to play it. The piano mostly collected dust that first year.

Live Music at Disneyland

Live Music at Disneyland

My husband and I have taken the kids to Disneyland a handful of times, and each of us has a different priority when we go— my husband wants to go on all the rides, the kids want to meet all the characters, and I want to see all of the "park atmosphere entertainment" (the term used for the many musical acts that perform throughout the parks). There are so many opportunities to catch live music throughout the park, and taking a few minutes to stop and listen is sure to add a little magic to your next visit. Here are a few of my favorite musical acts: 

Meet Shawna

I owe a lot to Shawna

She's my very talented friend who designed the Musical Mama logo, and she was also my very first ukulele student (though I affectionately referred to her as my guinea pig, ha!). Shawna even let me make this video, where she shares her experience of going through the beginner's course: 

Having her as my first "test" student helped me refine my teaching style and improve my course materials before I officially launched Musical Mama, and I'll always be grateful for her help. Thank you for everything, Shawna! You're the bomb dot com! 

Taking the Kamaka Ukulele Factory Tour

We vacationed on Oahu recently and one of the highlights of our trip was taking a tour of the Kamaka ukulele factory. I mostly focus on the playing of ukes, so it was neat to learn more about how Kamaka's well-regarded instruments are made.

The tour began in the small main office area with a history lesson by Fred Kamaka Sr, who's in his 90s. We were all riveted as he chatted about the company's origins (it was started by his father) and the company's 100 year history of making instruments. The tour then moved on to the warehouse, where Fred Jr walked us through the entire manufacturing line. It was very cool to see how invested the Kamaka family is in the brand, with the company now being run by third and fourth generation family members.

Here are a few photos:

Wanna go? Tours are conducted at their factory in Honolulu, HI, Tuesday - Friday at 10:30 am. Check out their website for more info. The entire tour is free, and it's worth it just to get your picture taken with Fred Sr! 

  posing with Fred, Sr.

posing with Fred, Sr.

Flow

One night long ago, my husband took our baby son out for a walk. I stayed home to spend the evening wrapping Christmas presents. Sounds mundane, right? But it was heavenly. I had two whole hours to dedicate to a task with absolutely no interruptions. That night was the first time in months that I experienced that lovely state of flow, where I was able to completely lose myself in an activity. 

Losing the opportunity for "flow" is, for me, one of the most difficult aspects of parenting.