Good Music, Brighter Children Blog

Today, many people choose anything BUT water to drink to quench their thirst. But believe it or not the best liquid for your body is—water! You have been told dozens of times to drink at least eight glasses per day—and here are some reasons why. Afterwards, read about the practical uses for Coca-Cola–other than drinking it.


Drink Water to: 

 Avoid dehydration: 75% of American are chronically dehydrated

 Rev-up the Metabolism: In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%.


 Lessen hunger pains: One glass of water shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

 Eliminate Fatigue: Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue


 Ease back and joint pain: Preliminary research indicted that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

 Short-term Memory: A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.


 Decreases risk of Colon and other Cancers: Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79% and a person is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.


So the question is–are you getting enough water each day?


Facts about Coca-Cola:

Next, here are some factoids about Coca-Cola…after reading this, you may just want to get a case to clean out your toilets.


Factoid #1: In many states (in the USA) the highway department carries two gallons of Coca-Cola in the truck to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

Factoid #2: You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coca-Cola and it will be gone in two days.

Factoid #3: To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the bowl and let the “real thing” sit for one hour, and then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.


Factoid #4: To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a crumpled up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

Factoid #5: To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.


Factoid #6: To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

Factoid #7: To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into a load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle

Factoid #8 : Coca-Cola will clean road haze from your windshield


Factoid #9: The active ingredient in Coca-Cola is phosphoric acid. Its pH is 2.8. This will dissolve a nail in about 4 days.

Factoid #10: To carry Coca-Cola syrup the commercial truck must use the hazardous material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

Factoid #11: The distributors of Coca-Cola have been using it to clean the engines of their trucks for about 20 years.


So the next time you are trying to decide what to drink–water or coke–it should be an easy decision! And the next time you are trying to decide what to clean with–it should be an easy decision!



Sharlene 2014

As a mother of five boys and author of Good Music Brighter Children, I want to share with you why music is so important to learning and some ideas on how to incorporate music into your child’s schooling experience.

Brandon 1997009My third son Brandon suffered a traumatic birth that left him with severe learning disabilities. As I studied different ways to help Brandon learn, I discovered that he, like so many children, loved and responded to music. So, I used musical games, rhymes, and songs to help him learn his school lessons. I also played classical music for him while he was studying, and I taught him the piano. I was convinced that parts of his brain, rather than malfunctioning, were in need of the kind of exercise that one gets from studying a musical instrument.  It was true—music became the catalyst for him to learn and process information.

Seeing what music did for Brandon and carefully researching the science behind music, I have come to understand that music can be a vital part of the learning process for all children. Music makes learning stick and music makes the learning process easier.

Here are 6 Insanely Awesome Reasons Music Builds Your Brain:

Reason #1: Music Builds the Auditory, Visual and Motor Areas of the Brain

Music strengthens the auditory, visual/spatial and motor areas of the brain. These areas are important to speech and language, reading, reading comprehension, math, and brain organization. Scientific research shows that kids involved in music have better language skills, reading and math skills; are more organized; have better attention skills and do better on standardized tests.

brain on music

Your Brain On Music



Reason #2: Listening to Classical Music Helps With Memory

Listening to certain pieces of classical music changes the way the brain processes information and helps us to absorb, retain, and retrieve information better. When we listen to specific pieces of classical music, the electromagnetic frequency of the brain changes and when this happens—learning, memory, and retention of information increases.

 Suggestion: Try playing Handel’s “Water Music” or Bach’s “Brandenburg’s Concertos” as background music while your children are studying their lessons. It will help them learn the material easier and retain it better. (See the Resource Section of GMBC for more musical suggestions)

Reason #3: Marching Organizes and Energizes the Brain

If your child has difficulty concentrating or seems tired and needs a boost of energy, put on marching music and march around the house or yard to the beat of the music. Marching to music wakes up the brain, organizes the brain, and gets the brain working on all four cylinders. It helps children focus and helps them to “stick to their tasks.” In our family, we made it into a game. The boys woke up to marching music and whenever they moved—they marched—into the bathroom, making their beds, getting dressed, putting their schoolwork together and then downstairs to eat breakfast. Marching is similar to what crawling does for a baby—it organizes the brain.

 Suggestion: Incorporate marching into your daily routine. Movement is an indispensable part of learning; a must for building and organizing the brain and for keeping your kids focused.  Try playing the marches of John Philip Sousa such as ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,” or “Semper Fidelis.”

Children and the band in the parade illustration

Children Marching–A Great Brain Organization Activity

Reason #4: Rhythm Helps Kids Learn

Music is built upon melody, harmony, and rhythm—with rhythm being the most important element of music. It is what enables us to recognize a piece of music and motivates us to tap our feet to the beat of the music. Singing or chanting spelling words or math facts to a repetitive rhythm helps kids learn and commit this information to memory. Find a piece of music or a nursery rhyme with a strong rhythm that your child enjoys. Use the rhythm and incorporate spelling words, math facts, or even geography or history facts into the song as a fun and effective way to teach these subjects.

 Suggestion: There are some wonderful nursery rhymes with a strong beat that work perfectly when learning addition, multiplication or spelling, etc. For example, “Miss Mary Mack” is great, or I love the sing-song rhythms found in “The Alphabet Operetta” by Mindy Manley Little. As your kids get older, try the strong rhythms found in rap music—eliminate the lyrics and using the repetitive rhythms, clap out, beat out (with rhythm instruments), or sing out multiplication tables, spelling words, history facts, etc. Remember—any time you set learning to music—it sticks!

Sharlene Blog028

A Great CD for Teaching Kids the Alphabet–in Operatic Form!

Reason #5: Music Helps Kids Learn to Read

I’m a big advocate of reading to your children every single day. The benefits are too numerous to mention here, but those of you who read to your kids daily know what I talking about. When our boys were growing up I read many books that incorporated music, (think “Lentil” by Robert McCloskey) but I also tied other subjects to the book such as science, social studies, language arts, history, etc. Not only does it make the book come alive in many ways, it is a creative way to stimulate your child’s critical thinking skills.

 Moses-Concert-1Suggestion: Read, “Moses Goes to a Concert.” It is a delightful story about a little boy who is deaf. He and his classmates go to a concert where each child is given a balloon to hold so they can feel the vibrations of the music coming through the balloon. Use this book to teach your children about many different subjects such as: children with physical disabilities; particularly children who are deaf; American Sign Language; the science of vibrations; what they are and how they are created; the composer Beethoven and how after he went deaf he sawed the legs off his piano and put it on the floor so he could feel the vibrations coming through the floorboards. Let them experience how to feel a vibration through kazoos, percussions instruments, or balloons, (hold the balloon next to a speaker with music playing). You can also stretch a rubber band between your teeth and while strumming it feel the vibrations on your lips. Have your children watch the excerpt from Jurassic Park when the children see the water moving in the glass caused by the movements of the dinosaurs (another vibration).


Reason #6: Music Lessons Build the Entire Brain

Absolutely get your kids playing a musical instrument or taking singing lessons. My book teaches you how to choose an instrument, a teacher, and how to get kids to practice. Scientists have found that because music involves the brain at every level, the following occurs:

  • People who learn a musical instrument or sing have larger brains—5 percent larger than non-musicians.
  • Musicians’ brains are more analytical and better at math and reading and have more sophisticated language skills
  • Playing a musical instrument refines the development of the brain in a way that cannot be done by any other activity.
  • Playing a musical instrument is vital for the total development of the brain
  • People who are involved with music lessons have greater coordination, concentration, and better memory skills.

In short, people who play a musical instrument or sing have bigger, better brains! (for more information on this see my blog, “Why Music Lessons Build a Bigger, Better Brain”).

Suggestion: Involvement in music should start early and never stop. Check out your neighborhoods for teachers and programs. Kindermusik or “Let’s Play Music” are both excellent programs and offer lessons starting around 18 months of age. Google choral, band or orchestra programs in your community and sign your children up. Keep in mind that the voice is an instrument so singing is wonderful for many children. Getting your kids involved in music is not just about building a bigger, better brain—it is also about the friendships they will make and the values they will learn in the process. Music really does make a difference in a child’s life!

These are just six ideas of how you can incorporate music into learning and I include many more ideas in my book along with a 50-page Resource Section chock full of fun educational ideas, books, music, games, etc.


Sharlene 2014


Hand holding coconut. SPA collection.

Coconut 3It’s a New Year and our thoughts are turned to health and wellness–at least for a couple of weeks! So, I think it is important to talk about an oil that is pretty amazing–both for our physical and mental health. That oil is none other than coconut oil!

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the conditions below. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another may provide a wide range of health benefits. I have found over fifty uses for coconut oil and since that is too many to put in one blog, I’ll divide them into two different blogs. Also, these bullet points do not provide detailed information about the uses of coconut–but you can find detailed information online, if you are interested.

Needless to say, coconut oil is an amazing oil and can be use to treat many different things from your skin to your bladder! You can purchase coconut oil from Costco. It looks like shortening–because it is very white, but it can easily be melted and is not affected by heat. I put one tablespoon in my daily protein drink. I think after reading these two blogs on coconut oil you will agree–its uses are varied and many and you should add it to your daily diet.

Twenty-six Reasons to Consume Coconut Oil or Coconut Meat:


Reduces epileptic seizures

Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections

Dissolves kidney stones

Helps prevent liver disease


Is lower in calories than all other fats

Supports thyroid function

Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate


Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats

Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems

Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection

Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis

Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin

Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking

Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots

Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion

Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun

Helps control dandruff

Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do

Has no harmful or discomforting side effects

Functions as a protective antioxidant

Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease


Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oils do

Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.

Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.


Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).

Is completely non-toxic to humans



Sharlene 2014


I love these cookies! I got the recipe from my friend Janene Zimmerman many years ago.  They are wonderful to make around holiday time–because the cranberries and glaze frosting make them very festive-looking. I hope this recipe becomes one of your family’s favorite! Here are two different pictures–you can either drizzle the frosting or completely frost these cookies.

orange cranberry cookies  Cranberry cookie 1


1 cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

1 tsp. grated orange peel

2 Tablespoons orange juice

1 egg

2 ½ cups flour

½ tsp. soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

½ cup chopped nuts



Heat oven to 375 degrees

Grease cookie sheets.

In large bowl, beat the sugars, butter, orange peel, orange juice and egg. Stir in flour, soda, and salt. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Drop dough by small spoonfuls onto to cookie sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes until edges are slightly brown

Cool and then glaze with frosting mixture.



1 ½ cups powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice—mix and frost cookies


Sharlene 2014


Today is a continuation of last week’s holiday toy suggestions. These are great toys to build your child’s brain while he/she has fun and builds brain cells.  Be sure and check out the YouTube video demonstrating the Sports Stacking Cups—an amazing toy with so many possibilities!


 Toy #8: Kidoozie Foam Pogo Jumper


Jumping fun for everyone! Made from soft, durable foam and great for indoor and outdoor play This lovable foam pogo jumper squeaks with every hop! The bungee stretches to accommodate children of all heights and can support up to 250 pounds. Kids and adults alike will have a hopping good time on the Hop & Squeak Pogo Jumper.

 Ages: From ages 3 to 100 depending on the functionality of your bones at that age.

How it builds the brain: Helps with balance and jumping–movement


Toy #9: Gamecraft Safety Guard Scooters (Scooter Ball)


It’s safe, it’s portable, and kids’ eyes light up when you bring it into a room. This board should be used only under adult supervision as kids have a tendency to try to stand on it or can roll it over someone’s fingers if they aren’t paying attention.

 Ages: 3 and up (need supervision at first)

How it builds the brain: helps with sensory integration and motor planning; used by occupational therapists.


Toy #10: Hoppity Hop Balls


Thicker than other brands, the Hoppity Hop is the greatest and “funnest” way for kids to exercise without even knowing it! Guaranteed to help your kid’s burn off that extra energy. Try an adult size Hippity Hop to bounce along your child, after all, adults can have fun too, right? Share the fun!

 Ages: Recommended for ages three and up

How it builds the brain: great for building balance and brain organization


Toy #11: Neon Dart Ball Game


Inflate the inner circle of the Neon Dart Ball Set to create a 24″ diameter dart ball board. Dart balls adhere to the board using hook and loop technology. Includes 24″ target and 3 dart balls

 Ages: 5 and up

How it builds the brain: develops hand-eye coordination


Toy #12: Sports Stacking Cups


Sports Stacking Cups have become an international phenomena! Parent and kids of all ages love to stack these cups at lightening speed. Your child can get hooked on these and who knows—you may want to even enter into a Sports Stacking Competition. Check out this video of sport stacking children of all ages—this is amazing fun for the entire family.

 Ages: 3 and up

How it builds the brain: rhythm, timing, movement, coordination—incredible alternative than having your child waste hours playing video games! Plus—it is bouncing, interactive fun!


Sharlene 2014

The holidays are upon us and the frenzied gift-giving chaos is in full swing! Today I want to pass along some great toy ideas for your children that will build their brains. These are toys and games that get your children thinking and moving creatively while building brain cells.  When I was a kid, my favorite toy were my blocks. I spent hours building and creating things with those blocks. Did you know that parents rarely purchase blocks anymore for their kids? In fact, cultural critic Roland Barthes lamented in the 1970s that the wooden blocks children used to play with were in decline, and it was sad because now children were taught to be users and not creators. Childhood is a time to help our children learn to express their inner-self so those creative juices will continue into their adult lives.  How to do this?–supply them with toys that nurture their creativity…

 The toys listed below will stimulate your children’s imaginations and teach them to be creators and not just users.

 I talked with educational therapist Alene Villaneda (Integrated Learning Strategies) regarding the best toys for children that will build their brains, enhance their ability to think and encourage interactive play. Here is a list of toys and games that she suggests.

(I would also suggest that you get the CD, Baby Dance to play while your child is engrossed in these toys—it is the perfect musical addition!)

 Note: here are 7 toys and next week I will add another 6 toys to this list

Toy #1: Kidoozie Super Skipper (Musical Skipper)

This skipper makes a pretty cool playmate on a day when your child is alone or with a friend. The electronic base has 2 telescoping poles that rotate in 3 different speeds for jumping in tandem. Try to keep up with the spinning poles and accompanying music by jumping in time and avoiding them. It includes an acceleration mode that gradually gets faster. Poles fold up for easy storage.

 Ages: 3 years and up

How it builds the brain: increases timing, rhythm, balance, and coordination. Have your child jump over it to a rhythm. You can adjust the bars and the speed (think old-fashioned jump-roping).


Toy #2: Boomwhackers

Boomwhackers 1

Boomwhackers are eight musically tuned percussion tubes. To play, each person holds one or two of these perfectly tuned percussion tubes and whacks them against his arm, thigh, or any hard surface to produce a sound. The harder the surface, the brighter the sound will be. The tubes are various lengths and will produce various tones. They are available in diatonic and chromatic scales as well as treble extension, bass diatonic, pentatonic, and with octavator caps.

 Ages: Learning to play these instruments is amazingly fun for children of all ages. They can be played individually, but it is recommended that the tubes are played as a group, which means they are great for families and classroom settings.

How it builds the brain: They take some practice, but they are perfect for building a sense of rhythm and timing which in turn organizes the brain.


Toy #3: Perplexus


Master the challenge of the crazy, fun world of Perplexus! Inside the Perplexus Original you’ll face 22 feet worth of challenging twists, turns and obstacles! Flip, twist, and spin Perplexus to move the ball along the numbered path. When you fall off the track, head back to the start and try again. There are multiple levels of difficulty to master! Try the Perplexus Rookie, Perplexus Epic and Perplexus Twist. They’re easy to play, but hard to master. It’s a bendy, trendy, can’t put it down challenge!

 Ages: Recommended for five and up.

How it builds the brain: Helps with visual tracking


Toy #4: Qwirkle


Qwirkle is as simple as matching colors and shapes, but this game also requires tactical maneuvers and well-planned strategy. Earn points by building rows and columns of blocks that share a common shape or color. Look for opportunities to score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces with matching attributes. The player with the most points wins! 108 wooden blocks.

 Ages: Two to four players; ages 6 and up

How it builds the brain: These help with patterning; associating symbols—like scrabble, but rather than using letters, your child connects with shapes and colors


Toy #5: Ankle Skipper (also called: Geospace Sparkler LED Whip ‘N Skip Ankle Skip Rope)


An oldie-but-goodie for good reason, the Skipper has kept up with on-the-go kids for generations! This is a fun way to build coordination and balance (and to burn energy). This updated version’s built-in revolution counter and six flashing LEDs kick the fun up a notch, so kids can cook up friendly competitions with themselves or other kids. Takes 2 AAA batteries (not included); cord is 30″ long.

 Ages: For ages 5 and up

How it builds the brain: About coordination and timing—gross motor


Toy #6: Infinite Loop


Grip the two handles to open and close the track; and have the ball run through the tracks without having the ball fall off the track.

 Ages: 4 and up

How it builds the brain: This toy is great for coordination and hand-eye movement—visual tracking—uses the figure 8 to do it


Toy #7: Picasso Tiles


60 piece set Magnet Building Tiles Clear 3D color Magnetic Building Blocks – Creativity beyond Imagination!
Inspirational: Fun and entertaining, perfect educational presents for school age children that will never go out of style
Recreational: Entertaining for single or multiple parties, great for parent-to-child bonding with hours of fun quality time. Easy to construct and easy to put away for storage.
 Unconventional: Unlike typical toys, each piece of tiles can be replaced and more tiles can always be added to build objects as big as desired.

 Ages: 2 and up

How it builds the brain: Increases the visual/spatial areas of the brain. Picasso Tiles inspire youngsters learning by playing, children will acquire a strong sense of colors, geometrical shapes including 3D forms, number counts, magnetic polars, as well as the creativity which is the key factor to success in today’s ever changing environment.

Stay tuned for six more brain-building toy suggestions next Monday


Sharlene 2014


child profile looking in fthe camera while playing piano

(Note: this is the last blogpost in a series of three that I’ve published over the last month)

Today we are discussing another important part of the brain that music strengthens—the motor areas of the brain.

 Brain-builder #3: Music strengthens the motor areas for brain organization and memory skills…

 Learning a musical instrument and being engaged in music develops the motor areas of our brain—which is important for the development and organization of the entire neurological system. “Let’s Play Music” as well as other music programs use both the Orff-Shulwerk and Dalcroze programs—both of which strengthen the motor areas of the brain.  Here’s how:

 When a young child pounds on rhythm instruments, claps her hands, stamps her feet, snaps her fingers or marches around the room—it is similar to a baby learning to crawl—and all these activities organize the brain; helps the child to remain focused, and increases memorization skills. These specific body movements are found in the Orff-Schulwerk program.


 Dalcroze incorporates the use of specific movements called eurhythmics.  Children move their bodies to the beat of the music and the body is trained like an instrument. Many different senses come together in the Dalcroze experience: seeing, hearing, feeling and moving.


Scientists say that movement is an indispensable part of learning and thinking. Dancing and moving to the music, marching, singing, whistling melodies, humming tunes all boost a child’s language, listening and motor skills. They also help develop physical coordination, timing and memory.


 So there you have it. If you want to build a bigger, better brain; one that functions at a higher level; one that helps children to read; increases language development; boosts memory; aids in the learning of math and science; and enhances motor skills—then start learning a musical instrument. It will be the best thing you do for your brain—and your overall feeling of well-being! Plus, it is just plain fun!


Sharlene 2014


Chicken coming out of a brown egg

I don’t know about you, but I really do dislike eggs! In fact, I’ve disliked them since I was a kid. I will only eat them scrambled, deviled or in an omelet– and even that is pushing it. In the movie, “Julie & Julia,” (about the girl that takes Julia Child’s cookbook and cooks/bakes every recipe in the book in one year) Julie says that when she tried an egg for the first time, she thought they were wonderful; they had an amazing smooth texture, and she loved them. “Yum” she said. I almost gagged! That is NOT my experience with eggs.

 But, here’s the rub about eggs—they are good for you. In fact, they are extremely good for you. They contain so many important amino acids and vitamins that whether you like them or not—you need to eat them. I force myself to have them at least 3-4x per week.


 Here are half-dozen reasons why you need eggs—and I added a 7th for good measure:

Reason #1: Full of Protein: eggs have 6 grams of high quality protein. Eggs are called “brain food” because they sustain mental and physical energy!

 Reason #2: Have 9 Essential Amino Acids: Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and eggs have all 9 essential amino acids—including leucine, histidine, valine, threonine, isoleucine, phenylalaine, tryptophan, methionine, and lysine. Every amino acid is important and helps the body in some way.


 Reason #3: Rich in Choline: Eggs are rich in choline—one of the B vitamins that supports normal cell activity, liver function and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body.

 Reason #4: High in cholesterol: A single egg contains 212 mg, which is over half of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg. However… it’s important to keep in mind that cholesterol in the diet doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol in the blood. And 70% of the people who eat eggs do not see a difference in their cholesterol—at all!

 Reason #5: No Gluten: since most of the flours today are made from genetically modified wheat and contain 40x the amount of gluten—no wonder people are having gluten issues! So, if you are going gluten-free—you can still eat eggs without any worries!


 Reason #6: Contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin–Antioxidants that Benefit the Eyes: eggs contain all of these nutrients/antioxidants and they all contribute to eye health. They also counteract some of the degenerative processes that can affect our eyes. But you need to eat the yolk—this is where most of these antioxidants are found!

 Reason #7: Vitamin B12: it is difficult to get B12 if you are a vegetarian because some of the best sources of B12 are found in red meat. And forget about taking a B12 pill—the body can’t absorb them. The best way to get B12 is from a shot. However, if you are eating eggs—you are getting the elusive B12—and absorbing it! So, that is why you feel a shot of energy without the shot!


 Bottom line: Eggs are a Perfect Food—so get eating them! I’ll be posting a great recipe for fall and it uses 6 eggs. It’s called: Apple Puff Pancake—watch for it!


Sharlene 2014


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