Monthly Archive: June 2014

It is summer, the kids are out of school and so today I’ve geared my blog to children. Take a few minutes and read this to your children and show them the pictures and watch the three-minute video. It’s educational AND it’s fun!

 Okay kids, I want to talk about the science of vibrations because when something vibrates, it produces MUSIC!

 So what exactly is a vibration?

 The answer: A vibration is a rapid movement that repeats itself. Vibrations make sounds and sounds are what music is made of. Slow vibrations make low sounds and fast vibrations make high sounds.

Music Instruments Vibrate and Create Sounds:

 The tuba is a large brass instrument and when someone blows into a tuba it creates a low sound and a slow vibration.


 On the other hand, a piccolo, which is a woodwind instrument and looks like a little flute, creates fast vibrations hence they have a very high sound.


 See Vibrations:

When an instrument is playing and if we could actually see the vibrations these orchestra instruments make, they would look like a beautiful painting. In fact, they would look like string art


Feel Vibrations:

You can also feel vibrations. Try holding onto your throat and hum. Hum high and hum low. What is happening? Now try singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” What you are holding onto are called vocal cords. When you sing high, the vocal cords get tight making a higher sound. When you sing low, they relax. When you sing, your vocal cords vibrate. When you talk your vocal cords vibrate, but so does another part of your throat vibrate. It is called the uvula. Look in a mirror, stick out your tongue and the little piece of skin that is hanging down in the back of your throat is called the uvula and it vibrates when you talk or sing.


 There is a Disney story about a famous whale named Willy and he sings opera. He is a pretty amazing whale because instead of having just one uvula like everyone else, he has three so he can sing alto, bass and tenor all at the same time. You can rent the movie, “Willy the Operatic Whale” and see Willy and his three uvulas. Here is a picture of Willy—look closely and see his three uvulas:



Create a Vibration:

There are ways you can create a vibration and produce music. For instance, when we rub our hands together, it creates a vibration and produces a sound. Try rubbing your hands together.

We can also rub two pieces of paper together and create a vibration and if we want to create a really neat vibration, we can rub two pieces of sandpaper together. Have you ever heard the piece of music called, “The Sandpaper Ballet?” It is written by a man named Leroy Anderson and in it some people rub sand blocks together and create fun music. Here is a three-minute YouTube video of “The Sandpaper Ballet,” by Leroy Anderson. Watch how the men create a vibration and music by rubbing the sand blocks together.

 It is pretty easy to make sandpaper blocks. Purchase some little blocks of wood and some sandpaper. You will want to cut the sandpaper to fit over the wood. Then glue the sandpaper onto the wood. Now try rubbing the two blocks together. You are creating vibrations and music!

 Another way to create a vibration is with a little instrument called a kazoo. You blow into the kazoo and at the same time you hum. You can feel the vibration on your lips! It is fun to do! Have your parents go to a music store and purchase a kazoo for you to try this experiment with.


 There are many other ways to create a vibration—but try these and let me know how you like creating vibrations and music!

So kids–I hope you have enjoyed learning about vibrations! Now, get your parents to enroll you in music lessons and learn even more about vibrations!

Sharlene 2014

BananaToday I’m going to talk about the health benefits of bananas–yes, bananas! There are those who demonize this lowly fruit; stating it is loaded with too many carbs. Yes, there are carbs in the banana, but the benefits outweigh any negatives. So, here are just a few reasons to persuade you to start eating this healthy fruit!

Bananas are a wholesome, delicious, healthy addition to your diet. Here are some common issues bananas can help with:

 Depression: A recent survey amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

 PMS: Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6, which is found in bananas, regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

 Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

 Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration have just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

 Brain Power: Students who were helped through their exams by eating bananas at breakfast, break and lunch felt a boost in their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert. (of course classical music also boosts your brain!)

 Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

 Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re- hydrates your system.

 Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

 Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

 Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

 Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

 Stressed at work? Studies have shown that if you are stressed at work, the stress often leads to gorging on comfort foods like chocolate and potato chips. Researchers have found that obese people were usually in high – pressure jobs. The researchers found that, to avoid panic – induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. Bananas are the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over chronicler cases. The banana neutralizes over acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

 Temperature Control: Many other cultures see bananas as a “cooling” fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

 Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6 and B12 vitamins found in bananas, along with the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

 Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high – potassium banana snack.

 Strokes: Researchers have found that having bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes as much as 40%!

 So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ailments. In comparison to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So, maybe it’s time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, “A banana a day keeps the doctor away!”

Suggestion: Go eat a banana!


Sharlene 2014

Today I want to talk about something fun, easy and inexpensive to make—scrubs!

 Here are some basic rules for exfoliating your skin.

 First: Don’t listen to the advertisements telling you to exfoliate every day—they are trying to sell you a product and will tell you anything—and this includes what skincare professionals may tell you.

 Second: How many times a week you exfoliate your skin depends on how old you are. If you are fifty years old and above then cell turnover takes longer and you probably should only exfoliate maybe once every week or two. Younger people should exfoliate maybe twice a week. Exfoliating every day is not a good idea; you can tear the skin, upbraid the skin and can cause damage to your skin. Why? Because most people are way too harsh when using scrubs on their skin and actually damage the skin.

 Third: do NOT use scrubs with microbeads in them or scrubs containing polyethylene or polypropylene on the ingredient label. They are plastic and after you wash them off your skin, they go down the drain, and cause serious environmental issues. In fact, there is legislation in most states to ban the sale and manufacture of soap and cosmetics containing microbeads. Don’t use the alternatives either—acids—not good (more on this later).

 Fourth: Bottom line—you do not need an expensive scrub filled with ingredients you cannot pronounce. Just open your cupboard and you will find things that work even better than the store-bought brands plus your cupboard contains ingredients that are safer and less expensive.

 Here are some recipes. These are considered “gommage” scrubs; they are not dangerous, they do the job and they cost pennies to make.

 Gentle Facial Exfoliate

½ cup ground oatmeal (grind in the blender)

¼ cup powdered milk, whole or nonfat

1 teaspoon cornmeal

Distilled or Purified water to make a paste


In a small bowl, thoroughly blend all dry ingredients using a spoon. Put in container until ready to use.

 To mix the scrub:

Combine 4 tablespoons of scrub mixture with enough water to form a spreadable paste. Allow the mixture to thicken for 1 minute. Using your fingertips, massage scrub onto the face and neck in a gentle circular fashion. Rinse with cool water.


 Exfoliating Foot Mask recipe

1/2 cup oatmeal—ground in a blender
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup unscented body lotion
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel (optional)


In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. For each treatment use ½ cup of the dry ingredients & mix with the wet ingredients. Rub on toes, working up to heels and ankles. One foot at a time—rinse in warm water.

Cinnamon Complexion Scrub:

 I read this recipe in the Los Angeles Times. It was developed by Ole Henriksen of Ole Henriksen Face/Body Spa in West Hollywood. This mixture will keep in the refrigerator and is enough for several applications. Use it on clean skin.


½ ounce of ground cinnamon

½ ounce of brown sugar

½ ounce powdered oatmeal (I use quick oats and blend them to a fine powder in the blender)

¼ ounce of table salt

6 drops of lavender essential oil (you can use the essential oils from Majestic Mountain Sage)

Avocado oil: add enough to make it a smooth paste with a dense texture


  • Mix ingredients together, adding the avocado oil last. Use enough avocado oil to make a smooth paste with a dense texture that will smooth across your face.

  • To apply, blend between damp palms, transfer onto your face, work into skin in an upward circular motion

  • Work into every crevice of face—especially the T-zone, which is more prone to clogged pores.

  • Rinse well with warm water and follow with your skincare routine and product.

You can purchase a scale to use to measure this scrub at Majestic Mountain Sage—that is where I purchased mine.


Now for my favorite scrub: Lemon Scrub (use this in the shower)

Natural Lemon Body Exfoliate


1 ½ cups fine granulated sugar

Juice of ½ lemon


Mix ½ cup of the sugar and lemon juice to form a paste. While you are in the shower, use as a body scrub on your skin. Use the inside of the lemon rind and rub on your heels and elbows. This is an amazing scrub! Make certain you use it in the shower—it can get sticky but it smells wonderful!


Sharlene 2014




Hi everyone–I’m deviating a bit from my usual Monday blog on a children’s music book. I wanted to talk about this very important subject–hope you find this helpful!

How many of you read the article, “Music Can Penetrate the Fog of Alzheimer’s Disease,” found in the UCLA Health magazine, spring 2014 issue? I have read several articles and have seen various videos on how music affects people with Alzheimer’s and other mental challenges, but I think you will find this one enlightening, as well!

 If you missed it, here is a recap of that article:

 Joshua Grill, PhD, assistant professor of neurology and director of the Katherine and Benjamin Kagen Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Development Program at UCLA is on a campaign to collect pre-owned iPods and MP3 players, headphones, etc., for Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes. Why? Because he has found evidence that music can benefit patients with dementia.

 Here is what he found:

 Point #1: Studies have found that music has the ability to activate the brain in unique ways. Think about when you were a child and learned your ABC’s to the Alphabet Song. No matter what age you are today—I’m sure you can rattle off that tune. Music affects the brain differently from the spoken word and studies show that music can activate pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Alzheimer’s patients that cannot remember their family members’ names can enjoy music. One case study described a musician who was well into the course of dementia and could still learn new songs.

 Point #2: Various studies indicate that music can be used to improve memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. One study showed mild cognitive benefits with patients in a nursing home after group music therapy and showed improved memory function. Other patients showed improved autobiographical memories—memories from their childhood, adult life, and recent past after listening to Vivaldi’s “Spring” movement from Four Seasons.

 Point #3: Music can also affect behavioral symptoms such as depression, apathy, agitation and frustration. Evidence shows that music can help to activate the circuits of the brain that provide pleasure and improved mood. Music therapy can reduce agitation and anxiety, decrease depression and improve the quality of life. Grill explained that at the first facility that they donated the iPods and MP3 players for the patients, the staff reported that some patients were eating a whole meal and sleeping through the night for the first time in months.

 Here are a couple of suggestions:

 Play music that you enjoy and has meaning to you everyday. Sing if it makes you feel better and learn a musical instrument—it is never too late. Although I do not discuss Alzheimer’s disease in my book, I do discuss how music can affect children with learning challenges such as Autism, and other cognitive and physical learning disabilities. You can check it out in Chapter 8 of Good Music Brighter Children.


Sharlene 2014

Okay–the hot summer months are coming up and your tomatoes in your garden are growing. You need a recipe for those tomatoes! So, here is a great recipe for salsa…

I found this recipe about two years ago in the magazine: “Mother Earth News.” We grow a lot of tomatoes during the summer and I need some recipes that use tomatoes and recipes that allow me to “process” the tomatoes to use throughout the year. I’m not necessarily a fan of canning, but it does allow me to use all the tomatoes we grow. This is a great salsa recipe, but there is nothing that can replace “fresh” salsa. And don’t be afraid of canning–it is simple! Just get one of the large black canning pots and follow the directions and you will be fine. Good luck!


 4 to 5 quarts tomatoes, skin removed, chopped (I boil water and put the washed tomatoes into the boiling water for 1 minute, remove and skin them)

4 large onions, finely chopped

1 ½ cups jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (about 6 peppers)

6 green peppers, finely chopped.

2 cups white vinegar

12 ounces tomato paste

1 ½ tablespoon chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. alum, powdered or granulated (I do not use this)

½ cup pickling salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 ½ tablespoon ground pepper

½ cup granulated sugar



  1. In a large kettle bring all the ingredients to a boil; simmer for 30 minutes.

  2. Pour into clean pint jars

  3. Place two-piece lids on jars, screwing band on securely.

  4. Bring the water to a boil

  5. Place jars in rack inside processor, keeping jars apart.

  6. Bring the water back to a boil and process jars in boiling water bath for 20 minutes

  7. Yields: 12-15 pints


Sharlene 2014


Today I’m going to talk about the music and story of Swan Lake by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It is an enchanting story with all the trappings of a fairytale and with music that is every bit as captivating.

 If you are not familiar with the story, here is a brief synopsis:

Odette is the heroine of the story and her hero is Prince Siegfried. She has been transformed into a swan by the evil Von Rothbart and can only regain her human form at night. She has many companions under the same spell, who have made her their queen, hence her title “The Swan Queen.”

 She and her companions are forced to live by a lake that was magically formed from the tears of her grieving mother after Rothbart kidnapped her. The only way for the spell to be broken is by the power of eternal love between Odette and a young man who will remain faithful to her. However, if the vow of eternal love is broken, Odette will remain a swan forever.

 When Odette falls in love with Prince Siegfried, hope for her freedom has come at last, until Siegfried is tricked into breaking his vow by Von Rothbart, trapping Odette as a swan forever. To escape the spell, Odette chooses to die and Siegfried chooses to die with her; the lovers drown themselves in the lake and are reunited forever in death.

 I saw this ballet when I was about 12 years old with Ballet West and the Utah Symphony Orchestra.  I do not remember much about it, but I do remember that I loved the beautiful costumes and the music.

 If you have never taken your children to a ballet—I would recommend seeing the Nutcracker first and then taking them to see Swan Lake.  Prepare your children by reading the story and playing the music for them each day a few weeks before the performance.

 The music is absolutely breathtaking—it is so stunning you will want to listen to it again and again. Don’t just listen to this music with your children—get up and dance and move to the music. As I’ve said before, music is a necessary part of learning! Here are some of my favorite musical selections from Swan Lake:

“Sea in the Moonlight”—this is a must!—“mesmerizing and gorgeous” is the best way for me to explain it. I think you will recognize this piece of music. (see the YouTube video clip below)

  “Waltz”—this is a very charming, delightful waltz—again if you listen to classical music at all, you will recognize this piece.

 “Swan Dance”—another familiar tune—charming and beautiful!

 “Wedding Dance”—this is very bombastic and dramatic. This is actually a fun piece of music to use to introduce your children to classical music because it is loud and bold!


I remember seeing the movie, “Billy Elliot” about a young boy that wants to become a ballet dancer. After difficult challenges–he realizes his dream and becomes an amazing ballet dancer. The final scene is of him coming on stage in one dramatic leap to the music of Swan Lake–it is absolutely breathtaking!

Here is a short excerpt from Swan Lake: “Sea in the Moonlight”

 CD Suggestions: There are many, many CDs and DVDs to choose from–go on and check out the selection:

CD: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with the Philadelphia Orchestra

DVD: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake: American Ballet Theatre

So, tell your children the story, play the music and then read to them, Swine Lake as a fun comparison. After you hear this music, you will understand why the wolf jumped on stage and became part of the ballet!


Sharlene 2014





I feel like a hypocrite writing about the dangers of sugar because at this very moment, I’m heating up my oven preparing to bake some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies. So, while I’m munching away, I’ll attempt to convincingly tell you about the dangers of sugar!  (btw: I use only organic sugar, which means it is sugar that is NOT made from a genetically modified sugar source and is not grown in soils with pesticides)

It is true that you do not want to consume sugar in large amounts—even fruit in large amounts. Steve Jobs was a fruitarian and it is believed that his enormous consumption of fruits actually led to his pancreatic cancer. The sugar in fruit is called fructose. Table sugar is called sucrose. Although there is a difference and fructose is safer than sucrose—both consumed in large amounts create problems in our bloodstream.

To add to the problem, most sugar today is made from genetically modified sugar beets and then some is made into high fructose corn syrup–which is the worse kind of sugar (think: sodas and candy). The body does not recognize it as a sugar, but rather a fat and the liver tells the body to store it–most likely on your hips!

So, here are 24 reasons why you should not eat sugar. It is taken from “Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health” by Nancy Appleton, PhD and author of Lick the Sugar Habit.

First, this is not a complete list and second each point has been backed by an actual scientific study. If you are interested in the study—comment at the end of this blog and I’ll post each study individually.

Last: In addition to throwing off the body’s homeostasis, excess sugar may result in a number of other significant consequences. The following is a listing of some of sugar’s metabolic consequences from a variety of medical journals and other scientific publications.

 Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease.

Sugar can cause can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, anxiety, difficult concentrating, and crankiness in children.

Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.

Sugar can weaken eyesight.

Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract including: an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, mal-absorption, increased risk of Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Sugar can cause premature aging.

 Sugar can cause autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis.

Sugar can cause gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and osteoporosis.

 Sugar can cause a decrease in your insulin sensitivity thereby causing an abnormally high insulin levels and eventually diabetes.

Sugar causes food allergies.

Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.

Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.

Sugar can make your skin age by changing the structure of collagen, called cross-linking.

Sugar can cause cataracts and nearsightedness.

Sugar can cause emphysema.

Sugar intake is higher in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Sugar can increase the size of your liver by making your liver cells divide and it can increase the amount of liver fat.

Sugar can damage your pancreas.

Sugar can increase your body’s fluid retention.

Sugar is enemy #1 of your bowel movement.

Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.

Sugar can cause depression.

Sugar can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Your body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.


Sharlene 2014


Today I want to introduce you to a really funny book, Swine Lake by James Marshall and Maurice Sendak—the masters of “funny children’s literature.”  And yes, it is a humorous take on the famous ballet, Swan Lake by Peter Tchaikovsky.  Today we will discuss the book and on Wednesday we will talk about the music.


Your children will love Swine Lake and so will you. It is a hilarious tale of a grumpy wolf that goes to another part of town to find something to eat, and by a stroke of luck is given a ticket to see the Boarshoi Ballet perform none other than Swine Lake. And this is not just any ticket—he is escorted into his own private box and told, “This is the best seat in the house!”

Of course, his motive to see the ballet has nothing to do with the story or music, but everything to do with wanting to eat the cast of players! He is, after all a wolf—and the cast includes scrumptious pigs—this wolf’s favorite!

In the beginning, as the wolf watches the ballet of dancing pigs, he is more interested in which pig he’s going to devour, however as the story unfolds, something magical happens—he becomes mesmerized by the story and moved by the music (which is no surprise—he is listening to Tchaikovsky, after all)!

That night when he returns home he dreams of dancing pigs and in the morning he breaks open his piggy bank to spend his last penny to see the ballet again. But this time, the wolf becomes so absorbed in the story, and carried away by the music that he pounces on stage and begins dancing with the astonished pigs. This is all totally unexpected! And to complicate matters, they don’t realize he is a wolf—they think he is dressed up as a wolf and part of the cast.  The next day in the newspaper the wolf reads a review of Swine Lake that includes none other than his fabulous performance.

This is a book that children of all ages will enjoy!

When reading this book, keep in mind these things:

First: Many children’s books use talking animals rather than children. There is a reason for this—it is called “children in little fur coats.” It is less threatening for young children to see an animal getting into all sorts of mischief and suffering consequences than actual human children.

Second: This is a great book to introduce young children to the actual story of Swan Lake. There are books that talk about Swan Lake (Dance me a Story), but they have a lot of dialogue and very few illustrations, so you may want to read the actual story of Swan Lake and then tell it to your child.

Third: There are also DVDs of the ballet. For instance, check out Swan Lake: Guangzhou Acrobatics Troupe (see page 389 of my Resource Section). It is a breathtaking mix of the famous ballet and acrobatics (available at Music in Motion).

Fourth: after you read Swine Lake to your children and tell them the story of Swan Lake, compare/contrast the two versions to build critical thinking skills.


Sharlene 2014


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