FundaMusic Turns Into Mr. Noteman!

We have had a changMr. Noteman Puppete in brand, and, I think, it is a change for the better. All our efforts will now be put into developing the new Mr. Noteman site.

In case you are wondering, Mr. Noteman is the name of the note puppet you see in the banner at the top of this page.

We are excited about the change, and are confident in moving forward that this is going to be a great way to influence a new generation of musicians!

Links to my other web sites:
Asaph Music Co.
Asaph Music School

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Acoustic Acapella Hymn Solo #2 – Be Thou My Vision

What a beautiful song! This one has been a favorite of mine since I first heard it.

I recorded this solo in the glassed-in entrance to the main auditorium of the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. The acoustics of the space make it a fun place to sing.

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Acoustic Acapella Hymn Solo #1 – Amazing Grace

The title pretty much sums up what we have here.

In this age of over-processed, over-compressed, digitally manipulated audio, I decided I would like to do one of the things I love best — stand in an acoustically interesting place, and sing.

I purchased a Tascam DR-40 for the purpose of recording these experiments.

This is my first attempt; raw, unfiltered, unprocessed, unmodified. The place I recorded this song was the Youth Auditorium entrance at the Berean Baptist Church in Rockford, IL.

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New Year, New FundaMusic!

Happy New Year!

2012 is here! I have had so many thoughts about the direction I need to be taking with FundaMusic, it’s hard to determine where to begin. I have already begun taking several steps toward creating incredible content that I trust will be beneficial to many people. Here is a partial list of what is in the works for you this year.

1. Interviews with great conservative Christian musicians. We will be talking about careers for musicians, tips for educating your children in music, music philosophy, the Bible and music, and more! Look for an incredible interview with David Chamberlain of Faith Music Missions sometime next week!

2. Recordings of great old hymns, sung acapella in some very cool acoustic spaces. I plan on posting raw audio of me singing in some very interesting places. Stay tuned!

3. Video blogs in which we discuss music education and philosophy for the next generation.

4. More content for homeschoolers as you train your children in music so that they can learn to glorify God and be a blessing to others through music performance.

5. A new “crowdfunding” website dedicated to helping faithful, conservative Christian musicians achieve their goal of creating music recordings that will bless the hearts of those who listen. Let’s all work together to make this new year one to remember!

By the way, Ivan Bickett put a testimonial I wrote about him up on his website. Be sure to check out what he has to offer.


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True Education Is “With,” Not “At”

I would contend that people truly learn only through experience. A person who has not personally grappled with a subject does not really understand that subject. This concept of personally struggling through the process of learning comes from within the student, not the teacher.

How then can a teacher teach? If all true learning comes from the internal motivation of the student, what is the role of the teacher? Can a teacher force learning upon the student?

My answer would be, “Not easily!”

I once had a neighbor whose son that was addicted to illegal drugs. I had a conversation with him at one point where he told me that he raised him to know better. He said this while he had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He had recently had surgery to remove part of his throat due to throat cancer caused by chain smoking. He may have told his son that he should not use drugs, but the experience of seeing his father smoke constantly taught him differently.

To train your children effectively, experience the process of learning together with your children. Teaching is not something you do “at” your children, it is something you experience together with your children.

If you want your children to enjoy music, enjoy music yourself and share it with your children. Expose them to good music. Take up lessons along with your children. Play piano duets with them. Sing with them. Set the pace of learning alongside of them. Let them see that music is an activity that adults enjoy.

This is the way to grow a musician.

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What Do Beethoven and Books Have in Common?

Deaf BeethovenI am fascinated by the ability of music to communicate. In my music classroom, I can walk over to a piano, ask the children to guess what I am thinking of as I play the piano, and invariably, within 2 or 3 guesses, they will have figured out what I had in mind. Many times, I will ask one of them to volunteer to come to the piano and do the same thing, and it is amazing to hear them take physical realities or emotions and express them through sound alone.

The other day, I was thinking about the correlation between books and written music. Words on a page are merely abstract symbols that represent the spoken word, or aural communication. In the same manner, written music is a system of symbols on paper that represent aural sound. When a performer “reads” music, they recreate the composers intentions in a manner that can be heard by the audience.

The amazing thing about reading a book, is that the reader is allowed to get inside the author’s head, so to speak, and hear his thoughts. In a similar manner, a composer’s song allows the listener to get a glimpse of the composer’s ideas of beauty, emotions, and even his impression of physical realities.

The thought then struck me, that if Beethoven could compose music after becoming deaf, it must be possible for a musician to be able to read music like one would read a book, knowing what the music sounded like without ever hearing it performed. So, I asked a friend of mine, the best musician I know personally, if he could look at a score of music and “hear it” in his head. He said that he could.

I guess what I am wondering is, if there are people who read music for enjoyment, just like we would read a book for pleasure. Is this even a worthwhile goal? It certainly sounds like an amazing ability for a musician to have. Would this be the ultimate definition of musical literacy?

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A Note by Any Other Name…

Music ExampleIt is amazing how much musical information can be conveyed by a single written note. For example, when teaching notes to small children, I like to refer to the fact that most of us have at least 3 names–our first name, our middle name, and our last name. Many of us also have nick-names. Some of us may have pet names that our parents use when they are talking to us or about us. But, all of these names refer to us.

In the above music example, the circled note can have many different names, depending on what aspect of music we are talking about:

  1. Eighth note – the type of note
  2. A – the pitch of the note
  3. A4 – the octave of the note
  4. A440 – the frequency of the note
  5. 3 – the number of the note in a major scale, based on the key signature
  6. “mi” – the singing syllable used when sight-singing
  7. “ti” – the rhythm syllable used when reading rhythms
  8. Half-beat note – referring to the amount of “time” given to the note, based on the time signature: 3/4
  9. Soprano note – referring to which group might sing the note in a choir

So, we can see that a single written note can communicate quite a bit of information to those who know how to read it.

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Make Your Own Music Games

My previous post was about music manipulatives, what they are, and how I use them to teach musical concepts.

Music SymbolsYou can start using these fun tools for teaching music today in your homeschool. Here is a link to a set of patterns that you can print out and use. I would suggest printing them on card stock, cutting them out, then having your children trace them on black construction paper, or perhaps just trace them out on regular paper and have your children color them in before cutting them out.

Free Download – Music Symbols Patterns

Then, play some simple games with them that will help them learn to recognize and identify the different notes and symbols.

Free E-Book – Games for Music Manipulatives

Children love these types of activities. After several days of playing these types of fun, exciting games with them, pull out a songbook, hymnbook, piano book, or some type of written music and see how quickly they are able to identify the symbols in the written music. I know of no quicker or more thorough method of teaching music symbols to children.

Try it out, and let me know how it goes!

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What Are Music Manipulatives?

Treble Clef Music Manipulative

Music manipulatives are fun for children to play with!

In my business, I throw the term “music manipulatives” around a lot. It is a term that is not particularly common; however, it perfectly describes what they are.

The dictionary definition of manipulatives is:

Any of various objects or materials that students can touch and move around in order to help them learn mathematical and other concepts: the use of blocks, flashcards, and other manipulatives in the classroom.

Math manipulatives are the most common form of manipulatives, and have been used successfully for many years to teach mathematical concepts.

Music manipulatives are simply “concrete” objects that help small children identify musical symbols and understand more abstract musical ideas. For example, allowing a small child to hold and play with an eighth note allows them to easily identify an eighth note when they see one printed on a page.

Basically, I like to use hand-held wooden notes, including the whole note, half note, quarter note, eighth note, sixteenth note. I also have wooden piano keys, treble clef, bass clef, flat sign, sharp sign, and natural sign. I use a large cloth floor staff that the children can sit on, put their notes on, and create their own songs on. I use a homemade eighth note puppet to teach the parts of the note. I use a small ladder-looking device for teaching scale steps.  I also consider the use of Precorders as music manipulatives. Music flashcards can also be used as manipulatives.

For more information about using manipulatives to teach musical skills, check out

I have also listed links to other music manipulative resources here:
Using Music Manipulatives

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Teaching Music to Preschool Children

Our children’s choir at church recently lost a very good music director. She is getting married this weekend and moving out to California, so I very reluctantly agreed to let her go! The problem is that I do not currently have a replacement, so it looks like I will be directing the children’s choir again for a while.

I did put the word out that I was looking for a replacement, and had a couple of college-age girls mention that they would be willing to help out if I needed them to. I am certainly grateful for the fact that they volunteered!

In my conversation with one of them, I was attempting to explain my primary goals for working with small children. They are primarily two-fold:

  1. Train them to sing on pitch
  2. Always make musical experiences fun, enjoyable and desirable

My children singing in church at ages 4, 5 and 6.

That’s it! Teaching them how to sing on pitch is crucial for future musical success, and pitch recognition must be “caught” well at a young age. Surprisingly enough, singing on pitch is not difficult for even very young children if they are exposed to good musical experiences early on. Learning to enjoy music will give them the motivation they need to become interested in musical expression and will create a thirst to learn more about music as they grow older.

If you have small children in your home, you should be singing to them and with them constantly. You should be exposing them to good music recordings, made up predominately of clear, singable melodies. If you wish to give them a head start with instrumental music, I would suggest finding a good Suzuki method teacher. We have good friends who have had some wonderful successful experiences with Suzuki teachers. Personally, we used the We Hear and Play piano method with our children when they were toddlers/preschool age, to expose them to the concept of music reading. They loved it, and I feel it was a good preparation for formal piano lessons later.

Giving them a head start in music is great way to prepare your children for a lifetime of music participation and enjoyment.

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