Wait for it!

Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing™ 


A concept connecting how we learn

and how we process information

with the study of music,

developed for over thirty years

To touch lives with a calm and gentle spirit…

waterfall 2

Working seamlessly embellishing Traditional and Suzuki Music Lessons

Carol Anderson

Igniting Sleeping Brains!

Creating fluid thinking

‘Just’ a thought and free sheet music for beginners.

If Music is on your ‘New Year’s Resolution’ list, then I would like to suggest a few thoughts that might help it stick like tacky glue after the

glitter of the fireworks


and the resolve that comes

with a fresh calendar wears off.


I know the ultimate goal of music lessons is for the child to understand the theory of music and proficiently play an instrument to the point of giving back to others. Having walked this path with so many families, either as their music teacher for what seems a lifetime, or for the growth of our own family, I would venture to present what might be more immediate  ‘gains’ that come from lessons that I might value even more than learning an instrument itself.


for 2018


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#1  – We have all heard how music can open the minds of the listener and actually change the brain. Lots of videos on YouTube, check them out.

I always warn new parents that the little person they bring to me won’t be the same in a month or two. I honestly ask them if they are ready to loose this little child because they will quickly move to the next stage of development.   Lessons create focus, discipline, a sense of accomplishment and autonomy.  This little person, who has an attention span of nearly zero at the first lesson, can easily handle a half hour of instruction in a month or two and only wants to stop because their little bodies are too tired.

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#2 – For family members:  Spending focused time together. – uninterrupted time to talk, improving a skill, and learning to move past frustration with a positive outcome and a closer connection with one another.

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#3 – Scheduling: Having a specific practice area and practice time can teach order in a world where impulsiveness seems to be the style of the day. Let the phone take a message.  Put a sign on the door that you will be done in a few minutes.  Model the whole idea of being in control of your moments, thoughts and decisions.

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#4 – Learning to own the results of your efforts – Wait for it!

My absolutely adorable four-year-old granddaughter opened her Christmas gift slowly.  The gift was wrapped multiple times and she took her time peeling each layer back as the whole family peered to see what she had been given.   She looked up at everyone and smiled and with a tiny instructive voice she said,  ‘Wait for it!  Wait….for….it!”

How did she learn that?  Apparently Tinker Bell had something to do with it, but what a great lesson for a tiny person to learn early in life.

Take videos of your child’s musical progress and create a (twinkle) compilation or (Bach Double) ‘As the Month’s Go By’ video, so they can see that it was worth ‘waiting for’.  It is easy to forget where you were when you started.  This goes with everything.  I have put together a life book….many, in fact.  My grandmother used to write a journal but my life, with all the computers and remote whatever’s, doesn’t allow me time to sit and be faithful in writing a journal so I have taken a simple composition book and simply cut out a picture or article that captured my imagination and taped it on the next empty page.  I have so many life books now and as I go through them, I can see my life: The silverware wrapped in a special way for Christmas dinner, the wreath on the door or the garden and the birdhouses. I have a picture of a greenhouse made from old windows.  I have collected the windows….now for the greenhouse.   Our life and musical journey start out simple and so does our mind. It all doesn’t come together magically.  It is a process.  Quickly life and music become intertwined and it is so easy to forget the unbelievable events in the passage of time.  Don’t let them disappear.

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#5 – Establishing who is boss. – You want your child to pass through the stages of crawling, talking, walking, potty training, and the fun things like learning to read a book and riding a bike yet, you wouldn’t make them responsible for learning it.  How does someone with no ‘history’ of success or failures know where to start?   With accountability as a ‘family group’ to a teacher who prepares for your lesson each week, one person in your family group has to be the voice of the ‘law’ pulling it all together and making it happen.

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#6 – Learning to pick your battles. Remember:

You don’t plan your strategies

on the battlefield.

Rise above and overlook some things.  Don’t stand for others.  You want them to hear your voice when you speak so don’t let them learn to tune you out.

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#7 – Establish music as part of the household activities.

If you don’t make it something special, neither will they.

Play music as a concert for family members, have it playing throughout the day throughout the house. Add a time of playing to holidays either around the piano, around a fireplace or a bonfire on a summer’s evening.    On a summer’s night I can hear my neighbors gathering around a bonfire and playing music.  What a gift of companionship and a sense of rest and peace flows through the air.

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#8 – Look at the process of learning anything, but especially music, as a gift, defining your family.

Each vacation, I picked a different song to play regularly in the car or hotel room. One May morning we walked out of our hotel room and stood on the porch of the massive Victorian hotel on Nantucket Island. We met the couple who had been in the next hotel room. ‘This is the first time I shaved to Vivaldi’, was the man’s comment.  We ate at the quaint pancake house on the cobblestone street and the owner must have been a kindred spirit.  He played ‘Pachelbel’s Canon’ over and over as we ate.  As we walked through a historic house once back home, I lost track of my little people for a second and found them standing, mesmerized, at the doorway of a roped off room,  listening to a quartet playing the canon ‘in person’.  Now memories of car rides and hotel rooms and pancake houses are ignited when certain songs are heard.

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#9 – Establish a nurturing attitude and just consider each mistake as part of the process.


Success is at the end of the road

where mistakes crowd the way


Try to develop a calm and gentle spirit. Don’t raise your voice but be firm.

‘Do you want to try that one again?’ is a great response to either a bad attitude or sloppy attempt at Twinkle.

Every child will hit a ‘wall’ and create a resistance that you didn’t bargain for when you began this exciting journey and, unfortunately, every parent seems to have more piled on their plate than they can possibly accomplish. Although you are learning together and creating a bond, you need to be the parent and decide whether this is a battle you are going to fight.

Ask yourself: If I were looking back on my life after the kids have been raised, would I be thankful for the experience of studying music with them and all it offered or would I resent the ‘challenging yet teachable’ moments that created a bit of discord because the student fought the work of practice?  If it is the second and yet you feel a commitment to giving this a try, sit down with your family at your newly established ‘family meetings’, and write a manifesto. Let them have a say.

I want to become__________.

This will take _________.

I am willing to practice everyday.

I am willing to go to lessons every week, well prepared with a great attitude.

I am willing and want to listen to the music I need to learn.

I will make concerts and events a priority even if it conflicts with something else I want to do.

I want to accomplish ______ this year.

Of course, these are just a suggestion.

At our house, I had completely had it with coats or hats dropped on the floor so we established where they should be put and what the consequences should be if they weren’t put in that place during one of our family meetings. I told them my frustrations and let them decide the consequences.  I hung  the printed ‘minutes’ low on the mudroom door.  One day I couldn’t find one of the  children and looked around only to discover she was sitting by herself in a bedroom.  She was giving herself  ‘a time out’ for something on the ‘minutes.  If you allow them to have a say in their lives, they can be harder on themselves then we would have been. You don’t need to be their policeman all the time.  That is the difference between establishing the ‘intrinsic’ or ‘extrinsic’ motivation to do something.  Is it coming from inside themselves or through constant prompting and nagging.

Hang the ‘minutes of the meeting’ in a place where the shorter family members can see it daily.

Draw pictures to explain if they can’t read yet.

#10 – One of the best lessons gleaned during the parent’s turn at violin lessons is through the study of using the violin bow. I always try to get the  parent to realize that we guide our bows and they will produce a great sound.  If we try to control the bow, well…..we just can’t.  We don’t lift and replace the bow with a tight hold,  basically choking the sound. Instead, we push the bow and guide it with a proper and firm bow hold. Sounds like how we deal with kids.

Just a thought for the New Year.

You will receive a weekly email with a thought for teaching and studying music, as well as a link to download gum drop note and black note sheet music with a play-along video that will embellish your weekly study with your teacher.  Although you can learn a great deal through videos online, having a great teacher is essential if you want to really become accurate and proficient in your study.

Free Workshops


Totally Beginner Piano

Totally Beginner Violin

Violin Students having studied at least one year.

Canon Workshop –

free sheet music and play-alongs

limited number of subscribers

Piano Sheet Music – Paperbacks

Violin Sheet Music – Paperbacks

Pretwinkle books



Book One

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin  Book two

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes

Violin  Book three

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin Great Extra


Big Book of Gum Drop Notes

Ten Minute Music Theory

Card Games Series

Please sign up for free workshops


Let me know what you think.  How has the free sheet music established a mental picture for you or your student?  Be sure to sign up for the newsletter suggesting thoughts on how we learn and process information and how to embellish our lives to enhance our learning styles.

Drop me a line:  carolanderson@scalesarentjustafishthing.com

You will receive a weekly email with a thought for teaching and studying music, as well as a link to download gum drop note and black note sheet music with a play-along video that will embellish your weekly study with your teacher.  Although you can learn a great deal through videos online, having a great teacher is essential if you want to really become accurate and proficient in your study.

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