I feel Happy, I feel Healthy, I feel Terrific!

Scales Aren't Just a Fish Thing 14 issue Newsletter - free
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Scales Aren’t Just a Fish Thing

How we are wired

I feel Happy,

I feel Healthy,

 I feel Terrific!!


I’d like to digress this week from the layers of our learning that seem to be programmed into us, and discuss a layer that is under our control.

It is something that we can be taught; something that can be modeled.   When modeled, there is a greater probability that the ‘choice’ will sway one way or another.

What I am referring to is the choice of ‘attitude’. When you wake in the morning, do you automatically plan to have a good attitude?

When I was younger, I listened to a motivational speaker who encouraged his listeners to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, “I feel healthy, I feel happy, I feel terrific.”..until they did. I used this technique with my own little children.

I have to laugh now at a memory of the sight of ‘itty bitty’ little people, standing on their stools, looking into the mirror with precious little jibber jabber voices saying some semblance of the phrases. I hope I’m not alone in my ‘hippy’-like, fanaticism for excellence. I was determined that a bad manipulative attitude wouldn’t control our home. This was a challenge for the moment and a gift for the future.

In rare moments of final exasperation, I’d pick up a snarling little person, open the front door and set them gently just outside on the porch. I’d tell them they could have their bad attitude as long as they wanted but they would simply have to have it outside our home. The door stayed open, Mom, slinking with watchful eye somewhere out of sight. They could come back in whenever they were willing to make the choice to control their attitudes. They didn’t stay outside long.

I think this set the groundwork for the next few years. We didn’t go through the usual teenage horror stories. I really enjoyed every stage. They learned early the technique and gift of intrinsic discipline. I know that some of you might find this an appalling parenting style, but you know, it worked. Their generosity and ability to ride above life situations now that they are adults, is admirable. They pick their battles and have learned to skirt the ‘fires of life’ to accomplish the big goals.

Why do I tell you this? I think one of the important daily decisions that flavors our learning styles and enhances every thought, lesson learned or action is influenced by our attitude. It is almost an ‘oh dah’ statement I know but one that makes you feel enlightened when you grasp the concept. The surprising ‘ah ha moment’ of all this is that our attitudes are under our control, not our hormones, the stars or full moon – no blame-shifting works for long.

It is our choice to dissect each situation, searching out the ‘win win’ that is hidden somewhere within.

If we approach life from a negative perspective – life is a series of losing situations.

We only win when we handle them correctly.

The key is that we choose how we will begin the process

Children need to be made aware of this. Adults need to be reminded or relearn. I’m in the process along with everyone.

No matter our learning style, the choice to layer it with an attitude that welcomes change and challenge is something we are taught.  It  is modeled by teachers and family members alike. If the models haven’t mastered it yet, then those learning from them are handicapped from the start.

I find myself clapping and verbally praising nearly everything my students or grandchildren attempt, as long as they do it with a willing attitude. If they are not doing well, I withhold that praise and ask if I can suggest one thing they can focus on as they play it again. If the big goal is too big, I back off and suggest a doable task and then praise.

We are all challenged to

respond and not reflect

when we deal with the needs of the manipulative child, or are humbled by our impotence when we are forced to be the observer for the emotional suicide of teens – (I’m seeing a lot of this lately – they aren’t simply ‘cutting their legs off at the knees’ so they can’t run like we used to. Today’s teens and twenties are actually slowly dissolving who they are away.  Some are bossy loud and verbal on the outside but are empty inside, simply reflecting a group mentality or some piece of what they have learned in school.  Some want to be invisible) .

Here is something you can do to impact your  own your kids. This should promote actual success and excellence. When my students prepare for a concert, a week or so before the concert we have a group lesson.  I hand out forms and pencils for the members of the group to use for critiquing. Each form has a series of boxes with one very simplistic goal that should have been accomplished before a solo is played. : thumb bent, pinkie curved, etc. Each student takes their turn playing their music. While the soloist is playing for the group members, the students take notes, checking off the boxes that are appropriate.

Once the solo is completed, we clap, not to give undeserved praise but in recognition of the attempt, the willing attitude, appreciation on our part for their ‘gift’ of music. In return, they bow either internally or aloud saying, ‘my pleasure’,  to thank the listeners for the privilege of playing for them. At this point, each student takes a turn suggesting one thing they noticed that the soloist did well and one suggestion for improvement. (the whole time, the soloist is standing in rest position accepting the critiques – interacting.) I’m impressed with these students because the critiquing is done with great respect and more than that, amazing insight. They are struggling with the same issues and can give pointers. Even the Twinklers do this. Once they’ve been critiqued, they can try again and then receive solid praise that they ‘believe’.

Kids aren’t buying this praise for a ‘bow’ for long. Praise has to be attached to something they think they have done well. Otherwise, it is ignored.  This goes for our lame attempts at showing sincere love and appreciation too.   If the child doesn’t believe you love them, shown to them through your actions, your words don’t get heard.  Some studies have actually shown that parents who are cheering at games and concerts but won’t take the time to sit down and just play a board game at home actually can be responsible for their child developing a ‘me first’ mentality sometimes defined as ‘narcissistic personality.  That is a heavy weight to carry but it is important to know the details so you can make a decision about your priorities.  Studies have also shown that even the most popular kid in school doesn’t believe he has any friends. They see things through a childish lens, one that is only as refined as their years of experience.

It’s easy for adults to accept the limited understanding of a four-year-old, but hard to remember that a child’s mind is not completely developed until about 19.   At 15 years old, the processing of what the teen sees occurs in different parts of the brain than it does in older teens and adults. Their thinking is gray, no black or white despite the years of pounding your mores into their heads.  They look like adults.  They use language with the skill of adults. But they are not adults. Their brain development starts in the back of the head and moves forward.  It hasn’t really developed the frontal cortex yet which is where mature behavior is based.  As of today, (stay tuned….every fact seems to have its day)  they say the male brain isn’t fully developed until 25 and a woman at 21.  This part of the brain controls emotional expression.  It is actually like the control panel.  Protect them. Mentor them.

If you’d like to encourage your students with genuine praise, create a checklist to direct their critiquing. Learning violin or any instrument takes similar paths. Break the bigger picture down into a smaller task. Don’t put great position for a topic to be checked off. Have, thumb bent, foot forward, weight on proper foot, elbow moving as they move to lower strings. This makes them fine tune their eyes to see what is actually composing a great position..

Negativism is contagious. Surround your kids and students with positive people who aren’t living in a fairytale land but who have done the work to understand why they aren’t negative. Remember: Studies show that families who are financially stable give praise vs. rebuke at a different ratio than those who are struggling. It declines as does the household security from 6 praises to 1 rebuke down to 1 or 2 praises for every 5 or 6 rebukes.

Kids need affirmation. Whether you are a parent or teacher or relative, you can up the ratio on the praise side with honest heartfelt praise. Find something true to praise. Learning an instrument is a perfect way to provide an intrinsic understanding of excellence whether you are 3 years old or 93. It’s a perfect way to add affirmations in a child’s day, or anyone’s for that matter.

© Copyright

Carol JC Anderson



Gum Drop Note Sheet Music

Circles are the color the note is moving toward.  Subtly the student is learning complex music theory without knowing it.  When they play the music theory games, it stamps the ideas and embeds them into their thinking.  Try them.

Remember:  a note that is sharp or flat is notated with a circle the color of the note it is moving toward.  Just a little help while we are learning.



The Brain and how we process information

Tools to teach

Violin Sheet Music – Paperbacks

Book One

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes

Tools to teach

Violin Sheet Music – Paperbacks

Pre-twinkle books

   tutorial videos on computer and iPhone/iPad

and music theory games

digital books









Book One

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes



Violin  Book


Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin  Book three

Big Book of Gum Drop Notes


Violin Great Extra


Big Book of Gum Drop Notes





Bass Clef Piano or Cello Note Locator (Sight-reading Music)carolanderson@scalesarentjustafishthing.com



The ’10 Minute Music Theory Card Games’ ™ is a year long series of card games intended to be played at the end of each lesson.  This slowly builds understanding from the simplest concept until it is intrinsically understood. Students want to come to lessons because they are motivated and excited about learning.  Their progress is solid and steady.  They understand intervals and otherwise difficult music theory concepts by playing games until they are at lightning speed.  All games include ‘clue cards‘ with all the answers ‘nurture don’t test’.

‘The Magnificent Fingerboard ™’  is the basis for reference.  Students become familiar with the notes and the patterns. Combined with listening to the music, the understanding of the notes and their relationship to the notes around them, is a great musical foundation.

Ten Minute Music Theory

Card Games Series




The new book ‘How We Are Wired – Let’s Talk” will be available next week on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.

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