This Creative Resource Came Across My Browser


This is a website that teaches you the ins and outs of chess. From learning how the pieces move to advanced strategies.


With videos, games, and tactical exercises; you are equipped to learn and study chess at a high level.

I think this creates a lot of opportunities for the student to use their creative talents. Once strategies and deep understanding of the game are developed, the student should be able to use their creative mind to play chess. I think this is a great resource.

Here is a sample video

I wanted to make sure you were aware of it for the coming school year.

Chess has now become fun and cool.

Chess club anyone?




Ch Ch Ch Changes…

I have been away from the blogosphere for a while (does that terminology still exist?). I have shut down a failed website on music education, redecorated my office for better aesthetics and functionality, and starting new projects for myself and my family that I am really excited about.

However, I am not going into that today. I want to share with you something that I read recently. I think this article may change the way I homeschool forever because so far the implementation of ideas I gleaned from this article has worked extremely well.

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Drum Your Heart Out

I have been inspired this week.

I took my family out to a pizzeria and we sat down in the back room away from the main dining room. This room is normally reserved for sporting events (as evidenced by their large T.V.s) but since we are out of season, so to speak, it was just background noise. Until this commercial came on:

I love seeing a composer’s talents utilized in such a creative fashion. You can actually hear the song they intended through the water. So this inspired me to write some tutorials on how one could do this in their own home. If you have some talent and experience in music and rhythm, this will be easy for you. However, if you don’t have any, don’t worry. I have a fool proof way anyone could come up with something like this.

Here is another talented example:

So how do you get started? Well, find some things around the house, garage, or closet and see what you can find that could become a percussion instrument. In the following weeks, I will show you how to use them.

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Creative Genius Monday – Develop Your Character

I almost didn’t get this posted! I have  some cool ideas I wanted to implement at the beginning of the new year but disease has hit our household. I have been out since Christmas! Hope all is well with all of you. In this post, we have another creative prompt. I also review the last prompt about paperclips.  So here goes:

Use Your Creative Genius and Pick Your Character

Develop a character profile/narrative (Back story, environment, abilities, etc) based on one of these character names:

  • Jugglesthorn
  • Grimmfoot
  • Walbox

character narrative

Be inspired by these names, close your eyes, picture your character and begin to write. This is truly a creative writing prompt. This is a great exercise for students and adults alike to get the creative juices flowing around in the brain. Continue reading

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post – a.k.a. The Power of Gratitude

[I haven’t been blogging a year yet but I figure the day before Thanksgiving I should probably dust myself off and write my first holiday inspired post.] It seems that science is catching up with religion. There are happiness gurus (positive psychology) like Shawn Achor (saw him on a Ted Talk) and others that study the psychology of happiness and have amazing things to tell us. However, they are some millnneia behind the major religions of the world, especially Christianity. So its official, 5 out of 5 scientists and religious leaders agree (can agreement really happen between those two?!?) that gratitude is a key to happiness. It is interesting that they both don’t say the same thing but rather compliment each other. The Bible tells you what to do and how to do it. The scientists tell you the results and why you’ll be glad you did it.

Tara is a student of mine (I Dragneted her name) that has seen leaps and bounds in term of her performance. She came as a very shy and timid person and she is still that way. She is very quiet and thoughtful in her lessons and after each lesson she is instructed by her parents to thank me for her lesson. This is new to me and it made me reflect on current and past students. Those who quit, those who burn out and cop attitudes of apathy or even arrogance, lack or slowly lose their gratitude. It took me some time to see it but it is a common denominator among them. Perhaps not the only one but a significant one.

Think about it. We see this in our daily lives and especially around this time of year. Black Friday….


I can’t remember when Black Friday became a “thing” but I am pretty sure its been sometime in the past 30 years. We didn’t always have it. We use to stay at home with our families, play outside, watch football, and eat leftovers. Now, however, we wait in line on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday Eve for stores to open at ridiculous hours to sell us junk we don’t really need so we can get a bargain to sooth our greed. Sure you can get stuff at really good deals but don’t you feel like a slave? Don’t you feel like you’re worshiping consumerism and materialism by bowing to the schedule of the retailer?

I have heard tale of stores now opening this year on Thanksgiving to get an earlier jump on Black Friday. This makes me sick. The mob, the majority have made black Friday what it is, a blatant and unapologetic support of obtaining stuff. I bet if you had to work on Thanksgiving you’d raise a little ruckus and fuss, no? Then why go to a retail store, buy their junk, and support them being open on Thanksgiving (or Black Friday for that matter)?


When I was young growing up in the Midwest, we couldn’t even think about shopping or eating out on Sundays because EVERYTHING was closed. Sound foreign? It happened less than 30 years ago. Forget about holidays and black Friday. It was unheard of.

As for me and my house, we are getting back to gratitude. In support of our initiative, we will not be participating in any shopping this holiday weekend. I would rather my family find gratitude with one another, for the needs provided, and for the extra “stuff” they already have. Oooooh….there is a really good sale going on at Cabela’s where I could finally get…NO! Sorry, that was a relapse. I think I did Black Friday once of twice in my life and it just gets into your system.

So back to Tara. I have no solid evidence, as my longitudinal study needs more time, but I am very sure that her attitude of gratitude has led to many musical successes in her short time learning from me. She may be shy and timid but she consistently has some of the best performances every recital. She enjoys playing piano. I think enjoyment and gratitude feed off of each other in a never ending positive psychological cycle. So get hooked on it. And for only $19.99, you can be part of our Attitude with Gratitude sys…..SORRY! It creeps up out of nowhere.

So I guess you could say that gratitude is my 2nd ingredient to academic excellence and life success. Joy and gratitude. How do you incorporate gratitude in your life, education, or homeschool?


[for a bigger rant on Black Friday from a different blogger…click here…fun stuff]

Be Radical in Your Learning



Meet Sergio and Paloma. Sergio is a teacher in northern Mexico right up against the border. Paloma joined his class when he decided things needed to change and apparently the students of his class became amazing thinkers and learners after his changes. But what did he do?

I received a Facebook notification from my mom-in-law alerting me to an article in which the headline reads: How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

So without hesitation I opened my browser and read the contents. Even though the writer proposes that he has discovered a trend in education that is radical and may make you a genius, it seems that education, research, psychology, and technology are finally catching up to a form of unschooling.  Sergio didn’t completely convert to the unschooling school of thinking (is that sacrilege?) but used a lot of principles of allowing kids natural curiosity and motivation to guide their learning.

I like divergent methods of education. This article describes several places in the world where self-taught, self-motivated, and self-structured education is occurring and the amazing results. Some of it is unschooling with a high degree of technology involved (internet). However, this method is not limited to technology because it is being implemented in some of the poorest communities in the world with great success.

Now I will admit, I am not completely comfortable with unschooling because I think kids are like electricity or water: they will follow the path of least resistance. Therefore, if they don’t have to study it or if it is too hard, they will forget it. So I think some structure is good but perhaps structuring learning with greater input from the learner will have greater affect on their learning. The article then continues to talk about major players around the world using and testing this method of education.

I took two things away from the article:

1. Freedom and creativity at a young age inspires and leads to genius thinking (read the story of Einstein and Google execs in the article)

2. Greater learning occurs when the learner has the most control.

I learned a method to implement #2 which I will talk about in my next post


What do you think of the article?

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

Social Media Trend That Can Be Used in Education

There is a  trend in social media that is gaining ground. This trend lends itself to disseminating a ton of information in a short amount of time. (hence its popularity on social media platforms) The good news is that you can use this same idea in your education/homeschool with very little work because I am going to provide some templates for you that were provided to me through another company. There is no fear of copyright infringement as these were given away to anyone as a marketing device. So without further ado, here they are:

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One Major Skill Missing From Today’s Youth

For those of you that may not know, I teach music as a profession. I have taught anything from high school bands to elementary choirs. I  even taught a very cool Junkyard Taiko percussion group at a middle school in Buena Park, CA. My current venture in teaching music has led me to owning my own studio where I mostly teach piano and a few band instruments like flute and trombone. Through my public school and private studio experiences, I have noticed something about today’s youth (most of them). They are missing a key ingredient that can help ensure successful learning in both their personal lives and in vocational pursuits.

I have a piano student, let’s call her Stephanie. We start out Stephanie’s lesson with a piano technique book called Dozen a Day. I ask her to play song #3 on the page and she does so but not without some trouble. So to ascertain what her problems might be, I ask her to play it again but this time only to play the first two measure where I suspect she is missing some understanding. She then commences to play the entire song. I ask her to start again but this time to play just the first measure of the 4 measure technique. She plays up to the middle of measure 3. Whhhaaaaaaaaa? Inside my imagination, I am the helpless conversational companion of Ted Striker just trying to find a way out of this horrible situation

Ted Striker reminisces about a love lost.

Ted Striker reminisces about a love lost.

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Secret Traveler Destination #2

For Your Eyes Only:

Dear Agent~

Hopefully you’ve had a few days rest because we are going to ask a lot from you. Your current car won’t cut it where we are sending you. Ditch it and get yourself an off-road vehicle or you can keep your car and take 37 most of the way to your destination. Either way, you are eventually going to go on rough roads.

Destination #2-1 Continue reading