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Guest Blog by Emily Murer: 10 songs about summer the whole family can enjoy


2013-01-26 Murerby guest blogger, Emily Murer, MS, MT-BC
Neurologic Music Therapist

For me, summer as a child meant trips to the Oregon coast, Highland dance competitions, and music festivals – all of which required many hours sitting in the backseat with my big sister, which of course meant some great music on the tape player so we were too busy singing to argue. My parents have always had eclectic taste; now, as a parent myself, I sometimes find it difficult to expose my son to music I love from a variety of genres without also having him hear lyrics that are not necessarily age appropriate. If you have the same issue, this list is for you! I’ve rounded up ten of my favorite family-friendly songs about summer, listed in order of composition/release date and accompanied by some fun summer activities for you and your child to enjoy.

  1.  Summer from The Four Seasons was composed by Antonio Vivaldi in 1723. The Four Seasons is probably one of the best-known works of classical music. Summer, with its alternating tempos and dynamics, is great for inspiring creative movement in young children, especially when they’re provided with a scarf or streamers to use.
  2.  In the Good Old Summertime is a classic American song written in 1902. You don’t need your “tootsie-wootsie” to take a stroll around the neighborhood, the local park, or down by a river with your child. My favorite lyrics: You hold her hand and she holds yours / And that’s a very good sign / That she’s your tootsie-wootsie in / The good old summertime
  3.  Summertime, from the musical Porgy & Bess, is one of my all time favorite jazz songs and dates from 1959. This version, featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, makes me think of hot, humid summer mornings. You can find several picture books using the lyrics from this song at your local library or bookstore to read along with. My favorite lyrics: One of these mornings / You’re going to rise up singing / Then you’ll spread your wings / And you’ll take to the sky
  4.  Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, written in 1963, is sung here by Nat King Cole. I love the set on this video. It inspires me to have a mocktail party with my family, relaxing on the patio, sipping flavored seltzer and fizzy ginger ale through decorative straws. My favorite lyrics: You’ll wish that summer could always be here
  5. A Summer Song was released by Chad & Jeremy in 1965. Into every summer a little rain must fall – especially when you live in Oregon! You can still have fun inside with a spirited game of balloon badminton. All you need is a balloon (filled with air, not helium), two paper plates to use as paddles, and a room without too many breakables. My favorite lyrics: And when the rain / Beats against my window pane / I’ll think of summer days again / And dream of you
  6. Summer in the City was released by  The Lovin’ Spoonful in 1966 and has a bit of a harder edge than the other songs on this list. Try creating a paint chip cityscape with your child, like the one found here on Library Arts []. My favorite lyrics: But at night it’s a different world / Go out and find a girl / Come on, come on let’s dance all night / Despite the heat it will be alright
  7. Summer Breeze was released by Seals & Crofts in 1972. Listening to it, I can feel a warm breeze swirling around my elbows and knees, freed from the pants and sweaters of winter. What better way to celebrate summer than to break out the sprinkler and get those arms & legs wet? My favorite lyrics: And I come home from a hard day’s work / And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
  8.  Summer was released by War in 1976. Take a make-believe vacation to the distant land of your child’s choice. Do some research together and see how many things from that culture you can incorporate into your home for a day (examples: food, clothing, games, etc.). My favorite lyrics: When you feel those balmy breezes on your face / Summer time is the best time any place
  9.  Summer of ’69 was originally released by Bryan Adams in 1985 and tugs at the heartstrings of many parents. Why not share some stories of your favorite summer memories with your child? My favorite lyrics: And now the times are changin’ / Look at everything that’s come and gone / Sometimes when I play that old six-string / I think about you, wonder what went wrong
  10. Sunny Daze is a swing song released by Flower Fairy & Dub FX in 2011. I love a British accent and I love a modern song with a classic sound to it. See if you and your child can identify the simple piano melody sampled in this song.  My favorite lyrics: It’s enchanting / How our lives can be / So wonderful on a hot summer’s afternoon

547113_10100431245846973_1206267672_nEmily Murer is the owner of Heart & Soles Dance Instruction & Music Therapy Services and Creative Clinical Support Services. She is a Master’s level board-certified music therapist with additional training in neurologic music therapy. Not only is she incredibly creative and talented, but she is also a good friend. Thank you for the guest blog, Emily!

music therapy

Guest Blog by Emily Murer: 10 Ways to Improve Your Health Through Music

10 Ways to improve your health through music
2013-01-26 Murer
by Emily Murer, MS, MT-BC    neurologic music therapist

1. Name That Tune
This fun game can be played with 2 or more  people. You can use a piano, guitar, CDs/CD player, or even your own voice! One person hums/plays a song and the other person (or people) try to guess what it is. Make sure to sing the whole song after you figure out what it is for extra neural benefits!

2. Sweat to the Beat
Think exercise has to be boring? No way! Even the most tedious exercises are much more fun when you set them to music—plus, your brain will entrain to the rhythm, pushing your heart and muscles to work at a faster pace. Smart move!


3. Learn to Play an Instrument
Have you heard the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?
Well, good news: the same does NOT apply to humans! Recent studies suggest the human brain is capable of learning “new tricks” well into older adulthood. In fact, taking on a challenge like learning to play an instrument will help keep your brain healthy, enhancing parts of the brain controlling memory, auditory processing, and motor skills. You may not make it to Carnegie Hall, but you will certainly enjoy neural benefits.

4. Already Play an Instrument? Keep Practicing! Research suggests that musicians benefit from their studies with an increased memory capacity, enhanced coordinator, better mathematical abilities, improved reading and comprehension skills sharpened concentration, reduced stress, a healthy respiratory system, and superior visual-spatial skills. But guess what? Like so many other things in life, if you don’t use it, you lose it! So keep practicing your accordion (if that’s your thing) to keep your mind sharp and healthy.

5. Sing a Song
You don’t have to be Pavarotti to enjoy the physical benefits of singing. Studies have linked singing with a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and reduced stress. Regular singing also improves the quality and volume of the speaking voice for persons with neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. So the next time you feel like breaking into song, do it!

6. Join a Choir
The physical benefits of singing are enhanced by the social and emotional benefits of joining a group of like-minded people when you join a choir. Several choirs in the Portland/Vancouver area are geared specifically towards persons with Parkinson’s disease or person’s with early stage Alzheimer’s and associated dementia. Don’t want to travel? Start a group at your home!

7. Practice Active Listening
The neural benefits of listening to music are multiplied when you get your other senses involved! Try looking at photos related to the music, moving a scarf in time to the music, or smelling a favorite perfume as you listen. If you don’t have anything readily available, you can always engage your brain by clapping, singing, or moving along with the music.


8. Relive Happy Times
Sit down with a friend and listen to some of your favorite music together. Relax and share stories about the memories you have related to this music. Reminiscence not only builds friendships, but also stimulates the hippocampus, the part of your brain which handles long-term storage (not to mention the stress-busting hormones that will be released when you share a happy memory)!

9. Twist & Shout
Research suggests that active listening with upbeat dance music increases the levels of antibodies in your body, so put on your blue suede shoes, crank up that music, and boogie your way to a stronger immune system!

10. Feeling Anxious? Hum
Humming a catchy, upbeat tune engages your prefrontal cortex, a part of your brain involved in anxiety. If your brain is distracted by your humming, it doesn’t have a chance to make you worry!

547113_10100431245846973_1206267672_nEmily Murer is the owner of Heart & Soles Dance Instruction & Music Therapy Services and Creative Clinical Support Services. She is a Master’s level board-certified music therapist with additional training in neurologic music therapy. Not only is she incredibly creative and talented, but she is also a good friend. Thank you for the guest blog, Emily!