Tag Archives: parenting strategies

The Local Pied Piper: Sally Thornton of Hillsboro Music Together

I’ve gotten a lot of emails lately asking if I will endorse things (aka will you write about our product for free, please?). Silly Internet people! My blog is for stuff that I just love because I love it, or because something cool happened. And also stuff that I have to write about because it won’t stay inside me.

Anyhow, that brings me to Sally Thornton. I know her and love her. And she runs Allegro Music Together in Hillsboro, Oregon (which offers classes for children and parents together).

Allegro Music Together Sally Thornton. MomsicleBlog

Sally is like the Pied Piper of Hamlin with a guitar and little egg maracas. She gets children to sing and dance and clean things up and she has great advice for parents.

The first time we met Sally she bent down to K-Pants and talked directly to him. Not many adults do that. Mostly they stay at adult-level and look down.

Since Sally is a mother, and grandmother, and speaks the magic language of children, I asked her a few questions that I thought could help me out with my own parenting. Here she is.

Parenting Advice and Musical Thoughts from Sally Thornton of allegro music together

Sally Thornton Hillsboro Music Together. MomsicleBlog

Me: K-Pants is very sensitive and has lots of trouble transitioning to new activities without a melt down. What tips can you share?

Sally: Create a gentle, fun ritual to use consistently with transitions. In class, as we return instruments to the basket, we sing “bye bye bells”  (or sticks, shakers, drums, scarves…) on the same two pitches.

  • For daily transitions, pick a favorite song tune, and adapt it to activities like washing hands, getting shoes or coats on, going in the car, etc.
  • For nap and bedtime transitions, a powerful ritual is a lovely, soothing lullaby– holding your child, gently rocking–“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” is perfect. Next time through, instead of the words, sing, “Loo, loo, loo, loo.” Try the same thing with the ABC song and “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”  And then back to Twinkle. Keep singing when the child is in bed, rubbing his/her back, etc. Children love repetition, and you may find as the lullaby goes on (and on) the calming effect is magical!

Me: Any ideas on how music can help build sibling relationships?

Sally: Making music together in song, movement, and instruments as a shared experience enhances bonds. Many song activities transfer to play at home: Chugging around the room like trains (with egg shakers!), playing with cars after singing “Ridin’ in the Car,” pulling out pots and pans for their own instrument “jams.”  Many songs encourage dramatic play that transfers to stuffed animals, blocks, or outside play. Sharing a lullaby with Mom or Dad also supports sibling bonds.

Me: As a mother and grandmother, what’s your best advice for those of us in the trenches?

Sally: My musical passion aside, I would say keep it simple. We live in a noisy, complex world.  Many things, activities, motives beckon us. I believe less is more. In simplicity we have room to breathe, time to savor. In busy-ness there is constant transition. Which brings us back to the first question, the importance of transition, and how we do this.

Me: What should I do when my son says, “Stop singing, Mommy!”

Sally: Remaining playful, without missing a beat, I would stay in the music and just move to it or keep shaking the eggs….

I would also reflect on what that request means.  Is my singing interfering with his/her engagement with the music?  Is it a power thing (then don’t make an issue of it).  Stay in the music. 🙂

Me: What is your very favorite musical activity to do with kids?

Sally: Do I have to pick one?  In each class we do finger play, chant, songs, large movement, instrument play, dance and lullaby…. I’d have to say I love it all.  It’s about the magic–how music touches each person, ages zero to one hundred, emotionally, cognitively, physically, relationally, and socially.

Sally is like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. She has a way of entrancing the kids with wonderful music and movement. Kids love the rhythm, dynamics, and all the instruments. Sally always has wonderful parenting ideas, as well. I love it that as a parent I always learn something from her, too.


If you have young children in the Hillsboro, Beaverton, or west Portland area, I would encourage you to check out Allegro Music Together, stop in for a free class, or contact Sally at allegromusictogether@hotmail.com.

If you have other questions you’d like her to answer, leave a comment!

The Day I Smashed The Fire Alarm to Bits

I’m trying to start a trend in my house. It’s the mommy-doesn’t-yell-or-lose-it-today trend.

Each day I wake up and think, Today could be the day.

Right now I’m feeling like today could really be the day.

Before kids I would not have thought this would be so hard: A simple adherence to my straightforward and compassionate parenting theories would protect me from all but the occasional F-bomb or mommy-tantrum.

But raising little people is a constant pressure cooker.

I few Thursdays ago I was steaming some dumplings in an effort to feed the troops, when K-Pants yelled from the living room, “Mom, I’m peeing!” Peeing in the living room is never a good thing, but suddenly the smoke alarm in the kitchen went off because the dumpling pan had run out of water and was smoking.

Sidenote: I think that made these smoked dumplings, which would be my entry in the Top Chef quick fire I’m executing in my mind.

Both kids understandably freaked out at the fire alarm.

So I went into action: I threw the pan off the heat, opened the windows, and moved to the alarm.

The damn thing wouldn’t shut off. I pushed the hush button a million times. I held it down. I glared angrily and swore.

Still nothing. A plan had to be hatched.

According to my parenting theories, I should have taken the kids to the front door, reminded them where we meet outside when the fire alarm goes off, told them it was safe, and then calmly taken out the battery on the alarm.

But I’m finding that parenting is a lot more about game-time decisions than executing the well-planned strategy.

So I ripped that mo-fo off the wall and hurled it as hard as I could at the floor.

Collateral damages. MomsicleBlog

You know that dream you have about ripping your alarm clock out of the socket and bashing it to bits? I did that with the smoke alarm.

Who’s shrieking now, mother f*cker!?!? That’s right! I OWN you! 

Luckily I only said that last part in my head.

When we talked to my husband on the phone a little while later, K-Pants ratted me out, of course.

  • K-Pants: “Daddy. Mommy broke the fire alarm.”
  • Hubby: “Well, we’ll put it back on the wall later.”
  • Me: “Um, I don’t think that will work this time….”