Austin – Live Music Capital Of The World

Austin is the capital of Texas and boasts many attractions, interesting places to visit and culture to view. It’s locals like to promote the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, but there is plenty of history and architecture in addition to the more modern music and media life that makes Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World”.

The traditional places to visit such as Bob Bullock State History Museum and The Texas State Capitol Complex are impressive buildings. The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is enormous and holds the original goddess of Liberty, not to mention a full sized windmill and a Texan Airplane from the 1940′s in addition to smaller displays and multimedia presentations. The Texas State Capitol complex is a true treasure of the state and is in fact larger and plusher than the original US Capitol buildings. It is a place that visitors must try to visit, if just to walk in the well kept and picturesque gardens.

Austin is a cosmopolitan city with plenty of modern architecture mixed with classic styles. Just to walk around some of the local streets and neighborhoods is enough for some visitors. You can visit the Pennybacker Bridge which is surrounded by urban picturesque scenes in all directions or take a stroll near the Congress Avenue Bridge around sunset which is the home to over 1.5 million Mexican free tailed bats. These bats live under the bridge for 8 months of the year and come out around sunset to look for insects to eat. It is quite a phenomenon to see the clouds of bats rising from the bridge during a warm summer evening. The bats migrate to Mexico for the winter.

Animals and nature are all part of Austin’s culture. In fact the Austin Zoo is known as a rescue zoo and sanctuary for over 300 animals that have been saved from the wild or extinction. The Barton Springs Pools and the Deep Eddy Pool are the largest and oldest man made pools in the country and are fed from water from the Barton Spring. The water temperature in the Barton Springs pool is always a constant 69 degrees and thought to be a very healthy place to swim and bathe in the grounds of the Zilker Park. Apart from these two famous pools there are many nature trails, parks and recreational facilities to visit and spend time while taking a break from the more upbeat sights and sounds of Austin.

The reason for Austin’s famous name as the “Live Music Capital of the World” is not just because of the hoards of graduates from the many music schools in the area but also the infamous 6th Street. 6Th Street is the home to a multitude of music venues and nightclubs housed in architecturally unique buildings. Strolling down 6th street by day is entertainment in itself to view the buildings and meet the cosmopolitan residents. All of these attractions and more can be seen from the comfort of the Dillo, an historic reproduction of the trolley cars that will take you downtown, to the capitol complex and around the University complex all for free. It is a perfect way to start your trip around Austin and decide which of the many attractions and places of interest that you want to see.

How Summer Music Camps Can Benefit Your Child

Summer music camps can provide a fun and nurturing environment for your child to learn or refine valuable music skills. There are a diverse number of fun and educational summer music camps available to help your child grow as a musician. They offer your child with the nurturing environment needed to develop life long music and songwriting skills.

Attending summer music camps can provide children the opportunity to spend time focusing solely on developing their musical skills without additional obligations such as a busy school schedule. This atmosphere enables children to fully absorb, process, and react to music which enables them to grow as musicians.

Music camps are typically run for one to two weeks. They generally involve a strategic combination of private lessons, ensemble work and classes with leading teachers, conductors and performers. While select camps focus on musical performance, most allow time for children to experience a variety of interests. Physical activities such as canoeing, hiking, and swimming make summer music camps an enjoyable experience for attendees. This type of mix gives your child the opportunity to develop new interests while enhancing their natural musical abilities.

Along with physical activities, summer music camps give students the opportunity to socialize and make new friends that share their love of music. Children are able engage with their peers in a safe environment. Additionally, it can be a place for kids to learn to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Friendships developed in camp often last a lifetime.

Summer music camps are available for children as young as 2 years old. Many have Early Childhood Music programs for toddlers up to 5 years old. It’s important to note that camps with private music lessons are typically not recommended for children under 5 years old, as they are less interested in refining their skills and more focused on enjoyment of music. Kids who have a difficult time sitting still or remaining focused for lengthy amounts of time might need to wait until they are 7 or 8 years old so that they can reap the full benefits of the camp.

If you have a child who is interested in further developing their musical skills and celebrating their love of music, then summer music camps might be just the place. They will supply your child with an environment where he or she can develop character, make new friends and discover additional interests.

Back to School Strategies to Make a Smooth Transition

After a summer of freedom and lax rules (and occasional boredom), kids often have mixed feelings about going back to school.  Younger students may be longing for the active busy-ness  of school.  Middle-schoolers may be anxious to get back with their friends and social events.  And, high school students are a mixed bag–some will be ready to put-nose-to-grindstone; others may dreading another year of drudgery and disappointment.

 Following are some tips to help smooth the transition from summer to school.  All of them apply for all age groups, but you may want to modify the specifics for your child.

1) For a Good Morning start, get a good night’s rest–plan on a routine time to be in bed.  Establish regular bedtime habits that relax and slow your child down so he/she is ready to go to sleep.  Younger kids should go to bed earlier than teenagers.  But teenagers often find their biological rhythms are out-a-whack.  It may be too much to try to force a teen to go to sleep at a particular time, but you can enforce a no-TV rule and a phone curfew.  Quiet reading in the evening can help your teen get into a habit of earlier to bed.  FYI, most teenagers need more sleep than you’d think–and with high school starting early and homework keeping ‘em up, they don’t always get the sleep they need.  Do your best.

2) Prepare the night before school so morning isn’t a rush–set out school clothes, prepare lunch boxes, collect school items and put them where they’ll be all together and easy to find.  All kids, even teenagers need guidance to be organized.  When morning time is a rush and crush, things get forgotten and the family mood can get testy.  So, perhaps part of quiet time can include preparing for the next day.  It’s also helpful if there is a shelf or table on which each kid’s stuff can be ready to grab so they can run without frantic drama. 

3) Eat a good breakfast. Kids can focus better if they aren’t hungry–so be sure they have time and the good foods are available.  If you can, avoid sugary cereals–or at least complement them with milk, yogurt (for protein).  Protein is digested slowly and the nutrition is time-released so kids are nourished all through the morning–ready to learn and be actively involved at school.  It also makes sense to give them a dollup of Vitamins and Minerals with a piece of fruit or glass of non-sugary real fruit juices.  If you can, make breakfast a sit-down event allowing enough time to avoid gulping or shoveling.  An anxious body won’t digest good foods as well and may actually make your student(s) physically uncomfortable. 

4) Be positive–expect your child to enjoy school, expect enthusiasm, and share your appreciation for their effort and successes.  Kids reflect what we think and say.  So, be sure you talk about your positive feelings and thoughts–about school, about education in general, and proclaim your confidence that your student will enjoy school and be successful.  Avoid phrases like: “I wasn’t good with math either”, “I always hated history class”, or “I can’t believe your teacher assigned THIS”!  Instead, demonstrate a positive attitude and keep your negative experiences or thoughts to yourself.

5) Talk together a language-rich environment is important for student success.  Ask questions; listen to your child’s ideas/thoughts; and share your positive experiences.  Dinner-time is a great opportunity to practice language and communication skills.  Turn off the TV, set the table together, sit down together and converse about your day, your child’s day and what he/she learned or experienced.  When your child says something you don’t understand, encourage him/her to explain it to you (without judgment or argument, of course).  The idea is to give your kids a positive environment to stretch their vocabulary muscles. 

6) Homework Hints–make sure your student has a quiet place so he/she can concentrate — or have “family quiet time” so everyone can read or do homework in a quiet environment.  When you demonstrate your commitment to your child’s learning process, he/she will develop respect and appreciation for learning as well. OK, maybe not right away.  But when the family rule is “quiet time between 7 and 8 PM” (for example), kids are more able to focus without media distraction.  Quiet background music can smooth the mood–but no TV, no Video Games, no talking on the phone.  For younger kids, quiet time is a good time to read to them or with them.