“Can You Feel the Rhythm in your Feet?” Friday

I registered the 200th person for RhyPiBoMo today!

Whoo Hoo and Confetti throwing!

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Thank you to everyone who is participating!

Thanks for helping to make this an April to remember! = )

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Today Someone asked a great question in our Facebook Group…

“If I’m getting started late, where do I find all the previous lessons?”

First, it will be helpful to have this daily guest blogger

calendar and lesson schedule…

RhyPiBoMo Calendar updated

This will help you know what you’ve missed and what’s to come!

Each daily lesson is under the guest blogger post for that day.

If you scroll to the bottom of any post, you will find the archives link. You can also find a specific blog post by typing the date of the blog  – comma- guest blogger’s name in the search field, in the upper right corner.

This should bring up any blog post you might be looking for.

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Another good question was concerning the Golden Quill Poetry Contest…

Only RhyPiBoMo participants are able to enter this contest.

I mentioned several dates in yesterdays blog post which may have been confusing…

First, you MUST be registered, which means you must register for RhyPiBoMo by April 16th to qualify as a registered participant.

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The deadline for poetry contest entries is April 26th at Midnight Central Time. You enter the contest by clicking the tab above and following all the directions. Please add your poem in the body of the email as this saves me so much time when gathering the poems for judging.

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midwest logo

I was fortunate to attend a conference session taught by today’s guest blogger, last spring at the Wild, Wild Mid-West Conference. This was a combination of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois SCBWI groups coming together…It was a Wild, Wonderful Weekend! Ironically, Liz was teaching a session called “The Watering Trough: Writing Rhyme Editors Thirst For…I listened intently as she spoke about many of the things we are talking about here!

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So, without further ado, I’m honored to present today’s

Golden Quill Guest Blogger

Liz Garton Scanlon

 

            Rhypibomo Guest Blogger Badge      Liz Garton Scanlon 1

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Writing picture books is like being a grown up. At first, when we get started, we think we know everything. And then, as we carry on for a bit, we realize we know pretty much nothing at all. Which I guess means that I have very little to offer you, now that I have a few books under my belt and have been grown up for quite some time. But, here’s what I do have: Lessons learned, from back when I knew everything.

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Lesson #1. Leave The Jazz to the Horn Players:
So I’d written and sold my first picture book – A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes – and I was feeling good! I tore open the envelope from my editor because, really, what could it possibly contain besides praise, congratulations and some chocolate? Well. Quite a lot, it turns out. Corrections and opinions and strongly worded suggestions, for example. And no chocolate.

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Liz book 1

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First and foremost, I was asked to even out the meter and syllabics of the piece. I was appalled. “The variety,” I told her when we spoke, “is supposed to read like jazz.” (You guys. I seriously said that. Ego much?)
“No, no, no,” said my editor. “No jazz.”

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No jazz

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And here’s why. When we are teaching children about music – how to listen to it and appreciate it and eventually play it, we don’t start with jazz. We start with rhythm sticks. And repetition. Clapping. And choruses. That’s how we open up those neural pathways and turn on those synapses and create a brain capable of loving jazz. Wow, right? Since then I’ve left the jazz to the horn players, because opening up neural pathways and turning on synapses is plenty big work enough for me.

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Lesson #2. Practice Detachment:
Y’know that “Kill Your Darlings” lesson you get in writing workshops and craft books? The one about deleting writing that you love if it doesn’t work for the piece as a whole? Well, take a double dose of that today. Because here’s what happens when you’re writing in rhyme: Your brain casts about for words that sound right, without caring if they make sense, or move the story forward, or feel organic, meaningful or true. Your brain just doesn’t care. But I’m here to tell you that your editor will feel differently.

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I’ll admit that I’ve argued for a few beautifully written but woefully inadequate stanzas in my day, and thank goodness I didn’t win those fights. Because what we really want is not just perfect rhyme, but perfect rhyme doing the job it’s meant to do. Perfect rhyme painting the perfect picture or plucking the perfect heartstring or telling the perfect story. These days I care more about loving the final product – the book – than loving each and every couplet or quatrain I write – and may cut — along the way.

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Heartstrings

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Lesson #3: Play the Fool
When you read your rhyme out loud, it gets better. Who cares what your cats, dogs or human housemates think? Read it aloud again and again and listen for places where it stumbles and sinks, and for places where it sings.
And when other people read your rhyme out loud – to you – it gets better. Who cares if it’s not your best work, if it’s not finished, if it’s not perfect? Have someone unfamiliar with the piece read it to you, and listen with honest ears, willing ears and humility.

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Honesty, willingness and humility aren’t exactly watchwords when you already know everything, but now that I know not much of all, well…. lesson learned.
Good luck, poets. Write on.

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Bio:

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Kady McDonald Denton; Happy Birthday, Bunny, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin; and several others, most of which are in rhyme. Upcoming books include In the Canyon, a picture book celebrating the wonder of the Grand Canyon, and her first novel for young readers, The Great Good Summer, due in 2015. Ms. Scanlon is also a poet, a teacher and a frequent & popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences. To learn more, visit her web site at http://www.LizGartonScanlon.com

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A Sock is a Pocket for your Toes is a “spur to imaginative thinking.” — School Library Journal

All the World
All the World is “an invigorating love song to nature, families and interconnectedness.” — Kirkus, starred review

Noodle and Lou
Noodle & Lou offers “unfaltering rhyme and a gentle humor.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Think Big
Think Big is “turbocharged because of flawless scansion and exuberance.” — Kirkus

Happy Birthday Bunny
Happy Birthday, Bunny is “as memorable and heartfelt as a birthday book gets!” — Publisher’s Weekly, starred review

The Good Pie Party
The Good-Pie Party is “a must for every child who has to move away.” — Kirkus

Thank you Liz Garton Scanlon!

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RhyPiBoMo Daily Lesson: Friday, April 11th
By Angie Karcher © 2014
Lesson 13

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I must preface this by saying that this was by far the most fun lesson to write! I hope you enjoy and are dancing in the street when you finish!

Rhythm

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Rhythm in poetry is made up of the continual tonal rise and fall of speech, by intentionally writing the words in such a way that the inflections will fall at certain points to make a pattern.(write this down)

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“Rhythm (or “measure”) in writing is like the beat in music. In poetry, rhythm implies that certain words are produced more force- fully than others, and may be held for longer duration. The repetition of a pattern of such emphasis is what produces a “rhythmic effect.” The word rhythm comes from the Greek, meaning “measured motion.”(write this down)

http://www.angelfire.com/ct2/evenski/poetry/rhythm.html

Inflection – is when one syllable in a word is given emphasis when read out loud. Inflection is the key to finding your rhythm when reading orally.(write this down)

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Is this you?

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As I start off today’s lesson, I am drawn back to a quote I found and saved weeks ago by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallan. It was from a post on the Writer’s Rhumpus Blog from September 13, 2012.

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“One thing I will say about writing in rhyme is that you either hear the rhyme and the rhythm, or you don’t. When I do workshops on writing picture books in rhyme that is the very first thing I tell people. I can teach someone all the basics of rhyme, I can teach them how to read meter, I can teach them what iambic pentameter is, and so on. I can teach them all of those fundamentals but what I cannot teach is that innate ability to feel the rhythm and rhyme when it works. But just because you don’t hear the rhythm of the words doesn’t mean you can’t write picture books — so many wonderful picture books are written in prose. No one should feel like rhyme is essential for telling a picture book story — it’s just one way to do it. Each author needs to find his/her own story and his/her her own path.”

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http://writersrumpus.com/2013/09/13/interview-with-sudipta-bardhan-quallen-picture-book-author-and-presenter/

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Rhythm is one of those things you are either born with or you aren’t.

Do you feel the rhythm in this song even if you don’t speak the language?

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I can’t sit still when I listen to that song! Honestly! I want to grab a Solo Cup and join in!

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I have a musical background which I know helps me find the beat, the locomotion of the sound, as it break dances across the page. I can’t sit still when I hear music with a deep base sound reverberating from the speakers. Here is a test…If you listen to this song and can’t sit still, then you have it too.  Rhythm, I mean!

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Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel

 

 

 

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How did it make you feel? If you are dancing in your seat, snapping your fingers, and reliving the 80’s right now…then you may have it! Rhythm, I mean!

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Now for an Island sound…

Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville has a constant beat…1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4

 

 

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Snap your fingers on beats 2 and 4 and you will find the rhythm.

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Rhythm is internal, it’s in your genes as is your ability to sing, dance, paint, draw and write.

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So what if you weren’t moved by Michael Jackson’s or Jimmy Buffet’s songs?

Is there still hope?

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I think so but it’s going to take a lot of work. You must find your inner beat box, the part of your brain where your ears take over your entire body and you can’t, NOT move with the sound or rhythm. I don’t use a double negative lightly so this is the thing…it really is something that is involuntary! You have to snap, clap, move, sway, tap your foot, or stomp your feet!

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Do you need to have rhythm to write poetry/rhyming picture books?

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Yes.

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Which image best describes your sense of rhythm?

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Rhythm image 1          OR       Rhythm image 2

Do you hear a pattern or repeating sound? Or, are you all over the place?

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Hopefully, you chose the image on the left!

Luckily, on the internet there is a site to help us improve our sense of rhythm…LOL

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How to Improve a Sense of Rhythm (too funny)
http://www.ehow.com/how_2191324_improve-sense-rhythm.html

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If it helps, writers are not the only ones worried about lack of rhythm! In my research I found that many others are desperately worried and trying to find the cure for this problem.

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Those looking for Rhythm include:
Dancers

Musicians

Marching Band Leaders

Music Therapists helping special needs children find rhythm to calm them

Couples ready to wed worried about their first dance

Elementary Music Teachers

Couples in the bedroom (I kid you not)

Parents worried that their kids don’t have it

Writers/Poets

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It seems the number one suggestion in finding your rhythm…listen to lots and lots and lots of music!

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Listen to lots of different types of music with various beats…orchestral, big band, pop, country, classical, island, rap, salsa and hip hop. Listen for the most prominent beat and find the pattern of the sound. Listen mostly to the percussion and deep bass sounds. Listen over and over until haring the rhythm becomes second nature to you.

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Now…Do you have the rhythm Blues? Well let’s find your rhythm with Johnny Cash’s song Get Rhythm!

 

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If scansion was extremely challenging to you on Tuesday, you may need a few lessons in rhythm. Here are some poetry readings that you can listen to as well…

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Poetry Outloud
http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems-and-performance/listen-to-poetry

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Classic Poetry Aloud
http://classicpoetryaloud.podomatic.com/

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Poets.org Poetry Readings National Calendar
http://www.poets.org/calendar.php

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Poetry Slam – Nate Marshall’s winning piece from Louder Than a Bomb 2008 in Chicago titled LOOK (Nate is one of my favorite Poetry Slam artists! So talented!)

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The only way you will improve your rhythm is to train your ears and your listening skills!
Practice! Practice! Practice!

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This might need to be the first step of writing poetry
IF you are rhythmically challenged!

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Listening Prompt: Listen to a variety of music and see if you can clap, snap and dance with the rhythm. Decide for yourself if you have rhythm.

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There has been a dance party in my office tonight as I write this lesson.

I hope this is as much fun to read as it was to write!

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It’s 2:00 a.m. and my husband just came and shut my office door!

But, the rhythm must go on!

Click the link to see her dance with rhythm!

Dancing girl in purple

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Okay, now do everything else on the pledge for today and don’t forget to comment on today’s blog post!
RhyPiBoMo Pledge
RhyPiBoMo PledgeRhyPiBoMo Pledge
Please comment ONLY ONE TIME below for a chance to win today’s prize!
Prizes will be drawn by Random.com next Sunday for the previous week.
To be eligible for a prize you must be a registered participant and
comment after each days lessons.

74 thoughts on ““Can You Feel the Rhythm in your Feet?” Friday

  1. Liz Garton’s post really struck a chord. Her “Lesson #2” is something I’ve been trying to work on. I’m not enthused about going “Halloween” on my work, but I am okay with cutting things if the recommendation isn’t flippant. If it doesn’t seem like someone understands the story then I feel like his or her suggestion to cut or change words that affect the story doesn’t carry much weight. (It’s like adding salt to ice-cream because you like salt on your food; unless you know what should be there, how can you say something does or doesn’t belong?)
    Angie, have you seen “Cats Don’t Dance”? There is a fun song about rhythm in it called “I Got Rhythm” The animators also used color to help show how rhythm adds to a person. Here’s a link if you want to check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYnL31khD6g

  2. Ahh, nice to read this at midnight and know that I already accomplished my “listening prompt”, after teaching dance classes all day!🙂

  3. Thanks Liz for a super book (All the World) and a great post! Thanks Angie for a toe-tapping start to my day. I danced(in my car) all the way to school!

  4. I need to work on this in my writing, Angie. Thanks for all you do. And I need to get my hands on some of Liz’s books–they look amazing!

  5. Enjoyed your post about today. The songs, and poems because I do listen to the radio to get a better sense of rhythm too!

  6. Anything with Michael Jackson in it always gets my COMPLETE attention! (MJ lover for life)

    Learning to write poetry that capture rhythm the way music does is a skill I am really working on. I know in many of these posts, poetry and music are connected, and I believe that’s true. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a father who blasted jazz often, a mother who could never get enough R&B (mainly Anita Baker) and two musical prodigy cousins who played several instruments. My family and I were always at their concerts being moved by their music. I think, due to me being surrounded by music as well as poetry my parents read to me, that I am lucky now to have rhythm in me. I am pretty quick to pick up on rhythm, and I certainly think that pays off as I write poetry.

  7. “Writing picture books is like being a grown up. At first, when we get started, we think we know everything. And then, as we carry on for a bit, we realize we know pretty much nothing at all.”
    This rang so true for me!!!
    Another great post!
    I’m just love hearing from such a talented group🙂

  8. Sitting at my desk at work as I eat lunch and get caught back up on the lessons. I prefer to work in silence. Why? Because music isn’t background music for me. Music fills my being, takes over my body and I don’t get any work done.

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