The Sticker Method: Creating a Habit of Practice

Available now from Etsy!

This fall I published my latest zine, The Sticker Method: Creating a Habit of Practice. This is a method for taking a lot of the stress that can come with being a learner/do-er out of our lives. I’ve developed the method over my lifetime as both a teacher and a student.

I am a user of The Sticker Method and one of my favorite aspects of it is that the method can be used for anything. If you’ve heard my music, seen my drawings, watched my skateboard videos, or if we’ve talked about developing a habit of going to the gym, then you’ve seen The Sticker Method in action.

What are you going to practice? I’d love to know. Drop me a note at

Amigos de Basketball en el Barrio – New Song

We can’t have camp this year because of the pandemic. So, Coach Denisse Franco and I wrote a little song to share with the campers. Today, in Segundo Barrio, El Paso TX, some of the coaches will be distributing care packages with books, sports equipment and a zine with this song. It’s called Amigos de Basketball en el Barrio.

Since 2016 I’ve been the music director at the best summer camp. It’s called Basketball in the Barrio and it is the most amazing sports, literacy, health and fitness, music, poetry, social justice, visual art camp you’ll ever experience.

I wrote the tune and made the zine. Coach Denisse wrote the lyrics. I think you’ll agree that they are very fitting for this challenging time in our society.

Here are the lyrics. Download a zine to help you learn the song here. A recording of me singing and playing the song is after the lyrics.

Pronto jugaremos, sí. Yo te cuido y tú a mí. – Coach Denisse

En Español

Escribiendo, saltando, comiendo,

Y canciones componiendo,

Disfruto lo que aprendí,

Todo lo que compartí.

Aunque no esté en Armijo,

Aún tengo a mis amigos,

Basketball en el Barrio,

Basketball en el Barrio.

Hasta volvernos a ver,

Cuídate y que estés bien,

Pronto jugaremos, sí,

Yo te cuido y tú a mí.

Aunque no esté en Armijo,

Aún tengo a mis amigos,

Basketball en el Barrio,

Basketball en el Barrio.

In English

Writing, jumping, eating – yum!

Making songs is so much fun,

I enjoy what I have learned,

All the moments that we shared.

Though I’m not in Armijo

I still have my amigos

Basketball in the Barrio

Basketball in the Barrio

Until we can meet again,

Hope you’re well, take care my friend,

Soon we’ll play, oh yes, indeed,

I’ll care for you as you for me

Though I’m not in Armijo

I still have my amigos

Basketball in the Barrio

Basketball in the Barrio

Why do you play video games? Why do you play music? Why make art?

Imaginary World Podcast is one of my very favorite podcasts.

This week’s episode, Fighting a Virtual Pandemic (embedded at the bottom), is all our actual pandemic as it relates to a video game called World of Warcraft.

I don’t really play video games, but I still find the episodes about video games so interesting.

There is a moment at about 17:80 when the interviewee, Virginia Wilkerson, talks about the different reasons people play video games. She says,

People live life for different reasons and people play video games for many different reasons. I’m sort of like a skill and achievement-based player. I want to be the best in my class that I can be. And then there are people who play purely for social reasons that aren’t interested in going to the high level raids and really maxing out their characters. And then you have a small subset of people who play just for the economics of the auction house in World of Warcraft. And then you have lots of people who play for the roll playing. Like it’s Dungeons and Dragons or something similar to that.

Here description of the 4 reasons people play video games caught my attention.

  1. Skill and Achievement
  2. Social
  3. Money
  4. Role Playing/Character (which I would call emotion)

I see those four facets in my own reasons for playing music. It made me pause and think about how I relate to those aspects of playing.

  • For skill and achievement, I do like to do my best, and be known as someone with a high level of skill. But, I don’t go out of my way to be the best player or something. I play to my abilities and standards, and I don’t worry about music else.
  • I do play music for the social interactions to be sure. I think that is why I excelled within a musical community like the Old Town School of Folk Music, which puts a high value on the social aspect of music.
  • I’ve built a career out of teaching music, so I can’t escape the financial aspect of it. Getting paid to make music allows me to make more music.
  • And, I do think that I have a character when I’m playing. I LOVE to be on stage and I love to put my limited acting range into the music I play. For me, this is where the emotion of my music comes out. I don’t have a character in the way that David Bowie or Bruce Springsteen have, but it’s there. It may be subtle, but know I’m a different person off stage than I am on.

If I had to put a number on these aspects of my interest in music it would be something like 30% skill, 30% social, 15% money, 25% character.

Those numbers are very different than my drawing work. That is more like 50% skill, 25% social, 5% money, 20% emotion.

What about you? Why do you do things like play music or video games? Or dance, draw, play sports, write poetry, ride a skateboard? I would be interested in knowing. I’ll leave the comments open. Thank you for sharing.

How I Learn Old Time Tunes – Learning to Play the Tune, Nancy, from a Recording by Jonas Friddle

For someone who is relatively new at playing music, learning a new tune, or a bunch of new tunes can be overwhelming.

Because of this, I thought I would share my process for learning tunes. Maybe you’ll find it helpful to see how I do it. In this video I learn the tune Nancy on my harmonica. I learn an arrangement from my good friend, Jonas Friddle. I highly recommend checking out more of his music at

Enter your email address here to receive a free .pdf that accompanies this video essay.

How to Find the Minor 2 (ii) Chord in a Major Scale – Video Lesson

During this challenging time of life I’ve been inspired by the Marquette Makers’ Project to keep busy with some creative work.

I’ve made a lot of lessons like this, but this is the first one where I used a virtual whiteboard and recorded my voice along with the drawings I made on the whiteboard.  It turned out pretty well and I learned a lot!

In the video I mention two songs that use the minor 2 chord.  Here are lyric and chord sheet for those to songs

Old Devil Time by Pete Seeger

Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen

Here is the weekly schedule for Marquette Makers’ Projects during the physical separation from our communities.  Cool stuff.  I’m excited to see what people are working on.

Recap: Family Harmonica at Winter Roots Festival

Wow! What great musicianship at the packed house for Family Harmonica Workshop at Saturday’s 2020 Winter Roots Folk Festival! Most of the attendees had never played the harmonica before and they plowed through ALL of my teaching material for the day. Three of the songs were the classics – Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Boil ’em Cabbage Down. The last was an original song by me called Juice Box (which you can learn to play here.) We even had some juice boxes at the end to celebrate our music.
Looking forward to another opportunity to play together!

Photos and video by Susan Rutter Divine, Katy Divine and Sue Demel.


Juice Box – A Harmonica Song for Youth Musicians – Notation Download a Audio Recording

Hi everyone,

Today I’m teaching my first workshop as part of Winter Roots Festival in Marquette, MI.  In honor of this big day I wrote a new song for you to learn on your harmonica!  It’s called Juice Box and it’s all about everyone’s favorite drink . . . a juice box!

Here is some recordings of me singing and playing the song. The first recording is just the harmonica part.  The second is my harmonica, my guitar and my voice.

You can download a FREE .pdf of the notation of this song.  Print it double-sided an cut the paper along the dotted line to make your own zine!  The zine also has the notation to another favorite song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.


Snowy Day – A Song for Young Musicians – Video and Zine

Recently, it was a very snowy morning here in Marquette, MI.  I was waiting for some of my students to have their lesson and I wrote this song.

I made a video of me playing the song, and there is a .pdf of a zine that you can print out to help you learn it.  Print it double-sided and then follow the instructions to make the zine!

The zine contains the lyrics, standard music notation, and specialized notation for harmonica, guitar and ‘ukulele. 

I was wondering, what would happen if we changed the lyrics from “snowy day” to “cloudy day” or “sunny day”.  What changes would you make in the rest of the lyrics so that the song is about your day?

Download the Snowy Day Zine here. Be sure to print it double sided and then watch the short video below to learn how to fold your zine.

Thanks to Ore Dock Brewing Company for letting me use their beautiful community space to make some music.

Watch this short video to learn how to fold your zine.

Harmonica Orchestra in Cedar Lake, IN – January 2020 – Wrap Up

Last Friday, the 3rd graders at Jane Ball Elementary in Cedar Lake, IN and I had a great time starting up our Harmonica Orchestra .  We got right down to business, learning how to hold it and learning how to play only one note.  Then we dove into some Hot Cross Buns and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Reports are that it went over very big with the students.  One grandmother wrote to me and said, “He’s played it every day since.  Thank you for inspiring him to enjoy music in a different way ”


That is awesome to hear.

Learn to Play Auld Lang Syne for the New Year!

Here is a copy of my newest zine, How to Play Auld Lang Syne on Your Harmonica!  Auld Lang Syne is one of my very favorite songs.  I actually wish that it was socially acceptable to play it all year long.

If you’d like to play it with me, I sure would love that. Print it double-sided so you can make this little booklet.

And, here’s a video I made this morning during a snowstorm here in my new home, Marquette, MI.  That’s the ore dock that I recently wrote about on my instagram.

I love Auld Lang Syne for many reasons, including it’s about spending time with friends, raising a glass to our good health, looking back on the year gone by, and it’s Scottish origin always makes me think of my grandpa, who was born in Scotland.

If you learn to play it, please let me know!  And, drop me a note if you have any questions.

Auld Lang Syne is a great song to share with friend and family.  I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I do.

Happy new year!