Make Time for Music with Fiddlesticks

Join Fiddlesticks for fun videos and activities to explore music from home.

Composing Music

In this last post of Make Time for Music, Fiddlesticks has asked his friend Lucas Richman to talk about composing music. He wonders how Lucas created Music Can Make Your Life Complete. This is Fiddlesticks’ favorite song and it is played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and sung by Katy Williams and audience members at every Fiddlesticks Family Series concert. Fiddlesticks wants to spend his summer composing music and hopes others will as well. Fiddlesticks wants everyone to have a happy and healthy summer, full of music, friends, and family!


When someone writes a new piece of music, they are called a composer. The music they create is called a composition. Fiddlesticks asked his friend and composer Lucas Richman to share how he composed Music Can Make Your Life Complete. In his video, Lucas Richman said he was inspired by Fiddlesticks. Lucas was inspired by the emotions and words Fiddlesticks used in describing his love of music and how important music is in his life.

Let’s try composing! Try some of the activities below to help you start making music of your own.

  • What is your composition about? What inspires you?
  • Sometimes compositions have words that are called lyrics. Lyrics can rhyme like a poem. The lyrics in the song Music Can Make Your Life Complete rhyme, like the words “Cry” and “Sky” and also “Beat” and “Complete.” Does your composition have lyrics?
  • What kind of instruments would you like in your composition? You can use found sounds or an instrument that you made too!
  • Listen to the sounds outside. Do the birds or the sounds of nature inspire your composition? What sounds can you find around the house?
  • Trade rhythms with a friend by clapping “Question and Answer” rhythms back and forth. (A rhythm is a pattern or series of long and short sounds.)
  • Take a song that you already know and change the words or music to make it your own. (Try changing the words to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Row your Boat.”)
  •  “Draw” a melody in the air with your fingers or arms. If your drawing goes higher in the air, then your sound (pitch) goes higher. Can you go low?
  • Share you composition with a friend or family member.

Kindness Week

Fiddlesticks wants to explore ways to show kindness to one another. He is calling this week "Kindness Week" as Friday, May 22nd is 143DayinPA. Friday, May 22 is the 143rd day of the year and it was how Mister Rogers would sign "I Love You." Join Fiddlesticks, Katy Williams, and the PSO on Friday to celebrate kindness and music with one of Fred Rogers’ favorite songs, "Won't You Be My Neighbor."

Music and Wellness

Fiddlesticks is a little tired of staying at home and wonders how he can use music to relieve some of the stress and extra energy he is feeling. His Creative and Expressive Arts Therapy friends at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh have created a video to help Fiddlesticks use animal breathing.

Check out all the different ways that animals breathe! How do you feel BEFORE practicing your breathing? How do you feel after? Remember to take a moment to practice every day!

View the Animal Breathing Resource Sheet →

Showing support means taking care of each other. What ways do you and your family show support for each other? It's important that we take time every day to show each other we care for them. Here are some ways to show support for ourselves and our families.

  • Practice your animal breathing! Can you create a new type of animal breathing?
  • Take a walk with a friend or family member
  • Color or draw a picture
  • Help out with chores around the house
  • Play (or invent) a new game with a sibling or family member
  • Build a blanket fort!
  • Call a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend that you haven't talked to for a while.
  • Send a loved one or a friend a letter to show them you care about them. (Don't forget to include a special drawing, photo, or send a paper decorated with stickers!)

Sharing Music across Generations

Fiddlesticks is excited to hear how his PSO friends are sharing their love of music with their children. This is the week of Mother’s Day, so Fiddlesticks has asked three PSO Moms to share how they are passing down their love of music to their daughters. 

Exploring Traditions!
What are your traditions? Music is a great way to start a tradition or pass on a tradition! Does your family do something special during holidays or certain times of the year? Music can help us celebrate and remember special times with the people we love. Here is a way to show how your family passes down traditions.  



Checking in on PSO Friends

Fiddlesticks is thinking about his friends at the PSO. He really misses hearing all of the beautiful sounds of the different instruments. He reached out to three of his friends from the woodwind family: James Rodgers, Cynthia DeAlmeida, and Jennifer Steele. It is important to check in on our friends and family. Listen to each of the instruments. How are the instruments similar and how are they different?

Meet Fiddlesticks' friends and their instruments:

Create your Own Instrument!

Invent your own instrument with materials from around the house such as plastic bottles, boxes and rubber bands, and found objects in the kitchen like spoons and pans, bags of beans or rice, and sand paper. Compare the sounds.


Invitation to share: What is your favorite instrument in the orchestra? Can you mime playing three different instruments in the orchestra? Post a video or photo. If you made an instrument, share it with us. Tell us about the instrument. Post a video.


Looking forward to Next Season

Andrés Franco, PSO Resident Conductor, shares highlights of the 2020/21 Fiddlesticks Family Series concerts and he demonstrates conducting patterns. Practice your conducting skills!

Fiddlesticks is excited about his concerts next season. His good friend Andrés Franco shares his thoughts and insights about these programs. As the conductor, Andrés communicates important messages to the orchestra through his gestures and movements. He uses a baton to show the beat, tempo (speed), and dynamics (loudness and softness) of the music. The conductor also helps the musicians, who are playing many different instruments, stay together as one ensemble. The conductor has many jobs to do at a concert!

Check out these instrument resources!

Instrument Picture Story →
Instrument Families with the PSO →
Concert Pre-Visit Story →

Imagine if you worked at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Heinz Hall.

  • Would you play an instrument in the orchestra? Which instrument would you play?
  • Can you mime playing that instrument? Can you make an instrument with materials in your home?
  • Imagine you were the conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
    • Practice using the conducting patterns demonstrated by Andrés Franco.
    • Practice conducting lively, fast music and slower music.
    • Can you feel the different beats of each piece of music?
    • How would you conduct louder music? How would you conduct softer music?
    • Practice taking a bow after your performance. Imagine you are on stage with an audience of people clapping!

Invitation to share: Draw a picture of yourself as a conductor or a musician and share it with us!


Exploring Music through Dance

Listen to Fiddlesticks’ Dance Party Playlist! Create your own family dance party!

Fiddlesticks wants families to have fun dancing together.

  • Listen for the BEAT. A beat is a steady pulse. What else has a steady beat? (heartbeat, ticking clock)
  • Tempo is a music word for the speed of the beat.
  • Use the music words Allegro to describe fast and Adagio to describe slow.
  • How do you move to music with a faster beat? How do you move to music with a slower beat?
  • Remember, you can dance to many kinds of music with very different beats.

Invitation to share: Fiddlesticks wants to see your family enjoying dancing together. Share photos and tell Fiddlesticks what kind of music makes you want to move. Enjoy dancing!

Dance resource:
Visit the National Institute of Dance, founded by Jacques d'Amboise in 1976.

Thanks to Michele de la Reza and Attack Theatre for helping Fiddlesticks celebrate music and movement!

Fiddlesticks is wondering how his friends at Attack Theatre are sharing music and movement together at home. Fiddlesticks loves to express his feelings through movement. Move with Attack Theatre friends to Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and remember to wash away germs, move every day, and have fun!


Celebrating Spring

Fiddlesticks is so happy spring has arrived! He loves to go outside and listen to the birds, chase butterflies, and smell the fresh, new flowers. Once, Fiddlesticks followed a bumble bee all across Pittsburgh as it buzzed through some of his favorite places.

What kind of sounds do you hear during spring? The quiet rustle of wind through the trees? High, twittering notes of the birds? It's a symphony of spring sounds out there! Here are some ways you can celebrate the sights and sounds of spring:


Let’s do an activity. Fiddlesticks wants to go on a musical springtime nature walk! Try some of these activities to experience the sights and sounds all around us.  You can go outside or use your imagination.


More resources to Celebrate Spring!

Scholastic Learn at Home

National Geographic Kids: All About Spring on YouTube


Thanks to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for enabling Fiddlesticks to use onsite video clips for his spring video.  


Spring Has Sprung Concert

Fiddlesticks received several videos celebrating "Spring Has Sprung" from his friends at the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, Phipps Conservatory, Sweetwater Center for the Arts, and Slippery Rock University. He wants to share these virtual pre-concert rooms with everyone!

Make Time for Music Everyday