My Top 5 Cities I’ve visited

My Top 5 Cities I’ve visited

Hey guys!

The last few days, Dionysius and I have been planning the next few months, and which gigs to do or not do, and whether we take the entire family… and it started a huge conversation about which cities we’d love to visit with our kids! It also got me reminiscing about all the places I have been. Sometimes as a performer you don’t get to explore new cities much, it’s usually in and out. Sometimes though, I’ve extended my stays and out of all the cities I’ve been so fortunate to have visited (over 30 worldwide!) here are my favorites!

 

1. Copenhagen

From it’s unusual little neighbourhoods to almost EVERYONE riding bikes everywhere, this dainty city had me in fantasy land! The Tivoli Gardens are a must, The Little Mermaid statue (a reminder of all the works of Hans Christian Andersen) Christiania, the little village of it’s own law, the beautiful architecture especially the Opera House are great spots to explore. I also loved how the Marguerite Daisy popped up all over the place when shopping, from jewelry to linens… they really do have a very particular national identity!

 

 

2. Istanbul

Istanbul was like a fantasy trip for me… I was so inspired by the sounds of the city from the morning prayers to the street musicians, the apple tea, the kind people I met… I loved it! My favorite places include Club 360- described by the New York Times as the hottest place to party in Europe where I was a resident performer, The Blue Mosque, the beautiful ancient hamams, some of which have been there for hundreds of years, Topkapi palace, wandering around the bazaars and, my favorite, venturing out to Canakkale and see the city of Troy, and so much more.

 

3. Rome

From the little boys offering roses in the busiest areas, the fabulous style and foods to some of the world’s most famous landmarks Rome is one of my absolute favorites! The ancient ruins including The Colosseum, The Forum and of course, the Spanish Steps made famous in the film Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck just fascinate me and I can walk around for hours just taking it all in.

 

4. Paris

I spent many months in this beautiful city. I fell in love… with it all. I must have been at a stage in my life where all I could see was beauty and light, because I just wandered all over the city from the Sacre Coeur to the Palais Royale to the Champs Elysee… went out to the Gardens of Monet and all over the place and I just saw beauty, while some friends visiting just saw how dirty the city was! Paris is a fantastic place of beauty and history, I couldn’t get enough!

5. Milan

Fashion, fashion fashion!!! The people of Milan really know how to dress, probably better than most other cities in the world, and there is more class and style, and less trend following. I was inspired! The Duomo Cathedrale, Lake Como and La Scala are favorites as well…I managed to grab tickets to the Pink Floyd Ballet while I was there and take in the beauty and sheer history seeping out of the walls of the famous La Scala. This trip was a last minute one, and I would LOVE to return and stay longer!

I’m excited to share with you more stories! I’ve been to so many different cities… these definitely rank the highest! Can’t wait to discover more! Now we have a family, I’m sure there’s a whole new world of travel experiences out there just waiting! What are your top places to travel/experience you’ve had while abroad? I’d love to hear them!

Sophie xo

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Music for the little ones!

Music for the little ones!

Hey everyone! So as a musician, you probably think that of course I would be an advocate for music education, and that’s true! I absolutely believe in music education because of the benefits I have received from my studies and my life in music…. and how fun is singing and dancing with your kids?!

As a mom, I can see how music encourages babies to communicate, and is actually a way they can learn to communicate before they can speak (clapping, moving along to music, making those super adorable baby sounds while music is playing). Even just playing music in the house all the time is awesome! Here’s a little snip of my little ones dancing at home (I LOVE it when they feel so confident and just want to dance!).

At home, I play different music at different times of the day, with my little ones in mind and when we’re driving we always listen to music and singalong, or just play some relaxing piano music… here’s a little peek into our routine:

My daily music routine at home

1. In the morning I play uplifting music, either children’s nursery rhymes or some uplifting classical or baroque music.

2. When it’s time to sleep, I play calming and relaxing music up to an hour in advance to calm the entire house down after a busy day. My kids love violin music because they see Mummy play violin all the time, so it soothes them- I play my own Lullaby album, Kissed by the Moon, that I recorded before my eldest was born. I also sing to/with my kids at bedtime as well.

3. Sometimes I play different and new types of music and ask if they like it or not, and my eldest likes to describe the music (at his age the descriptions aren’t very long of course!) and this teaches him the confidence to say what he thinks, and he starts to learn to describe things, for example, sometimes he’ll call music that’s a little on the dark side “scary” or “dinosaur music” which cracks me up! This is a really important process to start, and when I validate his answer, he gains the confidence to go further next time and helps with self confidence in general.

4. I take my kids to music class regularly, and we always add it into playtime every day.

 

Some of my favorite music for bedtime

So this is one of my favorite YouTube channels for relaxing nighttime music…..Click Here …and if you’re little ones like violin like mine do, here’s my lullaby album you can download for your household!

Aside from playing music at home, check out group music classes for your kids! Before the age of 4, I personally don’t think one on one lessons are very effective at that age, but of course, it depends on the child! There are some great classes available, check your local library for sing a long classes, and local music schools. I took my kids to a local program in Calgary called Baby Rhyme Time, and there are follow up programs after that as well. Check out what’s local for you! Take the time if you can! It’s great for bonding with your little one, and amazing for them, and from what I have witnessed with my own children, and my experience as a musician and music teacher, I am certain that music education has HUGE benefits!

 

The Benefits of Music for Babies and Toddlers
  1. Music creates is a way to communicate before little ones can speak.
  2. Helps to create self confidence
  3. Singing or playing instruments together, even just banging on percussion together, teaches the beginnings of team work.
  4. In music, there is no one right answer, and this teaches children to think outside the box.
  5. Music is often written with repeats- the same musical phrase might be repeated a number of times and in a particular order. This teaches children patterns, which helps with other subjects at school as well.
  6. Learning and memorizing songs and pieces of music helps develop memory.
  7. Emotional development- music displays a wide range of emotions and can help toddlers and children learn to identify their emotions, from as basic as happy or sad to excited or scared… or my son’s favorite, simply “I feel awesome!”.

My two little peanuts at one of their favorite classes-

There are many, many more benefits as well that I haven’t listed. Do you incorporate music daily into your parenting routine? Do you attend music classes with your kids like I do? What works best for your family? Comment below!
xo
Sophie

At work in the studio & a new video next week!

At work in the studio & a new video next week!

Hey friends, the last few weeks have been crazy busy! I have recorded a new album, almost done recording a new single and we’ve done a bunch of videos that are coming out one by one coming up… The crazy thing about pregnancy is that I have so many ideas, and things I want to do but I’m so much slower getting around LOL! So… I will be sharing with you what I’ve been working on over the next few months, and I’m so excited for that.

The single I’ve been working on is something really special to me, straight from my heart, the core of me- an original piece co-written and produced by Rob Wells, as I mentioned to you guys, it’s going back into my ancestry and discovering the sounds of Scotland and Ireland! Crazy journey. Can’t wait to share it with you. I also recorded another album with a beautiful harpist out east in Toronto, which will come out next year as well. I’m so excited to get out there and share it with you guys!

Strings: some of you have emailed me asking about what strings I use in recording. Most of the time, I use Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold but not all the time- I find they wear out more quickly than other strings that might not sound as rich and beautiful, but not far off and they last longer. It really depends on the situation and where I’m recording (the weather does make a difference too!). If you want to know more, ask me! Send me a DM on Facebook 🙂

A Guide to Choosing the Right Violin Strings

Next week: a new video coming out! So you know I don’t usually do covers, but recently, I did a couple of videos of covers, exclusive to my youtube channel, (one voted by you guys too!) and next week there will be one more, filmed in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, just in time right before the snow!

Thanks for watching! Stay tuned….. Sophie xo

It’s a GIRL! + Some new inspiration

It’s a GIRL! + Some new inspiration

My dear friends & fans, most of you have probably noticed that I have baby #3 on board… and today I’m so excited to share that it’s a GIRL! We can’t wait to meet the newest addition to our family!

Motherhood has been one of the most amazing and craziest journeys I have ever been on. So much learnt, so much happiness and exhaustion too… but SO worth it, our adorable peanuts are to us, the most amazing little people. It’s definitely stirred up more creativity in me- I think I’m writing now more than performing, which is rare for me considering the last few years! So… news is… with all that writing… there’s an album in the works, and I’ll be sharing a single before the end of the year! Thank you to all of you who shared feedback with me, I’m definitely listening.

Speaking of writing… since I changed my stage name back to my maiden name, I have been inspired to explore my father’s family’s ancestry, and I’m planning to follow it all the way back to Scotland. Excited to be planning a trip to visit the Scottish lowlands where the Armstrong clan originated from and can’t wait to explore… So beautiful and mysterious… what stories are waiting there that might inspire my new album? The family and I will be off next year to find out, and explore the music of Scotland. Any suggestions on where to go/what to check out in Scotland? I’d love to hear from you! Send me a Facebook PM!


Sometimes I like to find new places to practice and gather inspiration… Here’s one of my favorite places recently! in a beautiful local church… CLICK here to check out this beautiful spot (and take a listen!)

See you out there…
Sophie xo