Thursday, June 30, 2016

Extra Ordinary Music by TLC Nielsen

I met Becky Capelli decades ago when she was a teenager working at Drakes Office Supply. Years later, I bumped into her at a local church where she was leading the choir, and she introduced me to her spouse and their two children. It’s been a privilege to see her children blossom in music as they’ve grown up, too, and to see Becky become successful as the owner of Songbird Studio Inc. Becky’s extraordinary adventure in spreading the love of music to those around her makes her life more than ordinary.

Welcome, Becky!

Q) How did your music studio come into existence?
A) I had co-owned a music studio several years ago for about six years when my kids were babies. Once they hit school age, I had to put private music instruction to rest and get a "day job" until they were much older. I was at that particular job for about 10 years. But music, especially sharing music, is my passion so, as soon as I felt the timing was good for my family, I re-entered private music instruction by opening Songbird Studio Inc. four years ago.

Songbird Studio in Grayslake, Illinois

Q) That was a long journey! So when did your love of music actually begin?
A) I was very young. I cannot recall a time when music was not a love of mine. It is how God wired me up! I started piano lessons when I was 5 years old. Mr. Luder was my piano teacher. Our family didn't own a piano so he would meet me at our church and teach me on the church piano. My parents were later able to purchase a piano... rent to own. I guess they figured I was serious enough about it to make that investment. I think they were right! I still, to this day, use that same piano in my own home.

Mr. Luder also taught voice lessons which I began at age 10. But even beyond lessons, I was always listening, learning, and playing music any chance I could. I always say music was and still is my "thing" - it's what I was wired to do. For some it may be sports or theater or scholastics, but for me it has always been music.

Q) Who influenced you the most musically?
A) Three come to mind: my parents and Mr. Luder. I was fortunate to have the same private music teacher from the time I was 5 years old up until I went to college. He had a huge influence on me, opening up so many genres and styles of music as well as allowing me to explore my strengths and weaknesses. He taught me that learning and making music is hard work and takes discipline, but it is so rewarding and most definitely meant to be enjoyed.

My parents never missed an opportunity to allow me to use my talents, and they continually encouraged and reminded me that we each have talents which are meant to be shared. They understood and encouraged my passion for music. Some of my earliest memories of singing are with my dad. I believe this is why I am so connected to the idea of private music teaching. I had such an awesome and positive experience having Mr. Luder in my life, as well as supportive parents - a combination that is so valuable when taking music lessons.

Q) What other factors kept you involved in music through the years?
A) Most definitely the church and school. I grew up singing in church and, as an adult, I was actively involved in singing on the worship team. During my school years I participated in choir and band (percussion). 

Currently, as a music teacher and mom, I am less and less active in performing. I have found great satisfaction and joy in teaching, encouraging others to use their talents in whatever capacity they can in their lives. It's fabulous!

Becky Cappelli

Q) Where did you think your music would take you?
A) Oh my! When I was young I had my sights on performing... traveling the world and singing! But I am SO grateful that is not what I ended up doing in the long run. I think God knew I wasn't cut out for that. Instead, I can build into others who may (or may not) have those dream. I believe I am exactly where I'm suppose to be doing what I am should be doing.

Q) Did you ever consider careers outside of music? If not music , then...
A) I have not. I have only entertained other jobs/opportunities that would allow me the freedom to still do music but not a career... just a paycheck.

Q) What pivot point catapulted your life in a different, unexpected direction?
A) Probably my kids. But in such a beautiful way! As a mom (a working mom), my decisions in what and how I could provide for our family and whether or not music was a means to do so greatly revolved around my kids and my availability to them in their stages of growing up. Music had to take a backseat for a lot of years. It was always a part of our lives but not a means in which to have a career. It taught me patience and trust in God's timing. Yes, music is my passion but people, especially my people (my family) are most important. God always has a plan and He is always good.

Becky's website: and you can "Like" her studio on Facebook as well here:

Thank you for visiting the Extraordinary Ordinary Blog at! If you'd like to recommend an ordinary person with an extraordinary journey to be interviewed, please contact TLC Nielsen at soulfixer13 (at) yahoo (dot) com and put ExtraOrdinary Blog in the subject line.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Extra Ordinary Love of Reading

by TLC Nielsen
May 2016

I’d like to introduce you to someone I’ve known for over 30 years- fellow book lover and librarian Kristen Harvey, one of my amazing and talented offspring.  Now that she’s all grown up, I still love being part of her life, especially helping out with her school’s Scholastic Book Sales where I can tell students that even Mrs. Harvey brings her mom to the book fair. The excitement of the students coming to find new books that Mrs. Harvey recommends fills the school library…

Welcome Kristen!

Q) As a child, you loved books and writing. Did this influence your decision to become a library teacher?
A) My sister and I would play librarian as kids complete with check out cards and then software. I didn’t know I needed a lot of school to be one. I figured that out in college.
 Kristen (right) and her sister Sarah many moons ago

Q) What drew you to teach in an urban setting?
A) The first school I worked at was in Lake Forest where a lot of kids are privileged. This was an assistant library job. I thought this was a job you ended up in after you worked at a place where students’ parents couldn’t afford to buy them whatever they wanted.  When I applied for the position I now hold, I didn’t expect them to hire me right away, which is what happened. Many years later, I’m still here and enjoying it.

Q) So how did you end up book blogging?
A) The summer before my first library job, I became addicted to the GoodReads website. More social parts were added, including a discussion group on YA literature. One of the feeds was about people’s book blogs so we could follow each other. One of the girls I talked to frequently stepped me through it a bit and I started my very own free blog on Blogger – a free hosting site through Google.

Q) Your first book blog became popular and then your current blog,, now has thousands of followers. How did this happen?
A) I spent two years on my own blog before I decided to join with another blogger, one I had co-hosted online book events with frequently and talked with nearly daily. We decided to join together since it was becoming hard to keep going for each of us.  We changed over to Wordpress for our joint blog and made it look a little more original. I used to spend hours networking on Twitter, GoodReads and especially other blogs. Our name was out there and things were going great. It has staved off quite a bit. I only post once a week if that and my partner is MIA, but I’m working on getting another partner up on the blog site.

Q) You seem to be good at getting “free” books and such online. How did that come about?
A) So I did a free blog at first on Blogger. That’s when the first publisher contacted me for reading books for review (soliciting.) So it all started because of GoodReads, a company contacted me about reviewing books and they sent me my first ARC – I believe it was called Candleman. As I blogged more, I found myself networking and ending up on lists. My favorite contact I actually met at a book event and ended up getting invited to a lot of publisher events. We just really hit it off! Since then, I can’t remember how I came in contact with other publishing houses, it just kind of happened. Netgalley also really did help in a way, which is a website that you can download ebooks from and the publishers can look at your contact information and ask you if you want physical copies of books for review as well.

Q) Where does your book blogging, reading and school library work tie in/connect?
A) I probably read more than anyone in the school or library. So because I was on the CYBILS first round panel, an online reading award, I have to read as many books as possible. I read on top of that for fun so I can tell my students what new stuff is coming out…I read for escapism, too. My job is sometimes stressful especially this year with students confiding in me because teachers no longer stay with their classes in the library anymore. I work in an area with underprivileged students.

Q) What are some of the enjoyable aspects to your work as a school librarian?
1) I love storytelling, which I didn’t think I would. 2) My students tell me they want to be librarians when they grow up. 3) I love finding students the right book, it’s really rewarding. I walk around and see what they’re reading. It is challenging to keep up with over 900 students in the school. 4) It’s nice to see them grow up from 1st through 5th grades, the 25% that remain. We have a 16% mobility rate in our urban area so over 4 years, we don’t have many left.

Q) What are some websites or blogs you’d encourage readers to investigate?
A) GoodReads is my favorite social media for books. I’m now also addicted to the #bookstagram tag on Instagram. Some of my favorite blogs are as follows:

Thanks for visiting the Extraordinary Ordinary blog, where ordinary folks with extraordinary adventures are highlighted.