My Go-To Song for April

by Rachel on April 16, 2014

Good Green Earth Music Therapy Song for Spring

There’s a certain song that I look forward to pulling out every single year. Some years, I have the willpower to wait until April; this was not one of those years. I caved in March and reintroduced my students to “Good Green Earth” by James K.

I call this my go-to song for April because it’s the month during which Earth Day falls, and I originally learned this song for an Earth Day school assembly. It doesn’t spread the “reduce, reuse, recycle” message — but it DOES touch on many of the earth’s cycles (the clock, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons). These are all important concepts that are included in many of my students’ learning objectives.

Interestingly, the YouTube video I recorded of this song has been viewed more than almost all of my other videos, so I’m not the only fan! I talk more about how I use this song in sessions below:

I’ve written my own songs (many, in fact) on the topics of telling time, days of the week, months of the year, and the seasons, but I love how James K has combined all of the above into a catchy, singable tune that just screams for corresponding motions.

I sing this song with toddlers who are learning to imitate those motor skills, and they enjoy it just as much as preschoolers and older elementary kiddos who are working hard to learn all the information presented through the lyrics. (However, they probably don’t enjoy it quite as much as I do. I really, really love this song!)


{Mama Moment} When the Cat’s Away…

by Rachel on April 14, 2014

Baby Playing With InstrumentsThis weekend, I snuck away for a little lunch and shopping date with my mom. Of course I had to check in on my little guy while I was gone, and my husband sent several photos — all of Parker playing with my instruments.

“When the cat’s away, the mice will play” was the caption that popped into my head immediately. Just look at that face; he knows exactly what he’s getting away with!

I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Zach told me that all Parker wanted to do was play my instruments, considering he makes a beeline for my studio first thing every morning. I usually let him explore (completely supervised) for a little while, and then redirect him to the living room full of his toys and more age-appropriate instruments. As much as I love that he is obsessed with my guitar, I’d rather him stick to his toy guitar for a few more years ;)

For more mama moments and Parker updates (including an abundance of adorable photos and videos), check out my family blog,


Guitar Lessons With Amy Benton

by Rachel on April 5, 2014

Guitar Lessons with Amy Benton

I met Amy Benton at Illinois State University, where we were both music therapy students. I was always impressed with her talent as a guitarist and songwriter, not to mention her lovely personality. I was thrilled to find out she had moved to Springfield, and it was so nice reconnecting with her over coffee this past summer.

I couldn’t be happier to share that Amy is now offering guitar lessons and currently taking new students of all ages. Here’s a little more about her.

Amy grew up in Taylorville, IL. She took guitar lessons, volunteered playing music at local nursing homes, performed in the community, started a music program for kids at the park district, and taught guitar lessons. After completing an internship at a school for autism, she graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor in Music in music therapy. She moved to Tennessee to pursue songwriting and performing. She got board-certified, started a music and movement program for preschoolers at a YMCA in Tennessee, and worked as a music therapist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Amy has had several songs recorded by independent artists, an album produced by Pat Flynn, and opened for many national acts. She now resides in Springfield, IL, where she started “6 Strings \ 6 Weeks” (a program for adults who always have wanted to play the guitar) through Springfield Area Arts Council, teaches guitar lessons, and performs regionally.

Any student would be lucky to have Amy as a guitar instructor. If you live in the Springfield area and are seeking lessons, please contact me via email.


“Make This Count!”

by Rachel on April 3, 2014

NICU Music Therapy Certification

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to a friend whom I have a lot in common. Like me, Mallory Even is a music therapist, business owner, and mom. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I had recently started saying “no” to work-related opportunities that didn’t excite or inspire me. Mallory agreed, and added:

When I am away from my kiddos, I am always thinking, “make this count!”

Yes, yes, yes. I feel more driven than ever when it comes to my career, and Mallory articulated the reason why perfectly. If I’m going to be spending precious minutes and hours away from my baby, they’d better be spent well. I think this has made me a better therapist and teacher, which in turn benefits my students.

A recent “make this count!” experience: becoming certified in NICU music therapy. Attending the lecture component, fieldwork training, and completing the outside reading and exams were a huge time commitment, but the joy I felt in receiving that certificate was a reminder that it was worth the effort.

I’m genuinely excited about the work I’m doing these days and the direction(s) in which I’m heading professionally. There’s no room for indifference or ambivalence in my life, and I’m learning to feel less guilty when I turn down commitments that would most likely evoke those feelings.

Now if only I could rewind a few years and tell my younger self to take this approach; guess I’ll chalk it up to growing older and wiser, right?


Coming Soon: Spring Into Summer

March 24, 2014

Tweet Right around this time last year, I got the urge to create a digital songbook — the result of which was Tapping, Shaking, Music Making! Maybe this will become a yearly spring project, because I’m currently working on the next one! Spring into Summer: Warm Weather Songs for Kids will include 12 songs instrumental […]

Burning the Midnight Oil

March 20, 2014

Tweet For almost my entire adult life, I have been an early riser. My alarm went off at 5 am every weekday morning, and then I’d go to the gym, come home, and spend the next couple of hours writing, working on songs, or other creative projects. Those morning hours were when my brain worked […]

Grow, Flower, Grow!

March 17, 2014

Tweet I’ve been working with children long enough to know that movement is ESSENTIAL to a well-rounded music therapy group or early childhood class session. I’ve used all kinds of movement props, including scarves, streamers, bean bags, stretchy bands, to get my kiddos moving. A few months ago, I added a new movement prop to […]

So Glad I’m Here

March 14, 2014

Tweet No matter how many original songs I write, there will always be a few covers that stay in my rotation solely because I love them so much. One of those is a sweet little tune I’ve used as a greeting in my early childhood music classes many times. “So Glad I’m Here” is a […]

Rewriting Rodgers & Hammerstein

March 13, 2014

Tweet My local community theater held auditions for The Sound of Music this month, and I had several students try out. That meant lots and lots of “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things” — though I didn’t mind at all, since it’s one of my favorite musicals. (A bit of trivia: I played Louisa von Trapp […]

Our Team is Growing!

March 12, 2014

TweetIt’s time, friends. My private practice and teaching studio, which I started without really meaning to, has come a long way in 7 years. What began as just a few private clients and students has grown into a full-time job, providing enough additional business for a second music therapist and a very long waiting list. […]

Meeting Pokey LaFarge

March 4, 2014

Tweet There we were, in the St. Louis airport Starbucks across from our gate at 5 am, when I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “I think that’s Pokey LaFarge!” “Pokey LaWho?” was his response. But he encouraged me to go over and say something to him, so I did (with baby Parker in […]

Music Therapy in the NICU

February 24, 2014

Tweet In all my years of studying and practicing music therapy, I never had any interest in medical music therapy. The idea of working in a hospital seemed pretty intimidating, and just not for me. Of course, that’s what I said about working with kids — originally I had my heart set on seniors with […]

Friday Fave: Erin Ebnet’s “May You Find”

February 14, 2014

Tweet I haven’t written a “Friday Fave” post in over nine months, but I’m bringing it back today for good reason. Please do your ears a favor and check out my friend Erin Ebnet’s gorgeous debut full-length album, May You Find. I met Erin, a fellow music therapist, at the 2012 AMTA national conference in […]

Who’s Jingling Now?

February 4, 2014

Tweet This week as I was cleaning out my iTunes library (in an attempt to free up some space on my computer’s hard drive…I’m almost out!), I came across this little gem. I wrote Who’s Jingling Now? right around this time last year as part of my early childhood music class curriculum, but for some […]

{Mama Moment} The Littlest Mouse

January 31, 2014

Tweet When I took over as Head Mouse of the early childhood music class, Church Mice, I was a music therapy intern in St. Louis and commuting to Springfield on the weekends. I was not married, and I was what seemed like a million years away from thinking about children of my own. Fast forward […]

The Wheels on the Bus

January 23, 2014

Tweet I’m always on the hunt for books I can sing with my students, and my collection of singable stories has grown exponentially since Parker was born. While I love to write my own melodies for books that don’t already have one, I like having plenty of “ready-to-sing” classics on hand. This month while I […]


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