I’ve always been a sucker for a full plate, both in the literal sense (ha!) and when it comes to work-related projects. I wasn’t sure if that would be the case this summer, since last year at this time I was on maternity leave and work was not a high priority. But it turns out that the opposite has been true, and I’ve been lucky to strike a good balance between family time and music therapy.
After our weekend summit in California last month, my Music Therapy Pro colleagues and I have stepped up our game. We added a brand-new feature called “Four Corners” in which each of us shares a monthly audio or video post on our area of expertise. My corner is called The Business Savvy Clinician, which is all about running a private practice (both inside and outside of the therapy room). While I love collaborating with Michelle, Kimberly, and Matt on topics for the podcast, it’s also fun to have my very own space over there.
The four of us also launched a new mini podcast called “MT in 3″ that will air monthly via the Music Therapy Round Table. This podcast is free, and features a 3-question interview of a different music therapist each month. We had so much fun coming up with a HUGE list of potential interviewees, and then writing the 3 questions that each of them would answer. Michelle Erfurt is our roving reporter, so she’s the lucky one who gets to talk to all of the people we consider to be “rockstars” in our field. The first episode features Mallory Even, who is one of my own personal music therapy idols. You can listen here as well as subscribe on iTunes.
And this is my own personal project, which I’m super excited about. In the last month or so, I’ve had a lot of fellow music therapists ask for advice when it comes to creating and running early childhood programs. Since I have a lot of experience (I’ve been doing it since grad school!) I decided to create a 3-hour online CMTE course on this topic. This is a very labor-intensive project, which I know first-hand after creating The DIY Guide to Writing, Recording, and Sharing Your Music for Kat Fulton’s Music Therapy Ed, but like that one, it has been a labor of love so far. You can learn more and get updates about the course here.
There are actually a few other projects on my plate at the moment, but I need to keep those under wraps just a little longer. I’ll share them with you soon, though! What are you up to this summer? Are you tackling big things, or taking it easy? (Also, sidenote: how is it almost August already!?)
My son Parker has been attending my early childhood music classes since he was just six months old, which I’ve written about here before. Since I’ve always been the teacher, either my mom or my husband has been with him during class. But this month, I’ve had the opportunity to be “the parent” while someone else teaches.
Every Tuesday, Parker attends my baby music class with my mom, since I’m the teacher. But immediately following, my colleague Katey Kratz leads the toddler music class. I thought it’d be fun to experience the flip side, so Parker and I stick around and join in the fun. And it is FUN. Also, a full-body workout keeping up with him.
Being the parent in your child’s music class brings on a whole slew of considerations that don’t cross your mind when you’re the teacher. Here are just a few of the thoughts that run through my brain every week:
- Is the teacher annoyed that my child keeps take instruments from her bag?
- Should I leave the room with Parker if he starts fussing?
- Does that mom mind that Parker just practically sat down in her lap?
- Am I singing too loudly?
- Are we taking away from the other families’ experience?
- Do I smell as sweaty as I feel?
You’d think that after MANY years of teaching early childhood music classes, I wouldn’t have so many worries — but being the parent is a whole different ballgame. The best I can do is remind myself that when I’m teaching, sticky fingered instruments, naptime tantrums, and wandering kiddos (as long as their parents are keeping tabs) don’t phase me one bit.
My #1 priority is for parents and children to have meaningful interactions through music. And if that means they are sitting while we are dancing, moo-ing while we are baa-ing, or shaking while we are ringing, by all means, carry on. So that’s what Parker and I do every Tuesday; we carry on…and it is my favorite part of the week.
For more mama moments and Parker updates (including an abundance of adorable photos and videos), check out my family blog, www.therambachs.com.
Love, love, loooove this singable story! Big thanks to my teacher friend (and huge supporter of Listen & Learn) Rene for sending me a copy of this book, which I’d previously never heard of. I’ve been getting lots of use out of it lately, and hopefully you can too.
Around the World We Go is a beautifully illustrated story by Margaret Wise Brown, the same author who wrote Goodnight Moon (one of several bedtime favorites in our house). The words fit the tune “The Farmer in the Dell” perfectly, but I slowed down the tempo and gave it a bit of a jazzy makeover.
This is a singable story you can use with younger children since it is so short and simple, but it can also serve as a gateway to more complex topics and activities with older kiddos. I’m having fun thinking of different ways to apply it in my music therapy sessions, and no doubt it will make its way into my music classes soon.
Do you already have this book on your shelf, and I’m just late to the party? If so and you have some fun ways of applying it, I’d love to hear ‘em. And if you have a singable story you’re digging, please do tell!
P.S. I’m sharing a download of this recording (along with the instrumental version and chords) over at Listen & Learn Plus! today.
One of the things I love most about offering classes is that when I plan them, I end up writing a bunch of new songs. My current early childhood class was no exception; I wrote no fewer than 10 new songs for it! So over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing them with you.
Since these songs were written for babies and toddlers, they are on the simple side. I feel like now that I have a kiddo of my own, I have a much better grasp on what types of songs and activities will go over best with this age group.
Parker is really into waving lately, as are his little friends. So naturally, our “hello” song is all about waving to everyone. Each child in the group gets a turn to be the recipient of the waves, and all the children get lots of opportunities to practice their waving.
At the risk of sounding corny, I have to say that it is magical to watch a child begin to understand what words mean and associate them with actions. The words “hi” and “hello” are automatically met with a wave from Parker these days, which is the goal when I sing this song in my classes.
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