{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 13

by Rachel on April 17, 2015

GGB Episode 13: Kate Taylor

This was one of those episodes I didn’t ever want to end — that’s how fascinated I was by my guest this week. My interview with music therapist and doula Kate Taylor is especially timely as I begin planning for the birth of my daughter, which is only a few weeks away.

I’m familiar with what doulas do, since I had the support of one during the birth of my son and will have her by my side again next month. But Kate opened my eyes to just how crucial a role music can play during the labor and delivery process.

Kate talks in-depth about her unique music therapy work as a doula and birth-centered practitioner, which she was inspired to pursue after the birth of her first daughter in Episode 13 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Be sure to check out the show notes page for more information about Kate, along with links to the resources she mentions in the episode.

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I Have a Balloon Ball

by Rachel on April 16, 2015

I Have a Balloon Ball Album Cover

I’m pretty sure I’ve reached “fangirl” status when it comes to Bear Paw Creek‘s movement props. This is the 4th song I’ve written specifically for one of their products, because they are SO perfect for my early childhood music classes.

I’m just now getting around to using the balloon ball in my upcoming session, so I’m really excited to see how my little ones will react to it. I think it will be right up their alley — a bright, lightweight “ball” (the balloon inside gives creates its round form) they can toss and roll to each other.

Just like all of Bear Paw Creek’s products, it’s made (in the U.S.) of colorful, high-quality material. My other favorites include stretchy bands, connect-a-bands, and bean bags.

I wanted to make sure this song and activity is as social as it is fun, so I’ll have each kiddo takes turns rolling or tossing the balloon ball to another member of the circle. There are already lots of other ideas floating around in my head for how to incorporate it, but this is a good jumping off point. I can’t wait to put the balloon ball and this song to use in my classes this week!

P.S. Did you know that you can receive a DOWNLOAD of each new Listen & Learn release (including mp3, lyrics/chords, and instrumental track when available) emailed directly to your inbox?

That — PLUS access to the blog archive containing over 150 other songs, lead sheets, visual aides, and valuable resources — for only $9.99 per month. Learn more about becoming a Listen & Learn Plus! member or just subscribe below. You won’t be disappointed!


The Songwriting Challenge

by Rachel on April 15, 2015

The Songwriting Challenge

Songwriting, whether for work or just for fun, is one of my favorite things to do. But I won’t lie: it can be a challenge. Finding the time, motivation, and creative energy required to write a good song doesn’t always come easily.

Luckily, I have an advantage in that I’ve been at it for many years now. I always tell people that the more you write, the easier it gets — isn’t that true of just about everything in life?  I also create a new early childhood class curriculum every few weeks and work with music therapy clients for whom I write original music.

After hearing from countless music therapists who tell me they want to become better songwriters, I came up with the idea for a songwriting challenge. It’s open to anyone (not just music therapists), and the goal is to inspire participants to exercise their songwriting muscles.

You can read all the details here, or just go ahead and sign up below. The first songwriting prompt will be delivered to your email inbox on Wednesday, April 22!


{Mama Moment} Singing Our Way Through The Day

by Rachel on April 14, 2015

"Mama Moment" by Amy Kalas Buser

The following is a guest post by Amy Kalas Buser, MM, MT-BC. Amy is the owner of Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, where her mission is to support other music therapists in their work with children and teens of all abilities. by providing quality resources to inspire creativity. She offers E-Books, songs and blog posts that provide creative session planning ideas and inspiration.

My husband tells me that our baby is going to grow up thinking her life is a musical.

I must admit, I have to agree.

My baby Brooke is 10 months old and I spend a good portion of the day singing my way through our daily routine and using instruments to calm, excite, and inspire her curiosity.

I always knew I’d use my skills as a music therapist when I became a mom, but I had no idea just how crucial those skills would be in helping me bond with my baby and move smoothly through our daily routine.

Barney’s Clean Up song has made it a breeze to clean boogies off Brooke’s nose and wipe sticky banana off her hands.

“My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” has allowed me to rock and calm her even after she’s gotten shots at the doctor.

The rain maker allowed my husband and I to road trip with Brooke from Miami to NYC when she was just three months old. (No joke…I shook that rain maker for hours.)

Here are some other ways I use music, and specifically singing, each and every day:

Daily Routine Songs

I created a song for each part of our day. I sing a wake up song, a diaper changing song, a cleanup song after each meal, a bath song, and a good night song.

I also create other songs on the spot as needed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sung something like “Mommy’s in the kitchen putting dishes away!” or “Mommy is folding all your laundry!” Sometimes these are just spoken in a sing-songy voice, but the result is a baby who feels like she’s part of what’s going on and is able to connect what I’m singing with what I’m doing.

Personalized Name Songs

I wrote a personalized song just for Brooke using her name. It goes like this:

“B-R-double O-K-E, spells Brooke (cha cha cha), spells Brooke (cha, cha cha), spells Brooke! Brooke is the one I love, Brooke was sent from up above. Ohhhhhhh… B-R-double O-K-E, spells Brooke (cha cha cha), spells Brooke (cha, cha cha), spells Brooke!”

Sometimes we add a shaker during the “cha cha cha” part; sometimes we dance around as we sing; sometimes my husband beat boxes at the end – the options are endless! :)

The incredible thing is – Brooke recognizes her song! There have been countless times that she’s been crying and when I start singing this song she stops, looks up at me, and smiles. I know it’s because she recognizes her song!

Piggyback Songs

We sing EVERYTHING to the tune of “La Cucaracha.” It’s fun and words just seem to fit in perfectly with the catchy melody.

For example: “Your daddy loves you, your daddy loves you, and your mommy loves you too. Your mommy loves you, your mommy loves you, and your daddy loves you too!”

We change the words to fit whatever she’s doing (“You’re eating chicken, you’re eating chicken!” or “We’re washing dishes, we’re washing dishes!”)

This one tends to be an earworm, so I apologize in advance.

Another piggyback song I sing is to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” (the part that goes “someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah”).

I changed the words to:

“You’re the best baby in the whole wide world, you’re the best baby in the whole wide world. You’re the best baby in the whole wide world and your mommy and your daddy and your Mimi and your Pop and your grandma and your grandpa (etc, etc, etc for ALL family members!) just love you so.”

Whenever we list all the family members that love her, she giggles and giggles.

I have to say, there is nothing in the world that compares to the look of recognition on Brooke’s face and the smile that emerges when she recognizes all of “her” songs.

Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email

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Week of the Young Child

April 13, 2015

Tweet This is a good name for all 52 of ‘em in my calendar, between my work and little one at home. But each year in April, a week is devoted especially to celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families. “Week of the Young Child” is sponsored by the National Association for the […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 12

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I Love You From Your Toes to Your Nose

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Night of Music Therapy

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We’re Gonna Wave

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The Miracle Morning

March 25, 2015

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Clean Up Time

March 23, 2015

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{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 9

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{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 8

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My Favorite (Non-MT) Podcasts

March 11, 2015

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