Sundays at Church Mice are Twice as Nice

by Rachel on October 21, 2014

Early Childhood Class | Springfield, IL

The fall session of Church Mice, the early childhood music class I’ve been leading since way back when I was in grad school, ended last week. I’m always a little bummed when it’s over, because it is a big highlight of my week. I love that it’s super casual — anyone can drop in and it’s totally free, no registration required.

Early Childhood Class | Springfield, IL

The class is designed for children ages 0-4, though we always have older siblings joining in. That makes for an interesting but super fun dynamic! I love watching the tiny kiddos interact with the big kids, and vice versa.

Early Childhood Music Class | Springfield, IL

We play lots of instruments in both structured and non-structured ways. I think it’s so important to give little ones the opportunity to be creative with their music-making. I get some good ideas from them, in all honesty.

Early Childhood Music Class | Springfield, IL

Some of the kids in the group stay close to their grown-up, while others would much rather jump into the middle of the circle. Many children will hang back for the first few weeks, and then by the last week, will be front and center getting into the action.

Early Childhood Class | Springfield, IL

My mom brings my little boy, Parker, to class each week. He loves my guitar and would much rather be playing it as opposed to any of the other instruments I offer him (naturally).

Early Childhood Music Class | Springfield, IL

A huge thank you to Matt Larison, an extremely talented photographer here in Springfield, who so beautifully captured these moments at last week’s class.


Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

Almost four years ago, I wrote about a day in my life as a music therapist, and it has since become one of my most-read posts. But a LOT has changed since then: at the time, I was employed full-time at The Hope Institute and working with private clients on a part-time basis. I thought it would be interesting to compare a day in the life back then to my current role as owner of a full-time private practice and mom to a young child.

I will preface this by telling you that no two days are exactly the same for me; every day of the week looks different from the others. Some days are spent primarily with my son Parker until I head to my office/studio to see students and clients, while others are packed with various work-related activities from start to finish.

Day in the Life of a Music Therapist

Tuesdays are more action-packed than most other days of the week, which I designed intentionally at the start of the fall when creating my schedule. On Mondays I ease into the week and gear up for the following day; Wednesdays and Thursdays are work-heavy but not as demanding as Tuesdays, and Fridays are my lightest. So without further ado, here is a “typical” Tuesday in my life.

5:30 am: My husband’s alarm goes off. He heads to the gym, while I hit the shower. This is my chance to get ready for the day before Parker wakes up and needs my full attention until I leave for work. While I’m doing my hair and makeup, I usually listen to a podcast episode or audiobook on my iPhone.

7:00 am: Give or take 30 minutes, Parker wakes up around this time every day. He is usually content to jabber in his crib for a little while before he gets antsy, at which point I go get him. After diaper duty and a quick morning reading session (the kid loves books), we head into the kitchen for breakfast. Many days, my husband will come home between the gym and work to feed Parker and play with him for a bit so I can finished getting ready and get my work stuff together.

8:00 am: Playtime with Parker. Sometimes we go downstairs to his playroom, while other days we bum around the living room or watch an episode of Sesame Street. This is the most quality time I’ll have with Parker all day, so I usually just follow his lead and let him choose our activities.

Playtime with Parker

9:00 am: Parker’s sitter arrives. I give him kisses and hugs and then head out the door.

9:10 am: I arrive at work (love my 5 minute commute!) and start setting up for my early childhood music class. I love this time, because it’s super quiet since I’m the only one there and I can get my head in the game before families start to arrive.

9:30 am: For the next 45 minutes, I sing and play with a room full of babies and toddlers and their caregivers. This is definitely one of the highlights of my work week.

Early Childhood Music Class

10:30 am: If I don’t have any pressing projects happening, I head home and relieve the sitter for lunch while Parker takes his morning nap. During this time, I usually do my practicing/planning for the afternoon, eat lunch, and work on administrative tasks.

12:00 pm: Parker wakes up from his nap, so I spend a few minutes with him until his sitter returns. At that point, I head back to my home office and dive into my daily to-do list, which usually includes bigger projects like songwriting, recording, podcast editing, etc.

2:15 pm: Off to work. My first student doesn’t arrive until 3, but I like to run through songs, set up for other students/clients, and return emails if I have a few spare minutes.

3:00 pm: From now until 7 pm, I see students and clients back to back. It’s an intense 4 hours, but it always flies by because my work is so varied. In any given day, I teach voice, guitar, piano, and provide music therapy.

7:15 pm: I meet my husband and son at home. He relieves our sitter at 6 and has dinner with Parker, and then we do bath and bedtime together. Eventually I hope to wrap up work earlier so that I can have dinner with my family, but for now, this arrangement works.

8:00 pm: Finally time to relax, but my work is not done yet! My husband and I usually watch an episode or two of a show on Netflix while I complete and send out my lesson and session notes for that day. If Zach has a late soccer game and I’m feeling particularly productive (which in all honestly doesn’t happen often at this hour) I’ll write a blog post, work on a song, or other creative project.

Working after hours

10:00 pm: I try to be in bed around this time every night, though realistically it’s closer to 11.

My day-to-day schedule has most definitely changed over the years — notice that I no longer hit the gym every morning at 5 am? (I’m lucky to make it there 3 times a week nowadays.) I’m sure if I were to write an updated post in another 4 years, it would not resemble this one. But that’s what life is all about, right? Always growing, constantly evolving.


Shake It Off

by Rachel on October 6, 2014

Shake It Off Album Cover

I could very easily say that I’m only familiar with Taylor Swift’s music because my students love her, but that would be a bold-faced lie. The truth is, I’ve been a T-Swizzle fan since the beginning, back when she was a country artist.

I like a lot of her songs (and even perform several of them regularly at gigs), but something about Shake It Off grabbed my attention and reeled me in the first time I heard it. This song is fun, catchy, and best of all — self-empowering.

And as appropriate as it is in its original form for some of my music therapy clients, I wanted to create a version that I could use in just about any setting. My adaptation is quite literal; shakers aren’t required, but highly encouraged!

What I’ve noticed most when I sing my version is that it makes everyone want to dance (the same effect the original had on me). Just yesterday I watched as a roomful of tiny kiddos and their parents busted out their best moves while singing along. So. Much. Fun.

I don’t make a habit of adapting super popular songs, but this was one such opportunity I couldn’t resist. I’ll end with an apology, because now you’ll probably have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day ;)

Get immediate access to this download, plus over 100 other songs, lead sheets, visual aides, and valuable resources for only $9.99 per month…learn more about becoming a member or just subscribe below. You won’t be disappointed!

Members, click here to access this post.


A New Online CMTE Course…Open Now!

by Rachel on September 30, 2014

Early Childhood Programs CMTE

I’ve been facilitating early childhood music programs since graduate school, before I was even a full-fledged music therapist. I’ve continued to do so all of these years, and it has been so exciting and fulfilling to see my programs continue to grow and touch the lives of many young children (and their families).

After reading dozens of emails from fellow music therapists and educators asking for advice on starting an early childhood music program, I decided to take the plunge and create an online CMTE course on this very topic. It covers the entire process — from conception to the very last class — and everything in between.

3-hour CMTE course

This 3-hour CMTE course consists of 3 chapters, and each chapter is made up of 6 videos. Watch the videos at your own pace and on your own time; once you register, you will have 3 months to complete the videos, final evaluation, and post-test. Each video comes with a downloadable audio track and PDF of the slides in the video.

BONUS: You will also receive 12 songs (including mp3, instrumental track, and lead sheet) from the Listen & Learn Music collection. That is $36 worth of music at your fingertips, which you are invited to use as inspiration for your own early childhood program, or include in their original form. You are also welcome to create adaptations and use the instrumental track to record your new versions.

Course Outline

I. Create (42 minutes)
What Kind of Program Will You Create?
Songwriting for Ages 0-3
Choosing Children’s Songs
Instruments, Props & Singable Stories
Packaging Your Program
Chapter 1 Action Steps

II. Market (48 minutes)
Location, Location, Location
The Money Stuff
Devising a Marketing Plan
Make the Most of Local Resources
Create a Buzz Online
Chapter 2 Action Steps

III. Make Music (40 minutes)
Before the First Class
Preparing the Environment
How To Be an Early Childhood Rockstar
Tips for Tricky Situations
After the Last Class
Chapter 3 Action Steps

Final Evaluation (20 minutes)

Please note that I will be answering all questions posted by course participants inside the course. I want this course to be as interactive and educational as possible so that you have the resources to go forward and create a successful program.

The price of the course is $75, which includes the bonus mp3/instrumental track/lead sheet downloads ($36 value).

Listen & Learn Plus! members receive a 20% discount on this course, so if you are already a member, click here to enroll. (And if you’re not a member yet, join now to receive 5+ years of archived resources and downloads PLUS the course discount.)

Once you complete your payment safely and securely via PayPal, you will be redirected to the registration page. Upon registering and logging in, you will have full access to the course for 3 full months.

CMTE Enroll Button

If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Looking forward to seeing you in the course!


Writing It Down & Crossing It Off

September 15, 2014

Tweet This month has been insane. Between changing my business structure, moving my office/studio to a new location, seeing a full load of student, starting new sessions of two different early childhood classes, and creating an online CMTE course, I’m lucky I’m still sane enough to type this blog post. A few weeks ago, in […]

{Mama Moment} Baby’s First Musical

September 11, 2014

Tweet Parker has an obsession with all things Sesame Street. He asks to watch it multiple times a day, and when he hears the theme song he comes running and dances along to the music. He knows the characters’ names, and can identify them verbally. So when we found out that Sesame Street Live was […]

“How Do You Like It?”

September 10, 2014

Tweet The weekend before my first day at the new studio, my mom gave me a happy sunflower arrangement and a card wishing me good luck. They’ve both been sitting on my desk since then — a nice reminder of how supported I am by not just my mom, but everyone in my life. Since […]

New Studio Tour (Part 1)

September 3, 2014

Tweet Day 1 in our new studio is officially in the books! Yesterday was a whirlwind of administrative tasks, moving the last few things, putting the final touches on my office, and finally, welcoming students for the start of the fall session. Our new space includes my office/studio, Katey’s office/studio, a therapy room, and large […]

First Day of Work

September 2, 2014

Tweet Today marks my 8th “first day of work” after summer break at Music Therapy Connections, but this year is different. I have a new office, studio, and coworker, so it almost feels like I’m starting a brand-new job. Luckily, I’ll be surrounded by the familiar faces of my clients and their families; a girl […]

A Fresh Look for Fall

August 28, 2014

Tweet This is a season of change for my private practice. What started as a tiny little side hustle for me back in 2007 has blossomed into a full-time business for not one, but TWO music therapists. I couldn’t be happier to have Katey Kratz as a partner in what is now Music Therapy Connections, […]

“Back to School” Roundup

August 22, 2014

Tweet I’m not sure how it happened, but yet another summer has slipped away and a new school year has begun. My Facebook newsfeed is full of back-to-school photos (which I love, just to be clear…as long as I don’t have to think about my child going off to school anytime soon!) and we’re gearing […]

Welcome to the World

August 19, 2014

Tweet Fun fact: It was my mom, not me, who wrote the first song dedicated to my son Parker after he was born last summer. She would sing it to him every time she came over to see him, and now we all sing “The Parker Song”. It took a couple of months for the […]

Coming Soon: A New Online CMTE Course

August 18, 2014

Tweet I’m knee-deep in content creation for my new CMTE course — Early Childhood Programs: Create, Market, Make Music! — and I can’t wait to share it with you in a few weeks. Creating a new group, class or program can be overwhelming, but it can also be extremely rewarding — especially when the end […]

Be a Part of the Baby Band

August 14, 2014

Tweet Let’s be honest: it doesn’t get much cuter than a whole bunch of babies playing instruments together. I’ve been a “baby bandleader” for many years now, teaching early childhood music classes, so it’s a little ridiculous that it took me this long to write a song all about my favorite kind of band. “Baby […]

My Last Week Working From Home

August 13, 2014

Tweet This summer, I’ve had lots of people ask me what I do. When I explain that I’m a music therapist with my own private practice/teaching studio, they almost always comment how incredibly lucky I am to work from home. Every time that happens, I think to myself, “Yes, I am incredibly lucky and it […]

If I Were a Music Therapy Student NOW…

August 11, 2014

Tweet If only we could go back in time and do certain things over again, knowing what we know now. Better yet, having the resources we have now. The years I spent in graduate school studying music therapy (2004-2006) seem like ages ago; SO much has changed in our field, in technology, and the world […]


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