{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 6

by Rachel on February 27, 2015

GGB Episode 6: Laura Theismann

I had the opportunity to speak on a panel about work-life balance at the 2013 AMTA national conference, which turned out to be an informative and wonderful experience for everyone in attendance. It also made apparent just how great the need is in our field for more resources related to this topic.

After the presentation ended, one of the attendees came up and introduced herself. We talked about both of our struggles with work-life balance and how it has nearly led to burnout. We exchanged contact info and kept in touch after the conference — and now I’m so happy to have Laura Theismann on the podcast.

Laura shares the story of finding out she was pregnant, how her son has influenced her work as a music therapist, and the challenges and perks of having a background in child development when it comes to parenting in Episode 6 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

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

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.


Shake Those Bells!

by Rachel on February 25, 2015

Bells are for Shaking Album Cover

Sometimes I come across a song I wrote YEARS ago that just needs a little facelift. Bells are for Shaking is definitely one of those songs, because it’s such an effective one for hitting so many different targeted objectives.

When I sing this song with my kiddos, I’m working on following directions, motor skills, identification of left and right hands, and attention to task. As far as they are concerned, they’re just playing bells and having fun (isn’t this the case so often in music therapy!?).

I dug this song out of my archives for the latest session of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, my early childhood music class, which necessitated a new recording to include on the class CD.

Much better than my 2009 version, if I do say so myself! Out of all the “bell” songs I’ve written, this one is probably my favorite…and I’m pretty sure my students feel the same way. Hope you can get some good use out of it, too.

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!


10 *MORE* Songs That Make Me Feel Good

by Rachel on February 23, 2015

10 More Songs That Make Me Feel Good

Back in the summer of 2011, I put together a list of 10 songs (current and not-so-current) that I was digging at the time. Since almost four years have passed since then, I thought it was high time that I post an updated list.

I have my students, son, and Pandora to thank for the random assortment of music that is currently helping me beat the wintertime blues:

  1. “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen – I heard this song before I ever saw the movie, because I had a couple of students request it. Now that my toddler is a little obsessed with Frozen, I hear it several times a day…and it has really grown on me.
  2. “Stockholm” by Jason Isbell – my music partner Matt and I recently added this song to our set list, and I can’t get enough of it. When it comes to songwriters, this guy is the bees’ knees. Plus, the harmony is really fun to sing.
  3. “Girls Chase Boys” by Ingrid Michaelson – her newest album, Lights Out, is great, especially this track. It’s an earworm I find myself singing hours after I hear the song.
  4. “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” by Renee & Jeremy – a throwback song covered by a children’s group. They are my favorite when it comes to recorded music (I use it for instrument play-alongs in one of my early childhood classes).
  5. “Back to the Earth” by Jason Mraz – If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, then it comes as no surprise that I love Jason Mraz. This song is from his most recent album, and it’s also a favorite of one of my music therapy clients (it’s even helped us with several in-session breakthroughs).
  6. “From This Valley” by The Civil Wars – when I think about their break-up, I want to cry…but this song helps ease the pain. It’s another one Matt and I added to our set list, and I have such a blast singing it.
  7. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift – nope, still not sick of it yet. This song gets my blood pumping and my body moving every single time.
  8. “I’m Not Angry Anymore” by Paramore – one of my students is learning this on the ukulele, and I couldn’t help but smile when we listened to it for the first time. Short, sweet and totally fun.
  9. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran – I don’t listen to the radio often, but I’m glad I caught this song on one of those rare occasions a few weeks back. Not sure if it’s his voice, the lyrics or both that completely got me hooked on it.
  10. “The Clean Up Song” from Barney – please forgive me for this one. They play it at Funshop (a mommy & me play class), and it quickly became Parker’s go-to song. I have to admit that it gets the job done…he starts cleaning up every time I sing it, and better yet, he sings along.

I could probably keep going, but I’ll stop here for now. And maybe I won’t wait another four years to post an updated list ;) What songs are making YOU feel good right now? Share ‘em in the comments!


{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 5

by Rachel on February 20, 2015

GGB Episode 5: Meryl Brown

Meryl and I met way back in the day, as grad students in the music therapy program at Illinois State University. We’ve served on the board of the Illinois Association for Music Therapy together, swapped business advice, and been a listening ear to each other when it comes to all things motherhood and work-life balance.

Meryl openly shares her struggle with postpartum depression, how she completely rebuilt her private practice after recovering, and the steps she took to successfully prevent PPD after the birth of her second daughter in Episode 5 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Meryl's Photo Collage

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

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.


Balancing Work & Life (Or Not)

February 18, 2015

Tweet I’ve been thinking about work-life balance a lot lately. It’s a topic that I discuss on a weekly basis with guests on my new podcast, and it’s at the forefront of my mind as I start preparing for the arrival of baby #2 in three short months. I’ve been emailing back and forth with […]

“Bonding” Songs for the Month of Love

February 16, 2015

Tweet I hope your Valentine’s Day was filled with sweetness! Mine was low-key and spent hanging out with my two Valentines, my husband Zach and son Parker. It may be considered a “Hallmark holiday” by many, but there is something to be said about a day devoted to showing the ones you love just how […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 4

February 13, 2015

Tweet I first met Natalie Mullis way back at the beginning of both our music therapy careers, when she emailed me about a song I posted on my blog. Since then, we have followed similar professional paths by leaving full-time jobs at facilities to open our own private practices. She became a mom to a […]

Say Something (Loudly & Quietly)

February 10, 2015

Tweet I sat down a few months ago to write a song targeting the goal of appropriate voice volume for one of my music therapy clients. As I brainstormed, the song “Say Something” by a Great Big World immediately came to mind (quite possibly because 3 of my voice students were working on this at […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 3

February 6, 2015

Tweet Confession: I’ve been waiting impatiently for this day all week…not because it’s Friday, but because I’m SO excited to share this episode of the podcast. It’s funny how being a mom helps create an almost instant bond between two people, and I felt that immediately during my interview with music therapist Amanda Clay. I […]

This is for YOU, Because You’re a Leader

February 4, 2015

Tweet In my almost 10 years of experience leading early childhood music classes, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many others who do similar work. We’re therapists (of the music, physical, speech, developmental, and occupational sort), music educators, music specialists, general education teachers, volunteers, parents, and the list goes on. But the bottom line […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 2

January 30, 2015

Tweet Happy Friday! This week has been pretty wonderful for many reasons, but in large part thanks to the emails, comments and social media feedback I’ve received about the new podcast. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about putting it out into the world…especially since it is geared to my colleagues who […]

The Empathy Song

January 27, 2015

Tweet A few months ago, my wonderful teacher friend Rene came to me with an idea for a song. She uses music quite a bit in her classroom, and wanted to do so in teaching and reinforcing the concept of empathy. I tried to put the definition and description of empathy into words (that rhyme, […]

Guitars & Granola Bars: A New Podcast

January 23, 2015

Tweet A funny thing happened in the last six months or so: I became addicted to podcasts. Although I’ve been co-hosting the Music Therapy Round Table podcast for five years now, I never thought to branch out beyond the few music therapy podcasts out there to which I subscribe. But after one of my favorite […]

I Have a Bean Bag

January 20, 2015

Tweet This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned what a HUGE fan I am of the movement props created by Bear Paw Creek. Their stretchy bands and connect-a-bands are both staples in my collection, and I just recently added their bean bags as well. There are so many ways to incorporate bean bags into my […]

Taking Music Therapy Mainstream

January 15, 2015

Tweet January is Social Media Advocacy Month in the music therapy world! This year’s theme is re:VISION, and many bloggers, including myself, are sharing our own stories about how we advocate for music therapy. For the first 7 years as a practicing music therapist, my work has been contained within schools, facilities, and my home […]

The Year is 2015

January 7, 2015

Tweet How is it possible that this is the 8th “song of the year” I’ve written since becoming a music therapist?! When I wrote my first one way back in 2008, I thought about how challenging it would be to write a new song that essentially says the same thing — just with a different […]


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