Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…

by Rachel on August 31, 2015

Back to Work After Maternity Leave

It’s off to work I go! This is where I’ll be spending a big part of my week starting today, and I’m super excited about it. Okay, a little sad, because what mom is jumping for joy about leaving her 3-month-old…but mostly super excited.

When I mention that I’m returning to work after maternity leave, most people respond with, “what maternity leave?”. They have a point; although I didn’t work with students individually this summer after having my baby in May, I did teach two classes, continue doing administrative work to keep the business running, and open a new facility alongside my business partner, Katey.

But I was able to do a lot of that work (minus the classes and renovations) from home, and I didn’t have any semblance of a regular routine or schedule all summer long. Starting today, all that changes.

Monday through Thursday, I’ll be working with students in the afternoons and evenings as well as teaching my early childhood class on Tuesday mornings. The beautiful thing about my schedule is that I’m still able to be home with Mia and Parker in the mornings, and this year — for the first time ever — I’m not working on Fridays. It does make for a little bit longer days the rest of the week, but totally worth it to have an entire extra day devoted to my kids.

As delightful as this schedule is, I will be honest that it isn’t easy or relaxing. Caring for a baby all day and THEN going to work with children for several hours back-to-back is no joke; I know because I did it for 18 months with Parker. Not only is it physically exhausting, but it’s also a juggle making sure everything is in place with child care and finding the time to do all the work that requires my attention outside of direct service hours. Oh yeah, and I’m not thrilled about having to pump two times a day, but I know many moms who have to do so while driving or in random places during the workday, so I really have no excuse for complaint.

I’m hoping this time around is a little more manageable overall, and I have high hopes because a) Mia sleeps at night, unlike Parker when he was an infant; and B) I’ve learned some strategies for doing it all and staying sane (most of the time, ha!).

I also know that it gets easier. When Parker started going to school Tuesday through Thursday at 18 months old, it opened up a whole new world for me. At this time next year, Mia will be there with him, so I will have three entire work days each week at that point.

But I am definitely not wishing this time away, because I know in a few years I will greatly miss this time “in the trenches” as they say. Luckily, I absolutely love my work, which makes it worth all the 5 am wakeups and 8 pm bedtimes. I’m feeling a little like a kid on her first day at a new school, except my mom won’t be taking any pictures of me on the front porch before I go ;)


{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 32

by Rachel on August 28, 2015

GGB Episode 32: Janet Stephens

All of the guests I’ve interviewed on my podcast thus far have been music therapists, but I didn’t think twice about making an exception for this particular episode. If you’re a music therapist, especially one who works with kids, then you know Janet Stephens — or at least her products.

Janet is the creator of the famous stretchy band and many other movement props used in music therapy sessions, classrooms, and other settings all over the world. She also knows a thing or two about motherhood, considering she has 8 children.

Janet talks about her path that led to having a large family, the evolution of her successful business, and how her “big picture” mentality allows her to prioritize the important things in life in Episode 31 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

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

This episode is sponsored by Music Teacher’s Helper, which is software for music teachers and therapists that helps manage your private music lesson studio and/or music therapy practice. I’ve used Music Teacher’s Helper every single day since 2011, and it is one of the best tools I have to keep my private practice running smoothly.

Sign up here for a 30-day no risk trial. If you choose to sign up after the trial using my link, you’ll save 20% off your first month!

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
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Apples & Bananas

by Rachel on August 25, 2015

Apples & Bananas | Children's SongIt’s no secret that most of the songs I use in music therapy sessions, groups and classes are originals that I’ve written myself. I’m a firm believer in tailoring materials to my individual clients and groups of students, which is much more easily done when I’m composing the lyrics and melodies.

But there is certainly a place for familiar songs in those settings, especially where young children and their families are concerned. When I’m creating curricula for my early childhood classes, I always make sure to intersperse a few songs most people will know and be able to sing along with right away.

Familiar music creates a feeling of belonging and encourages stronger participation. If children see their parents or caregivers singing along, they are much more likely to try and do the same. I have an arsenal of favorites, and Apples and Bananas is most definitely one of them. Here’s the version that I recorded for a recent class.

You probably learned this song before you hit kindergarten; in fact, my two-year-old son came home singing it a few weeks ago. “Apples and Bananas” is silly and a bit nonsensical, but it’s also great for working on the concept of vowels and the sounds that they make.

In addition to the original songs that I share here, I’ll also be posting more of my favorite “classics” from time to time. What are some of yours? The beginning of the school year is always a repertoire-building frenzy for me!


{Mama Moment} One More Week

by Rachel on August 24, 2015

One more week of maternity leave

The longest shortest time, indeed. When I think back to the end of May when Mia was born, it seems like just yesterday; this summer flew by in the blink of an eye. But some days felt absolutely interminable, especially at the beginning when I was just getting the hang of caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time.

But I knew from previous experience how precious and fleeting this time is, so I tried hard to soak it all up — I think I took more pictures in these last three months than I have my entire life. I’m already getting nostalgic about this summer, spent at home with my sweet babies and knee deep in diapers.

Working during maternity leave

Although I was technically on maternity leave, I didn’t hang up my music therapist/teacher/business owner hats all together: I taught two early childhood classes, a few lessons here and there, didn’t miss a week of producing my podcast (even the week Mia was born!)…oh, and my business partner and I renovated a new music therapy and teaching facility.

It was a busy summer that required a lot of juggling, but honestly I think it helped keep the baby blues away. I didn’t feel like I lost track of who I was aside from a mom the way I did when Parker was born, which was a huge relief. I have to say that it has been a much smoother ride the second time around.

Maternity leave

I’m hoping that the ride continues to be just as smooth as I dive back into full-time work a week from today. I’ll write more about my schedule and how work days will look later, but right now I’m going to get back to savoring what is left of my maternity leave. The longest shortest week ever, to be sure.


Before and After

August 23, 2015

Tweet When Katey and I first stepped into 1234 Centre West Drive, we knew we had found just what we were looking for. Yes, we were surrounded by a sea of purple, but we saw past the cosmetic misfortune because the bones of the building were good. Actually, they were great. Though the entire place […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 31

August 21, 2015

Tweet I had a hard enough time returning to work after my maternity leave to work with children in my private practice, so I can only imagine just how difficult it was for Lauren Servos to not only return to work, but spend her days treating CRITICALLY ILL infants the same age as her daughter. […]

Hum a Tune

August 17, 2015

Tweet I’ve seen a lot of funny things in my years of working with kids, but one of the funniest has to be watching a child learn to play the kazoo. For some, it clicks right away, but most of the time there is a learning curve involved. My two-year-old fell into the latter category; […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 30

August 14, 2015

Tweet There are very few music therapists who DON’T know JoAnn Jordan. She’s one of those people who goes out of her way to hello at conference, celebrates your good news on Facebook, and retweets you on Twitter. I always love talking with JoAnn because not only is she an innovative music therapist, but she […]

Five Little Ducklings

August 13, 2015

Tweet Earlier this week as I organized all of my singable stories on the bookshelves of our brand new studio, I took note of my favorites and those that have been most effective in classes and music therapy sessions. Five Little Ducklings ranks in the top 10, although if you ask my son Parker, he […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 29

August 7, 2015

Tweet I’ve heard some pretty fascinating stories on this podcast, but Alana’s might just take the cake. I’m sure you’ll be just as riveted as I was when you hear all that Alana has been through — including the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — and overcome to get to where she is today. Alana’s […]

All Signs Point to Music Therapy Connections

August 5, 2015

Tweet We signed the least on our new building back in May, but it wasn’t until I spotted this sign from the street that it hit me: Music Therapy Connections has a new home! What started as a solo music therapist traveling to clients’ homes now has 2,300 square feet of dedicated space and a […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 28

July 31, 2015

Tweet Ever since starting this podcast, I had plans to eventually record an episode where I would share my own story as it relates to music therapy and motherhood. But I put it off until now, knowing that the story would evolve once my daughter was born. I finally went for it this week, and […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 27

July 24, 2015

Tweet Jennifer Hezoucky’s story is different from almost all of the guests I’ve featured on the podcast thus far. I don’t want to give any spoilers aside from the short synopsis below, so you’ll have to listen to find out why I was so intrigued by what she shares in the episode (you will be […]

One Thing at a Time

July 18, 2015

Tweet Last Sunday night, I felt completely overwhelmed thinking about the week ahead. We’re in the midst of having our new building renovated, and we had yet to find a painter after my regular painter broke his foot. We also needed to choose carpeting, finalize the design for our building signs, and tie up some […]

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 26

July 17, 2015

Tweet Fun fact: Michelle Erfurt is the very first music therapist friend I made online. The funny thing is that it wasn’t through Facebook or Twitter; we actually met via the email listserv (old school!). She contacted me right after I launched Listen & Learn Music and shared a link on the listserv way back […]

It’s a Midsummer Mega-Sale!

July 15, 2015

Tweet Where has this summer gone? It is flying by wayyyy too quickly, which is a little bittersweet since I’m currently on maternity leave (well, kind of). This weekend, we’re throwing a Midsummer Music Celebration for our students, clients, friends and family, and that inspired me to celebrate midsummer here at Listen & Learn, as […]


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