Friday Fave: Halloween!

Coming down with the flu can really set a girl back, you know? I’ve spent the last two days catching up on the work I should have been doing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when instead, I was laying in bed with a fever, cough, and headache. But thankfully, I am all better now and ready to take on this busy weekend!

And that includes, of course, HALLOWEEN. So in celebration of the spookiest day of the year, today’s Friday Fave is dedicated to dressing up, trick-or-treating, and scarfing down candy. I will be doing all of the above tomorrow at a friend’s costume party…what about you? Do you have any big Halloween day plans?

Oh, I also have to tell you that two of my students won our paper’s local costume contest and were featured on the front page of the State Journal-Register today! Take a look at these cute little slices of pizza:

Adorable, right? The girls’ mom made those costumes, and their win was well-deserved :) What are your little ones going as? I had so much fun looking at all of my students’ costumes at school today, from cheerleaders to jailbirds and everything in between.

Enjoy your Halloween; stay safe and have fun! Here’s a little tune to hum as you go to door-to-door with your little ghost or goblin.

<a href=”http://listenandlearn.bandcamp.com/track/halloween-day”>Halloween Day by Listen & Learn Music</a>

Do you know about a day
That’s not so very far away
Everywhere there’s orange and black
And chills are running up your back.

Jack-o-lanterns and ghosts and bats,
Witches and goblins and big black cats
Spooky spooks come out to play
On the thirty-first, Halloween Day.

Let’s pick a costume we can wear
And all the neighbors, we will scare
When at their door we trick or treat
And they will give us something sweet.

Jack-o-lanterns and ghosts and bats,
Witches and goblins and big black cats
Spooky spooks come out to play
On the thirty-first, Halloween Day.

Shapes are Everywhere

Shape identification is a skill I’ve addressed through music with countless students, and I think I’ve also lost count of the songs and activities I’ve used for this particular goal area. There are plenty of songs out there about shapes, but I decided to write my own so that I could choose which shapes I wanted to include, as well as specific examples of each.

<a href=”http://listenandlearn.bandcamp.com/track/shapes-are-everywhere”>Shapes are Everywhere by Listen & Learn Music</a>
Sheet Music: $1
Add to Cart

Rectangle, circle, triangle, square,
Find them here and there.
In your house, and outside too,
Shapes are everywhere.

Books and doors and picture frames
Are rectangles, usually.
Two sides are short, two sides are long,
Which rectangles can you see?

CHORUS

Wheels and buttons and lollipops
Are circles, usually.
Circles are round and have no sides,
Which circles can you see?

CHORUS

Slices of pizza, cake, and pie
Are triangles, usually.
Three sides that can be short or long,
Which triangles can you see?

CHORUS

Blocks and cheese and checkerboards
Are squares, usually.
Four sides that are all the same,
Which squares can you see?

CHORUS

See what other objects your students can identify in these four different shapes…I actually had a hard time coming up with a few of them! This song just begs for pictures to accompany it, which would be a great art project. What songs or activities have you used to teach shapes? I’d love to hear your ideas!

State Journal-Register: Lyrical Learning

I couldn’t have asked for a better feature about music therapy than the one my local paper published in today’s edition. Many, many thanks to Ann Gorman, who spent the good part of a day interviewing and observing me, and wrote the wonderful article. It is available online, but I also wanted to share it with my Listen & Learn readers right here.

Lyrical Learning:
Music therapist uses songs as teaching aid at Hope Institute

by Ann Gorman, Correspondent
The State Journal-Register
October 26, 2009

Rachel Rambach has a song for almost every occasion or teachable moment, from “Yummy Summer” and “Friendly Words” to “Fall into Fall” and “Under, Over, In and Out.”

The 26-year-old Springfield native has composed more than 100 melodies, using them in her work as a music therapist for the Hope Institute for Children and Families, and in her private practice.

Since 2007, she’s been employed designing and implementing a music therapy program for the Hope Institute. The institute is a nonprofit center that provides educational, residential and health services to people ages 5-21 with multiple developmental and physical disabilities, including cognitive impairment or illness, autism, cerebral palsy, neurological disorders, visual or auditory impairments, ambulatory difficulties and psychiatric or behavior disorders.

“Hands clap, feet tap. It’s time to sing hello./To you and you and you and you, all of the people that we know,” Rambach sang on a recent morning at Hope School Learning Center on East Hazel Dell Road in Springfield.

Grinning broadly, a young man named Ray enthusiastically joined in with Rambach as she strummed her guitar.

“So let’s all come together, and sing out big and strong./Let’s have a good time in music, while we dance and play along,” crooned Ray, who uses a wheelchair.

Other teens in the classroom, all with special needs, chimed in on songs about the weather or calendar, their voices building as they recalled the lyrics.

“The kids really benefit from repetition and hearing the songs a lot – they can sing them by heart and feel really comfortable with them,” Rambach said.

Although some students at first were reserved, when Rambach launched into “Move Your Body Along,” many eagerly clapped, stomped, stretched, twisted, jumped and swayed to the peppy tune.

During her weekly half-hour sessions in various classes at Hope School, Rambach also uses picture cards, books, scarves and small percussion instruments such as rhythm sticks, hand drums, bells, jingle sticks and brightly colored shakers to reach the pupils through music.

“Music connects people on a deeper level than speaking or dialogue does, especially (those) who don’t always communicate verbally as well as others,” Rambach said. “They respond to music, but they don’t have to do it by saying something verbally. They can clap their hands, play an instrument, sing or make sounds to communicate how they’re feeling.”

“It’s a fun thing for them to do,” teacher Jeni Sorrells said of the program. “Even if they don’t sing, they can participate no matter what their cognitive or physical abilities are.”

Musical healing

Rambach noted that music therapy does not entail teaching students or clients how to sing or become musically proficient.

“We’re working on skills that are non-musical,” she said.

She often writes songs to coincide with educational or skill-building units teachers are doing with students, such as colors, following directions or self-care.

“They’re learning something (by way of music), but it’s not hard. It’s not something that feels like a chore or a lesson,” Rambach said.

According to the American Music Therapy Association Web site, the use of music as a “healing influence” dates back to ancient times. Its power became evident in the modern era when, following World Wars I and II, doctors noticed veterans suffering physical and emotional trauma responded well when musicians performed at the hospitals.

However, musicians needed training to work in those settings, which led to the development of the first music therapy degree program at Michigan State University in 1944.

Today, music therapists are employed at medical and psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, outpatient clinics, daycare treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled people, mental-health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools and private practice.

Rambach, a 2001 graduate of Springfield High School, became interested in all types of music at a young age. Studying voice at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., she “stumbled upon” music therapy while working on a careers-in-music project.

“I was reading about the effects that music has on not only people with Alzheimer’s, but kids and really anybody,” Rambach said. “I found it fascinating.”

After job-shadowing a music therapist for a semester, Rambach said she “knew that that was for me.” She graduated early from Rollins, earned her master’s degree in music therapy at Illinois State University, and began working for Hope Institute after clinical training at Midwest Music Therapy Services in St. Louis.

Rambach also has a private practice, Music Therapy Connections, at her westside home that she shares with her husband, Zach. She hopes to offer consulting services in the future.

Twelve-year-old Ian “Rusty” Russell has been going to weekly sessions for a few months.

“He loves it,” said his father, Ted Russell.

“She does a lot of music with me, because I’m a fan of music. I like the Beatles,” said Rusty, who has autism.

During their time together in the studio, Rambach and Rusty take turns singing questions and answers about their day and other things.

“Rusty, do you like food that’s made of apples?” Rambach asks, a lilt in her voice.

“I like apple pie. I like apples and peanut butter. I like apple juice. Oh, and I like applesauce,” Rusty replies harmoniously.

They also play “Repeat After Me” on the keyboard and do other musical activities. Then there is one last song: “It’s time for me to go, oh, oh, oh …”

While some of the changes Rambach has noticed in her students since starting the music therapy program have been subtle – more attentiveness, better eye contact and greater response – others have been obvious, with more students willing to “step outside their comfort zone” and try new things.

“It’s been really exciting to see that transition,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

More about Rambach’s music

Rachel Rambach writes an Internet blog about her experiences as a music therapist, and her songs are available for download, via online subscription.

Thanks to donations, Rambach soon will professionally record, manufacture and distribute “Listen & Learn: Music for a Different Kind of Audience,” a collection of songs compiled from her extensive Listen & Learn Music collection.

For more information, see www.musictherapyconnections.org or www.listenlearnmusic.com.

In addition, Rambach is featured on the Model Me Kids DVD, “Faces and Emotions.”
In the video series, children demonstrate social skills by modeling peer behavior. Learn more at Model Me Kids.

A Springfield native, Rambach has performed in local community theater productions and serves on the children’s music staff at Laurel United Methodist Church. She recently began playing at venues such as The Walnut Street Winery in Rochester and The Alamo in Springfield.

Visit www.facebook.com/RachelRambachMusic, www.rachelrambach.com or The State Journal-Register’s A&E section each Thursday for show dates.

Music Therapy in the News…Again!

It has been a great year for music therapy in Springfield. Not only did our local news feature my work in August, but tomorrow, the State Journal-Register is running an article about it. As part of the interview they did with me, they also recorded a short video. I wish it included a few other portions of the session, but hey, I’ll take what I can get! It’s exciting that the word about music therapy is getting out in central Illinois.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the article, so make sure to check it out. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and are not stuck in bed with the flu, like I am. I’ll most likely be blogging from this very spot for the next few days :( Stay healthy, everyone!

Friday Fave: Facebook

When I joined Facebook as a 21-year-old graduate student back in 2004, I would have laughed at you if you’d told me that one day, my mother and I would be Facebook friends. Fast-forward to five years later, when I am Facebook friends with not only my mother, but her friends, my dad, my former professors, and my students’ parents. Not to mention hundreds of other people from all areas of my life.

Over the last couple of years, Facebook has transitioned from a neat way to keep in touch with friends from college, to a completely legitimate networking tool. I’ve befriended and exchanged ideas with other music therapists, explained music therapy to complete strangers via mutual friends’ wall posts, and created a nice network of people who read Listen & Learn or use the services of my private practice, Music Therapy Connections. My Facebook page allows me to update my “fans” with new blog posts, information they might find useful, and best of all, it lets them get to know me as a person.

So thank you to everyone who has taken a moment to “become a fan” of Listen & Learn on Facebook, simply by clicking the Facebook box that appears in the left-hand sidebar of this page. (And if you haven’t already, please do so!) I also wanted to share a few other Facebook pages that you might enjoy:

Brown Music Therapy
The Hope Institute for Children & Families
Kidlutions: Solutions for Kids
Kids Sing Studio
Laurie Berkner Band
Midwest Music Therapy Services
Model Me Kids
Neurosong Music Therapy Services, Inc.
Songs For Teaching
West Music

If you can think of any I might have left out, or you have your own Facebook page that Listen & Learn readers might enjoy, please feel free to share in the comments section or send me an email. Happy Friday, everyone!

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