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There are a few words that come to mind when I think about New Year’s Eve: party, celebration, fun, friends. But the most important one — and I think you’ll agree with me on this — is safety.

Song for Buckling Seatbelt

Of course, wearing our seatbelts is a no-brainer 100% of the time, but it’s especially critical tonight amidst all the partying and celebration. So I figured there is no better time than the present to share this “bucklin’ up” how-to, if you will.

Members of Listen & Learn Plus! can download the MP3 and lead sheet for “Bucklin’ Our Seatbelts” today. For more details about this song and to listen to it, check out my original post here.

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Members, click here to access this post.

Friday Fave: New Year’s Eve Weekend

New Year's Eve Weekend

How can it be that this is the last weekend of 2011? This year seemed to fly by, and now it is coming to an end. Luckily, these final two days are gonna be good ones! I’ve always thought New Year’s Eve is a little overrated, but you can’t go wrong with plans that involve family, friends, and music.

I’m kicking off this holiday weekend with a gig tonight, which is always a guaranteed fun time. Matt and I have played at the Walnut Street Winery several times in the last couple of months, and are looking forward to returning this evening. It’s a good warm-up for tomorrow’s NYE performance in downtown Springfield. Every year, my city holds First Night Springfield, which is a family-friendly event for all ages. We’re super excited and honored to be a part of it this year.

In fact, we are even working on a new song just for tomorrow’s performance. I already knew the song “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and liked it, but knew we had to give it a go after seeing this video earlier today:

No wild and crazy New Year’s parties for this girl — I’m a little too old for that ;) Making music is much more fun, anyhow…and the perfect way to bring 2011 to a close. What are YOU doing New Year’s Eve?

End of the Year Office Organization

End-of-Year Office Organization

At this time every year, I put aside a few hours to declutter, file, reorganize, and purge my office/studio. You’d be surprised at how many stacks of paper, receipts, and music books I’ve found stashed all over. It feels so good to start the new year with a newly organized work space!

Here are a few of the tasks on my list today:

  • Scan printed sheet music
  • Enter expenses and file receipts
  • Finish thank you notes to students
  • Frame and hang student artwork
  • Clear out my inbox
  • Part with unneeded programs, fliers, etc.
  • Find homes for stray items in my storage closet
  • Back up my computer on my external hard drive
  • Put away Christmas music
  • Reorganize music bookcase
  • Put instruments and equipment back in their place

Yikes! That list is a little overwhelming now that I’m looking at it all written out. But there’s no time like the present to get everything done — especially since my week long break is quickly coming to an end.

This office organization is just the beginning of a year-long decluttering effort, thanks to Michelle Erfurt. She started a Facebook group to tackle the 2012 Declutter Calendar, and I am fully on board!

Now that this blog post is finished, it’s time to get down to business. Are you doing any heavy duty organizing or decluttering before the new year begins?

2011: The Year in Review

2011 Year in Review

With just four days remaining in 2011, it’s time to take a look back at what has happened this year, both personally and professionally (as I did in 2009 and 2010). 2011 will go down as a life-changing year in my book, to be sure.

I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions or set huge goals for myself in January, but for some reason, I took a leap at the beginning of 2011 by announcing my plan to blog every day for an entire year. At first, it was easy — I was full of new songs, topic ideas, and enthusiasm. As the months went by, blogging daily became more of a challenge, especially as my private practice and studio continued to grow. But I stuck with it, and now am only a few days away from reaching my goal. It’s a pretty great feeling!

One of my most frequent blog topics has been my career path. 2011 saw a BIG change when I left my first job as a professional music therapist at The Hope Institute for Children & Families after four years. I took my private practice and studio full-time, more than doubling my student load in June. Those summer months were beyond stressful, but they were proof that I could in fact support myself as a fully self-employed music therapist.

Not only did my career undergo an overhaul, but so did my studio. I said goodbye to my original location and watched as the other side of my house was transformed into a dedicated studio space with a separate entrance. Not only am I in love with the new studio, but so are my students, their families, and my husband (because he now has full reign over the rest of the house when he comes home from work).

2011 was also the year I rediscovered my love for performing. I was active in the local music scene for a couple of years, but didn’t have the time for most of 2010 and the first half of this year. I jumped back in over the summer, and have been going strong ever since. In fact, I’ll spend this New Year’s weekend playing out. Performing is the perfect balance to teaching and music therapy.

Other highlights of 2011: launching Music Therapy Pro with my wonderful colleagues and friends, Kimberly & Michelle; strengthening my connections with other music therapists doing extraordinary things both online and off, and attending another spectacular AMTA national conference.

One thing that has remained constant every year is the love and support of my family and friends. I’m so lucky to have been blessed with parents who stand behind every decision I make and are my biggest fans. Well, actually my husband shares that title with them. He has been amazingly supportive of my transition into self-employment and puts up with all my rehearsals, late nights working, and constant computer time. Blessed really doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel!

I’m beyond excited for 2012, especially where Listen & Learn is concerned. Many of you have asked about my plans (will I continue to blog every day? will I be setting a new crazy goal?) and I’ll be filling you in soon. Thank you for continuing to read the blog, becoming members of Listen & Learn Plus, and sharing my songs and resources with your own students and clients.

What were your 2011 highlights? I would love to read your thoughts on the year as it comes to a close, whether in the comments below or in your very own year-end blog post (or both!).

A Very Ukulele Christmas

Cordoba Tenor Ukulele

My parents thought I was a little nuts when I told them all I wanted for Christmas was a new ukulele. I had fun learning on my $60 soprano uke, but was ready to upgrade to something a little more sturdy — and more importantly, a uke I could plug in to a sound system for gigs.

I’m all grown up, but I still love a good Christmas surprise. After we had opened almost all of our presents, my dad announced that he had forgotten one in the car. When he carried in a giant wrapped box, I was a little more than excited…sure enough, it turned out to be the beauty I’m so happily pictured with above!

Cordona Tenor Ukulele and Case

The Cordoba Tenor Ukulele has a solid mahogany top, mahogany sides and back, an electronic pick-up, and above all, a beautiful sound that I can’t get enough of. It’s such a fun instrument to play that I’m already predicting most of my new songs and videos will feature the uke.

Ever since becoming a music therapy student back in 2004, my Christmas list has included instruments and other tools of the trade. I doubt that will change anytime soon :) Did you unwrap any new instruments or other music therapy supplies this Christmas?

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