Pajamas for Your Ears

When I was a freshman in college, I fell asleep every night listening to Jane Monheit’s aptly titled album, “Come Dream With Me”. I found it really soothing, and it drowned out any noise created by my roommate in our very small dorm room. The only downside was the discomfort caused by the headphones on my ears, which forced me to lay on my back (I am a side-sleeper).

So when I came across sleepphones, which are headphones specifically designed for use in bed at night, I was intrigued. These headphones are neither bulky nor made of hard plastic; rather, they are adjustable and made of a soft fleece material that fits around the head, and the speakers and wire can be positioned so that they don’t cause any discomfort. Take a look:

While I was definitely interested in having my own pair, another thought came to mind: these would be perfect for children with autism and other sensory issues, who enjoy music and find it soothing but are averse to wearing traditional headphones. After doing some further investigation (i.e. asking the company’s owner), I found that indeed, sleepphones are often used for this purpose. He even sent some feedback from parents of children with autism who have had success with the sleepphones:

“Love your product, by the way. My autistic son has worn out the last order. He is very sensitive to sounds and these have made his nights much more peaceful. Thank you for this great invention.”
– Joan S., CA

“THANK YOU! They are awesome! My daughter no longer gets out of bed multiple times at night. She gets to sleep easily now. Sleepphones = stressless nights.”
– Todd, PA

The headphones can be plugged into any mp3 or CD player, which is perfect since I charge my iPod on my nightstand every night. My own pair is on its way, so I will give my full review once it arrives. But I have a feeling that not only will it be effective in drowning out “Sportscenter” (my husband’s favorite bedtime show), but it might also be a useful tool in addressing sleep issues for children with and without disabilities. You can learn more about sleephone at their website.

What are your thoughts? Have you experimented with headphones of any kind with your children, and what has the outcome been?

Share Something Positive

Good morning! Another Monday is upon us, and although I had a tough time getting going today, I’m making the best of it. Just one of those days, you know?

Luckily, though, I have the perfect song for a day like today, when you just need some extra positivity to lift your spirits. This is an activity I’ve been using with my students recently, and they really seem to enjoy it. I’ll explain more after you take a listen:

Share something positive that happened this week.
It could be at home or school.
Something that you’re proud about or made you smile,
or something you thought was cool.

Many times when a student has something to share with the class and myself, he or she will speak out of turn or interrupt the current activity to do so. This particular song gives each student an opportunity to tell their story or share their thoughts while everyone is listening.

In a similar fashion to the compliment song, this tune is sung before each student’s turn. The positive events they share are quite diverse; one student might talk about going fishing with his grandpa, while another might tell us that she got to go home for the weekend (many of our students live at Hope, as it is a residential facility in addition to the learning center). I love learning more about the children’s lives through this activity.

How about you? I’d love to hear about something positive that happened in your life this week. I shared mine yesterday, so please return the favor in the comments section!

Publicity, Performance, and Praise, Oh My!

On Thursday morning I got an email from my husband. It was a picture of the Illinois Times cover taken with his iPhone after he realized that I just happened to be on it! I had an idea that I might get a mention because of a show I was scheduled to play this weekend, but a picture on the cover? No clue! Needless to say, it was a nice surprise.

And then he opened up the paper to find that my picture was also featured in the article, along with a short write-up in which my songs were described as “delightfully perceptive”. I couldn’t think of a higher compliment, really :)

The extra publicity was much appreciated, as I had a full house for my show this weekend at a new winery near Springfield. It was a beautiful night, so I was able to play on the outdoor stage. The audience was great, but the very best part of the whole night was right after my first set, when a little girl and her parents came up to talk to me.

The man said that he had seen me in the paper, and wanted his daughter (whose name was Gracie) to see a girl playing the guitar and performing. She had just gotten a guitar for her birthday, and wanted to learn to play it. Gracie told me that her favorite song I sang was “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Her dad bought a copy of my CD for her (plus three more to give as gifts) and asked me to autograph it. Before they left, she thanked me for playing and said, “I loved your music!” And then my heart melted.

It was a fabulous night, and exactly the musical outlet I needed after the last several weeks of work-related stress. I can’t wait to play there again in November!

Just another quick thanks to all the new visitors who have stopped by via Blogger’s “Blog of Note” announcement. I am loving all the comments and feedback – please keep them coming, and I promise I will respond to everyone very soon!

The Best of Listen & Learn

In honor of being named today’s “Blog of Note” by the awesome team at Blogger, I have compiled a list of the posts that I think best represent Listen & Learn Music. A Cliff Notes of sorts for first-time visitors, and a walk down memory lane for those of you who have supported this blog since it’s creation in September 2008. Let’s start at the very beginning…

9/4/08: An Introduction
My very first post, which tells the story behind Listen & Learn.

10/10/08: A New Friday Tradition
“Friday Faves” are still going strong. This was the inaugural one.

10/26/08: Up Close and Personal
Here, I share a little-known (non music-therapy) side of myself.

11/4/08: You Can Vote However You Like
A fun reflection on Election Day, including a fab video.

11/20/08: Turkey Dinner Dance
This song (and dance!) might just stir a Thanksgiving craving.

12/17/09: The Other Eight Reindeer
My nod to Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen.

1/30/09: Three Blue Pigeons
How I was able to reach a little boy with autism through a simple song.

2/23/09: Off to School Today
An upbeat tune all about going to school. School is cool!

4/20/09: Office Space
A photo tour of my home office and studio in its beginnings.

5/28/09: Bells are for Shaking
One of the many songs I’ve written specifically for the instruments we play.

6/25/09: I Heart Taylor Swift
Doesn’t everyone? Especially after the whole Kanye West/VMAs debacle.

7/14/09: Help Me, Help Them
A video I made to spread the word about my Kickstarter project.

8/4/09: On the Disney Channel
Hannah Montana? Check. Jonas Brothers? Check. The whole gang’s here.

9/4/09: Listen & Learn Turns 1
This post rounds out the past year in review as my blog celebrates its birthday!

Do you have a favorite post you’ve read or song you’ve heard here at Listen & Learn? I’d love to know about it. In the meantime, I am still reeling from the amazing bestowment of “Blog of Note” and 1,200+ visitors I’ve had today! Thanks to each and every one of you for sharing a few minutes of your day with me :)

Today’s Blog of Note!

Wow, wow, wow…I don’t even know what else to say. Oh, “Thank you, Blogger!” might be a good place to start. I am so thrilled and honor to be featured today as the Blog of Note, which can be found on Blogger’s homepage, the Blogs of Note blog, and Blogger’s Twitter page. Listen & Learn has been going strong for a little over a year now, and I couldn’t be happier with the free service that Blogger provides so that I have a platform in which to share my music therapy ideas and adventures, as well as my educational children’s songs for school, home, and play.

If this is your first time here, thank you so much for visiting! I hope you’ll continue to come back. My name is Rachel Rambach, and I am a board-certified music therapist in central Illinois. I write this blog for everyone who has an appreciation for the power of music, and you can learn more about Listen & Learn here. If you have any questions about the site, my music, or music therapy in general, feel free to email me, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Again, thank you for stopping by! And thanks, Blogger…you’re helping spread the word about music therapy and the role of music in education :)

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