Stop, Think and Do



The teachers at my school often ask me to write very specific songs to enhance their classroom lessons.  After all, my job as a music therapist is to support each classroom’s progress toward established goals and objectives.  Last month I was asked to write a song featuring the phrase “stop, think and do”.  This is a motto in our classroom for students with behavioral issues; they are encouraged to go through this process in any situation which could possibly result in making a bad decision.

I wanted this song to be an interactive experience for the students; not only does it remind them to follow those three steps, but I also provide opportunities to share situations in which the process was successful for them.  I’ll explain further after you have a chance to listen and read the lyrics:

Well there are three little words I wanna say to you:
Stop, think and do.
Before you take action, every time, it’s true,
Stop, think and do.
Stop moving and pause, and think it through,
And then you can do (doot-do-doot-do).

When you’re angry, you need to make a good choice.
Stop, think and do.
When you’re angry, you need to use your voice.
Stop, think and do.

CHORUS

When you’re upset, you need to make a good choice.
Stop, think and do.
When you’re upset, you need to use your voice.
Stop, think and do.

CHORUS

When you’re hurting, you need to make a good choice.
Stop, think and do.
When you’re hurting, you need to use your voice.
Stop, think and do.

CHORUS

Situations in which a student is feeling angry, upset, or hurt are the most important times to “stop, think and do”.  After each verse, I invite the class to share a time when they felt that particular emotion, followed he steps, and made a good decision.  This is a group of students that love to talk, so I give them plenty of time to do so in a structured manner.  (We begin each music therapy session with “Share Something Positive” and wrap it up with “Compliments” just before the goodbye song.)

I think turning these types of phrases into songs increases their effectiveness, especially if children listen to and sing them on a regular basis.  Do you have any phrases similar to “stop, think, and do” that are frequently used in your classroom, therapy sessions, or your own home?  It just might be my next song topic – so please share!

Sunday Singalong: You Belong With Me

Last summer, I wrote a post about Taylor Swift and explained why I’m such a big fan.  Almost a year later, my feelings haven’t changed, and neither have my voice students’.  In addition to classical, Broadway, and art songs, I always sneak in a pop or country song here and there.  Taylor is usually at the top of the list, which is why I chose “You Belong With Me” as this week’s featured song.

Do you think pop music has a place in voice, piano, and guitar lessons?  I know that many studio teachers disagree with this practice.  But I think that it is important for students to sing the songs they want to learn in addition to those they should learn.  It’s all about striking a balance between the two.

Well another weekend has slipped by, and tomorrow will mark the beginning of my second-to-last full week of school before summer break.  Crazy.  Those 12 remaining days are jam packed with activity, including the all-school singalong, graduation, and planning for summer music therapy classes and sessions.  I’m going to relax this evening before the chaos sets in tomorrow…hope you’ll do the same!

Friday Fave: Champions for Children

I write frequently about children with special needs and the work I (and all of you professionals and parents) do to make their lives better.  But today I want to talk about another group of children: those who have been sexually and physically abused.  This is somewhat of a taboo topic in our society, because people don’t want to think about the fact that this kind of abuse happens.  But the sad reality is that it does, and all too often.

April was National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Illinois is carrying that awareness into May with with weekend’s Champions for Children Walk.  Tomorrow morning, people in 27 cities throughout Illinois will walk in support of the 10,500 abused children that Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) serve every year.

Working with law enforcement, medical professionals, and other agencies, CACs offer a safe, child-friendly environment for forensic interviews and medical evaluations of the child victim, and on-going support for children who have been abused, as well as their families.  My mom opened the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center here in Springfield just over 20 years ago, and my stepdad is the current executive director.  This year, in honor of the Champions for Children Walk, my mom and I collaborated on a song which will serve as the event’s theme.  You can listen below, and follow the link to download it for free:

Sometimes I wonder if it matters what I do
Is there anyone who’ll listen, or am I among the few
Who see the pain and hear the cry
And stop to question why?

Rise up and take a stand
Raise your voice, reach out a hand
Be a champion for a child
Speak the words she cannot say
Be the light that she’s been searching for
and give her strength to help her find her way

For a moment stop and wonder
How a child can live in fear
What are they telling us that we cannot hear?
What do they need to ease their pain
the tears that flow like rain?

Chorus

Just think of the changes that we could make
how different our world could be
when silence is broken and their voices are heard
when we open our eyes to see

Chorus

And even though you most likely don’t live in Springfield, or even Illinois, you can “rise up” and be a Champion for Children.  How?  By sponsoring me in tomorrow’s walk, if you feel so inclined.  Any pledge amount, from $1 on up, will go towards the child abuse prevention, education, and direct service to children who have experienced physical and sexual abuse.  Pledges can be made by clicking the “make a donation to this group” link at the very bottom of this page.

Although it’s been raining all week, we’ve been blessed with a beautiful forecast for tomorrow’s walk!  I’ll be singing “Rise Up” to kick things off, and then it’ll be time to get moving.  I can’t wait.  Hope you all have a fantastic Friday and a wonderful weekend!  See you back here on Sunday for this week’s Sunday Singalong video.

Kappa Delta Recognizes Music Therapy

When I found out I was going to be featured in my sorority’s national alumnae magazine a few months back, I couldn’t believe it.   I’ve been reading the Angelos of Kappa Delta since I graduated from Rollins College in 2004, and am always amazed by the wonderful things that Kappa Delta women across the country are doing. To be amongst such company is a pretty huge honor, if you ask me!

“Bridging the Communication Gap” highlights the work I do as a music therapist here in Springfield, along with another KD alum who uses sign language to help children with disabilities learn to communicate.  The article doesn’t mention it, but the picture above was taken during my local alumnae chapter’s Founders Day dinner, for which I wrote and performed an original song.

A special thank you to Kimberly S. Moore, who sent me the article in PDF format.  Her mom is a KD alum as well, saw the article, and emailed it to Kimberly.  (Small world, huh?)  You can download and read it via this link:

Download: Rachel in the Angelos Magazine

Kappa Delta also published a Q&A with me, which covers lots of topics (from my education to my experiences as a KD in college).  You can read that here.

Before & After

One of the best decisions I ever made was moving my private practice from “the road” (traveling to my students’ homes) into my own home-based studio.  This has allowed me to work with many more students on a daily basis, because no longer do I need to build commute time into my schedule.  I can honestly admit that I don’t miss packing my car every morning with the necessary equipment, hauling it in and out of my trunk, and spending all of that extra money on gas.

I love that I have everything I need at my fingertips, especially when an idea strikes in the middle of a music therapy session. I also love that I can neatly organize my materials in advance of my students’ arrival, as evidenced in these photos taken before a recent session:

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But as anyone who spends time with children knows all too well, neatness isn’t high on their list of priorities. I’m a self-admitted neat freak, but that flies out the window when I’m working with a child. Half the time, I’m creating most of the mess by bringing out different instruments, visual aides, and other items during our session. I was glad I captured the “before” shots on that particular day, because the “after” scene was just too funny not to document:

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My favorite part is the opened drawers…I couldn’t have staged it this well!  My student and I used every last one of those instruments and items, and ended up running out of time at the end of our session.  Otherwise we’d have put everything back in its place while singing this song :)  My next student was a few minutes late, which gave me just enough time to tidy up before his piano lesson.  Good thing, because I doubt he’d have appreciated this mess as much as I did!

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