Adiós, 2010!

fireworksAnother year, another “Top 12” countdown.  It’s always a pleasure (if not a challenge) to go back through the past year’s archives and choose my favorite moments to highlight.  2010 was a big year…I think the following blog posts represent it well.

January: My first Sunday Singalong video debuted!  The series is still going strong.
February: I became a podcaster at the Music Therapy Round Table.
March: The 2nd Model Me Kids DVD for which I wrote/recorded songs debuted.
April: I recapped my awesome experience inside the recording studio.
May: My work was featured in Kappa Delta’s national alumnae magazine.
June: A post about bass lines for singable stories had my comments buzzing.
July: I celebrated my CD release with a big party and performance.
August: I heard from lots of music therapists regarding internship experiences.
September: Listen and Learn celebrated its 2nd birthday!
October: I confessed my love for another instrument…the ukulele.
November: AMTA conference month!  I posted my in-depth recap and pictures.
December: My Counting Time Collection debuted and received excellent reviews.

Do you have any favorite Listen & Learn moments to add to the list?  Please share them in the comments.  As I’ve done frequently over the past two years and counting, I’d like to thank you for reading, commenting, and supporting my endeavors.  I hope you’ll continue to include Listen & Learn as a part of your day in 2011.

Top 5 Online Discoveries of 2010

Top-Online-Discoveries-2010I spend a lot of time using the internet.  This year I’ve logged more hours than ever, having thrown myself wholeheartedly into blogging and social media.  Over the past 12 months, I’ve come across quite a few resources that have helped me do those things efficiently and opened up doors that I didn’t even know existed.  Hopefully some of these resources can do the same for you.

  1. Chris Guillebeau: I’ve mentioned Chris before in my newsletter, and he’s the perfect person to kick off this list.  His book, The Art of Non-Conformity, has changed my way of thinking about work and the way I live my life, and his Empire-Building Kit has given me the tools to implement those changes.
  2. I may have been a bit behind the times on this one, seeing as how Listen & Learn began as a Blogger blog.  I had a great experience using Blogger, but WordPress allows me to do so much more with this site than I ever though possible.  I wrote about my move to WordPress.
  3. Wisestamp: This great little browser plugin allows me to include my custom signature, including links to my websites and social media profiles, on every email I send automatically.
  4. Amazon Associates: I’m always recommending books, music, and other resources that I use and find helpful in my work as a music therapist, singer/songwriter, and studio teacher.  This free affiliate program allows me to collect a small profit when others buy the products I recommend.  Although it’s not much, those small paychecks (which I choose to receive in the form of Amazon giftcards) are put to good use each month.
  5. Linoit: I featured this site as a Friday Fave in the fall, but it bears repeating.  I use color-coded online sticky notes as my  to-do list, which I can access from both my work and home computers.  It saves paper, and it is extremely satisfying to “peel off” each note as I complete the task.

What are your top online discoveries of the past year?  Maybe it’s a blog that you have found particularly inspiring, or a tool that makes your online activities easier.  Whatever it is, I want to know about it!

2010: The Year in Review

The Year 2010 in ReviewWith just four days remaining of 2010, I’ve been thinking a lot about where this year has taken me — both professionally and personally speaking.  It seems like just yesterday I was writing my 2009 review!  But as quickly as 2010 flew, I packed a lot into the past 12 months.  I’ll post a “Top 12” list later in the week; today’s post is a reflection of the year as a whole.  Here goes.

Almost four years into my career as a music therapist, I have to say that I’m feeling more confident in my skills than ever.  At the beginning of 2010, I set out to accomplish a new professional goal: starting a music therapy internship and supervising my first intern.  I was successful in getting the internship up and running, and now my intern is halfway through her nine-month stint at The Hope Institute.  It has definitely been a wonderful learning experience, and I’m already beginning to tackle my next challenge: offering CMTE credits as a CBMT-approved provider.

I’ve also made more connections with colleagues in the professional world.  I was elected to the executive board of the Illinois Association for Music Therapy last December, and have loved becoming more involved with advocacy and continuing education in my state.  February saw the birth of the Music Therapy Round Table, a podcast with fellow music therapists Kimberly Sena Moore and Michelle Erfurt.  The three of us presented our first CMTE course this past November at AMTA’s national music therapy conference, and are already looking forward to doing it again.

Although I’ve been blogging here at Listen & Learn since 2008, this has been the year in which I feel like I’ve really hit my stride.  I ventured into the world of YouTube with my Sunday Singlong series, grew my premium membership base, and became a WordPress convert.  But there is definitely still room for growth, and I plan to explore many more avenues for Listen & Learn in 2011.

This coming year will bring some big changes.  I’m going to be stepping into some uncharted (for me, at least) territory, which I’ll share with you as the next few months unfold.  But for now, I’m looking forward to getting on with what has been a wonderful school year both in private practice and at The Hope Institute.

And personally?  2010 was a relatively low-key year in comparison with 2009.  We’ve been in our “new” house for almost two years now, and our dog Sadie is getting calmer with age (she’ll be 2 in March).  Zach and I are looking forward to traveling quite a bit in 2011, starting with our trip to south Florida in January.  We’re also excited about being in our best friends’ weddings this summer, and finding out what else the new year will bring :)

Friday Fave: Christmas is Here!


Well, technically it’s Christmas Eve…but I don’t plan on spending any time with my computer (as much as I love it) tomorrow.  Today has been busy enough as it is, between friends and neighbors dropping by, baking cookies, cleaning, and getting ready for our family’s Christmas gathering tomorrow.

But the fun doesn’t stop there: tonight we’ll attend my church’s Christmas Eve service, in which my choir will perform the Christmas song my mom wrote (complete with a brass and wind ensemble and yours truly singing the solo).  After church, we’ll head to Zach’s parents’ house, and then on to my aunt and uncle’s for their yearly Christmas Eve party.

Tomorrow will be filled with more family and friends — plus presents!  Watching our nephew and niece open theirs (with a little help from their parents) will definitely be the highlight.  And I’m super excited to host my family at our house for the first time ever.  Luckily my parents are doing most of the cooking :)  What are your plans for Christmas 2010?

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Winter’s Here, All Right!

Rachel in Winter

Ahh, just another day in the life of a midwesterner heading to work in the winter.  My husband managed to capture this oh-so-flattering shot of me around this time last year…a fashion statement that will become all too familiar over the next few months.  Can you tell how much I LOVE winter?!

Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a white Christmas just as much as the next guy.  But the never-ending cold and snow just isn’t my thing.  I have to look on the bright side, though: the change of seasons gives me an excuse to write a new song!

Winter’s here, the first season of the year.
From the end of December until April’s near.
The birds have gone away, the cold is here to stay,
Day after day.

Brrr, the wind is blowing.
Brr, put your earmuffs on.
Along with your coat, scarf, hat, and gloves,
As we sing this wintery song.


Brr, the snow is coming,
Brr, my nose is red.
Gotta stay inside where the heat is on,
And get warm from my toes to my head.


As thrilled as I am to be off of work for Christmas break, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t have the chance to introduce this new song to my students before we left. However, the fact that we’ll have three long months to sing it when we return makes up for it. Oh, winter.

I’ll be spending the first day of the season doing last-minute shopping, wrapping presents, and writing thank-you notes to my students (they were quite the gift givers this year!). How will you spend this wonderful winter day?