Friday Fave: Planet Waves Pro String Winder


You know what’s really NOT fun?  Trying to string an acoustic guitar without this handy little tool.  I know, because I’ve done it both ways.  And I had no idea what I was missing, until I shelled out the $8 and realized how much time and elbow (wrist?) grease I’d wasted previously.

The Planet Waves Pro String Winder not only winds the pegs, but it also snips off the leftover part of the strings.  My favorite feature is the fact that it can also pull out the bridge pins, which I’ve always had the hardest time doing with my fingers.

I always dreaded stringing my guitar before, but I’m happy to report that is no longer the case!  I’m probably the last person on earth to discover this super convenient little tool…but I’m writing about it here just in case I’m not :)  Do you use the Pro Winder, or something similar?


Studio Renovation: The “Before” Pictures

Yesterday, I came home to a giant hole in my house.  That may sound like a bad thing, but I promise…it’s not!  Renovations for my new studio are now officially underway, so I thought I’d better share some “before” snapshots of the space in its original condition.  Note: click to enlarge pictures.

My dog Sadie decided that she wanted to get in on the picture-taking action :)  Here she is, posing in the hallway that will soon be separated from the rest of the house with a door.  To the right is the bathroom, straight ahead is my new office/studio, next to that is a closet, and on the far left (which you can’t see in this picture) will be the waiting room.

Here’s the bathroom.  We aren’t going to be making any changes to it, but hey, I just thought I’d throw it in with the rest of the pictures since it will technically be included in the new space.

Here’s the view of my future office/studio from the hallway.  (It was formerly used as a guest room.) Both the flooring and wall color will be different.

Here’s another view of the room.  I’m thinking the piano will go on the wall where the baker’s rack is right now.  Oh, and you might see that baker’s rack again later, only looking a little different :)

This closet actually extends across the entire wall inside.  My current studio does not have a closet…I’m so excited to have the storage space for materials I don’t necessarily want out in plain sight.

Here’s the future waiting room!  Right now, this room is completely wasted, so it will be nice when it actually serves a purpose.  The wall color will stay the same, but the floor will be different.  To the right of the closet, there will be a door for entering/exiting from outside.

Another view of the room.  Those chairs are extras that go with our kitchen table, so they will not be in the new waiting room.  I’m already in search of furniture…any ideas?

One last view from the opposite corner.  I’m thinking I’ll use part of the closet for coats, but I’m not sure what else.  I’m also toying with the idea of leaving the keyboard and bench in the waiting room so that students can practice before their lesson (with headphones, of course).

The contractors worked from 8 am to 6:30 pm yesterday, and their progress is pretty phenomenal.  I’ll be sharing more pictures of the process in the coming days and weeks, and look forward to your feedback and decorating ideas!

12 Songs Every Music Therapist Should Know

12 Songs Every Music Therapist Should Know | Listen & Learn Music
As music therapists, we all know that the contents of our repertoire depend on the populations with which we work. But there are just some songs that transcend populations, and can be used in almost any setting — whether in a school, private practice, nursing facility, hospice care, or otherwise.

Your list might look different from mine, but based on my experience, here are the 12 songs that I think can be used with just about any music therapy client, regardless of age, diagnosis, or ability.

  1. “American Pie” – This song is obviously a classic, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like singing along to the chorus.  It might not be your first pick for a piggybacked children’s goodbye song, but it was mine :)
  2. “Amazing Grace” – It’s most often associated with seniors and hospice patients, though everyone should have a few hymns in their collection.
  3. “Blue Suede Shoes” – My students dig this tune, even though most of them have no clue who Elvis Presley is!  Older clients, of course, are familiar with both him and the song.
  4. “Blue Skies” – I use this as a weather song sometimes, or to give everyone a mood lift.  It has always been one of my favorite songs.
  5. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – This one is great for discussing positive feelings, and I use it often as the basis of a songwriting activity.
  6. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – Also known as “In the Jungle” or “Wimoweh”, I adapted it for young children and sing the original version on a regular basis.
  7. “Lean on Me” – It’s all about knowing there are people to support you, and that’s applicable to everyone.  Plus, it’s repetitive and easy to sing.
  8. “Ob-La-Di” – Did you know that this song makes an excellent hello song?  I rewrote the words a few years ago, and use it all the time.
  9. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – I think a lot of people have an emotional connection to this song.  It’s interesting to hear what’s “over the rainbow” for clients who are verbal and capable of abstract thinking.
  10. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – Baseball is America’s pastime, right?  It’s fun to bring out this song every spring and hear about everyone’s favorite teams.
  11. “This Little Light of Mine” – I learned this song for my internship interview and have been singing it ever since.  As a movement song, as an inspirational song, and however else I feel like adapting it on a given day.
  12. “You Are My Sunshine” – A traditional song that almost everyone knows.  It’s easy to adapt for just about any client and setting.

Speaking of songs for music therapists, members of Listen & Learn Plus have instant access to my vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music. Click here for a free inside look, including several useful downloads!

Change is In the Air…And My Studio!

Rachel's Music Therapy Studio & Office

This week not only marks the beginning of spring, but also the beginning of a BIG project at my house.  I’ve hinted at this in my newsletter, but now the cat is coming out of the bag: my studio is moving!

Yep, that’s right…my home studio and private practice is moving from its current location (pictured above) all the way to the other side of my house.  I’m sure going to miss this beautiful room full of windows, but it will make a nice nursery someday.

So why in the world would I decide to move when I have such a great setup now?  A couple reasons, actually.  First of all, my living room doubles as the waiting room for my students and their families.  And since I work up until 7 pm and later some nights, my poor husband and puppy are banished until my last student has left.  Second, I wanted a more dedicated studio space with a separate entrance.  Currently, everyone enters and exits through the front door and has full access to my home.  However, that will change once the move is complete.

The contractor is coming tomorrow to start the renovation of my new studio space, and I can’t wait.  The flooring has been ordered, paint colors chosen, and my head is full of decorating schemes.  I’ll be documenting the entire renovation and moving process, of course — stay tuned for one last tour of my current studio, and before pictures of the new space!

Mammals In the Water (A Custom Song)

First came The Texas Pledge song, then Help Me, Rhombus, followed by A-Z (What You Mean to Me).  My #1 customer when it comes to custom songs is Rene, and she was back this month in need of a song that combined info about water mammals with specific speech sounds.  Thus, “Mammals in the Water” came to be.

Rene chose to highlight manatees, narwhals, walruses, and seals in this particular song, and I had a lot of fun doing the research necessary to write the verses about each creature.  The rhyming was a little tricky, but both Rene and I are happy with the results…and hopefully her pre-kindergarten students will be, too!

Ooh, mammals – they’re everywhere.
You and I are mammals, we have hair and breathe air.
So are lots of animals you’d find at the zoo,
And even some that live in the water, too!

They live in the water and they swim so slow,
They’re gray in color and eat plants, you know.
Manatees are gentle even though they’re really big,
With their flippers and their tail and snout (like a pig).
Mah, mah, mah.


They travel through the sea; their long tusk leads the way,
They eat fish and shrimp and squid all day.
Narwhals are a special kind of whale,
They swim in groups and their bodies are pale.
Nah, nah, nah.


They live in the Arctic, on the ice so cold,
But their blubber on their body keeps them warm, I’m told.
Walruses have whiskers and tusks so long,
Their bodies are brown and huge and strong.
Wah, wah, wah.


They live both on land and in the sea,
And their whiskers help them find lots of fish to eat.
Seals can be black, or gray, or brown,
And they make a funny grunting sound.
Sah, sah, sah.

Ooh, mammals – they’re everywhere.
Just like us, these animals have hair and breathe air.
But they don’t live in a house or at the zoo,
Mammals live in the water, too!

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