You Can Strum Too

You Can Strum Too

For most of my students, the guitar is an object of fascination. They want to hear it, touch it, and most of all, they want to play it. But as much as many of them want to strum those strings, there’s usually a bit of apprehension before they go for it.

During a music therapy session last week, I found myself really wishing I had a fun and inviting tune to help acclimate that particular student to strumming the guitar. Luckily, now I do!

In the song, I mention several different ways to strum: with your fingers, with a pick, up and down. I also sing about joining in “loud and strong” because lots of my kiddos have a tendency to barely graze the strings, which results in almost no sound at all.

The guitar is essential to most of my music therapy sessions, and I always want to ensure that it does not become a barrier between my student and myself. How do you introduce the guitar to your kiddos and help them feel comfortable strummin’ away?

Friday Fave: R&R in the Florida Keys

Key Largo Ocean Reef Club

“Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go…” The song Kokomo by the Beach Boys has been running through my head for the past week as I get ready to head down to Key Largo tomorrow! That’s the resort where we’re staying after a quick day at South Beach and overnight stay in Miami (we had so much fun there last year that we couldn’t resist going back).

My husband and I always look forward to our spring vacation because it gives us a chance to completely chill out, relax and soak up the sun after months and months of working like crazy. The best part is that we come back completely recharged and refreshed, ready to jump back in to our regular routine.

Though I won’t be back at my computer until Thursday night, you’ll still see new blog posts right here next week, including a new song on Monday.

I’ve got my suitcase packed, playlists full of beach tunes, and new books downloaded to my iPad — I’m ready for vacation!

April Sponsor Shout-Outs!

It’s time once again to give you the run-down of all of the wonderful Listen & Learn sponsors. I’m extremely proud to feature all of the following resources here on the blog — please take a few minutes to check them out below:

Milestone Music Therapy

Music therapist Emily Sevcik has recently merged her “Songbird Serenade” project under her private practice name, Milestone Music Therapy. Be sure and check out her newly designed website, where you will find all of Emily’s wonderful weekly songs for music therapy!

A Perfect Lullaby

A Perfect Lullaby is a CD that helps moms and dads sing to their babies. Research shows that singing to infants has many benefits for babies AND parents. Make sure to visit the website for educational resources including podcasts and articles, and to hear the music.

Mundana Music Therapy

Kimberly Thompson and Megan Resig are the fabulous music therapists who run this private practice in Portland, OR and manage the popular blog by the same name. Check out their Wellness Wednesday column, join them on Facebook, and follow Kimberly and Megan on Twitter.

Music with Miss Leslie

If you haven’t already done so, visit Music With Miss Leslie. You will find articles on children and music, songs, singing lessons, and videos. Miss Leslie keeps adding new material that will inform, inspire, or make you laugh. You’ll also find convenient links to Miss Leslie’s products.

Opus Music Education offers a searchable database of music teachers in California and affordable private music lessons in virtually every instrument. Every first music lesson is always free. Opus also offers Opus Music Worksheets, a database of high quality, free printable music education resources, including free music theory worksheets, free music flashcards, free music business forms, and many other free music learning resources for music teachers, music students, and parents.

Theta Music Trainer is now putting most of their efforts into new game development. The next set of games will focus on sight-singing, chord patterns and music notation basics. These are the three areas for which they have received the most requests for additional development. They are planning to release some of these new games in late spring or early summer.

Music Therapy Tunes

Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, manages Music Therapy Tunes and has a brand new Spring song up called the Caterpillar that she wrote a few years ago. The music is relaxing as are the pictures. The lyrics are full of language-rich concepts that are easily acted out. She also has a new song “Family” written by Laurie Berkner up. This is another great graduation/end of year song. This month Margie is so excited to announce that her CD series won a wonderful speech-language award.

Make Me Musical

Make Me Musical is a joyful resource site for those of us who nurture children through the arts. You will discover integrated arts themes, songs, games, developmental movement activity and more! Come visit and don’t forget to sign up for the resource newsletter.

More With Music

More With Music is a song resource website where parents, teachers, and therapists can find songs to help teach the students in their lives. Amanda Ellis manages More With Music and works as a full-time music therapist in a public school setting with students ages 5-22. Songs posted on More with Music can be purchased online for 99 cents each and song sheets (complete with guitar chords and lyrics), are free by request. Do you need a song to help teach a skill or accomplish a specific goal? Amanda also takes requests and can write songs for specific goals and skills by request. It all starts with an email to

Stefanie Anderson Eckert, MM, MT-BC is the owner of A-Z Music Therapy Services, which provides services to individuals with disabilities in San Antonio and South Central Texas. Stefanie works in many different settings, including schools for children with autism and assisted living facilities. Her website offers additional resources and contact information for individuals interested in her services.

Music Therapy Maven Shout-Out

Kimberly Sena Moore, the Music Therapy Maven herself, sends this update: “I am thiiiiis close to finishing my first year of PhD work. Yay! Also had a tremendous time participating in Arts Advocacy Day 2012. Be looking for a couple updates related to this on the Maven in the coming weeks.”

Rhythm Ring

Rhythm Ring has some exciting news to share. They’ve got a new logo they’re preparing to release, as well as a black ring. They’re working on a new web presence, too. Rhythm Ring has recently entered into a promotional marketing market where they’ve placed other’s logos on their rings. They have actually approached some music therapists who facilitate corporate team building events to partner with Rhythm Ring. They offer discount wholesale pricing with this. Very cool!

Music Therapy Tween

Check out the Music Therapy Tween and see what Michelle Erfurt, the tween herself, is up to. Also, be sure to take a look at Michelle’s specialty: Boom Totes! These boomwacker bags were a huge hit at the national music therapy conference in November, and are still selling like hotcakes. Order yours today.

Interested in becoming a Listen & Learn sponsor?

You can get the full scoop on sponsorship, including all the perks, right here. Sign up now and get your first shout-out in May!

“One Third Down” Celebration and Giveaway!

"One Third Down" Celebration and Giveaway

How is it possible that 2012 is a third of the way over already!? This year has flown by…probably because I have been so busy writing and recording all the songs you see pictured above!

To celebrate the first third of what has already proven to be a great year, I’m giving away the MP3 + lead sheet + instrumental track for every song I’ve released so far in 2012. That’s 18 albums (pictured below) valued at a total of $54.

All you have to do to enter? Just purchase ANY download from Listen & Learn Music, whether it’s a $1 song, $3 album, or $10 collection. Your email address will automatically be entered in a drawing, and the winner will be chosen randomly on Wednesday, May 9. Oh, and if I’m feeling particularly generous on that day, perhaps there will be 2 or 3 :)

That means you have between now and May 8 to be entered in the drawing. So if you’re in need of some new tunes, now is the time and here’s where to get them:

I hope the first four months of 2012 have been as good to you as they have to me! And here’s to eight more, filled with — what else? — lots and lots of music!

Going On a Car Ride!

Going On a Car Ride!

As a kid, I absolutely LOVED long car rides. My brother and I found ways to entertain ourselves for hours at a time, which was lucky for our parents. But I know very well that we were probably the exception, and most parents don’t have it quite as easy as mine did.

When I put out a Facebook call for song topics, the mother of one of my students responded that a song about long car rides would come in handy (although it was a little too late, since they’d already made a trek that day!).

But I’ve got her covered for next time, and with summer vacation season coming up soon, hopefully this song will get lots of use.

Let’s face it…car rides can be super boring, especially here in the Midwest where for the most part, the only scenery is cornfields. But if you put an “adventure” spin on them, maybe that will help. At least, that was my thought when I wrote the song :)

What are your favorite songs, tricks and tips for making long car rides bearable — both for the little ones and yourself?

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