{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 17

GGB Episode 17: Kristen O'Grady

When I sat down to interview Kristen O’Grady via Skype for this episode, she told me about how she and her daughters had just returned from a day trip to the beach. I have to admit, I was a little jealous of how she had spent her Monday. Kristen explained later in the interview that this day of the week is “Girls’ Day” in her family, because she works on Saturdays.

I love hearing the details when it comes to how my guests make the best of their busy schedules, and Kristen had some great insight to share. As usual, I was taking notes on some of the ways I can do the same in my own life (which is about to get a lot busier with the addition of a second baby any day now!).

Kristen talks about the evolution of her career while working in the same facility for 11 years, how her family structures their unique weekly schedule, and the importance of staying connected with your partner in Episode 17 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Be sure to check out the show notes page for more information about Kristen, along with links to the resources she mentions in the episode.

This episode is sponsored by Music Teacher’s Helper, the best way to manage your private music lesson studio and/or music therapy practice. I’ve used Music Teacher’s Helper every single day since 2011, and it is one of the best tools I have to keep my private practice running smoothly.

Sign up here for a 30-day no risk trial. If you choose to sign up after the trial using my link, you’ll save 20% off your first month!

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.

Strum With Your Fingers & Thumb

Strum with Your Fingers & Thumb

A few months ago, I started a new music therapy group for children with special needs and wanted to include a song about playing the guitar. I wrote “Strum with Your Fingers & Thumb” specifically for the group, and it ended up being the inspiration for my new songbook.

This song is designed to give each child in the group an opportunity to strum the guitar themselves while I form the chords. I’ve used it a LOT in both group and individual settings, and it’s fun to see each child’s approach to playing the guitar.

Some are a little aggressive with their strumming, while others are extremely delicate and barely brush the strings. Some like to strum super fast, while others prefer an adagio tempo. No matter what, I just follow their lead with my singing and chord changes.

Child Strumming Guitar in Music Therapy

Here’s the song in action! This little guy was a BIG fan of playing the guitar, and always the first in line to strum when I started playing the song.

I think it’s important to give children the opportunity to play the guitar within a structured setting, because in my experience, they’re gonna try anyway (especially when I set it down to do something else like pass out or collect other instruments.) How do you incorporate guitar-playing into your sessions?

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a 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?

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

Why I Love Tuesday Mornings

Early Childhood Class in Springfield, Illinois

While I initially created the Listen & Learn for Little Ones early childhood class just over two years ago, it wasn’t until last July that I was able to get it up and running on a continuous basis. Ever since, I’ve spent almost every Tuesday morning making music with young children and their parents or caregivers.

It didn’t take long for this class to become the biggest highlight of my week, especially since many of the same families registered for every single five-week session over the course of this year. I got to know the kiddos very well, and even better — they got to know each other.

I’ve met some amazing moms, grandmas, nannies, and a few dads here and there, too :) We’ve played with countless instruments, read tons of singable stories, showed off our dance moves, and the very best part is that I’ve had the pleasure of watching these children develop.

This morning’s class was my last before I take off some time for maternity leave, and I have to admit, it was bittersweet saying goodbye to everyone. All the adults in the room looked at me like I had 3 heads when I told them I’d be returning at the end of June, but the truth is, I’m already looking forward to it!

Since I won’t be practicing music therapy or teaching lessons over the summer, the classes will provide a nice creative outlet and chance to leave the house a couple times a week.

I can’t wait to spend Tuesday mornings snuggled up with my brand new baby girl in just a couple of weeks (or less!), but I will miss my “little ones”. It will be so much fun to see how they’ve grown and changed during that time.

Are you interested in starting an early childhood music program of your own? My course Create, Market, Make Music! (3 CMTE credits) takes you through the entire process. Learn more here.

Can’t Live Without My…Ukulele!

Can't Live Without My Ukulele

I’m currently participating in the #MusicTherapyBlogger challenge, hosted by Julie Palmieri at Serenade Designs. This week’s blogging prompt is to write about something that works in our everyday lives as a music therapist, and I didn’t have to think twice about that.

At 38 weeks pregnant, it’s no surprise that I have a GIANT belly. It has been posing quite a challenge for the last couple months or so, but only in these last few weeks has my baby bump made it nearly impossible to effectively play my guitar.

Enter my lovely little Cordoba acoustic-electric tenor ukulele. I got it as a Christmas gift from my parents a few years ago, and it has been a staple in my music therapy sessions, early childhood classes, and gigging adventures ever since. I also find myself picking it up more often than my guitar when I record my songs, which you might have noticed over the last couple years. I love how easy it is to play, the sweet sound it makes, and now more than ever, it’s compact size.

While I have to wear and play my guitar almost completely on my side (making it really interesting to form chords and strum), My ukulele sits on a nice little shelf, aka my belly, and is so light-weight that I can play for a long stretch without it being uncomfortable. I do use a neck strap to keep it from slipping down.

Ukuleles have become pretty trendy in the music therapy world over the last few years, and I had no problem following that trend. Little did I know just how handy it would become late in my pregnancies.

{Guitars & Granola Bars} Episode 16

GGB Episode 16: Julie Palmieri

Julie Palmieri is a people person. Of course, this is one of the characteristics that makes her a great music therapist, but her people skills when it comes to online interaction make her especially good at the specialized work she does.

Julie specializes in helping fellow music therapists build, grow and rock their online presence, which allows her to work from home and spend time with her young daughters. I was so excited to interview her about her unique career within the field of music therapy for this week’s podcast episode.

Julie talks about her experiences having two children, leaving the clinical realm to work with music therapists online, and how she is able to raise her girls while working from home in Episode 16 of the Guitars & Granola Bars podcast.

Be sure to check out the show notes page for more information about Julie, along with links to the resources she mentions in the episode.

This episode is sponsored by Music Teacher’s Helper, the best way to manage your private music lesson studio and/or music therapy practice. I’ve used Music Teacher’s Helper every single day since 2011, and it is one of the best tools I have to keep my private practice running smoothly.

Sign up here for a 30-day no risk trial. If you choose to sign up after the trial using my link, you’ll save 20% off your first month!

iTunesClick here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Guitars & Granola Bars” in the podcast app on your Apple device.
Subscribe on Stitcher
Click here to listen and subscribe on Stitcher, or download and search the app on your mobile device.

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