(Take the) Leap Day

Leap Day

Happy Leap Day! February 29 only comes once every 4 years, you know. It just so happens that this year, it falls on a Monday, which made it the perfect day to take a big leap in my life.

After my family, work has been the biggest priority for me over these last few (okay, many) months. And while it still remains among my top areas of focus, I’m putting another one right up there: my own health and fitness.

I used to be super health-conscious — we’re talking daily workouts and balanced meals — back in the day. But after Parker was born, I never quite regained the motivation I once had. Mia is 9 months old now, and I’m finally ready to get back to my healthy self.

I have my friend Crystal to thank not only for giving me the nudge I needed to make this decision, but also for doing it with me! We took the leap together this morning, starting our day bright and early with a workout in her basement. Buddy system for the win :)

The program we’re following includes meal plans and workouts, and we’re journaling our progress as we go. I’m excited to see how returning to a healthier lifestyle will affect not only my body, but my energy, mood and productivity, too.

I wasn’t feeling inspired in this area AT ALL when the new year began, but I think starting on Leap Day is much more fitting. Are you taking a leap of any kind today?

My Top 10 Music Therapy Instruments

Top 10 Music Therapy Instruments

Any music therapist will tell you that it’s really hard to pick favorites when it comes to instruments. After all, they are our tools, and we choose them based on the specific needs and goals of our clients.

That being said, there are definitely certain instruments I tend to gravitate to more often than others. And since I frequently receive emails from students, interns, and new professionals asking which instruments I recommend, I’m sharing them here with you. I left off the very basics (shakers, tambourines, rhythm sticks, jingle bells, etc.) as those are a given.

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Click Like This, Clack Like That

Click Like This, Clack Like That Album Cover

Castanets aren’t your everyday instruments; they usually garner a little more interest than shakers or drums. Yes, they are fun to play, but even better, castanets are excellent for addressing fine motor skills.

We bring out castanets quite often in both our classes and music therapy sessions, which means I’m always writing new songs to help target all the goals they can address. This is one such song: it gets those fingers moving, and it also touches on the concepts of high and low.

This song is included in my songbook collection, Ring, Sing, Strum & Drum. The download contains the notated sheet music (as opposed to just the lyrics and chords) along with the full and instrumental recordings.

Members of Listen & Learn Plus! have access to all of the above in our shared Dropbox folder. Membership includes just about everything else in my resource library and collection — come over and join us!

Learn more about Listen & Learn Plus

Streamlining My Digital Life

Digital Streamlining

As you may remember reading earlier this year, 2016 is all about self-care, simplifying, and streamlining. I spent the last few days concentrating on that 3rd “s” word, and the result is what you are looking at right now.

I’ve been at a crossroads for quite some time when it comes to my online presence. Between this blog, my private practice, my personal site, and my podcast, I was starting to feel like an octopus trying to manage it all.

Not only that, but I wasn’t sure how to move forward with Listen & Learn Music. Since starting this blog almost 8 years ago, I’ve used it as a space to share the songs I write and my professional journey — along with my personal journey, too.

But as Listen & Learn Music has grown and become a resource destination, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for the blog to serve as the landing page anymore. So I took a big leap, and now listenlearnmusic.com leads you directly to the store. That way, people in search of songs can quickly find what they are looking for without having to search through tons of blog posts. And people who want to read the blog can still easily do so, since there is a link right at the top of the page.

Mainly, though? I wanted to feel more comfortable continuing to write anything I want in this space without feeling like I always have to relate it back to my work. I mean, I usually do that anyway since my work is such a huge part of my life, but I needed that sense of freedom. So I renamed the blog, rewrote my about page, and gave myself permission to make this place mine.

Will I still write about my songs? YES. They are the heartbeat of this blog. Will most of the content here be tied to music therapy and my professional life in general? YES. But I’m excited to write more about what’s going on inside my head and heart, no matter what the topic.

Thank you, as always, for continuing to read as this site has evolved throughout the years. I always welcome your feedback, especially when it comes to the content you would like to see here. Feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Making New Families Feel Welcome

Early Childhood Music Class

Attending a group activity for the first time can be intimidating — not only for the child, but for the parent or caregiver as well. I speak from experience, having done this many times since becoming a mom. It can be especially intimidating to walk into a room where everyone else knows each other and has attended the activity before.

This happens time and time again in our music classes, since many of our families attend sessions on a regular basis. The adults become friendly with each other, the children get along well, and we as instructors get to know everyone. So when a new family comes to music for the first time, there are a few things we can do to help them feel just as welcome and part of the group as everyone else. (more…)

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