Two years ago right around this time, I was holding a brand new baby girl in my arms and wondering how I got so lucky. Her entrance into the world wasn’t quite as smooth as her brother’s, but all those hours of labor made the moment that much sweeter.
Mia Belle was not what I would call an easy baby; she didn’t sleep through the night for her first 18 months of life, and she clung to me for dear life at all hours of the day. She cried just about every afternoon as I left for work. But in between the clinging and crying, she was unbelievably sweet. And funny. This girl learned how to go from coy to total ham in about 6 seconds, and she charmed everyone in her path with her huge blue eyes.
And she still does, this little 2-year-old of mine. Complete strangers stop to comment on how cute she is and how beautiful her eyes all are the time, but really, the best part about her is her personality. She’s always had so much of it, and now that she is talking nonstop, we are getting to experience the full extent.
Mia’s first year of life was difficult, and not just because she was such a needy baby. Parker was practically still a baby himself, and I was working a lot and dealing with lots of changes and growth in my business. It was what I have dubbed the longest, shortest, hardest, best-est year.
But year two was a breeze in comparison. Mia started part-time daycare when she turned 15 months old, which allowed me actual dedicated hours in the day to work (rather than sacrificing what little sleep I actually got to do so). It also gave me the space I needed to regain my own sense of self outside of being a mom. I got comfortable in my own skin again, and Mia got comfortable being away from me.
She has grown immeasurably over the course of this year. I’ve loved watching her relationship with Parker blossom, and she has become a social little person. She has strong opinions and a hard head just like her daddy. She knows how to make me laugh and loves to be the center of attention.
Mia is at this amazing age where she is out of babyhood, but not yet pushing her limits as toddlers tend to do. I didn’t get to fully enjoy Parker at this age since I had a newborn as well, and I really wish I could freeze time right now…just for a little while.
We have our “girl days” every Friday when Mia stays home with me while Parker is at school, and I look forward to them all week. Those days are all about her and filled with her favorite things, which are currently: Moana, baby dolls, books, and eating. The girl LOVES to eat! Her favorite foods are pizza, pouches, cereal and milk, and fruit.
It’s hard to believe that Mia has only been here for two years, because I can barely remember life before her. Life has changed a whole lot since I first held her in my arms, but I’m still wondering how I got so lucky :)
I’ve never written, recorded, and facilitated as many early childhood songs in my entire life as I have over the past 10 months. Last August we kicked off a new season of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, music classes for children ages 0-3, at my teaching studio and private practice, Music Therapy Connections. 8 class sessions later, we are winding down and getting ready to take a much-needed break before we do it all over again.
I’ve been looking back at our song collections from this year’s classes as I start to plan for next year, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the biggest hits of the 2016-2017 season.
Many of the songs we include in our early childhood curriculum are designed to fall into multiple categories, from instrument play, to cognitive skills, to movement, etc. We only have 45 minutes out of the entire week to work with our kiddos, so we want to make sure to cover as much ground as possible without overwhelming them with dozens of tunes.
I chose one song from each of our 8 sessions, which I think are a nice representation of the range of concepts we address in class. To listen to each song and read more about it, just click the link or cover art.
I don’t always adapt existing songs, but sometimes when I do, they’re based on iconic tunes from the 1950s and 1960s, rewritten specifically as movement songs.
Funny story: I have a long list of songs I’ve written but haven’t shared here on the blog and in my store yet. Yesterday I decided to do a little catching up, and chose two songs at random to share. It wasn’t until after I added them to the store that I realized both were based on songs by male artists from the 50s and 60s.
I took this coincidence as an opportunity to remind you that inspiration for new songs and adaptations can come from any style, genre or generation. A few years back, I was really into adapting current pop songs, and still like to do so from time to time. But I have found that borrowing ideas and melodies from other decades can be a lot of fun, especially since many parents and grandparents attend music therapy sessions and music classes.
It’s up to you as a songwriter to decide just how closely you want your version to resemble the song that inspired it. You can put a modern spin on an old classic, or keep it true to the original. Here are my adapted versions of the songs by the prolific artists pictured above.
Earlier this week, I came across a blog post I wrote almost three years ago detailing a typical day in my life as a music therapist. I got a little nostalgic as I read it, thinking back to a time when I only had one baby and he still spent his days at home. It’s amazing how much life can change in just a short time.
That blog post was actually based on my original “day in the life” post written in 2011, when I had NO kids and still worked full-time at The Hope Institute, with a private practice on the side. Talk about a blast from the past! I remember that time well, but it seems so, so long ago after everything I’ve been through since.
I really wish I had written this kind of post last year, when I was in the thick of having a baby still at home and a business undergoing huge growth and changes. I think back on it and wonder how I managed to do everything, but somehow I did.
Life is nowhere near as challenging these days, since both of my kids are in daycare and preschool all day (except Fridays) and I have plenty of time devoted to work. But having all that time creates a different kind of challenge — figuring out how to manage it in the best possible way with my priorities in mind.
I still have a long way to go with this, but I’m making progress. I’ve learned that the best way to combat misuse of time is to plan out my day the night before (I use and absolutely could not live without Trello, the online tool that keeps my entire life organized), so that when I sit down to work the next morning, I know exactly where to begin.
A few weeks ago, I was making some updates to the Music Therapy Connections website when an error message popped up. I’ll spare you the technical jargon, but after making a call to my hosting provider, I discovered that my current hosting server is no longer being updated and will prevent my websites from running smoothly and doing everything I need them to do.
The customer support representative recommended that I upgrade to a new server, and explained what the process would look like for doing so. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty tech-savvy person, but a lot of what he was explaining seemed overwhelming and over my head. Even so, it was pretty clear that I needed to take the plunge, and thus began the Great Website Migration of 2017.
Last year, I followed along as several people in my Instagram feed participated in the 100 Day Project. Every day for 100 days, they posted a photo of an action they took related to a creative project on a singular theme.
One of my favorite accounts to follow was Elise Blaha Cripe, who posted 100 days of pep talks. When she mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a new round of #the100dayproject was coming up, I decided to get on board.
It’s officially spring, but winter still hasn’t completely left the building. On gray, windy, and chilly days, this is one of my favorite songs for reminding myself, and whoever I’m singing with, that sunny skies and warm temps are in fact on the way.
The motions for this tune are simple, and it’s easy to adapt the words to best suit your needs. You can download “Wave Goodbye to Winter” — including lyrics/chords, mp3 and instrumental track — here.
What songs are you singing for spring? I’m trying my best to get into spring mode, even despite the dreariness outside. I’ll take inspiration from wherever I can get it!
First things first: I must preface this post by explaining that I am NOT an expert at live video. I’ve had quite a bit of practice since it rolled out last year, but I’m still awkward and nervous as all get out every single time. As uncomfortable as live video makes me, I keep getting back on the horse because I have seen how far-reaching it can be.
We all know that Facebook has all but killed organic reach for business pages, which is why I put much more time and attention into my Instagram feed these days. However, since Listen & Learn Music has a pretty decent following on Facebook (which doesn’t even touch our Music Therapy Connections reach…#goals) I want to foster those connections. And since Facebook puts a high priority on live video and allows it to reach more people organically than other kinds of posts, it only makes sense to get in front of the camera.
I put a screenshot of a recent live video at the top of this post to illustrate how it shows up in the newsfeed. (If you click on the image, it will take you to the actual video.) I’ll be referring to it in several of my quick tips, which are as follows.
One of the songs we’ve been singing in the current session of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, our early childhood and preschool music classes, is Thunder & Raindrops. I wrote it a few years ago specifically for rhythm sticks, and it still remains one of my favorites!
Rhythm sticks are always a popular instrument choice among my little ones, because they make a lot of noise and are extremely versatile. This particular song addresses the objectives of playing loudly and softly, and requires everyone to listen carefully in order to play as instructed.
This time of year, we sing and play quite a few songs about rain to mirror the early spring weather, and many of them are designed for use with shakers. So it’s nice to shake things up (see what I did there?) by giving our rhythm sticks a turn.
Today started the same as most: with my 3 year old coming into my room, whispering “mommy…mommy!” until I rolled out of bed to accompany him to the bathroom, and then bringing him back to our bed so we could maybe, just maybe get a tiny bit more sleep.
He humored us for a few minutes, but then, as usual, began asking if it was time to go downstairs yet. (It was only 6:30 am and my daughter was still asleep down the hall). My husband, bless him, took Parker downstairs and I went back to sleep. I woke up to a work-related text, and listened for a minute only to realize that the house was empty.
My husband sent a photo of Parker on his bike and Mia in her stroller, headed to grandma’s house. “Wanted you to sleep and relax” was the caption.
I had a quick moment of panic, as I always do when I realize I have time to myself but no idea where to start. These are how most of my work days begin, regardless of how long I’ve spent organizing my to-dos in Trello. There is just SO MUCH, between my house, personal tasks, all the parts of my businesses…knowing what to tackle first is impossible.
So I started the way I usually do, with cleaning up. That meant putting away the stray toys all over the house, returning all the books in Parker’s room to his bookshelf, loading the dishwasher with the breakfast dishes, etc. I have a hard time being productive if my surroundings are messy — it’s a curse, really.
Then I made myself a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and went upstairs to my office. I sat down at my desk, and again went blank. All the things I need to do were right in front of me on the computer screen. I have emails to send, songs to post, website pages to tweak. But instead, I posted a photo from yesterday to Instagram and opened up a new blog post. I felt like writing whatever came out of my fingertips.
So I did, and this is the result. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a little glimpse into the daily struggle of someone who is spinning many plates. You can probably relate all too well.
My husband just texted me that they will be home in 30 minutes. That’s just enough time to make the responsible choice by showering and getting ready for the day. I feel pretty good about going off-list to do something just for me, though. I hope you do something just for yourself this weekend, too.
Welcome! I'm Rachel Rambach, a board-certified music therapist and the creator of Listen & Learn Music -- educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.