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.
Bedtime with a toddler and a preschooler is often a challenge, as you can probably imagine (or know from experience!). But it is MUCH easier than bedtime with an infant and a toddler, especially now that my husband and I divide and conquer. After baths have been taken and teeth are brushed, he takes Parker and I take Mia for the final steps in the bedtime routine.
Parker is almost 4 and has inherited his dad’s master negotiation skills, so actually getting him into bed and leaving the room can take up to an hour (which I secretly love, after two years of sleepless nights with babies while my husband peacefully snoozed).
Mia, on the other hand, has been a breeze ever since she learned how to sleep at 18 months old. One story, one song, a little bit of rocking, and then she asks for her crib.
If there is one thing we music therapists have a lot of, it’s this: music. We’re constantly writing, collecting and purchasing songs to use with our students and clients, and I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with the best way to keep my ever-growing repertoire organized.
I quickly learned that my least favorite place to keep music is inside of books — they’re hard to keep open when I’m playing, I forget which songs are in which book, and most of the time I’m in a different room than my music library. I don’t buy books of music anymore; instead, I go for single digital downloads so that I’m not unnecessarily paying for music I’ll never use.
Years ago, I camped out in my living room and binge-watched “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix while scanning basically all of my favorite songs from the dozens of books I own. It was a long week of tedious work, but so worth it to have digital and printed copies.
Beyond that, I’ve come to realize that there isn’t necessarily one “best” way to keep my music organized. Rather, I rely on 4 different methods to keep tabs on the resources I use every day.
The day I found out that Beyoncé has an alter ego for performing on stage is the day I got over my insecurities about being an introvert. If she needs a little boost to go out in front of thousands of people, then it’s okay for me to need one in my daily life, right?
Performing has never caused me much anxiety, because I’ve always taken a page from Beyoncé’s book and slipped into character as “Rachel the performer” (or if it’s a musical, whomever I’m playing) before going on stage. But leading groups and classes, constantly interacting with people, and thinking/singing on my feet — that’s a whole different ballgame.
Music therapy is an extroverted profession, as I learned on day 1. I think the social aspect of being a music therapist was my biggest challenge from the very beginning, and it took awhile for me to get comfortable. Becoming a business owner brought along an entirely new set of social challenges. There are still days when it feels really hard to be “on” (especially before my kids became good sleepers and I was perpetually exhausted), but I’ve developed strategies that make being an extroverted introvert possible.
When I first started offering early childhood music classes, the planning process seemed completely daunting. I could handle the marketing, registration, and implementation just fine, but when it came time to plan a new session, I was overwhelmed with anxiety.
I doubted every decision I made when it came to choosing songs, instruments, order of activities, and so on. But with each class I put together, I learned vital lessons and began to trust my skills as a trained professional.
At this point, I’ve planned dozens of classes, most of which are a huge hit with both parents and children — thanks to these 5 principles I follow every single time.
Church Mice, that is. Way back in the fall of 2006, I was invited to take the reins of an early childhood music class at the church I attended. I was still in graduate school at the time, so I gladly accepted my very first “professional” position in the music field.
I fell in love with this class from the very beginning, and it fit in beautifully with the music therapy and teaching I was doing full-time just a few months later. Every weekend, I got to work with little kids and their families, singing songs, playing instruments, and having a great time.
Between the endless grey skies, frigid air and rampant germs being passed around, this winter has me in a bit of a funk. I know I’m not alone — you’re probably just as ready for spring as I am. Music is my favorite kind of medicine, so I put together 4 songs I’ve written or adapted that make me really happy.
So far, 2017 has been the year of visiting preschool and elementary classrooms. I’ve already been to two schools in the last month or so, with another two scheduled this week and next. Sharing my music with kids is pretty much my favorite thing ever, so I’m pretty okay with this trend.
It’s these visits that make me most appreciate alllllll the songs I have to choose from, because I see many of these kids every year (and sometimes even more — quite a few of them attend our early childhood and preschool music classes). I like to keep things fresh by changing up the songs I sing for their sake and mine.
This past week, my kids and I got hit hard with a nasty cold bug. It came right on the heels of our return home from vacation, so 3 extra days off of work, daycare and preschool were not very welcome. BUT that’s real life for you, and we made the best of it.
Luckily my husband took the reins at home over the weekend, so I spent most of Saturday in bed resting. But I did sneak in my laptop and tackle a HUGE project that’s been on my to-do list: I finally added 60 or so songs from my back catalog that hadn’t yet made it to the Listen & Learn Plus! collection.
The songs you see in the image above are just a few of my favorites that were added. Here is a complete listing of the songs, lead sheets, and/or instrumental tracks that are now up for grabs inside of the membership:
A few years ago, I started a video series called Sunday Singalong here on my blog. Every Sunday, I posted a new video of myself singing and talking about my songs, all of which still exist on my YouTube channel.
I really loved making those videos, and now it’s so much fun pulling up YouTube on my TV to play them for my kids :) So I made a new one this week, and I just might be hooked once again.
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.