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the technical jargon, but after making a call to my hosting provider, I discovered that my current hosting server is no longer being updated and will prevent my websites from running smoothly and doing everything I need them to do.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.
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.
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.