As we head into the holiday season, I’m thinking about all the families who won’t be spending special days together or partaking in the usual traditions. I’m thinking about how I won’t be eating Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, and how my children will open their presents with their grandparents watching over Zoom.
And of course, I’m thinking about how I won’t be able to enjoy singing all my favorite songs in person with my students and clients. November and December are, in my opinion, the most fun months of the year musically, because the excitement of the holidays is heightened with the addition of thematic songs and activities.
While we’ll get some of that through our virtual classes and sessions, it won’t be the same. This year is about doing the best we can, knowing that next year’s festivities will be all that much sweeter. I’m hopeful that the songs in this month’s session plan can bring you, your students, and clients some comfort and joy.
Self-care is a common topic among the music therapy community. We talk about it a lot, but do we actually implement it in our daily lives? It’s something I personally struggle with. I know what I want to do for self-care, but finding the time to actually take care of myself is difficult. Who else is in this same boat?
We’re all busy. Maybe you’re working a full-time job, you have kids stuck at home doing remote learning, you’re trying to navigate a pandemic, you’re enduring the stresses of everyday life, the list could go on and on. For me, it’s trying to plan a wedding during COVID-19. I find myself using this and so many other excuses as reasons to put off self-care.
Instead of using our busy lives as an excuse why we can’t give ourselves some self-love, let’s start using them as reasons why we need to care for ourselves.
Coping skills are so important at any age, and our emotions play a huge role in this. Identifying what we are feeling, how to express those feelings, and what to do about them is necessary throughout life, but can be quite difficult. Even fully developed adults can struggle with this.
While adults take on the stresses of everyday life during COVID-19, we sometimes may forget that children are impacted, too. These kids have had a huge shift in their everyday lives: attending school remotely, not being able to see their friends, wearing a mask, and keeping distance from everyone they see. Children have a lot of feelings, and learning how to process and express these feelings comes with their developmental milestones that they maybe haven’t achieved yet.
So, especially in today’s world, how can we use music to help children process and express their emotions, furthering their ability to develop healthy coping skills? Let’s take a look at a few songs that may help.
With so many music therapists, teachers, and educators utilizing digital resources right now, I’ve been making my materials as accessible as possible so that they can be used in a variety of ways. That includes creating videos to accompany my songs, the latest of which comes right in time for Halloween.
Even though the country is opening back up, virtual services are not going away. I believe that, especially in today’s day and age, virtual services will stay around for a long time. Not only does it limit the spread of germs, but it allows us to reach people who may otherwise not be able to receive music therapy or other musical interactions.
My last two blog posts have been heavily focused on the technology aspect of virtual services. Now, let’s take a look at what goes on within those sessions. Songs from the Listen & Learn Music collection have always played a big role in my music therapy sessions and early childhood services, but these three songs have especially shown to be successful in my virtual services.
In these uncertain times (to use one of many pandemic era buzz phrases), I find comfort in consistency. That’s why every month, I create a session plan for you to use virtually, in person, or in some cases, to file away for a later date when you are able to resume your services. I’m certainly longing for the day I can use these materials to their full potential, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for each and every music-making opportunity.
I also find comfort in writing and recording new songs, several of which make their debut in the November session plan. This is one of my favorite seasons when it comes to repertoire, and I’m excited to dig into not only this month’s plan, but the entire Thanksgiving song collection.
For the month of November, I’m incorporating bells, stretchy band, cabasa, and providing opportunities for addressing gross motor movement, body part identification, counting, Thanksgiving, and much more.
The November session plan includes 10 goal-based songs (mp3, instrumental track, lyrics/chords) along with a facilitation guide for each song, which will allow you to implement a cohesive 30-45 minute music experience. Grab it for yourself for just $10.
As many people continue to work remotely, we’ve had to get creative on how to reach the people we serve. When August came around, schools reopened for in-person, hybrid, or remote classes. This posed a new problem for those in the education setting, including related services.
One of my contract locations is a specialized school for children with autism. This school has been fully remote since March, including their summer school program. The change was huge for these students, and we wanted music therapy to still be a part of their remote learning so they could continue to work on their skills. This also provided a much needed dose of some normalcy in their lives!
It was quickly evident that music therapy sessions held live via Zoom would not be ideal for these students, as their classes were scattered amongst group homes and between those who live with their caregivers. Thus, having a recorded music therapy video sent to them each week proved to be the most effective and efficient method. So, how did I go about doing this? Let’s talk it through.
A couple years ago, I added a new feature to my Listen & Learn Plus membership: a directory of ALL the songs in the collection, including the goal domains addressed, instrument/props needed, and links to the mp3s, instrumental tracks, and lead sheets.
I created this directory in a Google spreadsheet, so it is fully searchable, and I can add to it each time I write a new song. This has been a helpful tool not only for the members, but also for myself when it comes to planning sessions and classes.
As I was making improvements to the Listen & Learn store this fall, I realized that I should create a similar resource for people browsing the song collection. While it was already possible to browse songs by category and topic, I wanted to further specify the goals of each song and make searching a little less time-consuming.
Over the summer, I was approached by the Illinois State Museum and asked to create a video that related in some way to Illinois. I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on the cardinal, which is the state bird of Illinois.
The cardinal bird has always been a favorite in my house, ever since I was a little girl. One reason my family is a fan of the cardinal is that it just happens to be the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals — our baseball team of choice. And of course, since I grew up in Illinois, it’s always been on my radar as our state bird.
Now while the cardinal might not be your state bird (although it is in 7 U.S. states!), there’s a good chance that you see this beauty in your backyard from time to time. Maybe you’ve even heard its pretty singing, which is featured in the song I wrote for the Illinois State Museum video.
Many people have found themselves working remotely throughout the last 7 months, including music therapists and teachers. With very little notice, we had to alter our plans to be conducive to the virtual experience.
As someone who is in their early 20s, you would think that I would have an upper hand with knowledge about technology. I, unfortunately in this case, do not fit that stereotype and had to really teach myself how to make this all work for my clients and students. So, how did I do it?
I’ve found myself primarily using two applications: Zoom and iMovie. I know, it’s pretty basic, but who knew such common programs would open doors for so many virtual learning opportunities? In today’s blog post, we are going to dive a little deeper into Zoom.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and 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.
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Next month’s music therapy sessions, early childhood groups, or classroom music…planned for you in advance.
Click the image below for this free resource and song collection!