Last year on this very day, I wrote that I had “mixed emotions about leaving 2019 behind”. Well, I can tell you for certain that my emotions are NOT mixed in the slightest about 2020 ending. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and I know we are all more than ready for 2021.
My word for 2020 was OPTIMIZE. I had high hopes for streamlining all areas of my life, but little did I know when I chose this word that life would be anything but optimal in the months to come.
The holiday season, as just about everything else in 2020, does not feel the same this year. For my family, there are no holiday parties, school Christmas programs, visits to Santa, or even celebrations with grandparents and extended family. But we are doing everything we can to make the most of it.
Same goes for my studio and private practice, Music Therapy Connections. I always look forward to this time of year, because it’s when we host our big winter recital, team holiday gathering, and my favorite of all, our Christmas-themed music classes. None of those things are happening this month — at least, in the typical way.
While I won’t get to welcome dozens of families into the studio to make music with me and sing our holiday faves, I can invite them to join me on Zoom and do those things. The one perk of meeting virtually instead of in person is that I can invite LOTS more people, no matter where they live, to join in the celebration!
I think it’s safe to say that we are ALL ready to close the book on 2020, and we are sooooo close. Now, I know there won’t be some sort of magical reset when 2021 begins, but at least I know that resuming a somewhat normal life in the next year is within the realm of possibility.
It felt GREAT to type “2021” on my session plan for January, which I’m excited to share with you today. A new year calls for several new songs, along with fresh takes on some oldies that haven’t seen the light of day since I first wrote them years ago.
Music therapy can address multiple goals you may have for your clientele. As I work with many school-age clients, I’m finding that one area I focus on often is academic skills. Singing songs with these skills embedded can be very effective, but I also like to add a kinesthetic touch for sensory input and reinforcement: instruments!
During our academic skills-focused sessions, my clients and I often work on reading, writing, counting, and identifying left and right. It sometimes takes some innovative thinking to get instruments involved! Here are some ways I work on academic skills with my clients during their in-person music therapy sessions.
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.
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!