Back before I ever even considered called myself a songwriter, I made up piggyback songs. I learned this term while studying music therapy in graduate school, and quickly found out how handy they were, especially when working with children.
Piggyback songs are much easier to write than completely original songs, because there is already an existing melody. Sometimes I would change just a few words, while other times I would completely rewrite the entire lyrics; it just depended on how and with whom I planned to use the song.
As I began dipping my toe into the water of original songwriting, I used piggyback songs less and less. But I still get plenty of mileage out of them, and my students and clients love them, too.
Last summer as I was planning an ocean-themed music class, I thought, “what better song to adapt than a Disney classic that’s perfectly on topic?!” So I did exactly that.
The tune is (mostly) the same, but the lyrics got a little makeover so that now, “Under the Sea” can be used to facilitate castanet playing.
My new version is a bit less wordy than the original, so it works well in an early childhood or music therapy setting. You can also easily switch out “castanets” for “rhythm sticks” and keep the rest of the lyrics the same. I love a great multi-purpose song!
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.
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.
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.