Rhythm sticks are a go-to instrument in our music therapy sessions and classes. They’re not colorful and interesting-looking like some of our other instruments, but they are super versatile and can address so many important skills.
Another benefit of rhythm sticks is that they’re inexpensive, so we always have enough on hand to that everyone can play at the same time, no matter how big our group. We buy these in bulk.
Since we use our rhythm sticks so often, I’m constantly writing new songs specifically for them. It’s been awhile since I shared a song round-up, so here are 8 of my favorite stick tunes for working with children.
Recently I was having a FaceTime conversation with my friend Jocelyn, when she mentioned this audiobook to which she had been listening. “It’s called The 5 Second Rule,” she said, which immediately brought to mind the rule that dropped food is acceptable for consumption as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds. #momlife
But then Jocelyn went on to explain the basic premise of the book: that you can get yourself to take action on any task by counting backwards from 5. I liked the concept, but I was confused as to how it warranted an entire book. Despite my skepticism, I used one of my Audible credits to download the audiobook version, and stated listening after we hung up the phone.
When we first started offering early childhood and preschool music classes, there were 2 options: a morning class and an evening class. And before every session, I worried that we wouldn’t have enough families sign up, and we would have to cancel a class.
Thankfully that never happened, although there were plenty of sessions with small class sizes throughout those first few months. But with each session, we learned what worked (and what didn’t) when it came to filling classes. Over the last two years, we have consistently filled 5 different classes per session — a huge feat considering where we started.
Before our summer session began this week, my business partner Katey and I set specific goals for class registration numbers. We aimed high because we love a good challenge, and then we came up with a plan to meet those goals.
Katey and I had a little emoji party on Monday after I texted her that not only had we achieved those pie-in-the-sky registration numbers, but we had actually exceeded them with a waitlist for several of the classes. What the what?!
I would love to share with you our specific strategies for maxing out this session of early childhood and preschool music classes, because I know the struggle all too well.
Can I tell you how excited I am about this week!? We’re getting ready to host Music Therapy Connections’ annual Favorite Song Singalong, which is a free event for families with young children.
The Singalong, which will be held on both Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening, features a variety of our favorite songs (both original and traditional) that we’ve included in music classes over the last year.
One of the reasons I love this event so much is that it allows us to welcome in many new families from the community who haven’t attended our classes before. We also get to see our “regulars” — a big treat since we’ve been on break for the last month.
Add to that the opportunity to share my favorite songs, play our favorite instruments, and make music with lots of excited kiddos…well, it’s basically the recipe for an awesome time.
As I was working on the details of the event this past week, I thought, why not bring a similar concept to Listen & Learn Music? Except instead of sharing only MY favorite songs, I want to hear YOURS. Enter the Favorite Song Challenge.
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!
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.