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!
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.
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.
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.
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!