Mama Moment - Gretchen Chardos Benner

The following is a guest post by Gretchen Chardos Benner, MSW, MT-BC. Gretchen is the owner of Piedmont Music Therapy, whose mission is to engage, empower and accompany individuals to reach their goals grounded in the frameworks of music therapy and social work.

My children remind me of the best ways to get a job done while having fun and learning a lot in the process. Let’s take my recent guitar project as an example. Having my private practice’s office within my home grants opportunities for my children to learn more about the field of music therapy. Replacing the six strings on my work guitar was a long overdue task.

My children’s precious involvement made the routine task more of an accomplishment when it was restrung and tuned. My son (17 months) and daughter (3 1/2 years) transformed a work project into a time of bonding. We counted the strings, pegs and our fingers. We talked about what Mommy does with music therapy at a school or hospital and other children I teach through private music lessons. We compared strings with my primary instrument, the viola, and wove them in with some of their favorite requests, Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes, Wheels On The Bus and family creations about our dog.

As my children grow and develop, their curiosities and personalities help remind me to include them more often with kid­-friendly projects related to work. They enjoy learning and exploring newly purchased instruments, improvising or working through compositions for clients. We have more time spent with each other while identifying colors, sharing, and being respectful with others’ properties.

Music therapy is the field that I initially joined as a student in 2003 at Duquesne University. A year later my path crossed with my future husband because of our neighboring music instrument storage lockers and experiences through Spiritan Campus Ministries. With our current musical interests and pursuits, there is often music in our home.

I’m enthused that our children have been able to learn about my work by joining in the fun of counting inventory such as egg shakers or sorting visual aides. Our children have opportunities to learn about buzzing their lips to play their “trumpets” (recorders and harmonicas), preparing posters with song lyrics for active music engagement interventions or organizing the materials used for my business.

I am grateful for my children’s curiosities and eagerness to join the fun of preparing items for work and packing instruments for group contracts. They joyfully remind me to be proud to be their working momma.

Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email