For many of us, COVID-19 has upended our lives as we once knew them. It has disrupted our schedules, our plans, our work, our goals, our motivation…everything. It’s okay not to be okay right now.
I wrote this song just as much for grown-ups as I did for children. Whether you’re a parent figuring out how to balance parenting with working from home, a small business owner struggling to stay afloat, a teacher providing distance education, or anyone else who is having a hard time right now, this is my love letter to you.
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.
Easier said than done, am I right?
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.
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.
Over the summer, I was approached by the Illinois State Museum and asked to create a video that related in some way to Illinois. I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on the cardinal, which is the state bird of Illinois.
The cardinal bird has always been a favorite in my house, ever since I was a little girl. One reason my family is a fan of the cardinal is that it just happens to be the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals — our baseball team of choice. And of course, since I grew up in Illinois, it’s always been on my radar as our state bird.
Now while the cardinal might not be your state bird (although it is in 7 U.S. states!), there’s a good chance that you see this beauty in your backyard from time to time. Maybe you’ve even heard its pretty singing, which is featured in the song I wrote for the Illinois State Museum video.
There is nothing like making music with young children face-to-face, where we can interact through singing, movement, and playing instruments. Little did I know on March 4, the final week of my mid-winter class session, that the next time I would see my students, it would be through a screen.
From the end of March through July, I led virtual music classes via Zoom, and they were certainly better than no music classes at all. It was a fun challenge to figure out new ways to engage the children and make our sessions as interactive as possible. Like my fellow music therapists and educators, I learned to stretch my creativity and make the most of this medium.
Wow, what a wild ride the past half year has been! It’s been an interesting several months, and I’m so glad to be back on the blog to share what life as a music therapist has looked like during this time.
Going back to my previous posts, the last one I shared was in February: A Week in the Life of a Music Therapist. Little did I know that the world would soon be flipped upside down with a pandemic. As I’m sure many people have experienced, my typical week does not look much like it did back in February!
This blog post is the fourth in a series all about utilizing the elements of music in music therapy sessions or music classes, check out the previous posts on rhythm, dynamics, and tempo right here! The elements of music series will continue with a focus on minor keys!
Minor keys are usually pretty recognizable by the way they make a song sound sad, angry, or spooky, but are not nearly as common in music as major keys are, and very rare in children’s music.
Because of the rarity of minor keys in music written for children, they often have a strong reaction when they hear them. They may be confused or interested, but hearing a minor key almost always garners a reaction!
In 2020, school looks different than it ever has before. For some kids, it means logging into a Zoom call. For some kids, it means homeschooling. And for some kids, it means venturing back into the classroom. My own children fall into that last category.read more…