Anytime you have the opportunity to talk with a total rockstar in your professional field about one of your favorite topics, you take it. Dr. Andrew Knight is a professor of music therapy at Colorado State University, and someone I’ve looked up to since meeting him quite a few years ago at an AMTA national conference.
He interviewed me for the songwriting course he is teaching this summer, and graciously allowed me to share the interview here with you. We talk about how I approach songwriting, the blocks many music therapists face when it comes to writing and sharing their work, my actual process, and of course, the Songwriting Challenge.
One of the things I commonly hear from fellow music therapists is that they wish they were more skilled at songwriting. As someone who has written upwards of 300 songs for music therapy clients, classes, adult audiences, and otherwise, my response is always this: the more songs you write, the more skilled you become.
Prior to writing my first song, I didn’t have any specialized training. I wasn’t confident in my abilities at all, but I just kept writing. Each song became a little easier, and with time I gained the confidence to call myself a songwriter.
Sooooo, I might be a little obsessed with podcasts. If I’m doing anything that doesn’t require 100% brain power — folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, picking up the playroom — there’s a pretty good chance I’m listening to a podcast at the same time. I’ve written about my favorites before, but this post is about my very own.
As you may have guessed from the title, I have 2 of them! The first is Guitars & Granola Bars, a podcast for women balancing a passion-fueled career with being a mom, and the other is Listen & Learn Music (original, right?), on which I share my original songs and adaptations.
Happy June! Not only is this my favorite month of the year, but it’s also my favorite week: my birthday is in just a few days :) Even though it means I’m turning another year older, I’m still looking forward to celebrating with the people I love the most.
But first I want to celebrate with YOU! I went back and forth on the best way to do that, in between prepping for a very full summer of classes and summer camps at the studio. And then I decided to do something I’ve never done before.
Nothing can prepare you for motherhood, and the way it completely overhauls life as you know it. But they should tell you that nothing can prepare you for a second child, no matter how experienced you think you are. And “they” didn’t tell me, so I’m telling you just in case you find yourself in that place down the road.
After Mia was born and we brought her home from the hospital, I was ready to get back to real life. None of this hazy newborn hibernation for us, no sir! Of course we took it easy and mostly stayed home those first few weeks, but I had a very active almost-two-year-old and a business getting ready to undergo a huge transition.
So I was thrilled that things pretty much went my way in the early months. The hormones didn’t hit me nearly as hard as they had after Parker’s birth, and I felt like myself pretty quickly. Breastfeeding was a total breeze. Mia was a sweet and adaptable baby.
I was getting a bit more sleep this time, too, and even found plenty of time to work (mostly in the wee morning hours after nursing Mia back to sleep). I figured out how to survive and keep two tiny children alive by myself for entire days at a time. I took the summer “off” as a “maternity leave” — and while I didn’t see clients or students, I put in more hours than I can count on the business and my own personal projects. I didn’t miss a single week of my podcast. Sure, I hadn’t had a full night of uninterrupted sleep since before Mia was born, but I wasn’t going to let my exhaustion get in the way of productivity.
It was all working beautifully, until it wasn’t. All of those things I had been sweeping under the rug — lack of sleep, wacky hormones, absence of time to myself — hit me like a ton of bricks in December. I remember having an anxiety attack on a Tuesday afternoon, shortly before it was time to go to work. I was standing in the middle of the family room, holding Mia, feeling completely paralyzed about how I was going to get through the rest of the day, let alone the coming weeks and months. I honestly had no idea.