Looking for music resources for children?
You’re in the right place. I know first-hand how overwhelming it can be, constantly searching for and creating new music materials for your work with children. When I became a board-certified music therapist in 2007, I felt completely lost as I got started planning my sessions and classes. That’s why I started writing my own music therapy songs — my other options were extremely limited. I began sharing them in the hopes that it would help other people like me, and that’s how Listen & Learn Music came to be.
Ready to expand your collection of music therapy songs?
Over the last ten years, I’ve written and shared over 200 songs. My music has been used in music therapy sessions, classrooms, and homes all over the world. As an actively practicing music therapist and early childhood music leader, I’m constantly writing new songs for my own students and clients, so it would be nearly impossible to run out of material to share here :) More than 300 members have joined Listen & Learn Plus, my VIP membership which provides total access to the entire collection. I invite you to take a look around, and hope that this site becomes a valuable resource for you, too!
Time to explore!
There’s a LOT to see here, so I hope you’ll bookmark Listen & Learn Music and come back often. Better yet, subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a thing, and join my email list (you get an entire free album just for signing up!) for fresh materials, discounts, and news. Last but not least, please consider getting the most out of Listen & Learn Music by becoming a VIP member. If you have any questions about anything you see here, use the contact button at the top to get in touch. Enjoy!
Most days, being a business owner is far from glamorous. The majority of my work is done from home, sitting at my desk in front of the computer, balanced out with a few hours of music therapy sessions, music classes, and meetings throughout the week.
I’m definitely not complaining; as an introvert, this was the ideal work life I envisioned for myself all those years ago when I became a full-time business owner. But every once in a while, I have those days away from my desk that remind me how rewarding and fun business ownership can be.
Today was one of those days.
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.
Growing up, I loved summer for its perfect blend of laziness and activity. I spent my days sleeping in and hanging out with my friends at the pool, and then, once I was in high school, my evenings were filled with community theater rehearsals and low-key plans with friends.
As an adult, especially the last few years before having kids, summers were a blur. I packed them with full work schedules, gigs, vacations, and obligations to which I felt bad saying no. I barely spent any time in my summer happy place (next to a pool), and let the season slip by because I was so “busy”.
That was my experience even after having kids, as we added all kinds of new activities to the mix. I continued to say yes to work opportunities and performances, even though really, I just longed for weekends completely free of plans.
But this summer is different. I’ve spent the first half of 2017 slowly paring down commitments and work to that which most fulfills me and suits my family life, and now, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I have more white space than plans on my calendar.
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.
When I shared my adaptation of “Under the Sea” recently, a colleague posed this question:
“Can you educate me a bit? How do you publish these without infringing on rights? I love adaptations and would like to know how you do it!”
This isn’t the first time I’ve received this question, and the answer is a bit complicated, so instead of replying just to her, I decided to turn it into a blog post.
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!
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In the summer of 2007, I started a little side hustle called Music Therapy Connections. That side hustle grew into an actual business that took up all the hours I wasn’t working at my full-time job, and it eventually replaced my full-time job. In time, it grew into a partnership with another music therapist and didn’t stop there.
10 years in, Music Therapy Connections is a full-fledged brick and mortar business with a team of 10 that serves hundreds of families within our walls and hundreds of people in the community each week. What a wild ride it’s been.
And through it all, I’ve not only run the business, but also provided music therapy, led early childhood music classes, and taught piano, voice and guitar lessons. I’ve taken two summer maternity leaves and extended summer breaks to be with my kids, but always returned to my students in the fall.
Two years ago right around this time, I was holding a brand new baby girl in my arms and wondering how I got so lucky. Her entrance into the world wasn’t quite as smooth as her brother’s, but all those hours of labor made the moment that much sweeter.
Mia Belle was not what I would call an easy baby; she didn’t sleep through the night for her first 18 months of life, and she clung to me for dear life at all hours of the day. She cried just about every afternoon as I left for work. But in between the clinging and crying, she was unbelievably sweet. And funny. This girl learned how to go from coy to total ham in about 6 seconds, and she charmed everyone in her path with her huge blue eyes.
And she still does, this little 2-year-old of mine. Complete strangers stop to comment on how cute she is and how beautiful her eyes all are the time, but really, the best part about her is her personality. She’s always had so much of it, and now that she is talking nonstop, we are getting to experience the full extent.
I’ve never written, recorded, and facilitated as many early childhood songs in my entire life as I have over the past 10 months. Last August we kicked off a new season of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, music classes for children ages 0-3, at my teaching studio and private practice, Music Therapy Connections. 8 class sessions later, we are winding down and getting ready to take a much-needed break before we do it all over again.
I’ve been looking back at our song collections from this year’s classes as I start to plan for next year, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the biggest hits of the 2016-2017 season.
Many of the songs we include in our early childhood curriculum are designed to fall into multiple categories, from instrument play, to cognitive skills, to movement, etc. We only have 45 minutes out of the entire week to work with our kiddos, so we want to make sure to cover as much ground as possible without overwhelming them with dozens of tunes.
I chose one song from each of our 8 sessions, which I think are a nice representation of the range of concepts we address in class. To listen to each song and read more about it, just click the link or cover art.
I don’t always adapt existing songs, but sometimes when I do, they’re based on iconic tunes from the 1950s and 1960s, rewritten specifically as movement songs.
Funny story: I have a long list of songs I’ve written but haven’t shared here on the blog and in my store yet. Yesterday I decided to do a little catching up, and chose two songs at random to share. It wasn’t until after I added them to the store that I realized both were based on songs by male artists from the 50s and 60s.
I took this coincidence as an opportunity to remind you that inspiration for new songs and adaptations can come from any style, genre or generation. A few years back, I was really into adapting current pop songs, and still like to do so from time to time. But I have found that borrowing ideas and melodies from other decades can be a lot of fun, especially since many parents and grandparents attend music therapy sessions and music classes.
It’s up to you as a songwriter to decide just how closely you want your version to resemble the song that inspired it. You can put a modern spin on an old classic, or keep it true to the original. Here are my adapted versions of the songs by the prolific artists pictured above.
Earlier this week, I came across a blog post I wrote almost three years ago detailing a typical day in my life as a music therapist. I got a little nostalgic as I read it, thinking back to a time when I only had one baby and he still spent his days at home. It’s amazing how much life can change in just a short time.
That blog post was actually based on my original “day in the life” post written in 2011, when I had NO kids and still worked full-time at The Hope Institute, with a private practice on the side. Talk about a blast from the past! I remember that time well, but it seems so, so long ago after everything I’ve been through since.
I really wish I had written this kind of post last year, when I was in the thick of having a baby still at home and a business undergoing huge growth and changes. I think back on it and wonder how I managed to do everything, but somehow I did.
Life is nowhere near as challenging these days, since both of my kids are in daycare and preschool all day (except Fridays) and I have plenty of time devoted to work. But having all that time creates a different kind of challenge — figuring out how to manage it in the best possible way with my priorities in mind.
I still have a long way to go with this, but I’m making progress. I’ve learned that the best way to combat misuse of time is to plan out my day the night before (I use and absolutely could not live without Trello, the online tool that keeps my entire life organized), so that when I sit down to work the next morning, I know exactly where to begin.