Rachel Rambach, MM, MT-BC
Welcome! My name is Rachel Rambach. Here are a few words and phrases I might use to describe myself: mom, music therapist, business owner, singer, songwriter, and educator. So what happens when all of these aspects of my life converge? Well, you’re looking at it!
It was my students who inspired me to start Listen & Learn Music in September of 2008. My collection of original songs had grown rapidly, and I wanted to put them out there for other music therapists, parents, and teachers who might find them useful. The blog grew out of passion for what I was doing, as well as the incredible response I received.
This site is where all of my interests and skills are combined for one purpose: to help children learn and grow through music. I also enjoy sharing anecdotes from my daily life, which is spent raising my two young children and a rapidly growing business.
New around here? Here are a few good starting points.
July 2007 was a good month. I got engaged to my now-husband, and then just a few days later, passed the board certification exam to become an official board-certified music therapist. This photo was taken the following month — the earliest one I have in a work setting with those four letters (MT-BC) behind my name.
These past 10 years have been full of learning, growing, and stretching myself in ways I never though possible. I thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane, highlighting my music therapy journey from the beginning to where I am now.
Recently I was having a FaceTime conversation with my friend Jocelyn, when she mentioned this audiobook to which she had been listening. “It’s called The 5 Second Rule,” she said, which immediately brought to mind the rule that dropped food is acceptable for consumption as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds. #momlife
But then Jocelyn went on to explain the basic premise of the book: that you can get yourself to take action on any task by counting backwards from 5. I liked the concept, but I was confused as to how it warranted an entire book. Despite my skepticism, I used one of my Audible credits to download the audiobook version, and stated listening after we hung up the phone.
It was my dad, of all people, who asked me this question just the other day.
“But how can you be an introvert? You’ve been performing in front of people your whole life. That doesn’t seem very introverted to me.”
That’s when I had to debunk the common misconception that being an introvert means being shy and uncomfortable around other people. I explained to my dad that while I have no problem getting up on a stage and singing, it’s the interaction with many people before and after that completely drains me and necessitates time alone to recharge afterwards.
When we first started offering early childhood and preschool music classes, there were 2 options: a morning class and an evening class. And before every session, I worried that we wouldn’t have enough families sign up, and we would have to cancel a class.
Thankfully that never happened, although there were plenty of sessions with small class sizes throughout those first few months. But with each session, we learned what worked (and what didn’t) when it came to filling classes. Over the last two years, we have consistently filled 5 different classes per session — a huge feat considering where we started.
Before our summer session began this week, my business partner Katey and I set specific goals for class registration numbers. We aimed high because we love a good challenge, and then we came up with a plan to meet those goals.
Katey and I had a little emoji party on Monday after I texted her that not only had we achieved those pie-in-the-sky registration numbers, but we had actually exceeded them with a waitlist for several of the classes. What the what?!
I would love to share with you our specific strategies for maxing out this session of early childhood and preschool music classes, because I know the struggle all too well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago, I was making some updates to the Music Therapy Connections website when an error message popped up. I’ll spare you the technical jargon, but after making a call to my hosting provider, I discovered that my current hosting server is no longer being updated and will prevent my websites from running smoothly and doing everything I need them to do.
The customer support representative recommended that I upgrade to a new server, and explained what the process would look like for doing so. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty tech-savvy person, but a lot of what he was explaining seemed overwhelming and over my head. Even so, it was pretty clear that I needed to take the plunge, and thus began the Great Website Migration of 2017.