Adventures in Songwriting: Collaboration

Lennon McCartney Songwriting

Lerner & Loewe.  Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Kander & Ebb.  Lennon & McCartney.  Simon & Garfunkel.  All famous songwriting duos whose names just belong together, right?

To be honest, I’ve never collaborated with another songwriter when it comes to music therapy/children’s songs.  (Unless you count therapeutic songwriting with students or piggyback songs, that is!)  I’ve definitely used input from custom song clients, teachers, parents and others, but the actual process of creating the song is an independent one.

However, I do have a songwriting partner for other kinds of music.  My mom and I have written wedding songs, choral Christmas pieces, songs for nonprofit organizations, and more over the last five years or so.  We both bring our own strengths to each project, and the finished product reflects a nice mix of our styles.  Goulet & Rambach has a nice ring to it :)

I’d love to collaborate with other music therapists at some point for a breath of fresh air and new inspiration.  Any music therapy songwriting duos out there we should know about?  Maybe you’re half of one — if so, let me know!

Friday Fave: iPhone Apps for Songwriting

iPhone Voice Memos for Songwriting

Today’s Friday Fave is actually a spin-off of yesterday’s guest post at Time for Music, which is the second installment of my “Adventures in Songwriting” series.  I mentioned that I use the voice memo app during the songwriting process, and Susan of the wonderful blog Make Me Musical wanted to hear more about it.

I wrote about my favorite iPhone apps around this time last year, but lo and behold, I failed to mention voice memos.  I keep my iPhone next to me while I write my songs, first so that I can tune my guitar using the Cleartune app, and second, so that I don’t lose my melodies before I get them down on paper.

As I mentioned while describing my songwriting process, the melody usually comes to me organically as I’m writing the lyrics.  I don’t like to switch gears between perfecting the words and figuring out chords, so I simply open the voice memo app (which comes already installed on the iPhone) and hit record.  That way I can sing or hum the melody and save it for later.

Not only does this app let me save my voice memos under a custom title, but when I sync my phone to my laptop, they automatically transfer to a dedicated iTunes playlist.  These features come in extremely handy when I use voice memos during my lessons and music therapy sessions.  Often I’ll record a piece of music for a student, download it to my computer, and then pop it onto his or her USB flashdrive for practice purposes.

I’d love to hear about other uses for the voice memo app.  iPhone users: any tips to share?  Bonus points if they’re related to songwriting :)  Happy weekend, all!

Adventures in Songwriting: My Process

My Songwriting Process

Want to read Part 2 of my “Adventures in Songwriting” series?  Well then you’ll have to scoot on over to Wade Richards’ blog, Time for Music!  There you can read all about the process I use to write my songs — and check out all of Wade’s great articles and music therapy resources.

So what are you still doing here?  Go read Adventures in Songwriting: My Process and feel free to share the process that works best for you.  Oh, and if you missed Part 1, you can find it here.

Adventures in Songwriting: The Beginning

Adventures in Music Therapy Songwriting

When people find out that I write my own music therapy songs, they usually have lots of questions.  How did you start writing songs?  Is it hard?  Do you prefer using your own songs to others’ songs?

These questions came up again last week during a presentation for speech & language pathologists, and I made a note right then and there to share my thoughts here on the blog.  So here it is: my “Adventures in Songwriting” series, starting at the very beginning (a very good place to start, if you ask Julie Andrews).

When I started my first practicum as a new music therapy graduate student, the first place I went for help was the internet.  I’d never written a song in my life, and had no idea where to start.  I was to work with seniors in a nursing home, so I typed “music therapy hello songs for seniors” into Google.  Can you guess how many results that yielded?  Yep…not many.

That was the moment I realized I was going to have to start writing my own songs.  I started with a simple hello song, which ended up taking less time than learning an existing song would have.  It wasn’t great, but I used it throughout that entire first practicum.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and what amazed me most was that by the end of the semester, the whole room was singing along.  To a song I wrote.  It was a pretty cool feeling.

Even with a few successful songwriting experiences under my belt, I still didn’t feel 100% confident as a songwriter.  I continued to rely on Google to lead me to songs I could use in music therapy practicum sessions.  But the more specific the goals and objectives for my clients, the harder it was to find the right song that fit each unique situation.

It wasn’t until beginning my internship that I began to feel comfortable sharing my songs with people other than my clients.  The positive feedback I received from my supervisors definitely helped, as did the fact that my clients were making progress because of the songs I was writing just for their needs.  Not to mention that the more I wrote, the easier it got.  Isn’t that the case with so many things in life?

In my next installment of this series, I’ll talk about the actual process I use to write my songs.  In the meantime, if you have any songwriting questions you’d like for me to answer, please leave them in the comments!

Peanuts Pumpkin Carols


I have a Halloween tradition with one of my classrooms at school, and that is singing Peanuts Pumpkin Carols the week leading up to the big day.  What are Peanuts Pumpkin Carols, you ask?  They are a group of cleverly penned Halloween songs set to the tune of traditional Christmas carols.

So “Deck the Halls” becomes “Deck the Patch”, “Silver Bells” becomes “Pumpkin Bells”, “The 12 Days of Christmas” becomes “The 12 Days of Halloween” and so on.  The teacher of that classroom found these songs online, and you can get them for yourself right here.

I absolutely LOVE Christmas music, but I usually try to hold off until November 1st to start listening to it.  Preparing and singing these pumpkin carols is an excuse to start dusting off the familiar melodies I’ll soon be singing and listening to throughout the holiday season :)

In addition to the Peanuts Pumpkin Carols, you can check out my own original Listen & Learn Halloween songs.

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