Shake It, Baby!

Shake It Baby Album Cover

Last week during our music therapy intern’s supervision meeting, we asked her to make a list of songs that could be used with shakers. After she named a few, my business partner Katey and I couldn’t help but chime in with our own favorites. In just minutes, we had a super long list of both original and familiar songs perfect for shaking along.

One of my most frequently used shaker songs is an original that I wrote for one of my music classes a while back. It’s one of those easily adaptable, learn-in-5-minutes, back pocket tunes that works in a variety of settings.

This song also happens to be super popular amongst the 2-year-old crowd; my son and his friends are big fans and request it frequently. Parker now wants to sing every song “fast, slow, up high, and down low” and I think this song might be the reason why ;)

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Lollipop Start & Stop

Lollipop Start & Stop Album Cover

For some reason, telling kids to “freeze” while playing an instrument is a whole lot more effective than just asking them to stop. The part where they have to wait is deliciously excruciating for everyone involved — okay, delicious for me, and mostly just excruciating for them ;)

That’s the basic concept of Lollipop Start & Stop, but not only do they have to listen for the words “freeze” and “go”, but they also have to watch for hands raised and thumbs up. I’m all about getting as many senses involved as possible, as you know by now.

Lollipop drums are always SUCH a hit (pun intended) because they are colorful and fun to play, and I like them because they aren’t too loud compared to bigger drums. Just this morning I had 15 or so toddlers playing them in my early childhood class, and they were surprising amazing at stopping and starting at the appropriate times.

This song is super adaptable in that you can change the words and signals used to let kiddos know when to play and stop. I think I’m going to have a good time keeping them on their toes each time we sing this one!

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

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Hum a Tune

Hum a Tune Album Cover

I’ve seen a lot of funny things in my years of working with kids, but one of the funniest has to be watching a child learn to play the kazoo. For some, it clicks right away, but most of the time there is a learning curve involved.

My two-year-old fell into the latter category; once he got it, though, I finally had to hide the kazoo during naptime to give my ears a break ;)

Learning to play the kazoo 😂 #parkergram #bingo

A video posted by Rachel Rambach (@rachelrambach) on

Parker’s rendition of “Bingo” inspired me to write a song all about playing the kazoo, which was a topic I hadn’t previously tackled. The song ended up in my Ring, Sing, Strum & Drum songbook (along with 11 other songs for all kinds of instruments).

The key to teaching a child to play the kazoo is to first help him or her master humming. When I use this song, I introduce it first with no kazoo at all; instead, we just sing and hum. Then we add kazoos, at which point there’s no turning back!

Kazoos are great for working on oral motor skills, proper breath support and control, and of course, upping the silliness factor of any class or music therapy session. I’m in the middle of planning my upcoming Listen & Learn for Little Ones session, and this song might just have to be included.

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

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1-2-3, Clack With Me

1-2-3 Clack With Me Album Cover

Every time we get in the car, my 2-year-old son Parker asks for “mama songs”. I have about 200 of ’em loaded up on my phone, but his favorite album is a collection of songs from one of my past early childhood class sessions.

I’ve listened to that album so often that I catch myself humming the songs at random times throughout the day, especially this one. It’s all about playing the — you guessed it — castanets.

I use castanets all the time in both my music therapy sessions and classes because they are so useful for addressing fine motor skills. Plus they make a lot of noise, and that seems to be an important qualification for a well-liked instrument ;)

I also address other goals with this song, including counting to 3, learning directions (up and down), crossing the midline, and keeping a steady beat.

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Pass the Tambourine

Pass the Tambourine Album Cover

It’s been a month since I picked up my guitar, but the time has come to reacquaint myself (and build up those callouses again!). Next week I’ll be ditching my yoga pants and tank tops for real clothes when I start the summer session of Listen & Learn for Little Ones, our early childhood music class.

I’m a little bit nervous about dipping my toe back in the water, but a LOT excited. Baby Mia is still a little young to appreciate my singing — I don’t get quite the response from her that I do from my little ones in class. Plus, she can’t shake and drum along like they do ;)

One of the reasons I’m super pumped about this session is that we picked a few “favorite” songs and activities from classes throughout this past year, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be especially enjoyable for everyone.

One of those songs is Pass the Tambourine, which I haven’t shared yet here. It’s simple and based on a familiar melody, which makes it easy for everyone to join in singing from the get-go.

I have my little ones pass the tambourine around the circle a few times, getting faster with each round. It’s also fun to change up the speed from child to child, which keeps them on their toes (and usually induces lots of giggles).

P.S. Did you know that you can gain instant access to a vast collection of over 200 songs (mp3, lead sheet, and instrumental track), videos, tutorials, and visual aides, plus ALL new releases from Listen & Learn Music?

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