{Mama Moment} Baby’s First Musical

Parker at Sesame Street Live

Parker has an obsession with all things Sesame Street. He asks to watch it multiple times a day, and when he hears the theme song he comes running and dances along to the music. He knows the characters’ names, and can identify them verbally. So when we found out that Sesame Street Live was coming to our city over Labor Day weekend, we couldn’t resist.

That being said, I had low expectations for how this would all play out. I mean, how plausible was it for a 14-month-old to sit through a stage show, especially one where life-sized characters were singing and dancing around? Not to mention that it would be dark and extremely loud. We agreed that he would either completely love it…or be completely scared out of his mind.

Parker at Sesame Street Live

Captivated, mesmerized, entranced: those three words best describe Parker’s reaction. This is a boy who does not like to sit still for longer than a minute, but the only moving he did during the show was from one lap to another. He kept his eyes on the action the whole time, and didn’t make a peep.

I noticed that all of the other children in the audience were just as attentive, which leads me to believe that Sesame Street has these kids completely figured out (or maybe they put something in the air in the auditorium, haha).

Parker at Sesame Street Live

I didn’t see my first musical production (Peter Pan at The Muni, an outdoor summer theater here in Springfield) until I was 4 or 5, so Parker has me beat by a few years. I’m so glad we took the chance on attending the show, because he had the time of his life. It was really fun to watch his reaction and experience it through his eyes.

For more mama moments and Parker updates (including an abundance of adorable photos and videos), check out my family blog, www.therambachs.com.

{Mama Moment} Being the Parent at Music Class

Being the Mom in Music Class

My son Parker has been attending my early childhood music classes since he was just six months old, which I’ve written about here before. Since I’ve always been the teacher, either my mom or my husband has been with him during class. But this month, I’ve had the opportunity to be “the parent” while someone else teaches.

Every Tuesday, Parker attends my baby music class with my mom, since I’m the teacher. But immediately following, my colleague Katey Kratz leads the toddler music class. I thought it’d be fun to experience the flip side, so Parker and I stick around and join in the fun. And it is FUN. Also, a full-body workout keeping up with him.

Being the parent in your child’s music class brings on a whole slew of considerations that don’t cross your mind when you’re the teacher. Here are just a few of the thoughts that run through my brain every week:

  • Is the teacher annoyed that my child keeps take instruments from her bag?
  • Should I leave the room with Parker if he starts fussing?
  • Does that mom mind that Parker just practically sat down in her lap?
  • Am I singing too loudly?
  • Are we taking away from the other families’ experience?
  • Do I smell as sweaty as I feel?

You’d think that after MANY years of teaching early childhood music classes, I wouldn’t have so many worries — but being the parent is a whole different ballgame. The best I can do is remind myself that when I’m teaching, sticky fingered instruments, naptime tantrums, and wandering kiddos (as long as their parents are keeping tabs) don’t phase me one bit.

My #1 priority is for parents and children to have meaningful interactions through music. And if that means they are sitting while we are dancing, moo-ing while we are baa-ing, or shaking while we are ringing, by all means, carry on. So that’s what Parker and I do every Tuesday; we carry on…and it is my favorite part of the week.

{Mama Moment} Coming Full Circle

Mama Moment by Jennifer Gossett

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Gossett, MT-BC, NICU MT. Jennifer is a Board-Certified Music Therapist based in Charleston, SC. She ventured into the field of music therapy after a 15-year career as a band director in public and private schools, and opened her private practice, Noteworthy Music Therapy, in 2012. Jennifer and her husband, Kevin, are parents of two sons, ages 12 and 10, each of whom has both special needs and special talents.

My sons were born in 2001 and 2004, and both were preemies. My youngest weighed 700 grams at birth, and the Beanie Baby that nurses placed in the isolette with him was as big as he was. Thankfully, our city has a Level 3 nursery for these tiny, fragile babies, so our boys had access to wonderful care and best technology available at the time. Between the two boys, we spent 18 weeks making daily visits to the NICU, rejoicing on the good days and crying on the bad ones, feeling helpless to do much of anything besides wait and pray.

Blessedly, both boys survived their early starts, and for the most part they have thrived and blossomed. Today, they’re tweens who love music, video games, Pokemon and Legos. Like so many of these former preemies, they’ve had bumps in the road, developmentally speaking: one has a diagnosis on the mild end of the autism spectrum, and the other has the hyperactive/impulsive type of ADHD and a moderate hearing loss. So, we’ve spent many an hour visiting pediatric specialists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, etc., and being immersed in the special needs world.

Becoming a Mom changes any woman’s life, but I could never have guessed in 2001 how drastically my life would change in the years to come. I had been a music teacher before I was a parent; my training was in how to play the trumpet, how to conduct a concert band, how to assemble a bassoon or correctly grip a pair of drumsticks. I was NOT prepared to negotiate a world in which I would watch my child breathe on a ventilator, bring him home on oxygen, or advocate for his education year after year in IEP meetings.

But as I grew and learned, I became drawn to the world of these special children and their families, and looked for a way in so that I could work with those children as I saw so many amazing professionals do for my own boys. It was then that I discovered my calling as a music therapist, and went back to college at the seasoned age of 38 to begin my new training.

Fast forward to the Fall of 2013: I’ve completed the training, passed the board exam, and I’m a board-certified music therapist. I’m doing exactly what I set out to do—using music to connect with and enhance the quality of life of children with autism, Down Syndrome and other special needs. It was a dream come true, but something was missing. I felt that “pull” again, realizing there was something else I needed to pursue—an advanced, specialized training in music therapy practices for NICU babies.

I headed to Florida, to the only site in the country that provides this level of training, for an intense few days of hands-on experience using MT strategies with these fragile infants. One other MT-BC was in the program with me, so we agreed to take turns holding the babies and going through the specific music therapy protocol. She took the first turn, which meant the next baby would be mine.

He was very small, very squirmy, and very easily overstimulated. I held him as I’d been taught, began to hum…and realized tears were trickling down my cheeks. I was shocked, not realizing that the memories would come flooding back like that after nearly 10 years since I’d last entered a NICU. Call it PTSD, call it a trip down memory lane, call it what you will, but for me it was a powerful Mama Moment — realizing that my life-changing experiences as NICU Mom had now come full circle to my career in MT.

Once I dried the tears and got through that first encounter and those moments of doubt, I knew I’d come to the right place and was doing what I was meant to do—to make a difference in the lives of children and families who face the same challenges that I’ve faced, and to use the awesome, powerful gift of music to do that. Or as a favorite quote says: “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” (Aldous Huxley)

Are you a music therapist with a “mama moment” to share? If so, please submit your story, along with a photo and short bio, via email

{Mama Moment} 15 Minute Break

15 Minute Pumping Break

This year, for the first time ever, I scheduled a break halfway through my afternoon/evening of work. The picture above illustrates how I’ve spent those 15 minutes every day since September — up until today. This week, my trusty Medela pump is going into storage until my next trip down baby lane.

Since Parker will be a year old in just a few weeks, we’re beginning the transition from breastmilk to whole cow’s milk. The bottle he gets while I’m working is the first step in the process, and I’ll gradually be replacing feedings up until his birthday.

I have been extremely lucky to spend so much time with my son during the first year of his life, which has definitely contributed to our success in breastfeeding. I know that lots of mamas pump multiple times a day at work, and I have an insane amount of respect for them; just once per workday (and then again before I went to bed) was enough for me.

There are only two weeks left in my spring session, which means I have ten 15-minute breaks to fill up now that I’m no longer pumping. Oh, the possibilities! I know many of you can relate to the sacredness of “me” time, even in the shortest of intervals :)

Parker and his sippy cup!

For more mama moments and Parker updates (including an abundance of adorable photos and videos), check out my family blog, www.therambachs.com.

{Mama Moment} Parker Rockin’

Parker Rock Anthem

I recently participated in a discussion with other music therapist moms about songs we’ve sung to our babies, and we compiled a pretty impressive list. I did contribute to it by sharing Parker’s original favorite song, but I neglected to include the one that goes like this:

Parker rockin’ in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time
His smile makes you feel so fine
Everybody just have a good time

Why yes, I did rewrite the lyrics to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” and sing it to my baby. We even have motions (including fist pumps) that go along with it.

I work with kids almost every single day, so in order to have a little variety from the usual children’s musical fare during my downtime, I like to get creative with Parker. I have “lullaby-afied” songs from just about every genre; it’s pretty safe to say that my child will grow up with an eclectic taste in music.

Parker Rockin'

Don’t get me wrong — all the classic nursery rhyme tunes are a regular part of our repertoire — but it’s fun to supplement with songs that will broaden Parker’s musical horizons. LMFAO may be at the (extremely) low end of the sophistication scale, but the “Parker Rock Anthem” remains a favorite nevertheless.