It’s Listen & Learn’s birthday, but YOU’RE getting the presents.
My baby is hitting double digits! It’s hard to believe that this little website I started as a brand-new music therapist is still going strong 10 years later. Recording the songs, creating the materials, and writing the blog posts that fill up these pages brings me SO much joy, but what fills me up even more is knowing that they are benefiting YOU.
YOU are the reason that Listen & Learn Music is still alive and well today, and YOU are the reason I’ll be celebrating another 10 years in 2028. Every email and comment I receive detailing how a song was brought to life in a classroom or music therapy session, and how it helped a child to learn a new skill, provides the motivation to make this an even more valuable resource for you.
To properly thank you for your support, I want to give you a gift for every year of Listen & Learn Music. Starting September 1, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite resources with you from the L&L collection each day in yearly chronological order, all the way through September 10.
Our Biggest Giveaway Ever
And last, but not least, I hope you’ll participate in the GIVEAWAY I’m doing on September 10! One extremely lucky winner will receive a LIFETIME VIP MEMBERSHIP to Listen & Learn Plus, including all current and future CMTE courses.
All you have to do is help me celebrate by:
1) following Listen & Learn Music on Instagram
2) Creating a post about how you’ve used a L&L resource, or just simply sending a birthday wish
3) Tagging @listenlearnmusic on your post
4) Using the hashtag #listenlearnmusicturns10
Feel free to save and post this image and use the caption:
Wishing @listenlearnmusic a very happy 10th birthday! I’m joining in the celebration and hoping to win a lifetime VIP membership to Listen & Learn Plus! #listenlearnmusicturns10
Follow the steps above to enter as many times as you’d like between September 1 – 10.
Start from the beginning.
Each day, I’m writing a blog post recapping each year of Listen & Learn Music and announcing the resource gift for that day.
If you’ve entered your name and email address above, you’ll receive these directly to your inbox, and you’ll also have access to them (along with other cool stuff) inside the private Facebook group.
After 10 days of looking back on the history of Listen & Learn Music, I couldn't end this party without a little talk about the future around here. We're officially into Year 11, and its off to the best possible start. The countless emails, social media posts, and...
I can say with 100% certainty that Year 10 has been my favorite chapter in Listen & Learn's story thus far. For the first time ever, it has played a role equal to Music Therapy Connections in my professional life, and I've found a beautiful balance between the...
It was during Year 9 that I finally came up for air and regained a bit more balance in my life. My daughter started part-time daycare, meaning I had more hours in my day to get back to the part of my work I missed most: writing and recording songs. Our Listen &...
Year 8 of Listen & Learn Music was a HARD one. That's not to say it wasn't good -- in fact, it was all the good things in my life at one time that made it hard. I was adjusting to having two kids (my toddler went to part-time daycare and I was home with my baby...
Year 7 at Listen & Learn was another big one. With my son in part-time daycare, I finally had daytime hours to devote to songwriting and creating content, so the first thing I did that year was create an online CMTE course all about my favorite kind of direct...
Year 6 at Listen & Learn Music was a time of adjustment and learning. As a brand new mom with a baby at home and two businesses to run, I had to figure out how to prioritize my time and energy...because I didn't have a whole lot of either (year 6 was also a time...
Year 5 of Listen & Learn Music got off to an exciting start: I found out I was pregnant! This amazing news fueled me to do big things over the next few months, knowing that I would be taking a 3-month maternity leave in the summer. I spent the early part of that...
I look back fondly upon Year 4 of Listen & Learn Music, because for the first time, I started to consider it as part of my job rather than just a fun hobby. Since I was completely self-employed at this point, I had the freedom to spend my days writing new songs...
I was enthusiastic about Listen & Learn Music from day one, but in Year 3, I took things to the next level. I decided to post EVERY SINGLE DAY for an entire year, and as crazy as that might have sounded, I actually did it. I had plenty of experiences that year to...
2009 brought a lot of changes in my personal and professional life. My husband and I bought a new house, got a puppy, and I transitioned my private practice from being in my clients' homes to having my own home studio, all while continuing to work at my full-time...
More from Listen & Learn Music
Did you know that this Saturday, February 27 is National Polar Bear Day?! I didn’t either, until I saw it posted on Instagram, including a mention of my original “Polar Bear” song. Of course, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to celebrate these beloved creatures AND share one of the most popular songs in my entire collection.
As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized that the last in-person session plan I created was in March of 2020…almost an entire year ago. 11 months have crawled/flown by (does it feel that way to you, too?), and I’m still waiting to reunite with my groups face-to-face.
The good news is that almost all of our music therapy team is either halfway or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — I get my second dose on the 19th — which brings us that much closer to fully reopening our studio. I have high hopes for the coming spring and summer!
Last week as I was updating my song catalog, I started thinking about ways I could make more of my songs easily accessible without the commitment of joining Listen & Learn Plus or subscribing to my monthly session plans.
While they can be purchased individually, those $3 downloads (which include the mp3, instrumental track, and lyrics/chords) can start to add up. That’s especially true right now, since the pandemic has limited so much of the work we can do — and for many, that means more limited income.
Okay, so I have a confession to make: the pandemic has turned me into a bit of an online shopaholic. Luckily for my bank account, my purchases are usually under $35 (save for the occasional splurges), and all directly benefit my well-being in one way or another.
For example, I’m spending pretty much ALL of my time at home right now, and that has empowered me to make my home as comfortable, beautiful, and optimized as possible. A good majority of my shopping has been focused on that goal.
Another significant portion of my purchases have been dedicated to my physical health. In the new year, I’ve recommitted myself to working out regularly at home, so I’ve been slowly building up my collection of fitness equipment.
The last area in which I’ve been investing is self-care, though you could argue that all of these fall under that category. My current favorite things — the ones I’m sharing with you here today, all relate directly to self-care. I’ll explain below just how each item has affected my physical, emotional, and/or mental health.
Truth be told, I had a difficult time getting into the creative flow over the past couple of weeks. While I usually look forward to and enjoy this work, it took every ounce of self-discipline in my body to write, record, and prepare the materials for next month’s session plan and share it here today.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle, considering the violence, division and unrest taking place in our country right now. 2021 has proved to be yet another challenging year so far, but I still have hope for the not-so-distant future. I’m holding onto that as I move forward, and doing my best to focus on the things I can actually control.
Last year on this very day, I wrote that I had “mixed emotions about leaving 2019 behind”. Well, I can tell you for certain that my emotions are NOT mixed in the slightest about 2020 ending. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and I know we are all more than ready for 2021.
My word for 2020 was OPTIMIZE. I had high hopes for streamlining all areas of my life, but little did I know when I chose this word that life would be anything but optimal in the months to come.
The holiday season, as just about everything else in 2020, does not feel the same this year. For my family, there are no holiday parties, school Christmas programs, visits to Santa, or even celebrations with grandparents and extended family. But we are doing everything we can to make the most of it.
Same goes for my studio and private practice, Music Therapy Connections. I always look forward to this time of year, because it’s when we host our big winter recital, team holiday gathering, and my favorite of all, our Christmas-themed music classes. None of those things are happening this month — at least, in the typical way.
While I won’t get to welcome dozens of families into the studio to make music with me and sing our holiday faves, I can invite them to join me on Zoom and do those things. The one perk of meeting virtually instead of in person is that I can invite LOTS more people, no matter where they live, to join in the celebration!
I think it’s safe to say that we are ALL ready to close the book on 2020, and we are sooooo close. Now, I know there won’t be some sort of magical reset when 2021 begins, but at least I know that resuming a somewhat normal life in the next year is within the realm of possibility.
It felt GREAT to type “2021” on my session plan for January, which I’m excited to share with you today. A new year calls for several new songs, along with fresh takes on some oldies that haven’t seen the light of day since I first wrote them years ago.
Music therapy can address multiple goals you may have for your clientele. As I work with many school-age clients, I’m finding that one area I focus on often is academic skills. Singing songs with these skills embedded can be very effective, but I also like to add a kinesthetic touch for sensory input and reinforcement: instruments!
During our academic skills-focused sessions, my clients and I often work on reading, writing, counting, and identifying left and right. It sometimes takes some innovative thinking to get instruments involved! Here are some ways I work on academic skills with my clients during their in-person music therapy sessions.
As we head into the holiday season, I’m thinking about all the families who won’t be spending special days together or partaking in the usual traditions. I’m thinking about how I won’t be eating Thanksgiving dinner with my parents, and how my children will open their presents with their grandparents watching over Zoom.
And of course, I’m thinking about how I won’t be able to enjoy singing all my favorite songs in person with my students and clients. November and December are, in my opinion, the most fun months of the year musically, because the excitement of the holidays is heightened with the addition of thematic songs and activities.
While we’ll get some of that through our virtual classes and sessions, it won’t be the same. This year is about doing the best we can, knowing that next year’s festivities will be all that much sweeter. I’m hopeful that the songs in this month’s session plan can bring you, your students, and clients some comfort and joy.
Self-care is a common topic among the music therapy community. We talk about it a lot, but do we actually implement it in our daily lives? It’s something I personally struggle with. I know what I want to do for self-care, but finding the time to actually take care of myself is difficult. Who else is in this same boat?
We’re all busy. Maybe you’re working a full-time job, you have kids stuck at home doing remote learning, you’re trying to navigate a pandemic, you’re enduring the stresses of everyday life, the list could go on and on. For me, it’s trying to plan a wedding during COVID-19. I find myself using this and so many other excuses as reasons to put off self-care.
Instead of using our busy lives as an excuse why we can’t give ourselves some self-love, let’s start using them as reasons why we need to care for ourselves.
Easier said than done, am I right?
Coping skills are so important at any age, and our emotions play a huge role in this. Identifying what we are feeling, how to express those feelings, and what to do about them is necessary throughout life, but can be quite difficult. Even fully developed adults can struggle with this.
While adults take on the stresses of everyday life during COVID-19, we sometimes may forget that children are impacted, too. These kids have had a huge shift in their everyday lives: attending school remotely, not being able to see their friends, wearing a mask, and keeping distance from everyone they see. Children have a lot of feelings, and learning how to process and express these feelings comes with their developmental milestones that they maybe haven’t achieved yet.
So, especially in today’s world, how can we use music to help children process and express their emotions, furthering their ability to develop healthy coping skills? Let’s take a look at a few songs that may help.
With so many music therapists, teachers, and educators utilizing digital resources right now, I’ve been making my materials as accessible as possible so that they can be used in a variety of ways. That includes creating videos to accompany my songs, the latest of which comes right in time for Halloween.
Even though the country is opening back up, virtual services are not going away. I believe that, especially in today’s day and age, virtual services will stay around for a long time. Not only does it limit the spread of germs, but it allows us to reach people who may otherwise not be able to receive music therapy or other musical interactions.
My last two blog posts have been heavily focused on the technology aspect of virtual services. Now, let’s take a look at what goes on within those sessions. Songs from the Listen & Learn Music collection have always played a big role in my music therapy sessions and early childhood services, but these three songs have especially shown to be successful in my virtual services.
In these uncertain times (to use one of many pandemic era buzz phrases), I find comfort in consistency. That’s why every month, I create a session plan for you to use virtually, in person, or in some cases, to file away for a later date when you are able to resume your services. I’m certainly longing for the day I can use these materials to their full potential, but in the meantime, I’m grateful for each and every music-making opportunity.
I also find comfort in writing and recording new songs, several of which make their debut in the November session plan. This is one of my favorite seasons when it comes to repertoire, and I’m excited to dig into not only this month’s plan, but the entire Thanksgiving song collection.
For the month of November, I’m incorporating bells, stretchy band, cabasa, and providing opportunities for addressing gross motor movement, body part identification, counting, Thanksgiving, and much more.
The November session plan includes 10 goal-based songs (mp3, instrumental track, lyrics/chords) along with a facilitation guide for each song, which will allow you to implement a cohesive 30-45 minute music experience. Grab it for yourself for just $10.
As many people continue to work remotely, we’ve had to get creative on how to reach the people we serve. When August came around, schools reopened for in-person, hybrid, or remote classes. This posed a new problem for those in the education setting, including related services.
One of my contract locations is a specialized school for children with autism. This school has been fully remote since March, including their summer school program. The change was huge for these students, and we wanted music therapy to still be a part of their remote learning so they could continue to work on their skills. This also provided a much needed dose of some normalcy in their lives!
It was quickly evident that music therapy sessions held live via Zoom would not be ideal for these students, as their classes were scattered amongst group homes and between those who live with their caregivers. Thus, having a recorded music therapy video sent to them each week proved to be the most effective and efficient method. So, how did I go about doing this? Let’s talk it through.
A couple years ago, I added a new feature to my Listen & Learn Plus membership: a directory of ALL the songs in the collection, including the goal domains addressed, instrument/props needed, and links to the mp3s, instrumental tracks, and lead sheets.
I created this directory in a Google spreadsheet, so it is fully searchable, and I can add to it each time I write a new song. This has been a helpful tool not only for the members, but also for myself when it comes to planning sessions and classes.
As I was making improvements to the Listen & Learn store this fall, I realized that I should create a similar resource for people browsing the song collection. While it was already possible to browse songs by category and topic, I wanted to further specify the goals of each song and make searching a little less time-consuming.
Over the summer, I was approached by the Illinois State Museum and asked to create a video that related in some way to Illinois. I knew immediately that I wanted to focus on the cardinal, which is the state bird of Illinois.
The cardinal bird has always been a favorite in my house, ever since I was a little girl. One reason my family is a fan of the cardinal is that it just happens to be the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals — our baseball team of choice. And of course, since I grew up in Illinois, it’s always been on my radar as our state bird.
Now while the cardinal might not be your state bird (although it is in 7 U.S. states!), there’s a good chance that you see this beauty in your backyard from time to time. Maybe you’ve even heard its pretty singing, which is featured in the song I wrote for the Illinois State Museum video.
Many people have found themselves working remotely throughout the last 7 months, including music therapists and teachers. With very little notice, we had to alter our plans to be conducive to the virtual experience.
As someone who is in their early 20s, you would think that I would have an upper hand with knowledge about technology. I, unfortunately in this case, do not fit that stereotype and had to really teach myself how to make this all work for my clients and students. So, how did I do it?
I’ve found myself primarily using two applications: Zoom and iMovie. I know, it’s pretty basic, but who knew such common programs would open doors for so many virtual learning opportunities? In today’s blog post, we are going to dive a little deeper into Zoom.
There is nothing like making music with young children face-to-face, where we can interact through singing, movement, and playing instruments. Little did I know on March 4, the final week of my mid-winter class session, that the next time I would see my students, it would be through a screen.
From the end of March through July, I led virtual music classes via Zoom, and they were certainly better than no music classes at all. It was a fun challenge to figure out new ways to engage the children and make our sessions as interactive as possible. Like my fellow music therapists and educators, I learned to stretch my creativity and make the most of this medium.