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.
I spent the first half of 2008 completely consumed with wedding planning, and then getting married and going on my honeymoon. But once we got home, opened all of our wedding gifts, and returned to reality, I was ready for a new project. At the time, I was writing a...
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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.
Wow, what a wild ride the past half year has been! It’s been an interesting several months, and I’m so glad to be back on the blog to share what life as a music therapist has looked like during this time.
Going back to my previous posts, the last one I shared was in February: A Week in the Life of a Music Therapist. Little did I know that the world would soon be flipped upside down with a pandemic. As I’m sure many people have experienced, my typical week does not look much like it did back in February!
It’s definitely feeling like fall here in central Illinois, even before the new season has officially arrived. Typically we’re still experiencing summer weather late into September, but this past weekend was perfect for long sleeves, pumpkin patch visits, and fire pits.
Each year, I fine-tune my seasonal repertoire both by writing new songs AND retooling older ones. I’ve spent most of this month getting my fall arsenal of songs ready, and today I’m sharing a round-up of 7 autumnal favorites.
These songs address a variety of goal areas in addition to focusing on the fall season — you should know by now that most of my songs are multitaskers ;)
Now that the official end of summer is imminent, have you started pulling out all your fall faves? Since I create each session plan a month in advance, I was going through my fall songs and writing new ones way back at the beginning of August. Finally being able to put them to use is exciting!
Historically, October is a very fun time to be a music therapist. Children love singing about all things related to Halloween, which is why I keep writing songs on this topic. This year, I pulled out some oldies, gave them a makeover in the way of updated lyrics and brand-new recordings, and added them to the October session plan.
Way back at the beginning of March (when people were still traveling for fun), I spent an entire airplane ride home planning a big launch for the reopening of my membership, Listen & Learn Plus. It involved an extensive email series, a new course, bonuses…the works. I hadn’t done a launch like this since I released my book, so I was PUMPED.
The official launch announcement was scheduled for March 13. That was also the day my children’s school, my business, and most of the country, shut down due to COVID-19.
This blog post is the fourth in a series all about utilizing the elements of music in music therapy sessions or music classes, check out the previous posts on rhythm, dynamics, and tempo right here! The elements of music series will continue with a focus on minor keys!
Minor keys are usually pretty recognizable by the way they make a song sound sad, angry, or spooky, but are not nearly as common in music as major keys are, and very rare in children’s music.
Because of the rarity of minor keys in music written for children, they often have a strong reaction when they hear them. They may be confused or interested, but hearing a minor key almost always garners a reaction!