Peeling the Onion: Thanksgiving

For the first time in as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving will not be at my house.  The decision for the change was not deliberate; it was just something that happened.  Since I am not madly shopping and cooking, there is time to think about change and think about the focus on tradition that most families feel at Thanksgiving.  How do we create traditions for our children? What happens when creating tradition means lots of changes from everyday routine? Is there more to tradition at Thanksgiving than a turkey or a pilgrim hat?  [Read more…]

Peeling the Onion – An Occasional Series

Peeling the Onion

One thing that I find most satisfying about music is how it connects the head and the heart – cognition and emotion – without requiring the landing spot of language.  That’s one reason why music is so perfect for young children who are just developing speech.  Music creates a feeling and thinking space where children can experience deeper and more abstract parts of being human that they might not yet be able to put into words.  As music therapists, we know how to create that special space through musical elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm and timbre.  As I compose or adapt music for my young ones and their families, I question myself about the meaning of the musical material or lyrics that I choose.  How can the experience of being in the music give children a chance to not only make music, but feel and think and question and test and problem solve? What is the deeper meaning in the songs we choose for our children? Why are certain songs so popular? I call this type of examination ‘Peeling the Onion’.   In this occasional series, I want to share with you some of the ideas I have about holiday songs and how I try and ‘peel the onion’ of meaning behind our cultural traditions and the music that we choose.  There is the outer layer of specific words and concrete objects such as learning the color orange in a pumpkin song. Peel to the next layer and you might find that the song about the winter holidays use words about family or presents.  Peel another layer and there might be a deeper shared meaning of love or belonging.  I think knowing how to peel the onion when creating music experiences for young children is one way that music therapists are unique in the world of early childhood music.  I hope you will share with our Raising Harmony community your thoughts about ‘Peeling the Onion’.  [Read more…]

Early Childhood Sessions at AMTA 2012


The AMTA National Conference is a great place to learn and share. We have put together a list of Continuing Education Courses and Concurrent Sessions on early childhood topics that might be of interest to you. There are so many amazing presenters and such a variety of topics, that we thought this list might help you negotiate the program. I would be happy to share my picks with you….but certainly Marcia Humpal, Petra Kern and Helen Shoemark would be on the very top of my list of ‘not to miss presenters’. (Of course, I would love it if you would join me on Thursday morning for Tones, Tunes, and Timbres.)
For those of you who can’t make it to the conference this time around, please let us know which courses you would like to see sponsored on-line through Raising Harmony!
Beth  [Read more…]

Hand-Me-Down: Music from Generation to Generation

I am so glad to have you join me on this first Raising Harmony blog. Let’s share our stories and songs and hopes and challenges and most of all support each other in transforming the lives of children and families through music.

I sometimes stop and think about how my life ended up this way. Most days of the week you can find me in the music room of Alternatives for Children on Long Island, New York being a music therapist just like I have been for the past 24 years. It is a wonderful space, with lots of warmth and all kinds of instruments. But the room really comes alive when moms and dads come in with their little guys. At the moment they enter, all the days and years before seem to melt away and suddenly it is just us and the music. So how come after so many years, this routine and repetition doesn’t bore me?  [Read more…]

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