Big Savings this Spring – Hurry!

Spring already? How does the time go so quickly?

Get a jump start TODAY by signing up for the Spring Sprouting Melodies Training course

Refresh your knowledge, renew your passion, rejuvenate your work and career.

Because we procrastinate too, we wanted to give you an extra chance to register at the Early Bird Discount cost of $349. That’s 23 continuing education credits, tons of new music, and a vibrant engaging community.

https://raisingharmony.com/training/sprouting-melodies-training-info/

Course starts Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Early Bird Discount deadline, March 31st.

 

What are you waiting for?

What’s the Deal with Dorian?

Well, I’ve done it again! There is something about the Dorian mode during the winter season that really draws me in. And what I’ve noticed again and again is that it also draws young children into the music in a way that is unique.

I think that it is the ambiguity which the Dorian mode creates that fits so well with my style of music therapy. I want children to explore and express and examine. I don’t always want to box children in to a certain harmonic structure that will lead them to a foregone conclusion. The Dorian starts out with the flatted third that tricks the ear into thinking it has a specific path. But then, along comes the raised sixth. It surprises me every time. It no longer feels minor, but it doesn’t feel major either. That is another reason that Dorian is perfect for young children as they explore all types of pitched and melodic sounds. Anything they contribute musically seems to have a place in Dorian.

I also like to add the Dorian mix into the pot during the holidays. By the time December is nearing its end, many of us are ready for a break. We sometimes get stuck in the stress of season and keep our jingle bells on constant loop. Dorian digs me out.

Maybe this song in Dorian will help you find a little bit of novelty and newness in these last few days before the New Year. Give it a try this week. “Look and See” invites you and your children to take a break from the normal and find some creative play time. Let me know if you, like me, find a big deal in Dorian.

Enjoy the Music!
Beth

Look and See!
E. K. Schwartz 2017

1, 2, 3. Look and see!
1, 2, 3. Look at me.
1, 2, 3. Look and see!
We can play together. We can play together.

Come and play with me.
Come and play with me.
Come with me and you’ll see, we can play together.

Need a Summer Boost? Try Mixing Meters!

I always looked forward to the change of seasons.  Fall to winter. Winter to spring.  Especially spring to summer when school let out and everything seemed more relaxed and care-free. But as a music therapist, I have learned that the children and families that I work with do not get a break from the challenges that they face. The preschool program in which I work runs year round so that the children will have the consistent support that they require.

Even though I know that this is often best for the children, I get sad when the children or families tell me that they don’t have the time or energy for normal fun. Fun, like going to the beach to swim.  So if the children can’t get to the beach, how about bringing the beach to them? We don’t need actual sand and water, we just need music that gives the feeling of the waves and surf.

Here is a new song you can use this summer. It relies on mixing the meters of 2 and 3 to give the sense of momentum and flow that we feel in the cool water. Give it a try with instruments or lovely flowing scarves. I use one that I picked up on a vacation a long time ago.

 

Come With Me and Swim…E.K. Schwartz 2017

Come with me and swim. Come hold hands and jump right in.

Come with me and swim. Come hold hands and jump right in.

The water is cool, the weather is fine. So take a deep breath, it’s almost time.

Bend your knees. Curl your toes. Take a breath. Hold your nose.

Ready. Set. Go! OH!!

Enjoy!

Beth

Wedding Wisdom or Learning to Say No

There is a temptation at every stage of parenting to think that you have finally reached the end of the textbook. You feel sure that you now know all the wisdom that a parent would ever need. Well, I am here to tell you that that is simply not true! Those of you who read these blogs know that I am in the ‘grown-child- not fully out of the nest’ stage.  This summer we celebrated a new rite of passage- the wedding (and marriage!) of one of our children.  Looking wistfully at the pictures reminds me that it was glorious, joyous, amazing and all those adjectives that you could hope for.  But the days and weeks leading up to the wedding gave me plenty of opportunity to think back on the challenges of parenting in contemporary society and all the pressures that bombard young children and their parents.

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It all started with the first phone call looking for all the things a wedding seems to need – food, flowers and of course the dress.  As soon as I said the word ‘wedding’, the sales pitch started, telling me in no uncertain terms that we needed to….well you can fill in the blank, but the lists went on and on and the costs got bigger and bigger.

Fortunately, I learned from my parents (and hopefully instilled in my kids) that making thoughtful decisions and staying true to self is more important than frilly drink straws or monogrammed coasters.  The bridal couple worked hard to keep their thinking and decisions clear and grounded in reality. So while we worked to have a beautiful ceremony for my daughter to say ‘yes’ to her new husband, here are some thoughts I had about helping parents and children learn to say ‘no’.  These ideas can work in your early childhood music groups, but will probably work just as well for parents in the store, at daycare or at home.  Share them!

Set the stage for ‘yes’ more than ‘no’

Give children an environment which is safe and sturdy.  Use instruments or toys that can be picked up and explored and tested.  Set up the room or space so that children can use the entire space securely.  If this is not possible, use mats or rugs or dividers to create a clear boundary. Look critically at everything in the environment. Ask yourself, ‘Can children play with this? Can children go there?’ Make sure the answer is ‘yes’ more than ‘no’.

Here is a little chant to use music to set the boundaries. “Inside the mats! That’s where it’s at!”

Make sure you know why you are saying ‘no’

Think long and hard before saying ‘no’.  Is it for you or for the child? Try to use ‘no’ when it will help the child learn and grow in a healthy way.  Issues of safety or the safety of another child might be a time to use the word ‘no’.  If you find yourself saying (or thinking) ‘no’ because the child’s actions don’t fit your plan or your concept of how things should go, you might need to refocus the experiences you provide to be more developmental than task specific.

If the music experience is making shaking sounds, does it really matter if the child is shaking a maraca? Or a jingle bell? Or their toe?

Say ‘no’, then let it go

Adults often feel an emotional undercurrent when using the word ‘no’.  We might be re-living moments when the word ‘no’ made us feel bad about ourselves.  We might feel ambivalent or lack trust in our decisions for children. The best way to avoid this is to make ‘no’ a simple, clear signal without further repercussions. If saying ‘no’ is in the best interest of the child, then state it simply and clearly.  This is the time to not use music or a musical, sing-song voice.

Stop the music, say ’no’ and then let it go. Get right back into the music to let the child know that ‘yes’ is usually a lot more fun than ‘no’.

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So did I follow my own advice on ‘yes’ and ‘no’ for this wedding? Well, for the most part! And the Monday after, we looked back and were grateful that we were able to say ‘no’ to outside wedding pressures and thankful that we said ‘yes’ to the things that really mattered.

Enjoy the music!

Beth

Time’s Running Out

Quick! before it disappears! Get in on the magic of early childhood music therapy.

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The next Sprouting Melodies Training On-line course begins January 13, 2016.

Register today.  www.RaisingHarmony.com/training

Early Bird ends February 15. Register now!

Hurry and get your Valentine’s gift from Raising Harmony!

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This brand new e-book with over 30 blogs on music and early childhood is FREE with your Early Bird registration for the March 2014 Sprouting Melodies Training Course. Everything from using minor keys and modes to the ‘do’s and don’ts’ in early childhood settings are covered in this inspirational yet practical book.

Early Bird ends February 15, so register now.

https://raisingharmony.com/training/sprouting-melodies-training-info/

A Chants for Change

Did the words in the title throw you a little bit?

Chances are, since you are reading this, you kept going because you were caught off guard by the mixed up words.  You might not have paid attention otherwise, except that something jumped out as odd.  Catching this tiny, weird change speaks to the reliance we put on our prediction about how we generally use words and what those words should mean.

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When I think about words and music,

I admit that in my early childhood work, words always have a musical quality and my music generally includes words. The line that separates the two is very slippery. I often used ‘motherese’ when talking with infants and toddlers. As the children get older, I put lots of rhythm and rhyme into every interaction. I easily move from singing to speaking to singing. The children I work with love it (although my own children roll their eyes when I speak that way with them)! So while I am a huge proponent of music based practice, I respect the spoken word and work to strike a balance between talk and song.  I am finding a number of times when my new ‘songs’ are really ‘chants’.  I thought it might be useful to outline some ideas about chant in early childhood work.  Hope this helps you to both define, as well as blur, the line between the language of words and the language of music.

  • Chant and song share many common musical elements such as rhythm, tempo, meter, structure and timbre.
  • The primary musical elements of chant are often rhythm and meter, which is created through word rhyming and articulation of word sounds.
  • Chant relies less on defined pitch and formed key structure. Chant, however, does have pitch elements. The pitch (or frequency) is non-specific and relational in terms of inflection rather than fixed as in melody. This means that each person can use their personal voice to create a unique pitch or intonation pattern.

I know in my work that the musical elements that seem to scare non-musicians the most are the use of pitch and melody. So one thing I’ve tried to do is to take out the fixed pitch and melody and use the more non-specific inflections of chants. This often helps parents and early childhood educators to feel more confident to make music.  Everybody can use their own vocal patterns.  The musical interest comes with the use of rhyme, rhythm patterns, structure and repetition.

Here’s how I write a chant.

Just as with songs, the motivation always has to be driven by the children and their needs, so I identify that first.  I then think of words to describe or comment on that need which the children might be able to use outside of the music setting. I find little phrases or snippets of sentences that they can use to communicate, to request, or to comment.  I say the words again and again and again until they begin to fall into a rhythm or pattern.  Once I hear the language or word pattern, I create a complimentary rhythmic pattern that can be repeated. I next look for a rhyme or rhymes and then begin to put all the rhyming words together in a way that makes cognitive sense and has meaning. Next I form it into a structure so that there’s overall predictability.  Then I always add a little bit of surprise (rhythm, words, or sounds) usually in the third stanza or sometimes even the fourth stanza to catch the children’s attention just as I caught yours in this title.

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So why use chants for change?
  • Because chants give the chance to engage all grownups in in the musical world of their children by removing the focus on use of specified pitch or key structure.
  • Because chants give the chance to focus in on words and language the children might need to know or use to communicate.
  • Because chants are easily remembered and generally short with lots and lots of repetition.

To hear for yourself how some of these ideas sound, you can find two brand new chants that I just wrote at:  http://sproutingmelodies.com/2015/01/18/hows-weather-today/

Enjoy, and keep chanting!

Beth

Seven Stress-Busting Strategies for Music Therapists

My family doesn’t get why I am so wrapped up in my music therapy work.  At the end of a long day of sessions and team meetings and log notes, they just don’t understand why I don’t just let it all go and live like normal people do in the evening. After all, they have jobs where their work decisions really are a matter of life of death.  And they come home to sitcom re-runs and exercise machines at the gym while I am still ruminating over the best music to reach Jake or Jamie or Justin.

Stress Blog

So why do I feel so stressed?  Why do many music therapists feel so stressed?  Three reasons jump out for me.  One is that we care so, so much.  Our clients and their families are fully present to us in all their heartbreaking or beautiful or messy dimensions.  We care because we are caring people. Second, we have a hard time turning our ‘therapy’ selves off. My mentor, Dr. Clive Robbins, used to say that music therapy is not what you do – it is who you are.  So true! And third, we are always in a state of anticipation for the questions that inevitably come about our profession. Music therapy – what is that?  Is that really a job? Do people really pay for that? Phew!

If music therapy stress is hard for me, I can imagine how hard it must be for young music therapists or interns.  Since I have been doing this work for longer than many of them have been alive, I thought this might be a good time to offer some suggestions for how to change a few common practices that add to the level of anxiety and pressure at work.  Although written for the music therapist working with children, some of the ideas just might work for all music therapists. Check them out.

GET EVERYONE INVOLVED.

Most music therapists in early childhood or school based work have family or staff members in the session with them. When I visit programs, I so often see the other adults sitting in the back of the room or behind the children.  What good do they do there for you and especially for the children? Not much. Ask your family members or staff to sit in the circle or with the child. Ask them to sing and play. Bringing everyone into the music creates a rich, motivating auditory environment.  The grownups become models for the children. Sharing the music experience with everyone will make your job easier and provide for greater carry-over for the children.

RESPECT THE VALUE OF REPETITION.

I see so many young professionals and students who drive themselves crazy with the idea that they must bring in new songs each session. When I ask them why, the answer rarely has anything to do with what is best for the children. It usually reflects the fear that the adults in the room will be bored or dismissive with repeated material.  In my experience, most non-musical adults are no different from the children. They need lots of time to learn and master and integrate music.

PLAY WITH THE MUSIC.

As music therapists, we all play music. But playing WITH the music gives you a chance, within the needed repetition, to create engaging and exciting moments of therapeutic opportunity that can reach each individual child. Play with pitch, or key. Play with tempo or meter or structure. Play with dynamics or timbre.  Stretch your musical self and share the freedom of musical expression.

STOP TALKING.

We all do it. The session starts to get lost. Chaos is about to break out.  We get tense or scared.  What is the default response? Talking.  In these moments of panic, we forget to use the most valuable intervention of all – music!  If you are not used to using the music as the first response, it might be a bit unnerving. Rhythm is particularly powerful in organizing and gathering people.  Try it…you will be amazed at how well music really works!

HAVE A CHEAT SHEET.

How do you explain what you are doing at any given moment in a session? Why do particular music interventions work? What are your expectations of the children? What are your expectations of the adults? Take the time to write yourself out a cheat sheet answering the most common questions you get. Re-write it so that you can quickly get the message out without interrupting the flow of the session. Here at Raising Harmony, we give our providers pages and pages of Sprouting Melodies Sayings – simple sentences that quickly and concisely explain the work.

PREVENT HEALTH ISSUES.

Have you ever blown out your voice and then tried to go to work? Twisted your back out and then try and carry your equipment? The best way to lessen the stress of health issues that impact your work is to prevent them in the first place. Learn and practice proper posture for singing and playing.   Wash your hands.  Think before you lift equipment or a child. Spending time on prevention is way better than having to spend time recuperating.

STEP OUT.

Give yourself permission to step out of your role as music therapist. Enjoy all your other roles – spouse, parent, friend, or child. Immerse yourself in something that has nothing to do with your job. It’s really okay.

So will I follow all my advice in the coming week?  Well, I will let you know. Meanwhile, I welcome other stress-busting ideas that will help our entire community of music therapists become less stressed and more satisfied.

Enjoy the music!

Beth

Are You Passionate about your Work? We are!

Sprouting Melodies® Training is Coming to You!

Next On-Line Course Begins September 10, 2104

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Whether you are from a big city, small town or rural village Sprouting Melodies can be a chance for you to grow your music therapy practice and provide a valuable service to the families of your community. 23 CMTEs in the comfort of your own home.

For More Information or to Register Now!

https://raisingharmony.com/training/

The Sprouting Melodies® Provider Training provides comprehensive, research-based and clinically relevant information and resources on:

  • Early childhood development
  • Early music development
  • Treatment planning for early childhood music therapy
  • Creating and adapting developmentally appropriate music
  • Theoretical and practical guidelines for music therapy based parent/child groups in     the community
  • Specific strategies for successful business practices in providing early childhood community groups

Completion of the Training will allow the participant to be eligible to become a Sprouting Melodies Provider™.

Here’s what our course participants have to say about the training.

“…the Sprouting Melodies training has given me a strong base to stand on as my base of young clients grows. I definitely recommend it!!”

“The material and information was so well organized.”

“I really enjoyed seeing how Sprouting Melodies™ can benefit my community and my music therapy practice.”

“All of it was wonderful! I loved the discussion the most –brainstorming and discussing these ideas with Music Therapists is so valuable.”

 Please join us in this exciting new program designed by music therapists, for music therapists!

Register Now!

https://raisingharmony.com/training/

 

I Told You So!

Maybe it is because I grew up as the second child. Maybe is it because I chose to devote my life to a profession, music therapy, that requires constant explanation and promotion. Maybe I am really just obnoxious. But I love it when respected scientists report findings that support the things that I have known for years. So I am particularly crowing this summer with new research out of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. The study finds significant correlation between synchronous musical movement and social skill development in young infants. In other words, when we bounce to music with our babies, we are opening a world of connections that go way beyond keeping the baby entertained.blog (940x300)

In my early childhood groups and in the Sprouting Melodies program we have seen this connection develop week by week. The children that move and sing and play along with their grownups to developmentally responsive music show huge growth in their interest in others and their engagement in being part of the social group. They watch their peers more closely and choose to play with them or near them. The relationship with their grownup becomes one of joy and togetherness rather than stress and conflict.

Why is this important? Because we are primarily social creatures who live and work and play and learn in groups. Those early social connections are the foundation for later success in our families, our schools and our communities.  We know this and now hard science is giving us a strong backup.

As early childhood music therapists, we often feel the need to justify our value. But with science like this behind us, we can confidently articulate to parents, educators, administrators and funding sources why good quality, developmentally focused early childhood music programs are essential.

To help you out, the article citation and abstract is below. Thanks to the researchers and McMaster University, there is also a video explanation of the findings that you can share.  As an added bonus, I have also included a link to a Sprouting Melodies Sing at Home video with a brand new song using music and synchronous movement that I wrote for little ones just about the same age as the babies in the research. Sing it, move with it and share it with your families and your colleagues.

And maybe, just for now, it okay for all of us in early childhood music therapy to put on a bit of attitude and say loud and clear – “I told you so!”

 

Enjoy!

Beth

 

Cirelli, L. K., Einarson, K. M. and Trainor, L. J. (2014), Interpersonal synchrony increases prosocial behavior in infants. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12193

 

Abstract:

Adults who move together to a shared musical beat synchronously as opposed to asynchronously are subsequently more likely to display prosocial behaviors toward each other. The development of musical behaviors during infancy has been described previously, but the social implications of such behaviors in infancy have been little studied. In Experiment 1, each of 48 14-month-old infants was held by an assistant and gently bounced to music while facing the experimenter, who bounced either in-synchrony or out-of-synchrony with the way the infant was bounced. The infants were then placed in a situation in which they had the opportunity to help the experimenter by handing objects to her that she had ‘accidently’ dropped. We found that 14-month-old infants were more likely to engage in altruistic behavior and help the experimenter after having been bounced to music in synchrony with her, compared to infants who were bounced to music asynchronously with her. The results of Experiment 2, using anti-phase bouncing, suggest that this is due to the contingency of the synchronous movements as opposed to movement symmetry. These findings support the hypothesis that interpersonal motor synchrony might be one key component of musical engagement that encourages social bonds among group members, and suggest that this motor synchrony to music may promote the very early development of altruistic behavior.

A video abstract of this article can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaqWehfDm7c&feature=youtu.be