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Listen and Learn Music: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time to Sing Hello: Sneak Peek #2

Now that there are only 10 days remaining until the release of Time to Sing Hello, I'm more anxious than ever to share it with you.  First came the cover art and "My Clothes and Shoes" (admittedlly, my favorite track); today's preview includes the actual CD art and the final song on the album.

"Time to Say Goodbye" was written for children who struggle with separation anxiety and need the constant reminder that goodbyes don't have to be stressful.  So many of my students fall into this category, especially those with autism spectrum disorders.  The song is mellow and calming, which I think provides the perfect ending to an album made up mostly of upbeat tunes.

<a href="">Time to Say Goodbye by Rachel Rambach</a>

I began accepting preorders for hard copies of the CD yesterday, and have been overwhelmed with the response thus far! I guess many of you agree with me that although digital downloads are incredibly convenient, there's just something about receiving a pretty, full-color album in the mail (shipping is free) along with extra goodies (from yours truly). More about all of that here.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm really excited for July 10 to arrive!  And possibly even more excited for July 11, the day of my CD Release Party (including an interactive performance especially for children and reception).   Your family is invited; if you live in the central Illinois area and would like to come, RSVP right here on Facebook

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Set to Music: The Pledge of Allegiance

As the Fourth of July approaches, I'm probably not the only one with patriotic themes on the brain.  Songs like "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful" are being sung and taught to children all over the country this week, and I know that my own students are hard at work learning the Pledge of Allegiance. 

In fact, the occupational therapist at my school emailed me a couple of weeks ago, asking if I had any songs or resources for teaching the Pledge.  I didn't at the time...but I do now!

I came up with a simple rhythmic line, and that serves as my foundation for the chant and song I created to teach the Pledge of Allegiance.  Listen below as I speak it in rhythm, and then download (for free) the rhythmic line for your own use.

<a href="">Pledge of Allegiance [Spoken in Rhythm] by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

I pledge allegiance, to the flag
Of the United States of America.
And to the republic for which it stands,
One nation, under God, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.

<a href="">Pledge of Allegiance [Rhythm Only] by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Next, I came up with a super simple melody on top of the rhythmic line, which I orchestrated with trumpets. Here is my sung version:

<a href="">Pledge of Allegiance [Sung] by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

And here is the same track, only without my vocals. You can download (again, for free) the instrumental track for yourself:

<a href="">Pledge of Allegiance [Instrumental Only] by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

When I was in elementary school, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance was part of our classroom's morning routine. Nowadays, most schools don't do this, but there are other times at which a child might need to know it. It doesn't hurt to learn, especially when it's done through music!

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Singalong: I See a Girl Named...

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Out of all the songs I've written, "Everybody Has a Name" might just be the one I use most often. As I mentioned in the video, the idea came from a teacher...and it seems that the really good ones almost always do! The look of pride on a child's face after spelling his or her own name is priceless, but getting to that point is half the fun.

And isn't that the case with so many things in life? I think that so often, people focus on the end result that they don't take pleasure in the process. I've been guilty of this on numerous occasions, but I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy every small milestone, every flower along the path, every long car ride to state board meetings (as I did just yesterday, thanks to Audible and iTrip), and so on.

But I digress.  Getting back to the topic at hand, "Everybody Has a Name" is one of those universal songs I'll probably be using in the school and early childhood setting until the day I retire my guitar.  There is a long list of songs I can hardly stand to sing and play anymore, but this isn't on that list (well, yet).  What about you?  Do you have go-to songs that never get old?

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You're Invited!


These invitations went out in the mail last week, so if you live in the Springfield area, there's a chance you've already received yours. But if not, consider yourself invited to my Time to Sing Hello CD Release Party!  Here are the details:

CD Release Performance & Reception
Sunday, July 11 @ 2:00 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
533 South Walnut Street

I'll be performing songs from the album as an interactive experience for the children (and adults!) in attendance, followed by a cake-and-punch reception.  It should be a fun afternoon, and a chance for all the wonderful people in my life to gather in one place and celebrate.

If you're in my neck of the woods, I hope you'll bring your family.  To RSVP, send me an email and be sure to include a head count.  Oh, and this is a completely casual affair, in case you were wondering.  Let's kick back and have a great time!

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In the Swimming Pool

From the time I started elementary school until I graduated high school, most of my summer days were spent at the neighborhood pool. My friends and I would ride our bikes there as soon as it opened, and we'd usually stay until our parents made us come home late in the afternoon. And if there is anything I remember from those carefree days, it is my mother's daily reminders to "wear sunscreen and reapply" as I walked out the door.

Of course, wearing sunscreen is just one of the many important rules associated with swimming. I was sure to include that, among others, in my newest song on this topic. "In the Swimming Pool" was inspired by my fun memories, as well as my students, who come through the door in swimsuit cover-ups and wet hair for their music lessons all summer long.

<a href="">In the Swimming Pool by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

In the summertime, when the weather is hot,
You can usually find me at my favorite spot.
I’ll be splashing around and staying cool,
In the swimming pool.

Doggypaddlin’ from end to end.
Playin’ Marco Polo with my best friend.
Backstroke, freestyle, butterfly,
Swim, swim, swimming by.


Wearin’ my goggles, now I can see,
Underneath the water so clearly.
Backstroke, freestyle, butterfly,
Swim, swim, swimming by.


Listen up and follow each and every rule,
Like walk, don’t run, by the swimming pool.
Wear lots of sunscreen and reapply.
Don’t wanna get burned by the sun in the sky.


I know that for many children, swimming can be scary at first. It can take quite a bit of coaxing to get a hesitant child into the pool; I kept this song light-hearted and upbeat to reflect for such children that swimming is actually fun!

Do you have any go-to tunes about water activities for summer? I'm thinking this might make a fun series...I just might have to come up with songs about sprinklers, water parks, and boating to round it out. Any other ideas?

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Summer!

My favorite season is officially here, and the heat is on. 95 degree heat, to be exact, which means if I'm outside, I'm most likely in the swimming pool.  It's too hot to do a whole lot else!  Midwest summers are strange; most of last June was cool and fall-like, while this month, it hasn't dipped much below the 90s.  You just never know what you're gonna get around here.

I have quite a few new summer-themed songs in the works, but I'd love to hear some of your suggestions for specific topics, too.  So far I've received some great ideas, including pool safety, outdoor activities, the 4th of July, and more.  Help me add to the list!

While I work on those, I'll leave you with the summertime tune I wrote last year to signify the beginning of the season.  Take a listen:

<a href="">Summer by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

And if you're looking for more songs about summer and hot weather, visit fellow music therapist Amanda Ellis' site, More with Music. She recently shared an adaptation of my song, Hot Day, and it's definitely worth checking out!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Singalong: Mia's Composition

This week's "Sunday Sing-Along" is more aptly titled a "Play-Along" since there isn't actually any singing involved. But anytime I have a chance to showcase my students' creativity, I'll take it! Mia came to her lesson this past week bursting with excitement; she had composed this tune over the summer break and couldn't wait to share it with me.

As important as it is for my students to learn the songs in their lesson books and do their theory exercises, I think it is equally important for them to create, whether it is through songwriting, improvisation, or otherwise.  I have one student who comes to almost every single lesson with an original song, transcribed on notebook paper on handwritten staves, and another who has written not one, but two songs about bugs (her favorite subject). 

Mia wants to add to her composition, and we're turned it into somewhat of a summer project.  Once the music is finished, we're going to use Sibelius to create sheet music (a hidden theory lesson), Mia is designing cover art to be scanned, and then we'll print the final product out to look like a "real" song, as she says. 

How do you encourage your own students' creativity?  Fill me in...I'm always looking for new ways to do so!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Fave: Shakin' Songs for Summer

My studio is chock-full of instruments, but it's my collection of shakers that gets the most use. Maybe it's the bright colors, or how easy they are to play, or their great sound; I'm not sure. But my "songs for shakers" are a staple around here, which is why I decided to collect the sheet music that's been hanging out on my computer and put it in one place.

The Shakin' Song, Maraca Rock, Shakers Up High, and Shaky Fruit are songs that I've written over the last three years and still use often in music therapy sessions (and music classes, too!).  These songs address goals related to color identification, taking turns, soft/loud, fast/slow, high/low, up/down, and more. 

If you're looking to "shake up" your repertoire, this might be a good place to start.  The download includes the sheet music for all four songs listed above, plus the mp3s to use as a guide.  $5 and it's yours.

Add to Cart View Cart

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Catch This "Days of the Week" Download!

97% of the songs I use in my music therapy sessions and music classes are those I've written myself. But it's a pretty safe bet that the other 3% are borrowed from Laurie Berkner, who I'd have to say is my songwriting role model.

Some of my favorite Laurie Berkner Band songs include Buzz Buzz, Walk Along the River, The Story of My Feelings, and I Know a Chicken. But one song in particular that both my students and I are extremely fond of is I'm Gonna Catch You.

If you're not familiar with this particular tune, follow the link and listen to an audio sample.  It's upbeat, catchy, and best of all, it's about the days of the week.  Now I'll admit that this is a silly song, but I use it as an opportunity to sneak in a group calendar lesson.

I created a full-sized (8.5 x 11) picture for each day of the week, including the name of the day and a graphic + text for the description in the song.  If I'm working with a large group, I'll ask for volunteers to be in charge of each picture.  Then as we listen to and sing the song, each child holds up his or her picture as that day is mentioned.

If the students are just beginning to learn the days of the week, I'll have them sit in order so that they know when it's their turn. But as they become more familiar with the order of days, I'll arrange them randomly. For those who don't or can't yet read, the pictures serve as a visual cue.

My students really enjoy (and do very well with) this activity, so I thought I'd share those pictures with you today. Here they are in a nice, neat PDF download:

Download: "I'm Gonna Catch You" Visual Aide

Are you a Laurie Berkner superfan like me?  It's hard not to be; her songs are super singable, easy to play on the guitar, and can often be applied to my objectives as a music therapist.  Fill me in on your favorite tunes of hers! 

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

Earlier this week, I posted a sneak preview of Time to Sing Hello, my debut studio album. "My Clothes and Shoes" was the song I shared, and today my Listen & Learn Plus! subscribers can play right along.  The sheet music for this tune (my personal favorite from the new album) is now available to all subscribers...learn about becoming one today!


1 Cool Bass Line = 2 Singable Stories

One of my favorite ways to engage my music therapy students is through children's books. I have a sizable collection of what I call "singable stories" - books with words that translate nicely into sung lyrics.  Singable stories, along with the pictures that illustrate them, provide a wonderful opportunity to address goals such as identifying colors, objects, numbers, sight words, and answering "wh" questions.

A book that I find myself pulling off the shelf again and again is Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand. The pictures are colorfully captivating, and the song is familiar to most children.

I've found that if I set the story to a cool beat, my students are even more apt to listen and participate.  This acoustic bass line (available in Garageband) does the trick nicely.

<a href="">Down by the Station by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

Another book I enjoy, and find effective in addressing the previously stated goals, is Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.  Again, the story is familiar, and like the first book, there is quite a bit of onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sounds they represent).

This book is new to my collection, and as I sat down to record it the other day, I realized that I could use the very same bass line as accompaniment!

<a href="">Going on a Bear Hunt by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

When I want to jazz up my singable stories a little bit during a music therapy session, I actually play the accompanying bass line on my ipod as my student(s) and I explore the book. I make the track much longer than the length of the book, allowing for questions and conversation as we go through it. You are more than welcome to download it (for free) and use it in your own music therapy, classroom or home setting.

<a href="">Singable Story Bass Line by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

For those of you who have Garageband, this is "Cool Upright Bass 18" in the Loops section. You can adjust the tempo, key, and length to suit your needs. And of course, there are many more loops and beats to explore...I could spend (and sometimes do) spend hours playing around with them!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

One Year in the Studio


When my husband and I started house-hunting in January of 2009, I had one prerequisite: our home must have a dedicated space for a music therapy studio.  I'd been traveling to my students' homes (in addition to my full-time job at The Hope Institute) for two years, and I was exhausted.  Not to mention that I had to turn away potential new students, because with all the commuting I was doing, I just didn't have the time for them.

It didn't take long to find the perfect house; in fact, it was the very first house we toured.  Two months later, we were all moved in and I got to work furnishing, decorating and organizing my office/studio.  On June 15, 2009, the doors were opened to my students.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Music Therapy Connections studio, and what a year it has been!  Since last June, we've doubled in size from 15 students to 30, and a lot of progress has made within these four walls.  I love the fact that there is a room in my house devoted to all of the things I love: writing, recording, and using music to help children learn and grow.

Just for fun, here is a video I made last summer which takes you on a tour through my brand-new (at the time) studio.  A lot has changed since then, but you get the general idea.  Oh, and don't mind my novice camera skills - they have since improved!

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Pssst...Want a Preview?

Behold, the cover art for Listen & Learn's debut studio album: Time to Sing Hello.  Although we're still a few weeks away from its official release, I just couldn't help but share my excitement with you.  My experience in the recording studio was amazing, and I'm thrilled with how the tracks turned out, but this whole project didn't feel real until I saw the finished album artwork.

Jason Taylor, a graphic designer on the East Coast, gets all the credit for the concept and design of this album.  I approached him via email back in March, and he responded with an offer to donate his work to the cause.  Needless to say, I was more than thrilled, especially considering his talent and impressive portfolio.  Jason was a dream to work with; he managed to completely capture my vision for this album, and every aspect of the design is perfect. 

I'll unveil the back cover and actual CD artwork when the album is released on July 10, but for now, I'll leave you with a preview track.  "My Clothes and Shoes" turned out to be my favorite song of the bunch, and I hope you like it, too!

<a href="">My Clothes and Shoes by Rachel Rambach</a>

I'm eager to hear your thoughts on the song and the album cover. Please take a moment to share them with me in the comments section.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

This Just In: The Months of the Year

I've written close to 200 songs over the last four years or so, many of which I've long since retired from my repertoire. But there are 12 songs - starting with "January" and ending with "December" - which I have no plans to retire anytime soon. Each month, I introduce new songs and activities to my students in our music therapy sessions, but one thing they can count on is singing about the current month.

Originally recorded back in 2008 with my old, outdated recording equipment, I recently decided to update "The Months of the Year" album. And while I was at it, I put together a lead sheet songbook containing the lyrics and chords for all 12 songs. Each includes information about holidays, special events, the number of days, and more in that particular month, all wrapped up in a repetitive, easy-to-sing package.

<a href="">January by Listen &amp; Learn Music</a>

When you download the album, you get not only all 12 songs, but also the instrumental (acoustic guitar) versions - 24 tracks in total - as well as the lead sheet songbook in PDF form. All of that for $12, which can be paid securely via credit card or PayPal.

Add to Cart View Cart

(Another option to consider is becoming a subscriber to Listen & Learn Plus! Current subscribers have access to the lead sheet songbook and downloads of the original album, included in the $36 yearly membership.)

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Confessions from My Comfy Couch

Okay, I'll admit it: most of my work is done not at my desk, but rather, on my couch.  If you were to visit my house on any given evening, you'd likely find both my husband and I sitting on our brown leather couch, respective MacBooks atop our laps.  In fact, I'm actually in that very spot as I write this. 

And since I know I'm not the only person who is blogs, tweets, facebooks, and partakes in various other computer activities from sofa central, I thought I'd let you in on this handy dandy little item right here:

The Old School Lap Desk not only keeps my legs from frying under the heat of my laptop, but it also holds papers, computer accessories, and anything else I might need while camped out on the couch.  I have my friend Nabilah to thank for the recommendation; she clued me in on the awesomeness of this lap desk last fall.

Now it's your turn to 'fess up: are you reading this from the comfort of your couch?  And if so, do you use a lap desk or something similar?

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Fave: Birthday Weekend Begins!

The first week of June just might be my favorite week of the whole year.  Not only did summer break officially begin yesterday, but tomorrow is my birthday.  To tell you the truth, I started celebrating this afternoon with a shopping trip, but the real celebration happens tomorrow night.  My family is getting together for dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant, and I can't WAIT - their sushi is seriously amazing.  Oh, and the company's not too bad either :)

The fun will actually continue into Sunday, when my dad, brother and I head down to St. Louis for a Cardinals' game.  Heck, I might as well call it "birthday week" because my summer break continues through the 13th.  (No school, but my private practice's summer session begins on the 14th.)

In summary, I am one lucky girl. I have a loving family, wonderful friends, and a community of awesome people (YOU!) to connect with on a regular basis.  I have a feeling that year #27 is going to be a great one.  Here's to a fabulous weekend, whether or not it's your birthday!

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Today at Listen & Learn Music Plus!

When I posted my song "Stop, Think and Do" recently, I received quite a few emails from readers asking for the chords.  My subscribers are in luck, because the lead sheet for this song is now available to them...learn about becoming one today!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

So Long, School Year!

A year ago today, I sat in this same chair and wrote a blog post very similar to the one I'm writing now.  I can't believe an entire school year has flown by since then!  It really has gone by quickly, not that I'm complaining :)  As much as I love my time here at The Hope Institute, I sure am looking forward to having a few months away to tackle new projects and recharge my batteries so that when I return in August, I'm refreshed and ready to rock.

While cleaning out and organizing my office today, I've come across quite a few reminders of how busy, productive, and fun this year has been.  There were leftover CDs my students and I created for our Celebrity Chef fundraiser, copies of my presentation at the Illinois State Board of Education's nonpublic schools conference, an issue of the magazine in which our school (and my music therapy program) were featured, the programs from our holiday sing-along and spring sing-along, and my favorite: the numerous cards, gifts and artwork my students have given me throughout the year.  

I'm a big baby when it comes to good-byes, so I'm trying to focus on all the big things this summer holds.  Get ready for an onslaught of new songs, the release of my first studio album, and everything else I'm cooking up for you, my cherished Listen & Learn readers!

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back from the Big Apple

After a canceled flight, hours spent in an endless airport line, and a last-minute hotel stay, I'm finally home!  Aside from the travel drama, I had an awesome weekend in NYC with my best friend, Katie.  We had perfect weather for brunching, shopping, and walking around the city, among other things.

On Saturday night, we saw the Broadway show Promises, Promises, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes, who played Jack on Will & Grace.  The show was great - lighthearted and fun, just how I like them.  Afterwards, we waited outside the theater in the hopes that we'd see the famous cast.

Sean was so nice; he came out, talking to everyone and signing autographs.  He wouldn't pose for photos, but Katie was able to capture the two of us in the same frame.  Such talent!

Kristin Chenoweth was still not feeling well, so she didn't mingle with the crowd.  But we did meet Tony Goldwyn, who was in the show and is best known for his role as the "bad guy" in the movie Ghost. 

When we weren't rubbing elbows with celebrities, we did manage to find the perfect bridesmaid dress for Katie's wedding (and several promising dresses for her, too).  It was fun to spend a few days in the city with someone who lives there; I didn't feel like a total tourist, for once.

But enough vacation talk...tomorrow is my last day of school and I have SO MUCH left to do before summer break begins at 3 pm.  Eeek!

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