Sign Language & Music: ABC’s

Sign language can be a very effective tool in therapeutic environments if we can find a way to use it seamlessly. I have found that the best way to become comfortable with sign language is to learn the sign language ABC’s. The letters signed throughout the alphabet are the same letters that are used as building blocks for more complicated signs. For instance, many of the color signs are based off of the signed first letter of each word. Therefore, yellow would be a “y” shape with a twist at the wrist to denote the color.

In this week’s video I display all of the ABC signs and also quickly cover some of the more confusing signs as well. I hope you all enjoy and tune in next week!


Sign Language & Music: Colors

Hello Readers & Friends,

We have just posted our second video in our sign language series. Have I mentioned yet how incredibly excited I am? I love using color signs as a music therapist. There are so many therapeutic applications for sign language not only as a tool, but as an additional means of communication. That being said I use my color signs regularly.

I will use them to reinforce colors with some of my clients who are nonverbal, or minimally verbal. But I also use them with clients who are very verbal and working on academic skills. Using sign language makes your academic experience multi sensory which can be very helpful for people of all ages and abilities to learn and grow.

Check out this week’s video and let me know what you think! Also, do you have an idea for a sign language topic? Let me know in the comments!

Have a wonderful week.


9 Tips for Overcoming Songwriting Blocks

Songwriting is a huge part of everything we do here at Music Therapy Connections.  Wether we are writing new songs for our Listen & Learn for Little Ones Classes, composing original tunes for our individual clients, or encouraging our students to create their own compositions; songwriting is engrained in what we do.

 Sometimes, the hardest part of songwriting is simply getting started.  I remember sitting down to write some of my first songs as a new professional and feeling so self-conscious that I could barely put pen to paper.  Even now, developing materials to suit the needs of my clients can sometimes seem like a daunting task.  Overcoming that self-doubt and learning how to let it flow can be a tricky process, so Rachel and I took a little time today to talk about our favorite methods for getting past those songwriting blocks and challenges.

Below are ALL 9 tips in our Facebook Live video earlier today along with some extra ideas to get you started.

Morning Pages – In the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, the author describes the practice of morning pages: taking time every morning for free writing.  Creating the practice of setting aside time and putting all of your thoughts on paper every morning without editing.  This free flow of thoughts can be an excellent bridge to songwriting. 

Topic Journaling – Pick a word or single topic to write 10 lines or sentences on.  You do not have to write complete thoughts or sentences and can use any number of lines or sentences you choose.  Selecting a single topic for free writing can be a helpful way to get started on song ideas.  (BONUS: other methods I love using are word associations and mind mapping to get my creative juices flowing).  The primary goal here is to open yourself up to ideas and just jot them down.  Save the editing for later. 

Going back to music you enjoy – Is there a song that makes you feel amazing?  Are there songs you simply love? Go back and give them a listen.  See if you can find out why you love them or what feels good.  Use them as your inspiration.  OR simply take time to enjoy music other people have created.  Create a playlist for your life or put together a set of songs for how you are feeling.  Spotify is a great resources for this adventure.

Enjoy Yourself – My best songs almost always come from positive experiences in other parts of my life.  Go do something you love and enjoy your life.  Keep your voice recorder handy though because you never know when that inspiration will strike.

This little app is my best friend.

This little app is my best friend.

Think of Songwriting as a Conversation – Talk with someone about your songwriting or say your lyrics out loud like you are talking to someone.  Sometimes, even just talking through why you are struggling will help you get over that hump.

Go for a Walk – Get outside. Get some fresh air. Clear your mind.  Walk away for a minute and change your scenery.  

Don’t Force It – If you start to get frustrated, put it all aside and come back later.  Literally, walk away.  Thinking about something else for a little while can be just the solution you are looking for.  Sometimes, a good night’s sleep is also incredibly helpful.

Be Present – Clear both your physical and mental space of clutter and create the space to be present in songwriting and creating.  This is your time to be in the moment and create.  

Share Your Song –  Share what you’ve written with someone. ANYONE.  This can be a single client, a co-worker, your child, a friend, your significant other, a family member, or even your pet.  Sharing your creation out loud with someone provides new perspective and a sense of accomplishment.  

(bonus) Record your creation. The method could be  a video, a simple voice recording, a full recording, etc.  How you record does not matter. Capture what you have accomplished so you can listen later, remember what you’ve done, and visit your work in the future.  Take a moment to listen and appreciate what you’ve created.  Take pride in your accomplishment and give yourself some praise!

What are your favorite tips for starting the songwriting process? We’d love to hear from your and share your ideas with everyone!

Set-up and Tear Down – What it Takes

Ever wonder what it takes to prep and clean up an early child hood group?  The short time-lapse video at the end of this post shows exactly what I do before and after a class!

Each Listen & Learn Class requires a little effort to set-up and tear down.  In our recent post “little details, big difference”, I outlined some of the small things we do to make our space more comfortable for the families we work with each week. On top of those small amenities we bring (hand sanitizer, a rug, tissues, etc), we carry instruments, binders, a book, and a guitar to and from our sessions.  At the end of the session, everything gets packed up, taken to the other room, cleaned, and put away.  This setup and cleanup generally takes about an extra 10 minutes before and after the session, making the total time for a class just over an hour. 

Enjoy this short video!!

“Sing With Me Love” – Sign Language Video

I love using sign language in our early childhood groups because it gives children of all ages and abilities the opportunity to participate and communicate in a meaningful way while learning new words and skills they can use at home. 

In the video below you can learn and practice the sign language to my song, “Sing With Me Love.”  Along with providing opportunities for parent/child bonding, children learn the sign language for  family members (mom, dad, sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa).  “Sing With Me Love” is featured in our Facilitator Package 3 and in the “Bonding” mini-pack

One of my favorite apps for learning new sign language is “ASL Dictionary American”.  This app shows you the sign language for individual words using videos that you can slow down and replay as many times as you need.

Note:  I am by no means a sign language expert. After reviewing the video I posted, the I found that I accidentally used the sign for “my” instead of “me” when signing the first two parts of the video.  I corrected this in the later parts of the video, including the full sing through at the end of the video.