Changing Winds

Dear readers,

We would like to take a few minutes here to communicate with you about the status of this blog for the past few months. August was unusually quiet on our end, although we had big plans for that month. The reason for this (and good news) is there have been some exciting challenges and new directions developing in my life as well as Becky’s.

Catherine-

img_3827
As some of you know, I had the immense joy of meeting my 2nd baby boy in June. He is all sweetness, and I can’t imagine my life without him! However, my delivery experience included some complications, making it harder to get back on my feet than I anticipated. On top of that, figuring out the logistics of life with 2 children has been a very busy adventure.Because of this, I have had to take a step back from everything and figure out my boys and how they need to be taught and loved by me.
Now that I am healed and feeling more like myself, I am discovering ways to open up my life to my hobbies and passions once again. Self Care is a habitual necessity now that I have a fuller house!

 

Becky –

This week, I’m moving back to Philadelphia to pursue a master’s degree in Music Therapy!  It may seem a bit abrupt–and I’m sure to many of my friends and colleagues here in Cincinnati, it was abrupt.  But a reality in this profession is so many opportunities require a master’s level education.  I’ve known I wanted to pursue a master’s since 2012, but I wanted to work in the field first.  As you can imagine, the month of August was full to bursting with closing my chapter of work here in Cincinnati and creasing the binding for what’s coming next!  :)

Hopefully, as we embrace our recent life changes, the next few months will show more frequency of posting. We have so many ideas as we move forward with the MTRC, we cannot WAIT to share them all with you, our dear readers!  We are so grateful to have you on this ride with us!  Thank you for your support and for taking the time to read.

 

Sincerely,

Catherine & Becky

SOTW: Turn, Turn, Turn – Instrument Play

Good Evening, friends!

Lyrics/Chords/Procedure

This week’s SOTW is a classic song written by Pete Seeger, famously performed by a group called The Byrds.  Turn, Turn, Turn, in its original form, is a song that is based off of a verse in Ecclesiastes.

I have linked a Google Doc above that has a re-write of this song that I have used in session.  It’s a fun instrument play song that has the element of surprise!  During the refrain (turn, turn, turn) the group sits in a circle and passes their instruments around.  During the verse, each person in the group has an opportunity to play the instrument that they have.  This allows variety and a randomness to the music experience that can keep all engaged, and provide opportunities for exploration of different instruments (not just preferred).

What other instrument play songs do you use with in session?  Comment below with your favorites!

In case you wanted to look into more songs from our top ten list for July, other instrument play songs are “Mama Don’t Allow,” “Canoe Round,” and “I’m In the Mood.

Warmly,
+bb

 

An Austrian Went Yodeling – SOTW

Our song of the week this week is An Austrian Went Yodeling!

Video | Lyrics/Motions | Powerpoint

This is a song that I learned a long time ago at camp, and have since modified to meet my clinical needs.  I have added links above with my lyrics/motions as well as a powerpoint visual that can be used with the song.  The video I’ve added is generic–a camp instructor is teaching a group how to do the song.  Although it is generic, this will be beneficial for you all to learn the song from.

I use this song to meet goals related to attention to task, eye contact, sequencing, and relaying information.  Depending on who I am working with, I will preface this song with a quick history on yodeling, basically explaining it’s a way of talking to people who are far away.  This song has space for different “interruptions” to come bother the Austrian.  Each time the verse is sung, a something new comes along.  The tricky part is remembering the order that the “interruptions” come in, as they are sequenced together.

Logically, the first interruption is an avalanche.  You can come up with as many different custom verses as you’d like!  I added 7 of my own if you click the “lyric/motion” link above.

Now, how I modified this song is I pass the motion from myself to the person next to me (right or left) who then passes it around the group back to me.  This differs from the original song, as you will notice if you watch the video.  Originally, the instructor and the group are singing and doing the motions at the same time.  I also dropped the, “pat, clap, snap” motion from the chorus and the “arm wave” conducting from the verse.  Instead, I keep time throughout the whole song by patting my legs steadily, keeping the rhythm and music constant even during lulls for processing time in the song.

By passing the sound and motion, the song not only relays physical information, but also verbal and auditory information.  I always stress the importance of looking at the person you’re passing to (“Otherwise, how will they know you’re passing to them!?”).  The funny sounds and motions tend to be reinforcing for those whom I do this song with.  It’s amazing how some kids really get into being Spiderman, or even come up with new catch phrases for different verses!

This week, I challenge you to come up with one new verse (interruption, body motion, and sound) to this song and share it on Facebook or Twitter!🙂

Looking forward to seeing you’re creativity in action!

Sincerely,
+bb

July Monthly Theme – Camp Songs!

A Warm Hello from sunny Canandaigua, NY!

I hope you all had a lovely 4th of July!  I’ve had a change in scenery the last few days.  Most of my family lives up in the northeast of the country, so I’ve been visiting with them.  Self-care, and taking time for vacation is so important.  I’ve been enjoying the warm weather, cold water, and good company!

Unfortunately, I had a bit of over-exposure yesterday on the holiday.  Too much sun–the difference between hot sun and cold water had me feverish and ill before the fireworks even started.  But I’ve been taking it slow today, and resting up [as you can see below in the picture]!

Canandaigua Blues
Working in the window seat with a root beer float!🙂  What a view!

This month, our theme will be Camp Songs!  Something that is timely, and appropo for this time of year.  I enjoy adapting well known camp songs to have more clinical significance.  It makes life a little easier, employing a song that kids already know or songs that are simplistic and repetitive enough to learn quickly.

So, while the main focus will be talking about the top ten songs, I’ll be listing some ways to adapt them to better meet different goals!  :)

Our Top 10 Repertoire List for July is:

  1. An Austrian (Went Yodelling)
  2. Mama Don’t Allow
  3. Canoe Round
  4. Turn, Turn, Turn
  5. Rainbow Song
  6. Rooster Song
  7. Pete The Cat
  8. I’m in the Mood
  9. Baby Shark
  10. Check Boogie

Something that I’m going to suggest here immediately are two songbooks that I hold in high regard.  First is Rise Up Singing, second is Rise Again [Website here].  These two songbooks have a multitude of songs that are applicable to this month’s theme.  For example, Rise Up Singing has a whole, “Round” section that is easy to draw from for inspiration.  A few of the songs listed above came from one of these songbooks.

Looking forward to posting for you all on 7/11 and 7/25!  Keep your eyes peeled, and your inboxes open!

Warmly,
+bb

GarageBand, an Introduction.

Howdy!

This is the second and final post on recording for this month.  I wanted to use this time to talk about GarageBand, as it is a popular and accessible recording software.  It comes free on Macintosh computers, and is in the App Store for iPhone, iPad, etc.

I’ve been using GarageBand for years now, and it has changed a lot since the first time I used it.  My understanding of the program has only grown over the course of its evolution.  The first time I used it, I basically did a single track of guitar and vocals at the same time–all one take.

I’ve since learned from that experience (one take recording is stressful, dude) and now have a few tips and tricks that I want to share with you!  :)

This post will serve as a basic introduction to GarageBand.  We’ll learn the benefits of multi-track recording, how to create an “empty” project, add multiple tracks, adjust levels, and what different icons mean.  I will focus on the basics for the software on iPhone and Mac computers.

Why Use Multi-Track Recording?

To a certain extent, multi-track recording is just common sense.

It ensures volume control, demonstrates proper boundaries, adds organization to the final product, creates a controlled environment, and space for independence/leadership opportunities.

Different tracks ensure control over volume and sound.  One can easily splice, trim, and modify a specific track easily, and it’s easy to single out or mute a track if need be.  For example, if listening to all tracks is overwhelming while trying to record a new track, one can mute everything besides the accompaniment or rhythm track.

Personal space is another thing to keep in mind when recording.  Physical boundaries can easily be breeched if all musicians are huddling around one microphone.  By recording separately, each individual take turns using one microphone, their own space.

For example’s sake, let’s assume that we’re preparing to record a group.  Each member of the group plays a different instrument.  While it may be expedient to record the whole group as one together, the quality of that recording will suffer.  You may not be able to hear the egg shakers, or maybe Jane Doe sneezed right in the middle of everything.

Although therapeutically speaking, we know the social benefits of playing live imperfectly can be better than playing alone perfectly.  When making a recording in the clinical setting, there is a reason behind it.  Undoubtedly, the group has already invested time in practicing and playing the song live before arriving in the “recording studio.”  By using multiple tracks while recording, you are providing your musicians with the opportunity to preserve the best version of their music possible.

As the music therapist, you create a controlled environment to record in.  There are so many decisions: Will the musicians use headphones to listen and perform with the backtrack?  Or will the music therapist cue them in?  You can prepare a track that will serve as a basic the accompaniment for your musicians.  It’s also within your control to delegate these responsibilities to others.  Leadership can be through specific tasks with regards to recording (turning on/testing the microphones, etc) or through the actual role of playing the instrument.

Multi-track recording provides increased autonomy and control but is not necessary to the success of a recording.

The Basics

Last month, if you recall, I created a mash up of a bunch of friendship songs [you can listen to that here!]  Below is a screenshot of what the first seven seconds look like in GarageBand:

MTRCgbex

Take Note!  4 things to glean:

1.) There are 6 total tracks (ukulele, guitar, vocal melody, vocal harmony, percussion, and drum).  I like to label my tracks so that at a glance I know what track corresponds to the audio I’m hearing in playback.  Organization is key.
2.) The entry for each track is staggered.  I purposefully do not start each track at the same time*.  I always trim off long periods of rest.  I find that this ensures that there are no accidental sounds (creaky chairs/floorboards, etc) that become buried in the texture.  It also aids in the visual representation.  Knowing what is playing when is important when working with more than 3 tracks.
3.) The bottom bar.  This view can be reached by double clicking on any of the blue tracks–it will magnify the track.  I find this comes in handy when I don’t use a “click track” (defined as a metronome click used to aid in monitoring tempo).  When any given track is magnified, it’s easier to visually see entrances, what’s loud, soft, etc.
4.) Volume control.  Each track’s volume can be independently modified.  This is an incredibly useful tool when one is making final edits to a recording!  That’s usually when I realize that the harmony is mysteriously much louder than the melody, or my finger snaps are completely buried.

*Here is a still from my iPhone of my initial test for the vocal harmony used in the mash up.  I especially trim when using an iPhone–typically I use my iPhone on the go or to demo and there always seems to be background noise happening.

iPhone Tracks

How To Create an, “Empty” Project

When using a Mac, go to “File > New” and the below will pop up.  Select, “Empty Project,” and then click “Choose.”

EmptyProj

The importance of an Empty Project is that it’s easier to record acoustic/live music.  So, when recording an original song that was composed in session–this is the setting you probably want to use.  If you are looking to explore with different filters, or synthetic sounds, there are other options to consider.

IMG_6898

On the iPhone, the interface is a little different.  Ultimately, the most similar option to “Empty Project,” is the “Audio Recorder” option.

Setting Up Your Project & Icons To Know and Recognize

When using GarageBand on an iPhone, this is the first screen you will likely see:

New GB

To create a, “New Song” simply tap the top left “+” icon.  This will create your project.  After recording your first track, the way you add additional tracks is by selecting the icon in the red box below:

iPhone New Track

Then you will see the below options:

Icons

Conversely, when setting up a project on a Mac computer, this is likely the first screen that you will encounter:

Ex

When preparing to record, here are 3 vital icons to recognize:

1.) This is the “Add Track” button!  This is how you create multiple tracks**.
2.) This icon allows one to switch from measures to time.  Right now, it’s set on, “Beats & Project” which is numbered measures (as in sheet music measures).  When you click that icon, you can switch to actual minutes and seconds.
3.) The two purple icons are a count in and the metronome feature.  When using GarageBand in a clinical setting, if musicians are unfamiliar with a metronome this can be distracting.  Conversely, if a musician is familiar and has been practicing with a metronome, then it can be useful.  Just remember to use headphones–otherwise the track will record with the metronome in the background (which could be helpful for practice tracks, but not for a final product).

**When adding a new track on a Mac, the pop-up looks like this:

New Track

If one is recording acoustically, the Audio Microphone setting is best to use.  The, “Input” is where you can select which input (be it an external microphone, or amp) you wish to use.

If you want to record with synthetic effects, you can choose the highlighted option “Audio: record guitar…” in the picture above.  You can use this without a special amp input–literally, just sing into the microphone and modify the sound with the synthetic effects!!

Another great benefit of using GarageBand is the “Drummer” setting!

drummer

The above is Kyle M.–Or the drummer setting, “Kyle” on a Mac.

Kyle

The above is Kyle P.–Or the drummer setting, “Kyle” on the iPhone.

I find the drummer feature to be more useful than a click track.  It provides rhythmic structure without the foreign and at times annoying metronome click.  It’s also great if one doesn’t have a drum set–You just need Kyle from your back pocket!😉  There are other drummer pre-sets.  And yes, they all have their own names: Maya-Alternative, Magnus-Electronic, etc.

More icons to be familiar with:

Amps

The top right box that is selected is the “Note Pad.”  This is useful if a recording session is interrupted (ex. run out of time, or pause discuss while listening to playback), or if schedules/to do lists are a beneficial support strategy.

Library

The icon in the red box in the above image is the, “Library” button.  This allows different selections of synthetic effects to add to an audio recording (thus, you do not need to have a plug-in/amp to record with amp-like effects)!

Well, that’s all I have for today, folks.

🙂  It is my hope that you learned something new over the course of the last month!  I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with you about recording software and microphones!

Just a reminder, Catherine will be out again for July.  Unfortunately, although I announced that there would be an interview for July, plans have changed.  I’ll still announce our monthly theme on July 5th as promised, not to worry!  :)  I’m looking forward to an interview in August instead.

Wishing you all a safe and fun summer!

Peace,
+bb

Microphones

Good Evening Everyone,

My first “in depth” post on recording is going to be about microphones.

For the first two to three years of my time recording, I simply used the internal microphone in my MacBook Pro because that was the simplest option.  It was convenient, it was cheap, and it perfectly fit the needs that I had at the time.  Unfortunately, after recording on that computer for three to four years, I had pretty much ruined the microphone.  The quality of the recordings I was creating sounded different: the playback sounded funny, and no matter how I adjusted the recording volume it always seemed to be static-y.  So, I started looking into external microphones.

I had a normal, “mono” microphone that had come with my electronic keyboard, but the issue with that was that I had no idea how to find an adapter for the 1/4″ male mono plug.  I started doing research on microphones, and I learned that there are so many options out there!  Keep reading to learn more about microphones!!

DISCLAIMER: I am providing links below to promotional and descriptive videos on these two microphones.  I want to be clear, this is not a sponsored post.  The MTRC is not receiving any compensation in response to the information that is detailed below.  The fact that the microphones mentioned below are all from the same company is a coincidence.  I have provided a link to a blog post from The Wirecutter, a list blog that focuses upon technology.  The post actually is a list of microphones that the authors of the blog have tried, reviewed, and ranked.  Please feel free to peruse their blog for more detailed information.

Here are some terms that you’ll probably come across if you are looking for a microphone:

Mono – A microphone that records from one channel.
Stereo – A microphone that has 2 channels for recording–right and left.
USB Microphone – A microphone that directly connects to a USB.  This makes it easier to record straight to your computer.
XLR Microphone – A microphone that directly connects to a sound board.  This is said to have a better (more complex) sound, but is more difficult to input into a computer without a USB adaptor/connector.
Pop Filter – A membrane that goes between the microphone and you that softens different consonant sounds. Example: [P], [K], [s], [sʰ]
Shock Mount – A device that absorbs any shocks from movement that may happen to a microphone stand.

The music therapists that I know of who use microphones in their practice mainly have either the Snowball or the Yeti, both by Blue Microphones.  These are both USB microphones that have multiple recording settings.

The Snowball has three different recording modes, thus rendering it versatile to different situations.  The first is a mono (Blue defines it as cartioid), single person recording setting.  Secondly, it has a “dampened” single person recording setting (let’s say you’re working with a very loud someone/instrument–this setting would reduce the damage that could happen to the sensitivity of your microphone).  The third setting is called omnidirectional, which means it records all around the microphone.

The Yeti has four recording modes.  Like the Snowball, it has an omnidirectional setting (records all around), as well as the cartioid setting.  But the Yeti also has a stereo setting, and a “bidirectional” mode, that records through the front/back of the microphone (perfect for a duet or interview).  Something that I found to be useful when using this microphone is that you can plug your headphones directly into the microphone and hear in real time what the recording will sound like.  This microphone also has a gain dial, a mute button, and a headphone specific volume dial.

I was somewhat impractical when I chose my microphone.  At the time, I wasn’t necessarily thinking of using it as a music therapist–I was thinking about what microphone would be best for my personal use in recording my own music.  Thus, I chose to go with the Blue Spark.  The Spark is advertised as being a great studio microphone, and I have to say, it’s true.  This microphone has two modes: a “Focus Control Mode” where higher frequencies are clearly recorded, and a “Normal Mode” that picks up lower frequencies.  When I’m recording with my ukulele, I can use the focus control and record that timbre, and when I pull out a bodhran, I can just switch to normal mode and record it just as well.  This microphone also comes with a shock mount as well as a pop filter.  This microphone is an XLR, so in order to use it with Garage Band (or any computer recording software), one must use a USB connector/adapter.  But this means, if I were to ever purchase a soundboard, I could plug this microphone directly into it.

I fully admit I am no expert on this topic, but my hope is to provide some basic information to you, our lovely readers, so that you can make more informed decisions when it comes to how to use recording technology within your sessions.  Let me know if you have any questions, or if you want to share what you use to record!  I’m all ears!

If you are looking for more in depth information about the above microphones, or for more reviews and information about other microphones, I suggest you follow this link to a blog post on The Best USB Microphones from The Wirecutter.

Until next time,
+bb

Recording – June Theme

Happy Summer Everybody!

Before I jump into our theme this month, I wanted to let you all know that the blog will be slowing down a bit over the summer.  Catherine is taking some personal time off for the next 2 months in preparation for some exciting new changes!  It will just be me running things here and on social media!  When August rolls around, never fear!  Catherine will be back!  All that being said, you can plan on a new post on June 13th, and 27th.  I will also be posting an interview on July 5th and will have SOTW’s for July 11th and 25th.  So, keep your eyes peeled for me posting in your inbox, on Facebook, and Twitter!🙂

This month, I wanted to focus on recording.  I know this is coloring outside the lines a bit–it’s not strictly related to repertoire.  But I believe that recording has a place in the therapeutic process.  As one usually records repertoire, it is in a similar orbit to our mission here at the MTRC.

The intent behind this month’s theme is to encourage familiarity or even fluency with recording software.

There is a wealth of applications, software, and methods to record music that I believe will make this theme useful for therapeutic use–not just personal entertainment.  As music is a transient modality, recording is a method that allows a more permanent way to preserve a musical experience.  Knowledge pertaining to recording is a vital skill for the modern music therapist.

As a child, I loved to use a tape recorder to “dub” over songs on the radio, or just entertain myself for hours.  Luckily these days, we have Garage Band, Audacity, Voice Memos, and other applications that allow for easier and more advanced recording.

The first Garage Band recording I created was in 2009, and I really explored the software throughout 2010.  Over the course of that year, I became familiar with creating different tracks, “dubbing” over myself, splicing, etc.  Culminating in an “album” that I created of my own music and covers that I distributed to family and friends.  In 2011, I was able to translate all that knowledge into my practicum experience.  I created a CD that was a part of the closure process for the group I was working with.  Since that time, I have effectively used this closure technique with two to three other therapy groups.

Another way to use recording within the session is as a form of reality orientation.  Are we singing/playing loud, or soft?  Can you understand the words you are rapping when they are played back to you?  How does it sound if you play the maraca instead of the rainstick?  Recording is a handy tool to have at your fingertips–even if it’s just for immediate playback.

If you’ve used recording in your sessions, let us know in the comments below how you’ve used it, and what you used to record!

Best,
+bb