The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

I have heard from so many music moms who struggle to justify pursuing their music once they have kids. They know they must continue being mom, but, sadly, are much less sure about the music part.

Most of the negativity surrounding these mothers’ musical aspirations comes from the Debbie Downers and naysayers of society who hold women to unfair and unrealistic expectations. They demand that us moms conform to the rigid creative restraints and boundaries designed by society way before we existed. 

If you’re a frustrated music mom who has dealt with this way of thinking, you are not alone. And if you have completely ditched your music or just put it off to the side, or you are considering doing either, please continue reading this post. I wrote it for you. 

Before I dive into the three reasons why you should keep doing your music, let me restate what I’ve said a thousand times before: your responsibilities as a mother should always come first.

Your family should always be at the top of your list of priorities. Always. Everything is secondary to them, and yes, that includes your music. No matter what form your music currently takes, and regardless of how you define musical success, your music simply cannot be something that detracts from your role as mom. 

My goal with this post is not to devalue motherhood. Nor is it to take away from the significance of family.  

Instead, I want to remind women that while a mother truly is the most amazing thing you could ever be, it is not the only amazing thing you can be. 

On that note, I feel like I need to remind you of something important, something you might already know, but is so easy to ignore:

Your music is a part of you.   

It is not something you put on and take off, like that killer pair of jeans you love putting on but hate taking off (and sometimes vice versa). Your music is deeply embedded in you. It’s in your heart. It’s in your soul.

Think about it: throughout your childhood, adolescence, and whatever amount of adulthood you have under your belt, you’ve known you had the music in you.

Whether it was writing songs, playing instruments, jotting down lyrics, making beats, or recording other people’s music, you knew all along that music was a part of you. A big part. It was, and still is, in your DNA.

Having kids and adapting to your role as a mother changes you in many ways, but it does not make your natural talents, dreams, and passions suddenly go away. 

With music being such an essential part of your being, it is imperative that you continue to embrace and develop it. Here are three reasons why you should never, ever ditch your music – despite what the cynics say.

REASON #1. CREATIVE WOMEN IN TODAY’S SOCIETY (ESPECIALLY MOTHERS!) ARE CONSTANTLY TOLD WE CAN’T, SO WE NEED GALS LIKE YOU TO PROVE WE CAN. 

I bring up reason #1 with the assumption that you care about improving our situation as women because, well, I know you do.

We all know that nowadays women have more difficulty expressing our creativity than our male counterparts. It takes so much effort just for us to be taken seriously and viewed as equals – and that’s just the women who don’t have kids. As for those of us who do have children? Ugh.

Women need to see folks like you succeed.

We need to see what can happen when a mother tells society that its unfair expectations will not keep her from doing what she loves.

We need to see the joy and satisfaction that come from a woman living a life in which she gets to enjoy both who she loves and what she loves.

After all, why can’t we have both? Why should men be the only ones who spend time each week doing the things they cherish and then come home to the people they cherish? They shouldn’t.

Music moms like us have a golden opportunity to change society’s perception of what we are capable of. 

When we prove that the love shared between us and our families is as strong as a family with more traditional roles, we win.

When we prove that a different family routine is not a negative family routine, we win.

When we prove that a mother who takes her music seriously doesn’t have to compromise her role as the loving, nurturing bedrock of her family, we win.

We all win. 

But it all starts with us not giving up on our music (or any other creative endeavors we value) simply because it doesn’t fit the mold of traditional motherhood.

REASON #2. EMBRACING YOUR CREATIVE SIDE MAKES YOU A MORE FULFILLED PERSON, WHICH MAKES YOU A BETTER MOTHER.

Fully embracing your creative instincts helps you feel more fulfilled. Instead of wallowing in frustration (or anxiety, or depression) because you’re suppressing your natural talents and interests, you’ll feel more relaxed, more accomplished, and more fulfilled. This will make all parts of your life easier and more enjoyable, including motherhood.

I’ve known some gals who immediately ditched their musical aspirations once their kids arrived. No more songwriting. No more recording. No more live shows.

I can’t help but think that most of these women made these changes solely because they felt obligated to. They felt pressure to make sacrifices for their kids, and, well, this must include removing things like music, art, and literature. You know, all the unimportant parts of life we can obviously live without.  

Keep in mind that many of these women were not striving for rock n’ roll stardom. They never dreamt of spending countless hours away from their family promoting their newest album. They never had visions of flying across the globe on fancy jets while FaceTiming their sad, lonely kids who missed them like crazy – just so they could perform for thirty minutes at all the major music festivals in the world. 

No, the only thing many of these women wanted was to write songs of their own. Maybe even a full album’s worth. Perhaps they simply wanted to get better at their chosen instrument by practicing on their own for a few hours each week. Or maybe they looked forward to playing the occasional open mic at the local coffeehouse. But, unfortunately, they didn’t do any of those things. 

Sadly, these moms ended up resenting their kids because they subconsciously blamed them for stealing the joy that comes from doing what they love. Keeping your creativity alive and well will eliminate any chance of this happening to you.

In short, if you are at heart a musician and you want to feel fulfilled, you need to make room in your life for your music. Doing so will benefit everyone around you, including your biggest fans of all: your kids.

REASON #3. PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS AND FIGHTING UNFAIR GENDER EXPECTATIONS MAKES YOU A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL FOR YOUR KIDS. 

As parents, one of the main things we try to teach our kids is how to live right. A big part of that involves showing them how to live the right kind of life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Simply walking away from your music in a way that leaves you miserable and resentful is not the right way for you to live. You don’t want to be that type of example for your kids. They deserve better. And so do you. 

We love to tell our kids that they should pursue their passions. We feel like parenting rock stars when we encourage them to make good use of their talents. We teach them the value of working hard at something in order to improve at it. Discover what you love to do in life, we tell them, and then find a way to do it over and over again.

Yet creative moms often neglect their own passions and talents out of a sense of duty to their family. Even if their intentions are good, they’ll still end up teaching their kids the wrong lesson. Just imagine having to have this conversation:

Kid: “Mom, why don’t you write songs and play open mics like you used to?”

Mother: “Well, honey, I just can’t right now.”

Kid: “Why not? Julian’s dad does, and I know you’re a better singer than he is! If he can do it, why can’t you?”

Mother: “Julian’s dad is, umm, well, he’s a dad. He’s a dad, and I’m a mom, so it’s different. I need to be here for you.”

That’s quite a heavy weight to put on a child’s shoulders, eh? Even if you worded it as delicately as possible, your child would still end up feeling as though he or she is keeping you from something you enjoy. That type of guilt could produce negative consequences that last well beyond childhood. 

Now I know that conversation seems a bit farfetched, right? None of you would actually give an answer like “he’s a dad and I’m a mom” to explain why you can’t do your music. But honestly, when you think of the forces that keep moms like us from pursuing music and other forms of creativity, doesn’t it pretty much boil down to that?

Even if we live in a world that treats us that way, don’t we want to show our kids that we are 100% willing to fight against it? Don’t we want to prove to them that it’s better to rock the boat than to give in to those who try to force us to be someone other than who we really are?  

One of the best qualities we can find in a person is genuineness. Being who you really are. Being who you’ve always been. It’s called being real, and at a time when filters and fake usernames rule the day, being real is more valued than ever before.

So be real. Be yourself. Embrace your creative side. Make time in your life for your music. With the proper balance, planning, and resources, you really can have all the things that are important to you.   

If you’ve wanted to be a music mom, now is the time.

You’ve already proven that you have the mom part down. 

Now show everyone the music.  

“The Living Years” by Mike and The Mechanics

“Song for Dad” by Keith Urban

Despite the sun, fun, and good times that are on their way, the start of summer can also be a time of stress and uncertainty for kids and parents.

Yep, even as our favorite season rapidly approaches, there are some legit challenges that come from shifting gears from the routines of the school year to the unknowns of summer.

To help ease the transition, here are 4 tried and true tips for ensuring a smooth, stress-free shift from school to summer.

Add routines to your summer schedule.

Kids thrive on routines. During the school year, it’s much easier to maintain a routine. Summer schedules tend to be more open and flexible, so routines are less common. But this doesn’t mean you should ditch them.

You and your children will benefit by doing things like waking up at set times, reading together at the same time each day, and packing bags for summer camp at the same time each morning.

These routines will give your kids the same sense of structure and security they enjoy during the school year, and that is a very good thing.

Include your child in summer planning and preparation.

Kids always like to feel as though their opinion matters.

Give your kids a say in what they do and where they do it by asking for their input in the early days and weeks of summer. They will appreciate the opportunity to have their voice heard.

Some other ways in which you can include your child is by having them map out driving routes (using an actual map is much more fun than pulling up directions on your iPhone), writing up a list of clothing and items needed for your activities, and searching online for more detailed information pertaining to your destinations.

Remember: a fully invested young traveler is a happy young traveler – and a happy young traveler is a very good thing on a long road trip!

Have your kids stay in touch with their school friends.

The bonds your child developed during the school year with their friends were an essential part of their comfort and security at school.

Just because they won’t see those friends in a school setting for a few months doesn’t mean they should lose contact with them. Quite the contrary, actually.

Strengthen your child’s attachment to their closest friends by arranging summer play dates. Or keep them connected by writing letters and sending messages via email.

However you do it, make sure your child stays in touch with their school friends. This will help lessen the negative effects of summer’s great unknowns.

Embrace and encourage summertime learning.

We all agree that learning doesn’t have to happen only in schools. It can take place anywhere and at any time – especially during the summer.

The summer provides an excellent opportunity to learn about so many things, including geography, history, and nature.

Family field trips can introduce your child to new places, new people, and new ideas.

Or, if you’re mostly staying home this summer, something as simple as an outdoor scavenger hunt can reveal to your child so much more than a textbook.

Teachable moments happen everywhere, so be on the lookout for them.

Encourage your kids to read new books, take photos of things that interest them, and document their discoveries in a journal.

I hope these simple tips will help ease the transition from school to summer. I also hope you and your family have a fun and safe summer, filled with lots of love, laughter, and learning. 

Why healthy habits matter

One of the more common stereotypes associated with musicians is the reckless, drug-addicted party animal. Unfortunately, much of this image is enforced by the way some music makers choose to spend their free time.

The truth is, though, that you don’t have to play into that cliche. Debauchery, destruction, and unhealthy habits are bad for you in the long run – both as a musician and as a person.

If you want to be more professional, organized, and, in the end, successful, you should try to develop repeated behaviors that facilitate those positive traits. In other words, you should try to develop healthy habits.

4 healthy habits every musician should develop right now

To help push you and your music career in the right direction, I’m sharing these 4 healthy habits that all musicians should develop. They’re simple and easy to repeat, so they won’t take long to evolve from new behaviors to helpful healthy habits. If you’re tired of spinning your wheels and you’ve been looking for something positive to replace your old bad habits, get started on these healthy habits ASAP.  

1. Spend lots and lots of time outside being active. 

I view nature as a wonderful facilitator of the arts. Here’s why:

  • Being active in nature inspires some of your best and most creative ideas.
  • Being active in nature can help increase your focus.
  • Being active in nature can also produce increased energy and enthusiasm in all parts of your life, including your musicianship.
  • Finally, and most important, being active in nature can inspire new songwriting ideas.

The best part? You don’t even have to spend a lot of time outside. It’s now proven that walking in a green space for a mere 25 minutes will boost your creativity

2. Ditch any creative dependencies.

If you are dependent on certain substances or conditions just to write music or “be” a musician, now is the time to stop.

Your musicianship should happen naturally. Make sure you can create at any time, without depending on anything else to make it happen.

Your creativity comes from within you. While the presence of certain people, places, or things might inspire increased output, the absence of those people, places, or things shouldn’t cause decreased output. 

3. Embrace early mornings as the best time to do your thing. 

I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea, but mornings are actually an excellent time to unleash your creativity. In fact, recent research shows that the best time to write and create is early in the morning. 

If you can get up and moving early enough, you’ll find lots of energy and a clear mind waiting for you. Some folks believe they can only do the creative thing late at night, and for certain night owls, that might be true.

But I urge you to try mornings instead. The clarity and freshness of a new day will work wonders for your body, mind, and creativity.  

4. Spend time each day meditating, praying – or just relaxing and thinking. 

Sometimes the mental clutter we accumulate during the day clogs our creativity. All the doubts, fears, and worries we gather can leave us flat out exhausted, with little to no energy left for creating. As musicians, this is a very negative place to be.

To counter this, spend a few minutes a day in calm isolation. It might be meditation. It might be prayer. Or it might be you simply sitting there and focusing on something positive for ten minutes.

However you do it, and whatever you call it, you can expect the following benefits of sitting in silence: a greater sense of clarity and control, less anxiety about your musical ambitions, and an increased awareness of  yourself as a songwriter, musician, and creator. Sounds good to me. 

Need more convincing? Check out this superb video by David Eby, a.k.a. “The Inspired Musician.” In it, he perfectly sums up the benefits of meditation for musicians. 

So, what healthy habits do you suggest? 

I’m always looking for more ways to fine-tune my craft while also improving myself as a person. The habits described above work for me, but what works for you? Feel free to share in the comments any healthy habits that have worked for you.

There are so many ways to say “Happy Mother’s Day,” but if you’re a music mom, you know the best way is in a song. 

Songwriters from pretty much all genres of music have recorded their very own special odes to their moms. But for me, there’s something real special about a country singer belting out a sweet, soulful song for his or her favorite lady.

On that note, check out these 6 country gems that will remind you and your mom just how much y’all are loved, needed, and appreciated.

“You Can’t Lose Me” – Faith Hill

Released in 1996, Faith Hill’s “You Can’t Lose Me” tells the story of a mother who supports her daughter after she finishes last in a race. Moms and daughters everywhere can relate to the undying support shown from the mother, from the end of that childhood race to the day she is forced to let her daughter head out on her own. 

“In My Daughter’s Eyes” – Martina McBride

This 2003 classic from Martina McBride instantly embroidered itself onto the hearts of moms everywhere. “In My Daughter’s Eyes” is from the perspective of a music mom who hopes and prays to instill within her daughter important traits like honesty, respect, and compassion that she’ll need later in life. McBride also gives thanks for all that she has learned by looking at things through her young gal’s eyes. 

“The Best Day” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is best known for writing songs about having fun and enduring the ups and downs of male/female relationships. In “The Best Day,” however, she addresses a more poignant topic: her mother’s steadfast love. Swift looks back fondly as she recalls how her mom was there for her during the tough times of childhood. Now that she’s grown, she wants her favorite lady to know that the best times she had were spent with her. Such a sweet message, and one that all moms need to hear. 

“Mama’s Song” – Carrie Underwood

All mothers want their little girls to find true love and be treated like a princess once they grow up. “Mama’s Song” is Carrie Underwood’s message to her mom that Underwood did, indeed, find a man that “treats her little girl like a real man should.” Every mother should be so fortunate to receive such a sweet and soulful confirmation that her not-so-little girl is now in the right hands. 

“Angels” – Randy Travis

“Angels” by Randy Travis gets me every single time. In the beginning, Travis sings about a friend who doubts the existence of angels. Travis soon responds with a set of lyrics that should make every mother tear up:

Well, you missed the most obvious thing                                                                                   Man, are you blind?                                                                                                                         Just look in your mother’s eyes

Yes, sir. Anyone who has had a mother knows that angels are, without a doubt, real. 

“Mom” – Garth Brooks

“Mom” by Garth Brooks wins the prize for most original concept. In it, God has a chat with an unborn child who is moments away from discovering Earth. The child likes it where he is, so he asks God if he can skip the whole being born thing. God’s response is why “Mom” is one of Brooks’ favorite songs to sing – and why we love it so much. 

“Why can’t I just stay here with you
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me to?”
God said, “Oh, child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you”
So, hush now baby don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting
Whose only goal in life
Is makin’ sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom

Now if that doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks, nothing will. 

So, what are some of your favorite country songs about moms? Feel free to post links to songs in the comments.

I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day – one so good that it belongs in a song! 

Hoping that your child is as creative as you are is normal. After all, you’re a music mom who has experienced the joy, growth, and sense of accomplishment that come from unleashing your creativity, and now you want those things for your favorite little person.

The best part? We generally don’t have to teach kids to be creative. They seem to have a natural instinct for it. If we give them the proper tools and get out of their way, kids will create more than we could ever imagine.

Eventually, though, some obstacles might get in the way, including fear, time restraints, and passive entertainment, among others. This is where we, as parents, step in.

If you find yourself wondering how to overcome these obstacles, check out these 4 ways to help unlock your kid’s creativity – including the wild and crazy stuff!  

Provide your kids the resources they need for creative expression.

The most important resource you can give kids is time. They need tons of it so they can engage in self-guided and unstructured play in which they’re completely free to use their imagination.

Another resource necessary for creative expression is space. Make a space that is solely theirs to play in, create in, and make a mess in. Perhaps a room in your basement or attic could work. Make it their own personal area where they feel comfortable, somewhere they can paint, dress up, play Legos, or bang on the drums.

For their next birthday or Christmas gift, give your child items that will contribute to their creative growth. Blocks, costumes, art supplies, old instruments, dispensable cameras – all these are items that your kids can use whenever they want.

By making sure your child has these valuable resources, you’ll be ensuring their growth as creative individuals.

Allow your kids the freedom to explore their ideas – no matter how wild and crazy they seem. 

Generally speaking, kids have active imaginations that can lead to some pretty wild and crazy ideas. Remember that three-headed lion swimming in a bathtub that your son randomly drew? Or that extremely silly song about how her pet could “faaaaaaaart with all her heaaaaaaaaart!” that your daughter composed and then sang for an entire day?

Well, that drawing and that song were products of your child’s imagination. They were very early expressions of their creativity. Instead of focusing on the silliness factor, focus on how unique and imaginative they were. It’s much too easy to dismiss them, but don’t.

Embrace your child’s wild and crazy ideas and encourage them to continue drawing, writing, painting – whatever! Make sure they know that their ideas – no matter how silly or way out there – have value.

And then, to prove that not all creative output needs to look or sound a certain way, introduce them to stuff like The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus,” Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London,” and The Police’s “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

Or, to really make the point, you could just browse the paintings of Picasso.

Ask lots of (good) questions about your kid’s creations.

One of the best ways to inspire kids to be creative is to show them you are interested in their creative endeavors. There’s no better way to do this than to ask questions about their creations.

Instead of giving a generic and half-hearted compliment like “Wow, I like that!” (something they’ve likely heard a thousand times), ask sincere questions like “What were you thinking when you drew this?” or “What was your inspiration when you wrote this?”

These types of questions will convince your kids that your interest is genuine, and they will give them an opportunity to analyze their thought process as they create.

Set a positive example by showing your kids how to be creative.

I’m sure you know this, but your kids are always watching you. They see and hear everything you do. More important, they also copy what you do and say. To put it simply, they do everything they can to become little versions of you.

This gives you an excellent opportunity to model the type of creativity you want them to eventually display. Let them see you hashing out the chords to that brand new song you’re writing. Show them the lyrics you’re struggling to complete. Invite them to the studio to watch you record your new album. Make them a part of the process. 

Most important? Don’t obsess over the final product that you’re creating. Show your child that the process itself is the most important part of the creative journey. This will encourage them to have a positive relationship with their creative side, no matter what struggles they encounter along the way.

Show them that being creative can be a messy, imperfect, and sometimes frustrating process, but it can also offer growth, learning, excitement, and all types of rewards.

Closing thoughts

As a parent, you are most responsible for your child’s creative development. This is both a blessing and a challenge.

But if you follow the steps above, rely upon your own innate sense of creativity, and continue being the supportive parent you’ve always been, there’s no doubt that you’ll soon unleash your child’s creativity like never before. 

Good luck!

Did you ever notice how carefree and happy young children are while they’re painting? There’s no fear of failing to paint the perfect picture. There’s no anxiety over how others will respond to their painting. It’s just them, their paint, their paintbrush, and a big bunch of smiles. It’s an incredibly joyful thing to watch, from start to finish.

As adults, we sometimes lose the joy that comes from such creative activities. We occasionally allow self-inflicted killers of creativity to keep us from being the innovative and inspired creators we know we are.

And just what are those creativity killers? There are several, including guilt, comparison, and distractions. In this post, however, I want to focus on the one that seems to be the most common among musicians, artists, authors, and other creative types: fear.

I hope that by identifying overwhelming fear as an obstacle to creative freedom and discussing 5 ways to rise above it, you’ll soon begin enjoying prolonged periods of creative bliss, success, and satisfaction. 

The different fears creative people encounter & how they negatively impact us

Although it is completely natural and can sometimes be used for good, fear is one of the most common roadblocks to our success as artists. Want proof? Just check out this list of all the different fears that creative folks like us encounter:

  • fear that you are not really a creative person
  • fear of disappointing yourself
  • fear of taking the first step
  • fear of failure
  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of being judged by others
  • fear of revealing yourself
  • fear of rejection

Each of the above fears can stop us from learning more about ourselves. They can prevent us from discovering the beauty and joy of artistic expression. They can keep us from realizing our true purpose in life. 

The worst part? These fears can negatively impact us to such an extent that we ditch the entire creative process just so we can avoid the fear.

Think about that: fear is so powerful that it can actually keep you from doing what you love.

If you think that’s a complete shame, you’re absolutely right.  

5 ways we can rise above fear & the benefits of doing so

Instead of trying to create in the frustrating frenzy of fear, there are specific things we can do to defeat fear.

  1. Embrace the fact that the entire creative process is a dynamic journey, a mystery worth investigating. Within this creative journey, we will often succeed. We will also sometimes fail. But if we welcome the process as something that can make us better artists, and more important, better people, we win no matter how things turn out.
  2. Think of your creativity as a way to discover new things about you and your craft. Cherish the uncertainty of it all. Don’t obsess over the final product. Start by calling each new creative idea an “experiment” rather than an attempt at perfection. You are trying something new, and learning from it. Perfection is never possible, while improvement is always possible. 
  3. Tell yourself that your creative identity is not defined by whatever song, painting, sculpture, or book you end up making. The final product is only part of the entire journey, and again, that journey is an absolute treasure that we as creative people get to experience. 
  4. Be kind and gentle in how you critique yourself. When it’s time to evaluate your final most recently improved work, avoid saying things like “this song is trash” or “I stink at this.” Instead, take note of specific things that can be improved.
  5. Take baby steps as you reveal yourself as a creative person. Begin your creative endeavors by creating in private. Once you’ve created something you’re excited about, choose a group of people you trust to show it to. This will give you the confidence you’ll need to gradually expand your audience. Before you know it, you’ll be sharing your creation online and then in front of complete strangers.

Right now is the best time to rise above your fear

It’s time, friends. It’s time to let go of everything that’s been holding you back. It’s time to embrace and unleash the creativity you’ve always had within you.

Why now? Because you’ve already waited long enough, and, most important, you already have everything you need in order to do this. 

Follow the methods described above, and get ready for the fun, excitement, and sense of accomplishment that come from discovering and nurturing your creative self.  

It’s time for the daring and innovative creative you to rise up, and fear to step down. 

 

 

With so much technology filling our everyday lives, one of the biggest challenges of modern parenting is making sure our kids create more content than they consume.

Screens are everywhere, so if we’re not careful, our children can easily be blasted with all sorts of content from all sorts of sources. Another way to put it: it’s way too easy for our kids to become constant consumers.

There’s plenty of evidence that our kids are consuming insane amounts of technology, and that it’s starting at an early age. For example, this study in 2014 released the following results:

Most households had television (97%), tablets (83%), and smartphones (77%). At age 4, half the children had their own television and three-fourths their own mobile device. Almost all children (96.6%) used mobile devices, and most started using before age 1. Parents gave children devices when doing house chores (70%), to keep them calm (65%), and at bedtime (29%). At age 2, most children used a device daily and spent comparable screen time on television and mobile devices. Most 3 and 4-year-olds used devices without help, and one-third engaged in media multitasking. 

The good news? The same tools that lead to all that consumption also let kids of all ages create content. There are tons of apps, games, and toys available that encourage imagination and creativity.

It is with the proper use of these tools that we can help our children develop a positive relationship with technology by becoming active creators.

Here are 5 fun and simple ways to encourage your child to be a creator.

Is your child a musician? 

This one is obvious to us music moms, eh? Most kids love music right out of the womb, so transferring that love into creation isn’t hard when they’re little. You can record sounds using everyday items such as spoons, pots, salt shakers – whatever!

When it’s time to progress a bit and your child is ready for actual instruments, you can take the sweet sounds they make (or that they will eventually make) and let them experiment with sound. Older kids can use all sorts of tech tools to help write their own tunes and master their craft.

When they’re ready to start laying down some tracks, your kids can easily record, edit, and share their output with friends and family.

Is your child a storyteller?

Storytelling seems to be a natural activity. As soon as kids start talking, many are eager to tell tales. Use this innate inclination to encourage them to narrate their activities.

While they play, build, or wander, ask them questions that allow them to create a narrative. Questions such as “What are you building?” and “Where are you going when you climb that tree?” are invitations to open their imaginations.

Tech-wise, there are lots of apps that let kids record their stories and create digital books. If this all sounds too good to be true, rest assured that I am not telling any tall tales! 

Is your child a director?

Pretty much all children love to watch television and movies. Most of them don’t know that they can actually be a part of the fun.

If you’ve seen your child use his toys as characters in a story, they are already acting as a director. Encourage that skill by having them play around with animated storytelling apps that let them record a mini-movie with movable characters, props, and settings.

If your kids are older, introduce them to more advanced stop-motion animation apps. It’s then up to you whether or not they try to go viral by posting their content online. 

Is your child an artist?

If your kid is naturally artistic, it doesn’t take much prompting to get her to draw or paint. Eventually, though, she will want to take things to the next level. Try giving her even more inspiration with apps that feature famous painters, sculptors, and designers.

For kids who love comics or manga, there are programs that enable them to create their own cartoon characters, panels, and dialogue balloons.

There’s a little bit of everything out there, so every young artist-in-the-making should have plenty of opportunities for creative exploration. 

Is your child an author?

The days of pencil and paper will never be totally gone, but the first steps to becoming an author sure have changed. Apps like Book Creator are extremely kid-friendly, so kids can easily create while writing a story.

As for what type of story that might be, it might be something as simple as the recent weekend outing you went on as a family. Thanks to modern technology, your child can then make his or her book interactive by adding images, audio, and video to it. 

The last step is to publish and share your kid’s book with family and friends – and maybe even with a publishing company or two, if you think it’s good enough!

So, now that you know all this…

Technology is so incredibly powerful – almost as powerful as your child’s creativity. When you put the two together and give your child the tools and freedom to find inspiration and direct his or her own learning, you will be amazed at what they are able to do. 

Creating with technology is an adventure, one that’s even more exciting and beneficial than consuming it. 

As a parent, it can sometimes feel as though we are stuck in a rut, like our parenting juices have run dry and there’s nothing left to give. Our search for inspiration and motivation leads to nothing but frustration.

Experience tells us that we will eventually return to the land of parenting milk and honey, where our energy is unlimited and our creativity abounds, but sometimes it feels soooo far away.

Likewise, as musicians, there are times when we simply cannot do what comes naturally to us: create. More specifically, we cannot write songs. Any songs. At all.

Songwriter’s block is an incredibly frustrating problem that eventually afflicts every songwriter. It can be incredibly demoralizing, even to the point of convincing some musicians that they should walk away from music and pursue something else.  

The good news? This dreaded blockage of creativity is fixable. You can break the dam and allow your creative juices to flow freely, and you can do it as soon as today. 

Here are 8 ways to end songwriter’s block and get you once again writing the songs you want and need to write: 

1. Focus on a repeated chord progression instead of lyrics.

If you’re trying to write the perfect lyrics but keep coming up empty, ditch that approach and try looping a chord progression. The repetition will allow you to try several melody and lyrical ideas in a short amount of time.

Something good should come from doing that, putting you right back in the songwriting groove. 

2. Think of your song as a story.

As a songwriter, one of your goals should be to discover a clear headspace in which to write. Instead of cluttering your head with the frustration and anxiety that come from trying to create the perfect melody or lyrics, develop a storyline that you can build upon.

Use this storyline to introduce characters, a setting, and a message. Before you know it, you’ll have created a brand new world that is the perfect setting for your song. 

3. Picture in your mind a specific time and place, and start from there.

Think of a place that you’re familiar with, or make one up from scratch. What do you see there? What do you hear there? Who is there with you?

Your answers to these questions will function as the starting point for your song. Sometimes knowing that you actually have a starting point is all you need to get started. 

4. Focus on an exceptionally emotional personal experience from your past. 

This sounds obvious, right? Too often, though, songwriters try to imagine the perfect story idea for a song, when their own personal experience will work just fine.

Tapping into an emotional event from your past will ignite the fires of your creativity, which will hopefully lead to a deluge of song ideas. 

5. Listen to songs that inspire you. 

We all have those handful of tunes that always inspire us. Return to the songs that first motivated you to pick up an instrument.

There is a very good chance that the inspiration you feel simply by hearing these songs again will put you in the right frame of mind for writing your own tunes. 

6. Change your setting. 

Sometimes the same old same old can suck the life out of you.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been somewhere new, perhaps it’s time for a different setting. Go somewhere new, refresh your mind, and watch as the change in scenery jumpstarts your creativity.

A revived sense of creativity ought to be enough to end your songwriter’s block. 

7. Write from somebody else’s perspective.

Sometimes getting out of your own skin and seeing things from somebody else’s perspective can do wonders for your creativity.

It can open up a new world in which you are free to explore new and exciting points of view. It can make you feel emotions that you might not have felt previously.

All these new thoughts and feelings are sure to spark something in you, something that could very well knock down the wall that stands between you and your next album’s worth of songs. 

8. Borrow song structures from other songwriters. 

Trying too hard to reinvent the wheel is often the cause of songwriter’s block. Hence, sometimes you just have to ditch trying to be completely original, and accept the fact that most of the greatest songs ever written follow somewhat similar structures.

Identify the structures of some of your favorite songs, and then mimic them as you attempt to write your own song.

Having a tried and true basic song structure from which to write makes it easier for you to create your own melodies and lyrics.

Borrowing song structures from other songwriters (particularly from your songwriting heroes) just might be the trick to ending your songwriter’s block.  


What tricks do you recommend to someone struggling with songwriter’s block? Share your suggestions in the comments. And as always, thank you for reading.

One of my favorite things about music is its unique ability to connect people. It happens in the rocking chair of the baby’s nursery, the sacred sanctuary of the church, and the sprawling decks of the stadium. Seemingly all around us, music is often the bond that unites us on both big and small levels.  

The really cool part of this musical bonding is that it starts well before we are even able to recognize or understand it. From our very first moments on this planet, we hear the soft lullaby of our mother, and it brings us comfort. Soon, we begin to associate our mother’s voice with love and safety. We begin to experience the early stages of a bond that will grow stronger and stronger as we age.

Want proof of just how moving a mother’s lullaby can be? Enjoy the sweetness of this baby girl turning emotional as her mom sings to her:

This is just one example of music causing individuals to bond on a one-to-one basis. We choose our significant others based on numerous factors, but sometimes their musical taste can certainly sway us a little.

Perhaps we like the same style of music. Perhaps we even like the same artists within that same style of music. And if we happen to like the same songs from the same artists within that same style of music, look out: there just might be a love connection! 

Sometimes, though, two incredibly talented people connect while making beautiful music together, and the rest of us reap the reward:

Music is also capable of bonding large groups of people. Sporting events, music concerts, protests, and religious gatherings are all events during which music can unite us. Below are some examples of people from different walks of life joining together in song.

Check out these epic chants from European football matches (yes, I know, it’s soccer for us Americans):

Of course, the most common setting for sing-alongs is a concert. With that in mind, nothing beats this memorable concert footage of every single person in the crowd singing along with Freddie Mercury – and each other – at Live Aid in 1985: 

Sometimes the crowd is so inspired that it doesn’t even need an act onstage for it to sing in unison. Check out this crowd singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” before punk-rockers Green Day take the stage:

And when the songs are as good as The Beatles’ tunes, sometimes a sports crowd will sing along with one another during a game. Case in point is this 1960s English football crowd singing Beatles songs:

Music is so good at connecting people that sometimes it does it at unexpected places at unexpected times. Check out these a cappella singers as they burst into song at a Chick-fil-A restaurant:

The scenes above are of people uniting to sing fun, light-hearted songs. Sometimes, though, music can add weight to a more serious moment.

One of the best examples of this was at the 1963 March on Washington. Thousands upon thousands of protesters joined together to march for equality for all Americans. Folk singer Joan Baez lead the crowd in singing a riveting version of “We Shall Overcome.” Fortunately for us, the inspiring moment lives on film:

There are so many reasons to love music. It can heal. It can inspire. It can energize. But I am most awed by its ability to unite us. The examples above are only some of the ways it can do this.

When have you seen people come together through music? Which songs are especially good at uniting people? Leave a comment with your thoughts, and thanks again for reading. 

Both as parents and as musicians, it is sometimes difficult to successfully communicate our feelings. Sometimes we struggle to find the right words, or to hit the right notes. And when the topic is parenthood itself, forget about it: sometimes the struggle to accurately express the joy, sadness, and uncertainty of parenthood feels insurmountable.

The good news, though, is that dozens of songwriting music moms and dads from the past have already given us a massive catalogue of songs that perfectly capture the ups and downs of parenthood. From John Lennon to Lauryn Hill, from Stevie Wonder to Lee Ann Womack, their lyrics tell of both the bliss and the blues that come from caring for our own flesh and blood. We can use their songs, their sounds, and their stories as motivation for our own songwriting.

Better yet, we can find endless parenting inspiration in their tunes. As we listen to their songs, we can reflect upon our own parenting experiences, hopefully with the goal of becoming better moms and dads.

However you want to use these 8 great songs, I’m sure you’ll get something positive from them. Some will bring you smiles, others will bring you tears. Either way, I hope you’ll do the following: listen, learn, and love. 

“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder wrote this feel-good tune for his daughter, Aisha Morris. If it feels authentic, you’re right: “Isn’t She Lovely” begins with a baby’s first cry recorded during an actual childbirth and ends with a recording of Wonder bathing Aisha as a toddler. “Isn’t She Lovely” is super sugary and fun – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I Hope You Dance” – Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” represents every parent’s wish for their child.  The song’s lyrics come from the perspective of a mother who wishes her children will embrace life, and, when they are older, give love and faith a chance. Due to its ability to put into song every parent’s desire for their children, “I Hope You Dance” is unsurprisingly Womack’s biggest hit. 

“Beautiful Boy” – John Lennon

The typically brash ex-Beatle really let down his guard on this one. Half philosophical statement on the absurdity of life (“life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”) and half soothing lullaby for his newborn son Sean, Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” is the love song every parent sings to their brand new little guy. 

“Young Boy” – Paul McCartney

Another ex-Beatle here. This time, though, the song is much more in character with the more tender-natured Paul McCartney. While his wife Linda prepared a dinner for a journalist, McCartney removed himself to a separate room and began strumming the core of what would be “Young Boy.” The song was both a reflection upon his younger days and a message filled with sage advice for his young son.

“To Zion” – Lauryn Hill

The story behind Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” is the most complicated one on this list. The song is an introspective piece surrounding Hill’s decision to have her first child, Zion David Marley. Her career had climbed to heights previously unknown when she became pregnant. Many friends and industry veterans suggested Hill have an abortion. Instead, the strong-willed singer kept her baby, causing her to eventually feel as though she herself had been “born again.”

“Here For You” – Neil Young

Most of the offspring on this list ranged from still unborn to young child when their parents wrote of them. Leave it to Neil Young to buck the trend. Young wrote “Here For You” for his daughter Amber Jean, who was 21 years old and in her final year of college. Young talks about how much he misses her, and he reminds Amber that he will always be there for her. “Here For You” is a poignant ode to the complexities of the feelings we feel as parents while we watch our kids transition from childhood to adulthood.

“Kooks” – David Bowie

David Bowie wrote “Kooks” for his newborn son Duncan Jones. The song offers perhaps the most unique perspective on this list: “Kooks” is the term Bowie uses to describe the eccentric nature of he and Duncan’s mother. He’s basically saying “Look out, kid. You’ve got a couple of odd – but loving – folks for parents. Get ready!” I love how at the end of “Kooks,” Bowie reminds Duncan of the genetic nature of kookiness: “Because if you stay with us, You’re going to be pretty kooky too.”

“Cats in the Cradle” – Harry Chapin

This one is the most heartbreaking song on the list. By far. Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” tells the unfortunate story of a father who never has time for his son. Towards the end of the song, karma strikes yet again: now an adult, the son just can’t seem to find any time for his father. Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” is the type of song that seems to touch every generation, and it’s easy to see why. As parents, its message is loud and all too clear: the time we spend with our kids while they are young is precious, and it will eventually end. 

What songs about parenthood would you include on this list? Leave song titles in the comments. And as always, from one music mom to another, thanks for reading. 

As music moms, we often feel pressure to place our creative endeavors on the back burner of our priorities.

Society tells us that our music, our art, and our poetry – all the things we cherish as important expressions of our creativity – are supposed to come after we focus on our families, our careers, and the other realities of life.

I recently realized that the creative things we do are more than mere distractions. They are more than mere hobbies. Instead, the outer expressions of our inner creativity are a huge part of what makes us human.

In essence, the songs we sing, the stories we write, the portraits we paint – all these things partially define who and what we are. Our desire to connect with our creative side comes from our desire to connect with ourselves.

With this in mind, I have become increasingly focused on keeping my creative juices flowing. Here are 4 steps I’ve taken to enhance and unleash the creative queen inside me, even when all the world says moms like us should do otherwise. I hope these tips help you satisfy your natural urge to create.

Remind yourself that your art is a necessity, not a luxury.

All too often we treat art like it’s a luxury, something expendable that we don’t necessarily need. I wholeheartedly disagree with this view.

I consider the creative process – and its sometimes inspiring results – a necessity. When you think of something as being vital to your health and existence, you tend to cherish it and make time for it.

Treat your creative expression as something crucial to your health, because it is. By doing so, you are ensuring the best possible you. And we all know that you reaching your full potential is the best thing for you and your loved ones.

Discover your creative tribe.

I’m sure you’ve already discovered the value in belonging to a community of mothers. Thank God for the bonds we have created with those who share in this crazy thing called motherhood. Who knows how we’d survive without their comfort and words of wisdom.

Likewise, uniting with fellow creative souls can do wonders for your journey through motherhood. If you’re fortunate enough to add the right members to your team, you’ll receive all the camaraderie, inspiration, and emotional support you could ever want.

These creative mamas are out there, and they’re very likely looking for gals like you. Hunt them down, and then watch with joy as you propel each other to creative heights previously unknown.

Choose yourself over everyone else (at least once in a while).

This might be the toughest one of them all. We are programmed by society to always put our kids above our wishes and desires.

Every mother struggles with this, and for good reason: taking time away from your child is hard. Sometimes, though, it’s absolutely necessary.

While we all agree that becoming a mother is the best thing that has ever happened to you, remember that it’s not the only thing that has ever happened to you.

You are a complex, multi-faceted woman, so it is absolutely essential that you fully discover all aspects of your being. This most definitely includes your creative side.

Ignore the haters who try to guilt you into ditching your creativity.

There’s a good chance you’ve already experienced this, but there will always be naysayers and doubters who tell you to give up on your creativity, dreams, and goals.

These Negative Nancys will join with the Debbie Downers of the world for the sole purpose of persuading you that childbirth ought to mean the end of your creative endeavors.

They’ll pour on the guilt for spending an afternoon in the studio when you could have been watching your kids at home. They’ll shame you for spending a night playing the live music you’ve poured your heart and soul into, simply because your spouse had to watch the kids. Boo!

My advice? Don’t give them one single minute of your precious time. You don’t need their permission or blessing to be the creative soul you’re meant to be. Wish them well, and then move on.

And then, with your family and friends as inspiration, keep doing exactly what you’re made to do: create.