Tag Archives: music

Charlie Likes Jazz

Last night, Charlie saw live music for the very first time. While she has always liked music (especially jazz), I think last night sealed the deal. We may have produced a music lover.

Charlie’s Dad and I were very deliberate when we picked the venue and show for Charlie’s first live music experience. We wanted it to be as little of a bar like atmosphere as possible. To be sure that Charlie didn’t disturb anyone, it needed to have a quick escape route in case she was noisy or melted down.

We arrived a few minutes before the show started and selected a spot in the back. When the music started, Charlie’s eyes grew wide. Her huge eyes looked at the stage, looked at me, looked at the stage, and looked back to me again. Then, her face broke out into a huge grin.

Charlie watched intently during the first set. She clapped to some songs and hummed to others. We danced together as she flirted with those that passed by.

During the set break, she used a new sign to tell me she was thirsty. After her water break, she got to meet the performers and say a quick hello.

Her eyes grew heavy during the second set. She displayed the tell tale signs that she was sleepy. Hence, we made a quiet exit.

I was thrilled by how well behaved she was. Admittedly, carrying a baby around at a show and keeping her engaged was a lot of work. But, it was well worth the effort. I see more music in our future.

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It was very dark and difficult to get a decent picture. This is Charlie sitting with her dad waiting for the second set.

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More Questions To Answer

Melanie at MommyDo recognized me with a Liebster Award. She writes:

I think Cheering on Charlie received this award from someone else, but I’m giving it up anyway.

As I’ve stated previously, I am always grateful and flattered when a fellow blogger recognizes me. So without further delay, here are the answers to Melanie’s questions:

1. What made you want to start blogging?

Initially, it was a way for me to document Charlie’s journey in an appropriate venue. My posts became too long for Facebook or Tumblr. But, I like to learn and it became a learning project for me. It was also a way to retain relevant employment skills for when I return to the work force.
2. Who inspires you?

No one person, in particular, inspires me. Instead, I find inspiration in quotes, writings, and song lyrics that I come across. For example, I once read someone tweet something like “There are plenty of intelligent and talented people, distinguish yourself by being kind.” Additionally, there are several Bruce Hornsby lyrics that I often recite to myself such as “It probably won’t happen but I think I’ll try”.
3. What is one piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

You become what surrounds you… and you have the power to decide who surrounds you. I would have much sooner cut out the people who do nothing but discourage, criticize, or think they have it all figured out. I embrace those that encourage, are supportive, and challenge me to be better. If I knew this earlier, I don’t think I would have wasted as much of my youth being angry as I did.

4. What is your favorite item in your closet right now?

Whatever fits and doesn’t have stains. 🙂
5. What is currently your favorite album, artist, or song?

Holy wow, this is a tough one. Right now, Charlie and I have tickets to see Charlie Hunter. He is a guitarist and one of those performers that is consistently excellent every time I see him.

The upcoming show has special meaning to me. As it worked out, Charlie Hunter was the last show I saw while pregnant with Charlie. We saw him the night my  preeclampsia was discovered. His music was among the selections I played for Charlie in the NICU. Each time I hear the song, You Look Good In Orange, I think of Charlie. For the record, he is not one of the Charlie’s she was named after. Although, it was a happy coincidence. He is the guitarist (his part starts at 2:40) on this track:


6. What made you choose the title for your blog?

It came to me while I was writing my first post. When I wrote about cheering her on in the NICU, it clicked.
7. Must have beauty product(s)?

Other than lip gloss, I have not worn make up a day in my life. So I suppose, it’s lip gloss.
8. When are you happiest?

When I’m outside or at a show.
9. First celebrity crush?

OK, so I have to share my secret. I am face blind. So, I got crushes on TV characters rather than celebrities. My first crush was the main character of Quantum Leap. My lab partner, Kat, would be impressed at how nerdy that is.
10.Where is your dream destination?

Any country in Sub Saharan Africa.


Charlie’s Music Therapy

Lately, many readers have expressed curiousity about Charlie’s music therapy. In the following post, I try to answer the questions that have been asked.

After lock down last year, Charlie and I ventured to her first baby group. It was an experiment. She had serious sensory issues and her motor skill progress was at a stand still. I was looking for more ways to stimulate her in addition to Early Intervention. To my surprise, the baby group session went well… especially the musical portion.

100_1005_editedInspired by the success, I scoured the internet for a local baby music class. My web search led to a local non profit organization called The Community Music School of The Piedmont. The music school offers music therapy and a Music Together class as well as other programs.

Charlie was almost a year old but had the motor skills of a four month old. I was not sure she could keep up with the rest of the Music Together class. Plus, I was concerned about her low sensory threshold. I sent an email to the school and asked which program would be the best fit for Charlie. The response was an invitation to sit in a Music Together class and to meet the music therapist. After Charlie and I met the music therapist, I immediately knew that music therapy was where she belonged.100_1007_edited

Every Wednesday for the last nine months, Charlie has attended music therapy. She has benefited in several ways.

First, her sensory threshold has improved. The therapist has actively worked with Charlie on improving her tactile defensiveness and auditory tolerance. Charlie likes to feel the vibrations as she plays the drum, while the therapist plays the guitar, or the time a cello was played in her presence. The therapist also uses feathers, scarves, stuffed animals, and a bead bag in the musical play. 100_1030_edited_edited

Additionally, her motor skills have progressed. There have been a few times when something was not registering with Charlie in PT or OT. For whatever reason, she did not understand the skill the EI therapist was trying to teach. The music therapist teaches similar skills using musical instruments. In music therapy, it is like seeing a light bulb go off above Charlie’s head as she understands and performs the skill for the first time.

Finally, Charlie’s speech development has benefited from the music therapy. Before Charlie 100_1037_editedlearned to open her mouth to vocalize sounds, she grunted to fill in a pause while the therapist sang. Now, she tries to fill in a missing word with the few sounds she has mastered.  Charlie started “singing” before she tried to talk.

Whether Charlie progresses to learning an instrument or not will be a choice left up to Charlie. Music therapy is right for us. Charlie enjoys music therapy and gets quite a bit out of it. Sometimes, she says, “Yay!” when I pull the car into the school’s parking lot.

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Complimentary Therapies

I believe in medical science. My baby would not be here with out it. However, I have learned a healthy respect for complimentary therapies since I became a preemie parent. This is how we discovered the complimentary therapies that were right for Charlie. 

Infant Massage

Following Charlie’s birth, we were unable to touch her. She would desat and have apnea and/or bradycardia spells during hands on care. For several weeks in the beginning, we rarely held her due to the stress it induced. Charlie lasted seven minutes the first time I tried kangaroo care. I was incredibly frustrated and saddened. I read and was told how beneficial it was for her so I kept at it.

A couple of weeks later, Charlie lasted twenty minutes before she had to be returned to the isolette. When the nurse removed her from my chest, she let out a scream (it sounded more like a kitten’s meow) and gestured towards me. It was the encouragement I needed to continue.

After a few more attempts, Charlie started rooting. Her rooting reflex became so intense that she needed a pacifier to get settled. Eventually, her tolerance increased. By her last month, there were days that we would kangaroo as many as eight hours.

The PT/OT department from the hospital spoke to me about taking the infant massage class they offered. Before Charlie, I was skeptical of alternative therapies. The favorable kangaroo experience had opened me up to the idea of infant massage.

I took the class. Once Charlie was finally discharged, I tried incorporating infant massage. Like the kangaroo care, I started small. Eventually, Charlie started to anticipate the massage and readily offered up her leg (the starting point).

The massage therapy helped Charlie tolerate touch better, softened some of her stiffness, the colic routine aided her motility, and massage became another way to soothe her.

Music Therapy

Charlie has always been responsive to sound. The first six months that she was home from the NICU, she slept peacefully as long as jazz was playing. She had a tough time transitioning to sleep without it. The first toy she had shown interest in was a small bear with a chime.

After RSV season last year, she attended her first story time. During the heavy sensory play, musical instruments were handed out to the babies. Charlie opened up enthusiastically to the group music.

Shortly after that observation, I enrolled Charlie in music therapy. Charlie enjoys music therapy quite a bit. It may help with her sensory issues and her speech delay (Charlie loves “singing”). Certainly, it has helped with her PT and OT.

Sometimes she struggles to grasp a skill in PT or OT. But, she will pick it up quite easily in music therapy. For example, the OT tried many times to teach Charlie to bang blocks together. At music therapy, sound was incorporated to the skill and she learned it very quickly. With issues such as these, it is like seeing a light bulb go on over Charlie’s head.

While I feel Charlie benefits greatly from these complimentary therapies, they may not be right for every baby. The main consideration I have when trying something new is whether or not Charlie will enjoy the endeavor. After everything that she has been through, it is important to me that therapy is a pleasant experience for her. I also look for ideas of how to use Charlie affinities and proficiencies to work on the skills that she is struggling with.

We were very fortunate to find a couple of complementary therapies that work well for Charlie.

Charlie climbed on the drum in music therapy.

Charlie climbed on the drum in music therapy.


Progress

Charlie’s communication has improved lately. A few weeks ago, she started using “Yay!” in context. She has since built upon that initial skill. Her progress was apparent throughout today’s activities.

During music therapy, she was more vocal than usual. She played with toy animals that are used for props during Old McDonald. She picked up a cow and said, “Moo”. Later, the therapist instructed, “Go to mommy. Find mommy.” Charlie turned, crawled toward me, and climbed into my lap.

Next, we had lunch after music therapy. I tore off and handed her a manageable slice of grilled cheese. Mostly, she gnawed and kind of sucked on it. Then, she dropped it by accident. Rather than scream, she signed “More” to me. I obliged and handed her another piece.

Recently, Charlie has begun trying to repeat simple words. Some times, she does it. Other times, it’s a valiant effort. She continued to do this most of today as well. Most notably, she correctly sang “La la la la” with the characters in a video during a song.

Later in the evening, she called for her dad using “Dada” and holding out her arms. It was her second word.

Days like today are wonderful. It is exciting to be able to notice leaps of progress. Now, if only we can get her to eat (taking food up to her mouth is a huge step in the right direction).

grilled cheese


Music Therapy

I’ve previously written a post about how much Charlie loves music therapy. I now have pictures to illustrate exactly what goes on during a therapy session.

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