Arvada Center, auditory sensitivity, brushes with fame, concert, Emmie, fancy pants, friends, joy, Laurie Berkner, making memories, Miss Stephanie, music, music therapy, Music with Miss Stephanie, Peter, pictures, Razor and Tie, sensory processing disorder, Susie Lampert, the many faces of Emmie, video
Emmie, Peter and I, along with two of Emmie’s closest friends, got to see Laurie Berkner perform last week, thanks to my wonderful cousin, Sasha, who is a fancy-pants lady at Laurie Berkner’s PR firm.
Now, Emmie has been to free kids concerts (Jeff and Paige, anyone?) and she and my mom got to see Kidz Bop last year, but I was too sick to go to that one, unfortunately (I was still in the hospital from my lung surgery). So while this was not technically Emmie’s true first concert, it was my first “real” concert with her, and it was so very special. I didn’t realize my parents would be out of town, and so we had a few extra tickets that we felt so lucky to be able to share with Emmie’s wonderful friends. Awesomely, the venue had a great playground out in front to kill some time because the little friends had a hard enough time waiting as it was (our fault for getting there too early).
Guess who the impatient one is! Her faces just crack me up (though I fear for Peter in the teenage years!)
We cannot ever call her stone-faced. It’ll be very interesting when this one learns to play poker.
Once the concert got going, the kids all had such a good time. Emmie and one of her best school friends (the one who introduced us to Jeff and Paige!) were dancing in the aisles for most of the concert, until everyone got too tired.
Laurie Berkner and Susie Lampert were awesome. I can only imagine that doing endless kids’ shows has got to get boring at some point, but you would never think that they were doing anything but having a blast. If you take a second to watch some of her great YouTube videos, you will have a very good idea of her energy level and performance skills. One awesome thing she did was to throw in the tiniest bit of adult conversation and humor into the show. Nothing obnoxious or too adult (although that’s always awesome too!), but just stuff like throwing in a nice long verse of Desperado into one of her songs :).
I have a lot of teacher, SLP and parent friends who are huge fans of Laurie. I’m happy to report that her hair is just as awe-inspiring in real life, and that she was very nice during our extra special backstage meet-and-greet.
That’s right, we got to MEET Laurie and Susie! There were only maybe 2-3 other families/groups who got to meet them, so we felt very special (Thank you SO MUCH Aunt Sasha!).
There were hugs all around for the very patient little beans (we were the last ones in line and all three of the little ones were DONE. I can’t blame them, since it was definitely dinner time and we did wait a little while to be able to see everyone. It was totally reasonable for adults, but 3-4 year olds are not known for their patience in the best of times).
One of our little friends did NOT want to take a picture. It was so hilarious though. He said something to the effect of: “I don’t wanna take a picture because you just have to sit there and wait and do nothing and it takes so long and it makes me so TIRED.” We all laughed because it was so true!
I was able to tell Laurie and Susie about how wonderful their music is for working with kids with hearing loss because I can work on so many different auditory skills with them. For very early listeners, I can work on presence/absence of sound, or listening for the chorus (which usually has a fun action to do); for more experienced listeners, I can work on comprehension of lyrics, which is typically much harder than speech comprehension. And because so many of her songs have actions and videos, my kids can watch the video first, start to figure out what the heck is going on, and then transition to listening only. So great!
They were both really appreciative; they hear a lot from preschool teachers and music therapists, but said that this was the first time they had heard from and SLP working with kids with hearing loss. Yay for awareness!
There was a funny little moment at the very end when Laurie sweetly gestured to my belly and asked, “More?” While I clearly look pretty preggo, I have not had anyone directly ask or comment on my belly lately. I said, “Unfortunately no, I have cancer,” which I hope is direct enough but also sensitive enough to people that I don’t make them feel like total shit for asking (because really, how could they possibly know? My scarf/wig/hat is a much better clue now, but it’s probably still not obvious to some people.
Susie is apparently a nurse in her “other life,” so she had some kind words to say, without being one of those people who promises it will all work out. I don’t remember what Laurie said, but it was nice too, and a good recovery, haha.
After all the grown-up stuff was done (because what 4 year old is excited about autographs unless it’s Doc McStuffins?), the playground saved the day again. The kids all played and had a crazy good time, as evidenced by these sweet little faces.
To end this on the cutest note possible (pun not intended!), check out this awesome little video of Emmie and her friend dancing in the aisle:
I said I was ending, but I lied. There is a very, very important postscript that I need to note, because without it, the above post could never have happened.
As of about, oh, six months ago (maybe a little more), Emmie HATED music. I know. She would make us turn off the radio, no matter what was on, at some point she asked me to stop singing her bedtime songs (sob!), and she never let me sing at any point outside of bedtime, ever. The breaking point was when we went to Nora’s birthday party (the sweet little girl above). Nora had a Jeff and Paige concert that was simply beyond delightful. All the other kids were dancing, clapping, or at least sitting and enjoying the music. Emmie was burrowed into my lap and if I dared to clap along, or do the hand gestures in the songs (you know, to try to model what Emmie should do, like a good little SLP), Emmie immediately clapped her hands over mine and held them down so tightly I couldn’t move. She just seemed so angry and upset with the whole situation. Had this been a one-time thing, I might have brushed it off, but this was an absolute pattern by now.
My dear friend and co-worker Angela mentioned a music class she was attending through a local rec center and I thought that might be just the thing for Emmie. Upon my request for more info, Angela let me know that this was actually a class for kids with special needs, but that there was space and they might be able to let Emmie in. I am SO grateful that they did let her in because although Emmie does not have any documented special needs, I do believe she has at a minimum sensory differences, if not straight-up Sensory Processing Disorder, but nothing has been formally evaluated (just a checklist a highly qualified coworker helped me fill out).
Regardless, she got in and we were thrilled. Miss Stephanie (at Stephanie Sprenger and also at Music with Miss Stephanie) is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. From the very first class, she immediately put Emmie at ease (Emmie was really nervous about the whole thing, especially that it would be too loud). Miss Stephanie made sure that none of the songs were loud ones, and was so incredibly observant of Emmie’s behaviors and reactions that I felt instantly at ease. Miss Stephanie is no ordinary music teacher; she is a trained music therapist, and a truly gifted one at that. As a therapist myself, I know that a good developmental therapist working with children (music, OT, PT, SLP, you name it) needs to be able to make careful observations of the child, then adapt their therapeutic techniques and targets to that child’s needs. Literally by the next week, Emmie had opened up, was participating with significantly less support, and generally astounding us all. After 2 months, it was like Emmie was a different child. She was initiating playing instruments, asking for favorite songs and generally surprising us all. Now, after 6ish months of class, Emmie is learning lyrics to songs, singing along, and truly enjoying music (as you can see above!).
We are SO indebted to Miss Stephanie and the magic she works. If you have a child under 10 in the Denver-ish area, especially one with special needs, please chek out her classes! They are worth their weight in gold!