Drumming and Rhythmic Play with Kids

Looking for a fun, easy way to play and engage with your kids, no matter their age? Make music together! Drumming and rhythmic play are great ways to help your child develop their creativity, musicality, and focus. Kids are usually really easy to engage in drumming, since they don't have any of those pesky hangups us adults have, like "I'm not musical," "I have no rhythm," or any other silly thing we tell ourselves. Kids just go for it! Play along with your kids, and allow yourself to follow their lead and be silly. There is no "wrong" way to play a drum; as long as you're smiling and having a good time, then you're playing it right! 

How Early Can I Start Drumming with My Kids?

You can start engaging in rhythmic play with your kids when they're just an infant! Just remember with very tiny babies: go slow, be soft, and keep stimulation low. When they are in the quiet-alert state, you might engage rhythmically with them for a couple of minutes at the most. Follow their cues; if they turn away, stop looking at you, or cry, take a break. 

Some early rhythmic games to play with your baby are:

  • Softly tap the rhythm of their name or other phrases on their body. For instance, tap “I love you, _____ (their name)” on their hands as they lay in front of you, or on their back as you hold them. 
  • Mimic their rhythmic coos and other sounds. If they kick their legs in a specific pattern, mimic that by clapping, tapping, or saying “kick, kick, kick!”
  • Sing to your baby. Make up songs on the spot about whatever you’re doing, like “we’re changing your diaper, your diaper, your diaper, we’re changing your diaper, here we GO!” 

Here is a video I made to give you some ideas of fun, easy rhythmic games you can play with your child. 

Once your baby is a few months old and can hold something, you can start giving them age-appropriate rhythmic toys to play with. Once your baby is a little older and can sit up on their own, you can start introducing them to larger drums.  As your child continues to grow, you can let them play with any drum they want! Supervise your child if they are using mallets or any small pieces, such as jingle bells or egg shakers, and are still in the “put everything in my mouth” phase. The mallet stick could injure them if they put it in their mouth, and small pieces are a choking hazard.  Keep reading to find out some of my favorite rhythm instruments for children. 

What Drums Should I Buy? 

Here are some of my favorite drums and percussion instruments for kids. I suggest starting with at least one drum, a few maracas/shakers, a tambourine, and at least one funny sounding instrument (like the quack stick, clatterpillar, or frog). 


Percussion for ages 0-3


Percussion for toddlers and older kids


Fun and silly instruments

Where Can I Take My Kids to Drum? 

If you are in the Salt Lake City area, there is a free drum circle at Liberty Park every Sunday afternoon in the summer. I recommend taking your kids to community drum circles so they can partake in the cultural experience. You’ll always see some fun and interesting characters at a drum circle! As with any large event, supervise your kids at all times. I also recommend using ear protection for your children. These headphones are great for protecting your child’s ears at any loud event. 

If you are not in the SLC area, do some Googling to find your nearest free community drum circle. If you can’t find much, you can also ask around at your local new age-y bookstore, or just ask the kid with dreadlocks who works at your local Whole Foods. ;)


I hope this post is helpful in giving you the basics of drumming with your kiddos. Now go make some music, and have FUN! 

Original womb songs and lullabies now available!

As a songwriter and music therapist, one of the things I feel passionate about is helping new and expecting parents bring music into their lives with their new babies.  Singing to your baby in utero creates a bond, and if you sing the same song over and over to your unborn baby, they will actually recognize the song after they're born, and the song will help soothe them. 

A service that I offer is to help parents write an original womb song or lullaby for their baby - this is a special, unique song that is written using your exact words of hope, love, and care for your baby.  I put your words to music and create a simple, meaningful song that you and your family will treasure forever. 

"We all know the power of music.  Imagine your doula noting what music was playing while you were in transition, and pushing, and as your child was being birthed.  And imagine your playlist then also becoming your empowerment music while learning how to become a parent. Imagine your child knowing, in their soul, all of the songs that you chose to welcome them into the world.  And finally, imagine playing, over and over again, the lullaby that you put to words, as your child ages day-by-day."
- Monica Faux-Kota, massage therapist, Salt Lake City

To learn more about what a womb song is, how it's different from a lullaby, and what the whole process entails, click here

I offer gift certificates, and I can't think of a more original or unique baby shower gift than an original song for the baby!  Click here to purchase a gift certificate for a womb song or lullaby. 

Featured Contributor on Radio New Zealand!

On April 30, 2016 I was a featured contributor to Radio New Zealand's podcast "The Secret Life of Birth Music," featuring doctors, midwives, doulas and moms talking about the power of music during labor and birth.  I got to share what I do as a music therapist, and how I help my clients by using Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth techniques.  I also got to share an original "womb song" that I've written for clients! 

Featured on the Dearest Doula Podcast

I was thrilled to be interviewed by Nathalie Saenz of the Dearest Doula podcast recently.  I got to talk all about music therapy, the history of the field, and how one becomes a board-certified music therapist.  I also got to dive into music therapy assisted childbirth, and the many ways music can help during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

A Music Therapist's Thoughts on Spotify's new birth playlist

Over the past day or so, there has been a bunch of media attention on a story about Spotify creating a “birth playlist” with the help of NYC-based OB-GYN Dr. Jacques Moritz.  The story has been picked up by the Huffington Post, Time, and more.  I wanted to weigh in as a board-certified music therapist who has been trained in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.  Part of the work that I do is to help pregnant moms create personalized playlists, as well as provide them with over 40 hours of specially-compiled music playlists that can be used during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

While I think it’s great that Spotify recognizes the power of using music during birth, a one-playlist-for-all approach just doesn’t make sense.   Every birth is different, every birthing mother is different, and people’s music choices should be just as unique, varied, and ever-changing as their births are.  That is why when I work with a client, we spend several hours together talking about her music preferences, her history with certain songs, and what music she finds the most relaxing, uplifting, and helpful for getting through tough emotions. 

Another aspect of music during birth that I am mindful of is that the music should create an atmosphere of comfort, familiarity, calm and relaxation.  Songs should flow easily from one to the next, and there should not be a lot of variance within a single playlist.  That is one reason why Spotify’s birth playlist may not work for many women – not only is it not personalized to fit each woman’s preferences, but the songs are from a variety of genres and have different tempos.  When songs flow effortlessly from one to the next, the birthing mother’s mind can relax into a trance-like state, and if there are dramatic changes from song to song she can be jolted back into her conscious mind.   

"When songs flow effortlessly from one to the next, the birthing mother’s mind can relax into a trance-like state, and if there are dramatic changes from song to song she can be jolted back into her conscious mind."

I work with my clients during the months before their birth, and the music is an integral part of our therapeutic work together.  My clients practice moving and relaxing to the music many, many times before going into labor so that their bodies and minds are familiar with the music and relax easily and quickly when that music is played during labor.   I attend their birth as their doula and music therapist, and am constantly assessing the environment and putting on music that will assist them in focusing, relaxing and feeling at ease.   While a standard Spotify birth playlist may be helpful for some women, it doesn’t give them the one-on-one, personalized therapeutic relationship that my clients get with me, and it doesn’t allow for changes and fluctuations in the music during labor.

"While a standard Spotify birth playlist may be helpful for some women, it doesn’t allow for changes and fluctuations in the music during labor."

As a trained music therapist, one of the most important pieces of knowledge that I bring with me to all my work is that music is very powerful, and it can sometimes have negative effects on people – it can trigger strong emotions, bring back difficult memories, and it’s psychological and physiological effects on the mind and body of a birthing woman can slow or stall the progress of labor. 

I think every birthing mom who wants to have music during her birth should be able to do that, and I encourage all the moms I work with to create playlists that help them feel relaxed and empowered.   While it is a one-size-fits-all approach that I don't think will work for many women, I do applaud Spotify and Dr. Moritz for looking at the benefits of music during labor, and I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth or my Birth Music Consultation services to get in touch with me at Beth@HeartTonesDoula.com. 




I Am Here, I Am Willing: How Attending a Curtis Method Hypnodoula Training Sold Me On Hypnobirthing

Photo by Liybie Cerar

Photo by Liybie Cerar

I am kind of a doula training junkie.  If there is a training within 50 miles of me, I’m probably gonna take it.  I’ll take webinars, live trainings, seminars, workshops – if it’s out there, I’m throwing my money in it’s direction and spending my time at it.

When I think about it, being hooked on birth education is actually a pretty great habit to have.  Giving in to my education fix has led me to learn a ton, from how to build a successful doula business, to how to use music before, during and after birth, to how to properly massage a laboring woman. 

Over the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to attend a Curtis Method Hypnodoula training.  The minute I met Lauralyn Curtis, the creator and teacher of this training method, I knew I’d take any training she would offer.  Her energy, knowledge, and personality are magnetic, and I knew that I would learn a ton from her. 

Lauralyn Curtis teaching the Hypnodoula class

Lauralyn Curtis teaching the Hypnodoula class

The training was spread over four days of watching birth videos, reading, listening, and doing hands-on practice.  The 18 or so women in the training were educated about how to use deep relaxation, hypnosis, touch, and affirmations to help laboring moms remain in a relaxed, calm, confident state throughout labor.  The Curtis Method is a little different from other hypnodoula trainings, which I really liked.

5 things that make the Curtis Method Hypnodoula program unique:

1.     The Curtis Method focuses on Active Birth.  To quote Lauralyn’s description in her workbook The Curtis Method of Childbirth Education, “Active Birth is a philosophy in which a woman follows her birthing instincts and intuition, while being actively involved in all choices regarding her birth experience.”  
What I love about this is that it doesn’t matter what type of birth a mom has, whether it’s unmedicated, medicated, or surgical – if she is actively involved in all the choices and decisions regarding her birth, she is having an active, empowered birth. 
During an active birth a mom may choose to move, walk, vocalize, sleep, ask for help, and bear down when she feels the urge.  She is in charge of her birth, and she follows her intuition regarding what needs to happen next. 

Lauralyn Curtis explaining how the pelvic bones shift during childbirth. 

Lauralyn Curtis explaining how the pelvic bones shift during childbirth. 

2.     The Curtis Method focuses on Birth Instinct Anchoring. This is a technique in which the laboring mother’s own birthing instincts are used as hypnotic anchors.  For instance, opening and closing her eyes, moving around, changing positions, resting, vocalizing, etc. can all be used as anchors to encourage her to go deeper and deeper into relaxation.  This way, she feels able to do whatever she needs to do, knowing that her movements and actions won’t bring her out of her relaxed state. 

3.     The Curtis Method focuses on Evidence Based Maternity Care. This means using labor practices that have been shown through research to lead to the best outcomes for mom and baby.  To quote Lauralyn, “the goal of evidence-based care is to reduce the incidence of injury and complications, while using the least amount of medical intervention possible.”
An example of evidence-based maternity care is the Lamaze Institute’s compilation of six Healthy Birth Practices.  These practices have been clinically shown to lead to the safest, healthiest outcomes for moms and babies.
The six Healthy Birth Practices are:

  • Allow labor to begin on its own
  • Walk and stay active in labor
  • Bring a doula for continuous labor support
  • Avoid medically unnecessary interventions
  • Avoid laying on your back in labor, and follow your body's urges to push
  • Keep your baby with you as much as possible after birth
Practicing light touch with the rebozo to increase endorphins and promote relaxation. 

Practicing light touch with the rebozo to increase endorphins and promote relaxation. 

4.     The Curtis Method offers Daddy (Partner) Doula Training. In this training, dads/partners learn many of the doula tips and tricks to help labor progress comfortably.  They learn about positions, counter-pressure, acupressure, and more.  This helps them to feel empowered to be an active participant in the birth.

5.     The Curtis Method uses a unique approach to Birth Hypnosis. In the Curtis Method, hypnosis is taught to be used as a tool before and during labor.  But if the laboring mom decides not to use the hypnosis during her labor, it still works!  As Lauralyn puts it, “using hypnosis to prepare for childbirth is like practicing yoga to prepare for a marathon or other physical feat of endurance: the yoga will thoroughly prepare your mind and muscles for the work you are about to do, but you won’t necessarily be doing yoga as your cross the finish line! Similarly, we use the hypnosis to train, prepare, and re-program your mind and body for a healthy, positive birth.” 
I love this! To me, it takes the pressure off of the laboring woman so she doesn’t feel like she has to use hypnosis during labor.   Instead, she knows that she has prepared, and she has hypnosis as a tool in her toolbox if she chooses to use it.

The amazing group of women who took the Curtis Method Hypnodoula training with me. 

The amazing group of women who took the Curtis Method Hypnodoula training with me. 

All in all, I found this training to be super educational, fun, emotional (18 birth-loving women watching a beautiful birth video = pass the tissues), and inspiring.  I left the training with a new outlook on how hypnosis and deep relaxation can be used during labor.  I also left with the drive to continue on the path to becoming a certified hypnodoula!  This training was the start of what I hope will be a long and winding road into the world of hypnobirthing.

The title of this post references a mantra - "I am here. I am willing." This mantra was shared in the training by Kylie Flinston Power, a doula in Salt Lake City.  Kylie makes amazing gemstone necklaces, check out her work here.

To learn more about Curtis Method Hypnobirthing, visit www.hypnobirthingutah.com