This is my health story


I have always been sensitive. That's a word that has described me, my body in particular, my whole life. I have skin sensitivities to fabrics, bruise easily, I get cold easily, I tend to be on "alert" all of the time (no coffee needed here!), I'm a musician and very creative, and I don't even THINK about using any conventional personal care or other products that are scented... they bother my skin, and they bother my respiratory system too. I've never been able to use any scented products because of the discomfort and increased sensitivity they cause. I can't be around people who wear perfume or scented deodorant, because I can't breathe well and my head has discomfort. I can't go into a public bathroom that has been just cleaned because of the toxic chemicals they used to clean it. I can't enjoy candles or most lotions or makeup like most women I know because I'm sensitive to it.

During my first semester of college, I started to develop debilitating discomfort in my jaw, which I was later told is TMJD or temporomandibular joint dysfunction, not just the kind of little twinge when you bite down on something too hard, but long-lasting aching, along with clicking and cracking. It was exacerbated by singing, gum-chewing, caffeine, and other things, and I was easily able to cut out all of the things listed on my doctor's list except for one -- singing. I was a vocal music education major, and singing was my livelihood (or at least soon-to-be), so I couldn't just not practice! I struggled so hard for 2.5 years through long choir rehearsals, voice lessons, practice sessions, and more. By the end of the day, it would be so bad that I'd almost be in tears. My roommates and boyfriend (and his roommates!), bless their servant hearts, would bring me freezing cold ice packs to numb my face enough so that I could fall asleep at least, though I would wake up in the night unable to fall back asleep due to other sleep issues I also was dealing with.

It seemed like a vicious cycle that I needed to stop. Maybe I needed to change majors and give up my dream of making music, of teaching others to make music too. Maybe I needed to pick something that didn't require so much singing and talking. Even smiling a lot bothered me, so maybe I needed to pick a major or job with less human interaction. But THAT idea broke my heart. I didn't enjoy any of the things I could think of! My boyfriend at the time (now husband!) and I had many conversations about what I should do... singing was part of the fabric of my BEING. I am MADE to sing. If you know me, you know that hardly an hour went by without me humming or singing some little tune. But my jaw bothered me so much most of the time that I needed to change SOMETHING. But what?

And that's when change came...

I found some natural and pretty simple solutions -- though simple doesn't always mean easy! It required a LOT of discipline and self-control on my part.

I'm blessed now to have so many versatile tools in my tool box for any emotion, body system, or issue I may be experiencing. So, where am I now? Healthier than I’ve EVER been. I have NO jaw issues anymore when I keep up my self-created protocol. I sleep through the night. I feel so much better now that I'm sleeping more and deeper. I've spent 4 years now working through the emotional issues I faced in early career, and I am so happy that I can now FEEL emotions without feeling completely run-over and frozen by emotions. I’m also happy to say that I have only had little illnesses since finding solutions, not the constant strep throat and other illnesses I was getting at least once per month before! And, that’s saying a lot as I was constantly around germs while working full time with 500+ elementary students. But once I started supporting my immune system, I stopped getting sick every couple of weeks. I can clean with the most amazing smelling cleaner without coughing. I can wear my own homemade "perfume" and get compliments, and not only does it smell good, it supports my body systems. I can use amazing smelling shampoo now! I can have twice as much energy for the day without drinking any coffee or sugary drink. When I started having these successes, I was at first in disbelief, and now in awe at all that God's created, I believe, and given us for our good. Now these are my first line of defense, my go-tos, the first thing I do when something is off, which is not very often anymore (usually just when the weather changes, ah MN life).

I look forward to living a beautiful life of freedom and feeling empowered every single day, enjoying the life I was meant to live. That life includes sharing my story of overcoming and helping you also find better, safer solutions to overcome your daily struggles.

Are you ready to live empowered to be your own best advocate? Let's chat.

Contact Me

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Updates from Andrea Orem

Making Music a Daily Habit: Incorporating Daily Music into Your Homeschool Routine

Making Music a Daily Habit: Incorporating Daily Music into Your Homeschool Routine
In homeschooling, where many children thrive off of structure and routine, the incorporation of music into the daily rhyhms & schedule can offer invaluable benefits. From enhancing cognitive development to fostering discipline and creativity, music serves as a dynamic educational tool that enriches the homeschooling experience. Let’s explore practical ways to make music an integral part of your homeschool daily.

Establishing Consistent Practice

The foundation of integrating music into your homeschooling routine lies in establishing a consistent practice schedule, or time in the day to include musical learning. Designate a specific time, whether it be in the morning or afternoon, solely for music education, whether that is learning about music or making music or both. By making daily practice a non-negotiable component of your routine, you instill in your children the values of commitment and diligence, essential traits that extend far beyond the realm of music.

Cultivating Confidence Through Singing

Singing provides a universal accessible avenue for musical expression and self-discovery. Encourage your children to engage in vocal exercises (more on this in the Classical Collective group!) and sing along to their favorite songs. Emphasize the importance of confidence-building over perfection, fostering an environment where experimentation and expression are celebrated. Additionally, consider incorporating intergenerational interactions by having older siblings sing to younger ones, nurturing family relationships through musical connection.

Exploring "Living Songtales" and Hymn Study

Expand your musical repertoire by exploring living songtales, which combine storytelling with musical elements to captivate young minds. Integrate these tales into your homeschool curriculum, providing a multi-sensory approach to learning that stimulates imagination and creativity. Furthermore, consider incorporating hymn study into your morning routine or another suitable time of day, offering insights into the historical and cultural significance of traditional hymns while also fostering introspection and spiritual growth. (For resources in these areas, stay tuned! More to come in the Classical Collective Membership -- sign up here to get notified when it goes live for pre-sale!).

Additional Ideas for Musical Exploration

Beyond structured practice and study, there are numerous avenues for incorporating music into your homeschooling routine:
  1. Music Appreciation: Delve into various musical genres and styles through listening sessions and discussions, cultivating an appreciation for diverse forms of artistic expression.
  2. DIY Instrument Projects: Engage in hands-on learning by constructing homemade instruments using household materials, fostering creativity and resourcefulness.
  3. Musical Games and Activities: Infuse playfulness into daily life with interactive games and activities designed to reinforce musical concepts and skills. Here's many ideas!
  4. Family Music Making: Foster a sense of unity and collaboration by organizing family jam sessions or family sing alongs, providing an opportunity for each member to showcase their musical talents in a supportive environment. Even if family members do not feel they have talents in this area, the goal is communal music-making, not the skill level of the music-making itself. We do value excellence! But we value community and shared experience more here (just like we do with corporate worship... more on that later!).
Incorporating music into your homeschooling routine offers a wealth of educational and developmental benefits, from enhancing cognitive abilities to fostering creativity and confidence. By establishing consistent practice, exploring diverse musical experiences, and embracing intergenerational and communal learning opportunities, you create an environment where music thrives as an integral aspect of the homeschooling journey. So, let music permeate your homeschooling routine, enriching the educational experience and nurturing the hearts and minds of your children.

What Every Child Should Know Before Beginning to Play a Musical Instrument

What Every Child Should Know Before Beginning to Play a Musical Instrument
Embarking on the journey of learning a musical instrument is a transformative experience for children, shaping not only their musical abilities but also fostering important cognitive and emotional skills. Most people choose piano or ukulele as the first instrument, as those are the most accessible for younger children and smaller hands. Before diving into instrumental training, though, it's crucial for children to develop a strong foundation in three key areas. Outlined by Dr. John Feierabend (America's leading early childhood music educator), these 3 elements are tunefulness, beatfulness, and artfulness. Let's explore how parents and educators can facilitate the development of these essential skills to ensure a successful musical journey for every child, especially at home.

Becoming Tuneful:

Tunefulness lays the groundwork for musical proficiency by honing a child's ability to perceive and produce accurate pitches. To foster tunefulness, parents can incorporate music into daily routines, from singing lullabies to exploring a variety of musical genres together. By engaging in activities that develop pitch discrimination and encourage vocal experimentation, children develop a strong foundation in melody, setting the stage for future instrumental learning. One important point to note is -- make sure young children are not given too difficult of a song to sing. The tune should be simple and follow a predictable pattern, at least until tunefulness is acquired. Caregivers can of course model more complex songs that children will learn to sing in the future! But when assessing tunefulness, make sure children have a simple melody to sing and have heard it enough times to be familiar with it in their "musical ear."

Becoming Beatful:

Steady Beat is the heartbeat of music, making beatfulness a critical skill for aspiring musicians. Children should feel comfortable moving to the pulse of music and maintaining a steady tempo before delving into instrumental training. Children cannot accruately develop rhythm skills without first having an internal sense of steady beat. Activities such as clapping, marching, and playing beat games help children internalize this and develop coordination. By incorporating movement and beat keeping into daily activities, parents and educators lay a solid rhythmic foundation for children, ensuring they're ready to tackle the challenges of instrumental learning with confidence.

Becoming Artful:

While technical proficiency is essential, true musicality lies in artfulness – the ability to infuse emotion, interpretation, and personal expression into music. Encouraging creativity through improvisation, composition, and interpretation empowers children to find their unique voice in music. With young children, this is best practiced by doing fingerplays, action songs, and moving to music for form and expression. By fostering a supportive environment where experimentation is encouraged and individuality is celebrated while also demonstrating that the music matches the expressive intent, parents and educators nurture children's confidence and authenticity in musical expression.

Before beginning to play a musical instrument, it's essential for children to develop these 3 foundational skills. By prioritizing these and providing opportunities for exploration and expression, parents and educators set children up for a lifetime of musical fulfillment and success. With intentional guidance and support, every child can unlock their musical potential and experience the joy of making music.

For practical ideas and resources to support your child's musical journey, join us in The Classical Collective Facebook group. There, you'll find a vibrant community of parents, educators, and musicians sharing valuable practical tips, activities, and resources to enrich your child's musical development. Join us and let's make beautiful music together!

The Benefits of Music Education in Classical Homeschooling

The Benefits of Music Education in Classical Homeschooling
In the realm of homeschooling, there’s a growing appreciation for classical education, a model that emphasizes the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty through a structured curriculum (more on classical education here). At the heart of this educational philosophy underlies the profound impact and thread of music education. Let's explore the practical benefits of incorporating music into classical homeschooling and education.

  1. Cognitive Development: Music's Impact on Learning Music education is integral to classical homeschooling for its role in enhancing cognitive abilities. From improving memory and attention span to sharpening auditory discrimination skills, studying music provides a well-rounded cognitive workout, supporting critical thinking and analytical skills as well as literacy and poetic understanding especially in the early years. Dr. John Feierabend says this is why learning to create music, not just learning about music, is so important especially in ages birth-age 8. Gaining knowledge about music, like memorizing Bach's birth year or mnemonic devices for note names, primarily utilizes one's linguistic intelligence. While this information is certainly useful, it doesn't necessarily lead to a deep understanding of music. True musical intelligence involves the development of neural pathways for musical thinking early in life. This foundational understanding is crucial for later learning to have genuine musical significance. Once our minds establish pathways for understanding, it becomes difficult to alter our perception. Individuals who immerse themselves in music, learning songs and moving artfully to the steady beat, are better positioned to grasp musical notation and instrument playing later. Learning an instrument initially by ear, and then transitioning to reading notation, effectively enhances both skills. On the other hand, those who exclusively learn through notation without prior musical readiness may struggle to develop ear-playing abilities because they learned from a mathematical/linguistic lens first.
  2. Cultural Literacy: Embracing Musical Traditions Classical homeschooling values cultural literacy and historical understanding. Through exploring a wide variety of musical traditions, students gain insights into different cultures and time periods as well as various life experiences and perspectives. As Charlotte Mason said, "The child should be made familiar with and should be made to appreciate good music." This exposure enriches their educational journey and broadens their horizons.
  3. Emotional Intelligence: Music as a Tool for Growth Music plays a vital role in developing emotional intelligence within classical homeschooling. By engaging musically, students learn to recognize and manage their emotions. They learn and remember through stories set to music what they may not as easily otherwise. And instrumental music without words has a key role to play as well. As Charlotte Mason believed, "Music is one of the most forcible instruments for refining the feelings." This aspect of education fosters empathy, social-emotional growth, and self-awareness.
  4. Discipline and Perseverance: Building Habits through Music Learning to play a musical instrument requires discipline and perseverance, values cherished by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Through regular practice and overcoming challenges, students develop habits of diligence and self-mastery that extend beyond music into all areas of their lives.
  5. Creative Expression: Nurturing Individuality through Music In Charlotte Mason classical homeschooling, students are encouraged to express their creativity in learning. Music provides a platform for this expression, allowing students to compose, improvise, and interpret music in unique ways. By embracing their musical instincts, students become active participants in their artistic development.
  6. Community and Collaboration: Music's Role in Connection Music fosters community and collaboration, whether a child is singing with a group of people, learning turn-taking while playing instruments, or listening as a part of an audience to a collective performance. Students bond over their shared love of music. This sense of camaraderie strengthens relationships and promotes cooperation among peers.

    In classical homeschooling, music education plays a pivotal role in enriching the educational experience. From cognitive development to emotional intelligence, music offers practical benefits and meaningful engagement with the world around them both present and past. By integrating music into the curriculum, educators empower students to excel academically and cultivate a lifelong appreciation for the arts. As Charlotte Mason believed, "The musical education of the child should be begun early; that is, the child should have begun to play and sing almost as soon as he can speak." Let us embrace the transformative power of music in classical education, guiding children on a journey of discovery and growth.

From Notes to Novels: Exploring Literary Connections through Music

From Notes to Novels: Exploring Literary Connections through Music
In the realm of artistic expression, the convergence of literature and music unveils a captivating tapestry of interconnectedness. This not only enriches both mediums but also provides a deeply immersive experience for audiences. Let's embark on a journey to uncover the intriguing connections between literature and music, exploring how they intertwine!

  1. The Language of Emotion: Literature and music serve as languages of emotion, each possessing the ability to evoke profound feelings and experiences. Just as a well-crafted novel transports readers to different realms of emotion, a beautifully composed piece of music has the power to stir the soul. Take, for instance, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, whose triumphant finale, featuring Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy," transcends language barriers to convey a universal message of joy and unity.
  2. Musical Storytelling: Music has a narrative quality that complements the storytelling prowess of literature. Composers often draw inspiration from literary works to create musical narratives that captivate audiences. An exemplary illustration is Sergei Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet," a ballet score that brings Shakespeare's timeless tale to life through emotive melodies and evocative orchestration.
  3. Inspired Creations: Literary masterpieces have long inspired composers to create enduring works of music. One such example is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which commemorates Russia's victory over Napoleon's army and draws inspiration from Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace." Conversely, authors have also drawn inspiration from music, as seen in Virginia Woolf's novel "To the Lighthouse," where classical music serves as a central motif, shaping the characters' emotions and experiences.
  4. Shared Themes and Motifs: Themes such as love, loss, and redemption resonate deeply across both literature and music. Consider Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5, which navigates themes of love and mortality with poignant intensity, mirroring the emotional depth found in literary classics like Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina." These shared themes serve as a bridge between the two art forms, enriching the human experience through their universal resonance.
  5. Collaborative Projects: Collaborative ventures between writers and musicians offer innovative ways to explore the intersection of literature and music. One notable example is Philip Glass's opera "Einstein on the Beach," a groundbreaking collaboration with playwright Robert Wilson that pushes the boundaries of traditional opera by incorporating minimalist music and non-linear storytelling.
The interplay between literature and music unveils a world of boundless creativity and inspiration. Through evocative storytelling, shared themes, and collaborative endeavors, these two art forms can converge to create immersive experiences that resonate deeply with audiences. So, the next time you delve into a novel or immerse yourself in a musical composition, take a moment to appreciate the intricate connections between notes and novels, and the enchanting magic that unfolds when they harmonize.

More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know

More Hidden Musical Gems: 5 More Lesser-Known Composers Homeschooling Parents Should Know
Continuing our exploration of lesser-known classical composers, we embark on another journey of musical discovery, uncovering hidden gems that enrich the homeschooling curriculum with diverse sounds and stories. While the names of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven (to name a few) resonate throughout history, these composers, though less celebrated, have made significant contributions to the world of classical music. Here are five more composers every homeschooling parent should introduce to their children, expanding their horizons and nurturing their appreciation for the arts. If you're interested in learning more about these composers (including resources for use with your children), check out The Classical Collective Membership!

1. Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Louise Farrenc was a pioneering French composer, virtuoso pianist, and influential music educator whose works showcase a mastery of form, melody, and expression. Despite facing gender-based discrimination in the male-dominated music world of the 19th century, Farrenc's compositions earned her acclaim and respect among her peers. Farrenc's chamber music, symphonies, and piano works highlight her innovative use of classical forms and her bold harmonic language. Explore Farrenc's advocacy for gender equality in music education and her lasting impact as a composer and pedagogue.

2. William Grant Still (1895-1978)
William Grant Still was a pioneering African-American composer whose music defied racial barriers and stereotypes to embrace a diverse range of styles and influences. Often referred to as the "Dean of African-American composers," Still's compositions blend elements of jazz, blues, spirituals, and classical tradition, creating a rich and vibrant musical tapestry. Introduce your children to Still's orchestral suites, operas, and chamber works, exploring themes of identity, heritage, and social justice. Discuss Still's groundbreaking achievements as the first African-American composer to have a symphony performed by a major orchestra and his enduring legacy as a trailblazer for diversity in classical music.

3. Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Ethel Smyth was a pioneering English composer, suffragist, and writer whose music and activism left an indelible mark on British cultural history. Smyth's compositions encompass a wide range of genres, from operas and chamber music to choral works and symphonies. Introduce your homeschoolers to Smyth's operas, including "The Wreckers" and "Der Wald," which showcase her dramatic flair, lyrical melodies, and feminist themes. Explore Smyth's role as a leading figure in the suffragette movement, using her music as a vehicle for social change and women's rights.

4. Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999)
Joaquín Rodrigo was a Spanish composer whose music captured the spirit and beauty of his native land, blending Spanish folk melodies with classical forms and techniques. Despite losing his sight at an early age, Rodrigo's compositions are marked by their vibrant colors, evocative harmonies, and lyrical melodies. Introduce your children to Rodrigo's guitar concertos, such as the famous "Concierto de Aranjuez," which showcase his mastery of the instrument and his deep connection to Spanish musical traditions. Learn about Rodrigo's life story, his collaborations with renowned guitarists, and his enduring legacy as one of the most beloved composers of the 20th century.

5. Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Rebecca Clarke was a pioneering British composer and violist whose music defied norms and conventions to achieve recognition and acclaim. Clarke's compositions blend elements of Romanticism, Impressionism, and modernism, creating a distinctive and expressive musical language. Introduce your homeschoolers to Clarke's chamber music, including her hauntingly beautiful viola sonata and piano trio, which showcase her lyrical melodies, lush harmonies, and inventive structures. Discuss Clarke's struggles for recognition in a male-dominated field, her contributions to the repertoire for viola, and her lasting impact on 20th-century music.

By introducing your children to these five lesser-known classical composers, you can open the door to a world of musical discovery, cultural enrichment, and artistic inspiration. Embrace the diversity of voices and stories that enrich the tapestry of classical music, fostering curiosity, empathy, and creativity in your homeschoolers. So, embark on a journey of exploration and celebration, uncovering hidden gems that will illuminate your homeschool curriculum and leave a lasting impression on your family for generations to come. If you're interested in learning more about these composers and others, check out The Classical Collective Membership!

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