“Songs can be a powerful instructional tool. Music therapist Stephanie Leavell never sugar-coats her lyrics. ‘Kids are so perceptive,’ she says. ‘They have the ability to understand their own emotions in the right environment, so I like creating songs that acknowledge those real emotions and big emotions that kids have.” – NPR Weekend Edition
Made To Bloom, the second album for kids and families from 2021 International Songwriting Competition finalist and music therapist Stephanie Leavell, is set for release on March 3, 2023.
Stephanie’s captivating, playful songs use tried-and-true concepts based on her training and experience as a music therapist to help kids understand that they are just right, exactly as they are. Children might be sensitive, extroverted, opinionated, active, shy, introverted, neurotypical, or neurodivergent, and every child deserves to be honored for their unique qualities. Made To Bloom reflects Stephanie’s conviction that when kids are celebrated for who they are, they will blossom.
As a board-certified music therapist, Stephanie Leavell engages with children in a variety of settings, from hospitals and clinics to schools. “It’s widely reported that today’s children are experiencing a mental health crisis, and it’s been painful to see them struggle so profoundly in the last few years,” says Stephanie. “In my work, I see younger kids, ages 3 – 5, who have big, complex feelings but don’t yet have the language to describe what they’re experiencing. Music is the perfect way to connect kids to their emotions. An honest and well-crafted song can meet kids where they are and help them explore emotions like frustration, joy, anger, and sadness, so that when they experience those feelings in their lives, they will have strategies to express them.”
Made To Bloom is musically rich, with sweeping harmonies that play with both the simplicity of children’s music and an intriguing musical complexity to which a child’s developing brain is drawn. In her songwriting, Stephanie Leavell makes conscious use of specific musical elements that keep and hold kids’ attention, and she loves using acoustic instruments that complement the integrity of her songs. Made To Bloom features harp, upright bass, a variety of mandolins, and ukulele, along with gorgeous vocal harmonies that are anchored by Stephanie’s exceptionally clear, soothing voice.
People often comment on how effortlessly kids connect with Stephanie Leavell’s musical compositions, especially the ones that are a little silly or that encourage their participation, such as “All I Wanna Do” and “Grizzly Bear Grump.” These fun songs help kids practice feeling complicated emotions by giving them something physical to do in response to those emotions.
The album’s title track offers self-authentication to kids who are a little different in one way or another, with a tuneful reminder to be true to themselves. Other highlights include “Slow Down,” inspired by Nichole Nordeman’s popular song of that title for parents. Stephanie Leavell’s version, also written from the standpoint of a parent, is a sweet and poignant reflection on how quickly children grow up. Stephanie cites “If You Need To Cry” as her favorite track on the album. This tune helps kids cope with the inevitable disruptions that life presents. “I Need A Break” is a self-advocacy song that encourages kids to recognize when they need a break and reminds them that they have the right to ask for one! Made To Bloom comes to a peaceful conclusion with “Grateful Heart,” reflecting on the day that has just ended and looking ahead to a productive, joyful tomorrow.
Album Details: Made To Bloom
Release date: March 3, 2023
For all ages and especially for ages 3 – 6
Label: Music for Kiddos, Inc.
ABOUT STEPHANIE LEAVELL:
Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Stephanie Leavell is an award-winning singer/songwriter, instrumentalist, music therapist, and the creator of Music for Kiddos, an online education company that provides high-quality music resources and continuing music education for music therapists, music educators, and parents. Stephanie pursued harp studies at Berklee College of Music, where she joyfully embraced music therapy as her true calling. Passionate about using music to help kids succeed, she specializes in working with kids from infancy through age 10.
Stephanie jokes that she has a low tolerance for cheesy music, and her response is to write down-to-earth songs geared to helping kids be successful in their daily life: celebrating nighttime routines, transitions, movement, instrument exploration, and academic concepts, all powered by helping kids understand and express their feelings.
Stephanie’s debut children’s album, Move It, Move It!, was nominated for Children’s Album of the Year in the 2019 Independent Music Awards. In 2020, her song “K-I-N-D” was nominated for Children’s Song of the Year in the Independent Music Awards, and her song “School’s A Little Different This Year” won the American Music Therapy Association Songwriting Competition. 2021 saw “K-I-N-D” honored as a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.
As a free service, Stephanie’s Music for Kiddos sends out a “Song of the Month” to thousands of music therapists and educators. The songs featured on Made To Bloom are Stephanie’s top “Songs of the Month” from the past four or five years.
Made To Bloom will be available on all streaming services and on the Music for Kiddos website.