Featured Mama ~ Marissa Ruffini Founder & Owner of Sonatina Music Therapy


Marissa Ruffini - Family Photo (1)Please meet…Our newest Featured Mama, Marissa Ruffini, Founder & Owner of Sonatina Music Therapy, www.sonatinamusictherapy.com

About me…I’m originally from the South Shore (Weymouth, MA). Currently, I’m living in Dover, NH with my fiance Greg, our two boys, Cameron (2 years old), Alexander (11 weeks old) and part-time with Greg’s son, my stepson William (8 years old). Our boys birthdays are all within 10 days of each other!

My career...I am a Board Certified Music Therapist and owner of a private practice, Sonatina Music Therapy, centrally located in Dover, NH but serving individuals and groups all over the state. I have a Master’s degree in Expressive Therapies: Music Therapy & Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. This is my fourth year as a business owner and my fifth year as a music therapist! I LOVE my career! I specialize working in early childhood and with children and teens with special needs. I am 90% through with my birth doula certification and I have also completed an additional training to be a Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth Specialist; providing physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support to mamas and their partners during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.  I’m really passionate about working with expecting moms, infants and young children and helping mamas and babies bond through music. I get to share so many unique musical experiences with some awesome families!

My biggest challenge has been learning to let go of feeling guilty! …Starting your own business has so many parallels to having and raising a baby! Before I had my children, my business was my baby. I worked hard to help it grow and develop! Sometimes I feel guilty that I’m not paying enough attention to my business and other days I feel guilty that I’m working too much and need more family time. I’m really learning how to let go of the guilt, do what I can and not dwell on what didn’t get done.

Being a mother… has really made me a better practitioner in my career. I’ve always had a love and passion for working with children. After having my own, I was awakened to this whole new kind of love. Now when I’m writing clinical notes and evaluations, I’m always keeping in mind “this is somebody’s baby,” I think as clinicians we all tend to get a bit too clinical sometimes. It’s important to remember we’re talking about a person, somebody’s baby!!

The best thing… about owning a private practice, especially as a mama, is the flexibility over my schedule! I feel lucky everyday that I get to have such control over my work schedule so that I can spend the time I want with my family.

I love having boys…there is so much I don’t know about raising a boy so it keeps me on my toes and I’m always learning from them as much as they’re learning from me. I’ve had to accept that the house will be loud, my  cabinets need to be stocked with band aids, things will get broken, and my fridge will be empty but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We love being outdoors…the beach and hiking  are two activities we do most. We also love to just kick back and relax with family and friends. Sitting around the fire pit and grilling good food is how we spend most of our summer days when we’re both off together. In the colder months, we both love skiing but haven’t been able to find the time in the last two years with the boys so young. I’m hoping to get Cameron on some skis this winter!

I make lists for everything… There are always one or two lists floating around the house and I put everything in my planner. We also are constantly communicating about who needs to be where when. Communication is really important for staying organized as a family. I’ve been thinking about using Google calendar as an additional communication tool to stay organized &  maybe creating a family calendar.  At the moment though we just talk all the time and use the old school day planner.

Implementing successful strategies…I’m a stickler for lists, schedules, routines and “sticking to the plan” but one of the most important skills as a music therapist is being able to adapt what you are doing in the moment to meet the needs of your client. This is the same strategy I have to use for balancing my work and my family life. I try to implement a “no work during family time” rule but occasionally, I’ll get a call with something that needs immediate attention, or vice versa. I’m at work and my son needs to come home from day care because he’s sick, things happen and being able to adapt in the moment is really important.

I take me time when I need it… I go for a run or I take a hot bath with a glass of red wine and a Real Simple magazine in my hand, and there is always music on in the background. I absolutely love a good workout. I love to run and I especially love to run in races.  There’s something about the adrenaline that I get in a race that just makes me feel good all over! I also love Bikram Yoga. I’ve tried other types of Yoga and it’s just not the same! It feels good to release all the toxins in my body when you’re sweating that much!

My kids inspire me…to be more creative, to get up and move, to have fun,  to play, and they inspire my work. At home I try out new songs I’m writing for my early childhood classes on Cameron.  All the boys love music and moving to music so we do a lot of singing and dancing in our house!

Marissa and Alex 2Balance is essential…I’m not balanced all the time, nobody is. But I try to stay conscious of how the scale is tipping.  If I’ve been working like crazy on a big project, I try to spend extra time with my family the following week. I love my family like crazy but I’m a better mom and wife when I get me time and work time too. Try not to be too hard on yourself. It’s so easy to feel guilty about not doing enough of this or doing too much of that. When you’re feeling guilty about something, it’s okay to bring it to your awareness but then let it go. And if you can, make changes that meet your needs next time or don’t, but don’t dwell too long, you’re doing a great job!

Model the balance…. between working hard and play time for my boys. I consider myself a hard-working individual. I’ve had a job since I was of working age and I’ve never been unemployed for longer than a week. I value putting hard-work and effort into something that you love. I can already see this starting to develop in my toddler, Cameron. He loves to draw and color, he’ll do it for hours. Sometimes he tells me, “mama I’m working” and he’s very proud of himself! Other times he says, “mama wanna have some fun?” I hope that I can be a good role model for my boys. I want to instill my values for hard work on my children but I also want them to know how to balance work and play. We all need to play no matter what age we are, it’s important for our soul.

As for the key to staying balanced… being really aware of my work-family-me ratios, keeps me in check for not letting the scale tip to far in any one direction. Also being really present in what I’m doing. If I’m spending time with Cameron and Alex,  then I really try to invest my presence in that play with them,  if I’m working then making sure I’m really focused on being productive and not wasting time so I can get right back to quality time with my kids.  My family, my kids and myself all deserve quality attention so I make an effort to do that. I’ve definitely had my share of moments, and I get anxious easily when things aren’t going as planned and I get mad at myself from time to time if I zone out or have a day where we don’t get out of the house…but I’m learning to lighten up the guilt and I’ve come a long way in the last five years!! I’m learning to not get upset when we have to veer off the road and take a detour…. it will all be okay!


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