The Empathy Song

by Rachel on January 27, 2015

The Empathy Song Album Cover

A few months ago, my wonderful teacher friend Rene came to me with an idea for a song. She uses music quite a bit in her classroom, and wanted to do so in teaching and reinforcing the concept of empathy.

I tried to put the definition and description of empathy into words (that rhyme, no less) as best as I could, and I think the song paints a good picture of what empathy looks like for a kiddo who is just learning.

However, I think you’ll agree with me that empathy is something that needs to be experienced to fully understand it. I hope that my song provides a bridge to putting empathy into practice.

Do you have other musical tools you use for teaching concepts like empathy? I would love to explore this further, perhaps in a group setting where social skills are targeted. Yet another idea to add to my ever-growing list…

Get immediate access to this download, plus over 100 other songs, lead sheets, visual aides, and valuable resources for only $9.99 per month…learn more about becoming a member or just subscribe below. You won’t be disappointed!

Members, click here to access this post.


Guitars & Granola Bars: A New Podcast

by Rachel on January 23, 2015

Guitars & Granola Bars Podcast: Music Therapists Talk Motherhood

A funny thing happened in the last six months or so: I became addicted to podcasts. Although I’ve been co-hosting the Music Therapy Round Table podcast for five years now, I never thought to branch out beyond the few music therapy podcasts out there to which I subscribe.

But after one of my favorite bloggers listed a few of her favorite podcasts, I decided to check them out and was hooked. I loved hearing interviews with woman who owned businesses, were pursuing creative endeavors, and most of all, were doing both while raising children.

A seed of an idea was planted in my head: what if I started a podcast featuring music therapists like myself — women who balance their music therapy work (whether it be clinical, academic, entrepreneurial, or otherwise) with being a mom?

That was back in November. I tabled the idea because I had a lot of other things going on and wasn’t feeling well due to pregnancy, but it kept surfacing in the back of my mind.

I took that as a sign, and a few days after the new year began, I decided to go for it. I didn’t tell a soul, not even my husband. Instead, I brainstormed a title, came up with a concept for the artwork, wrote some interview questions, and then emailed Janice Lindstrom. I knew I wanted to feature Janice as the inaugural guest, because she pioneered music therapy podcasts when she started The Music Therapy Show many years ago. Luckily she was on board, and we had a really wonderful discussion that got me even more excited about my new endeavor.

So there you have it: a really long-winded introduction to Guitars & Granola Bars: Music Therapists Talk Motherhood. You can follow the link to read more and subscribe on iTunes (you can also do that here).

I have a long list of potential guests that I would love to have on the show, so if you are a music therapist and a mom, be on the lookout for an email from me in the future — or get in touch with me if you’re interested!


I Have a Bean Bag

by Rachel on January 20, 2015

I Have a Bean Bag Album Cover

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned what a HUGE fan I am of the movement props created by Bear Paw Creek. Their stretchy bands and connect-a-bands are both staples in my collection, and I just recently added their bean bags as well.

There are so many ways to incorporate bean bags into my music therapy sessions and early childhood music classes, but I knew exactly how I wanted to introduce them for the first time — with a brand new song, of course :)

I wrote “I Have a Bean Bag” with several goals in mind: listening skills, body part identification, and imitation. An added bonus skill this song addresses is balancing, which is funny to watch my kiddos try to do once they’ve placed the bean bag on the correct body part.

Although this song was written with bean bags in mind, I’ve already adapted it for scarves in bigger groups where I don’t have enough bean bags to go around (yet!).

A special thanks goes to Janet Stephens, owner and creator of the products at Bear Paw Creek, for her support of Listen & Learn Music. Everything in her shop is made right here in the U.S.A. and is of the utmost quality. Please check out her movement props and other resources if you haven’t already!

Get immediate access to this download, plus over 100 other songs, lead sheets, visual aides, and valuable resources for only $9.99 per month…learn more about becoming a member or just subscribe below. You won’t be disappointed!

Members, click here to access this post.


Taking Music Therapy Mainstream

by Rachel on January 15, 2015

Taking Music Therapy Mainstream

January is Social Media Advocacy Month in the music therapy world! This year’s theme is re:VISION, and many bloggers, including myself, are sharing our own stories about how we advocate for music therapy.

For the first 7 years as a practicing music therapist, my work has been contained within schools, facilities, and my home private practice. But this past year, I had the unique opportunity to change that by moving my private practice into a very public location.

No longer is my presence known only to my clients, their caregivers, administrators, and the occasional visitor; it is now visible to the community at large. The Music Therapy Connections private practice and teaching studio is now located inside of a well-respected and highly-trafficked music store here in Springfield.

Just by going to work, I am spreading the word about music therapy. I meet new people at the store every day, and naturally they are curious about what I do. The management and staff at the store are familiar with our work now as well, and will frequently bring customers by our studios to explain our services.

We are now receiving more new client referrals than ever before, and I have no doubt that taking music therapy “mainstream” has a lot to do with that. But there are SO many ways to be an advocate for music therapy beyond doing your work in the public eye.

If you’re a music therapist yourself:

  • Develop your music therapy “elevator speech” and give it. Often.
  • Share information about the work you do with friends and colleagues in related fields.
  • Give our your cards and brochures to anyone and in anyplace you think might benefit from music therapy.
  • Seize every opportunity to participate in fairs, expos, and other public events.
  • Take to social media! Use and follow the #mtadvocacy hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay current with the latest happenings.

If you have benefited from music therapy or know someone who has:

  • Spread the word about what music therapy can do.
  • Share music therapy success stories with your healthcare providers and other professionals.
  • Support and attend music therapy-related events and programs. Invite your friends.
  • Give referrals to others who you think may be able to benefit from music therapy.

2015 is a very exciting year for our field, as there some big changes in effect! Read about them below, and be sure to visit the Music Therapy State Recognition website for more posts about #MTadvocacy throughout the month of January.

As the profession of music therapy has been moving forward with recognition at the state level, it has been identified that a document was needed to reflect a similar format to other health care professional organizations’ Scopes of Practice. CBMT and AMTA worked together to create a Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) for the profession based on published documents from both organizations. This new document entitled Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015) is available as an educational tool and legislative support document that broadly defines the range of responsibilities of a fully qualified music therapy professional with requisite education, clinical training, and board certification. Click here to read the Scope of Music Therapy Practice (2015).


The Year is 2015

January 7, 2015

Tweet How is it possible that this is the 8th “song of the year” I’ve written since becoming a music therapist?! When I wrote my first one way back in 2008, I thought about how challenging it would be to write a new song that essentially says the same thing — just with a different […]

Hello, New Year!

January 5, 2015

Tweet Happy New Year, friends. I hope 2015 is off to an amazing start for you. This year has already been a bit of a whirlwind for me — we ended 2014 by moving into a new house and started 2015 surrounded by lots and lots of boxes waiting to be unpacked. Needless to say, […]

{Mama Moment} Letting Go a Little

December 18, 2014

Tweet I had known all along it was coming, but I wasn’t prepared for just how difficult it would be. And as great as I knew it would be for my little social butterfly, that didn’t make it any easier. But it was time. Last week, Parker started daycare. We had been planning for this […]

Christmas Song Round-Up!

December 17, 2014

Tweet It’s holiday crunch time: those last few days before winter break when I try to fit in as many seasonal songs and activities as I can, because I know I won’t have the chance again for an entire year. I love, love, love Christmas time, especially the music, which is why I have been […]

A New Addition on the Way

December 16, 2014

Tweet Almost exactly two years ago, I shared the news that I was expecting my first baby. It’s hard to believe, because that feels like just yesterday, but I’m thrilled to announce that baby #2 is coming in May! I wrote all about finding out the news on my family blog, where I plan to […]

Rudolph & Co.

December 8, 2014

Tweet Every December, I get to sing reindeer songs with lots of excited children at my church’s annual Breakfast with Santa event. This year just might have been the most fun yet, because my little boy was old enough to attend. He joined right in with the rest of the kids, playing instruments and singing […]

{Mama Moment} How Being a Music Therapist Prepared Me for Motherhood

December 1, 2014

Tweet The following is a guest post by Mary Altom, a board-certified music therapist and neurologic music therapist. She owns Sound Starts Music, a private practice in Frisco, TX and Music Therapy Kids, an online resource for parents and professionals working with children who have special needs. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of […]

Thanksgiving Song Round-Up!

November 19, 2014

Tweet The holidays are here! This time of year is so much fun — I love the anticipation of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the fresh start that the new year brings. With only a few days left before Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a quick round-up of the songs I’ve written to celebrate the first big […]

#AMTA14: Conference Recap (With Pictures)

November 12, 2014

Tweet Last week I took a solo road trip to Louisville, KY for the 2014 AMTA national music therapy conference. As all conferences seem to go, it was a complete whirlwind of meetings, meals with friends, sessions, and exhibiting. Although it seems like just yesterday I was attending my first one in San Diego, I […]

{Mama Moment} Joining in the Fun

November 10, 2014

Tweet The following is a guest post by Gretchen Chardos Benner, MSW, MT-BC. Gretchen is the owner of Piedmont Music Therapy, whose mission is to engage, empower and accompany individuals to reach their goals grounded in the frameworks of music therapy and social work. My children remind me of the best ways to get a […]

Off to Louisville for #AMTA14

November 5, 2014

Tweet November is one of my favorite months of the year, because it means I get to reunite with all my music therapy friends at AMTA national conference. I always look forward to a few days away, recharging my batteries and getting pumped up about my career field. I always come home completely inspired and […]

Orange Pumpkin, Orange Pumpkin

October 27, 2014

Tweet I wish I could take credit for the adapted Halloween song and activity I’m sharing with you today, but alas, I cannot. The mother of one of my students directed me to a pin via Pinterest, which led me here. It’s a Halloween version of Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, which we have […]


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