My BIG Book of Music Therapy Songs

by Rachel on April 6, 2011

My B-I-G Book of Music Therapy Songs

This was my bible during my first year as a professional music therapist.  Throughout the nine months prior that I spent in internship, I compiled songs that I thought might come in handy (or already had) for music therapy sessions.  I’m so glad I took the time to do that way back when, because here I am, four years later…still referring back to it and adding new songs as I go.

Of course, not every song is relevant anymore, especially now that I write most of my own material.  But every single song on my recent list of 12 Songs Every Music Therapist Should Know can be found in this giant binder, as are many of the songs I’m about to add to that list.

I received several requests for my FULL list of essential songs, and since I aim to please, here goes!  Note: I am not elaborating on each one as I did in my original list, because if I did, you’d still be reading this tomorrow…

  • “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Bill Withers)
  • “All Good Gifts” (Godspell)
  • “All Star” (Smashmouth)
  • “American Pie” (Don McLean)
  • “Amazing Grace”
  • “Apples & Bananas”
  • “Be OK” (Ingrid Michaelson)
  • “Blackbird” (The Beatles)
  • “Blue Skies”
  • “Blue Suede Shoes” (Elvis Presley)
  • “Boogie Baby”
  • “Boom Boom, Ain’t it Great to be Crazy”
  • “Breakaway” (Kelly Clarkson)
  • “Brown-Eyed Girl” (Van Morrison)
  • “Bushel and a Peck” (Guys & Dolls)
  • “Change the World” (Eric Clapton)
  • “Circle of Life” (Elton John)
  • “Clap For Love” (Little Miss Ann)
  • “The Climb” (Miley Cyrus)
  • “Colors of the Wind” (Vanessa Williams)
  • “Day by Day” (Godspell)
  • “Defying Gravity” (Wicked)
  • “Do-Re-Mi” (The Sound of Music)
  • “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” (Bobby McFerrin)
  • “Everybody” (Ingrid Michaelson)
  • “Fire & Rain” (James Taylor)
  • “Firework” (Katy Perry)
  • “Fix You” (Coldplay)
  • “For Good” (Wicked)
  • “The Girl I Mean to Be” (Secret Garden)
  • “Glory of Love”
  • “God Only Knows” (Beach Boys)
  • “Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley)
  • “Happy Together” (The Turtles)
  • “Here Comes the Sun” (The Beatles)
  • “Hero” (Mariah Carey)
  • “Hey Jude” (The Beatles)
  • “Horse With No Name” (America)
  • “How Sweet It Is” (James Taylor)
  • “I Believe I Can Fly” (R. Kelly)
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” (Lee Towers)
  • “I Don’t Care if the Rain Comes Down”
  • “I Got Rhythm”
  • “I Have a Dream” (ABBA)
  • “I Will Remember You” (Sarah McLachlan)
  • “I Want To Teach the World To Sing”
  • “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”
  • “In the Jungle”
  • “Jingle Bells”
  • “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt”
  • “Jump, Jive ‘n Wail” (Louis Prima)
  • “Just the Way You Are” (Billy Joel)
  • “Lean on Me” (Bill Withers)
  • “Let It Be” (The Beatles)
  • “L-O-V-E”
  • “My Favorite Things” (The Sound of Music)
  • “My Girl” (The Temptations)
  • “My Wish” (Rascal Flatts)
  • “Never Never Land” (Peter Pan)
  • “No Day But Today” (Rent)
  • “No One is Alone” (Into the Woods)
  • “A Noun is a Person, Place or Thing” (Schoolhouse Rock)
  • “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” (The Beatles)
  • “The Rainbow Connection” (Kermit the Frog)
  • “The Raindrop Song”
  • “River of Dreams” (Billy Joel)
  • “Seasons of Love” (Rent)
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out”
  • “Side by Side”
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me”
  • “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
  • “Stand By Me” (Ben E. King)
  • “Sunrise, Sunset” (Fiddler on the Roof)
  • “Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay!”
  • “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
  • “This Little Light of Mine”
  • “Three is a Magic Number” (Schoolhouse Rock)
  • “Three Little Birds” (Bob Marley)
  • “The Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)” (Greenday)
  • “Top of the World” (The Carpenters)
  • “Twist and Shout” (The Beatles)
  • “Under the Boardwalk” (The Drifters)
  • “When You Wish Upon a Star” (Pinocchio)
  • “Wide Open Spaces” (Dixie Chicks)
  • “You Are My Sunshine”
  • “You Gotta Be” (Des’ree)
  • “You Raise Me Up” (Josh Groban)
  • “Your Smiling Face” (James Taylor)
  • “You’ve Got a Friend” (James Taylor)
  • “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Randy Newman)
  • “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”

Notice the nice little scroll box? Right around song #35, I decided it was mandatory. Hopefully I’ve given you some new ideas for songs to add to your own repertoire…and like my last “essential” songs post, I want to know: which tunes am I still missing?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

BabyChangeBags April 6, 2011 at 6:29 am

this is great! thank u!


Susan Seale April 6, 2011 at 11:15 am

wow! Nicely done, Rachel!
I am just in the process of compiling and similarly organizing all my piano arrangements. I actually had to hire someone to help me with this because it’s more than 30 years worth of special this and special that for special children…and then I’d misplace an arrangement and write a new one. No computers for more than half the time I was collecting and arranging…you can imagine the boxes I went thru and the recycling afterward. It took a month to sort through it all.

My wonderful helper is here as I write to you…she’s completing the next phase of organization for me.

I wish I’d had the foresight to see what I was going to be like as a teacher.
Way to go, Rachel! And now you can help so many others because you DID have the foresight to organize and keep on top of all your creative work:)

I think you might be my hero:)


Courtney April 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

What a great list!! Thanks for some new ideas. I would add Puff the Magic Dragon…one of my personal favorites!


Groovygarfoose April 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Thanks for expanding your list for us Rachel. Hope you are enjoying the warmer weather in Scottsdale…I know I can’t wait for my trip to see hubby again next week! Enjoy! :)


Sarah WInkler April 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

I was also going to add Puff the Magic Dragon, but I see Courtney beat me to it! I would also add “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac to the list, a great song about hope for a bright(er) future and easily adaptable for younger ages.


Sarah May 25, 2011 at 11:53 am

When you put your music together did you put the lyrics and chords into your own word document and then put it in your binder?


Rachel May 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Hi Sarah – yes, that is exactly what I did.


Jen March 24, 2012 at 9:16 am

I was just looking over your list trying to find special “relapse prevention” or motivational songs, and I noticed “wasted” by Carrie Underwood was not listed. It is a great one for relapse prevention (I am sure we are in different fields of work and we work with different populations of people, I am not a musician so chords and lyrics don’t help me but I work in a Behavioral health unit, and I understand the effect music has on emotions and motivation). Also “I will stand by you” by Rascall Flatts is a great one I think of using with patients everytime I hear it.


Sally T. May 19, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Definitely check out music by artist, Matthew C. Shuman. His music is so therapeutic! Especially his “Escape from Reality” CD.




miranda June 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

great accomplishment. Did you have your book printed?


Sunny Johnson September 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Wonderful collection! The Shaker song “Simple Gifts” and Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” leap to mind as positive songs you might like to use.


Katie Jo November 4, 2012 at 1:15 am

Just a heads up. Hallelujah was written by Leonard Cohen. It was covered by Jeff Buckley.


Rene Orozco April 17, 2013 at 8:14 am

Great list. I am not a music therapist but I do a weekly music class for children ages 18 months to kindergarten. I use your songs all the time, so thank you. I would add The Doggy Blues (I heard my dog bark), Matilda the Gorilla, and The Goldfish song. I use these songs all the time and the kids love them.


Josh W. September 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I’m so glad that you shared this! What a great resource and will save me, a first year Grad MT student, a few headaches down the road. Thanks again and hope to see you at a conference sometime.


Rachel September 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

You’re very welcome, Josh! Happy to help. Best of luck with your studies. Would love to meet you at conference!


Kayla Zuckerman January 9, 2014 at 9:06 pm

I can’t thank you enough for sharing such an amazing resource! As I am preparing for my upcoming internship, I have slowly been collecting songs to put in a binder and this is beyond helpful. Do you have tips on you organize these songs? For example, by genre, alphabetically, client population, etc. Thank you!


Rachel January 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Hi Kayla! I am so happy that you found this helpful. I like to organize alphabetically by goal/objective category (movement, reminiscing, cognitive skills, self-care, greeting songs, etc.) since there is so much crossover when it comes to client population. Best of luck in your internship!


Jenny February 6, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Did you use sheet protectors in your binder or just hole punch each page?


Rachel February 7, 2015 at 6:40 am

Hi Jenny, I just hole punch each page.


Lynn Brown April 11, 2015 at 9:27 am

If you hear Katie Lang sing “Halleluljah” you might have a new favourite. She’s Canadian and did it for the Olympics in Vancouver. Very powerful.


Rachel April 12, 2015 at 10:31 am

Hi Lynn! I did see her perform that song — one of my favorites to begin with, but I immediately downloaded her version after hearing it. Good stuff!


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