Your list might look different from mine, but based on my experience, here are the 12 songs that I think can be used with just about any music therapy client, regardless of age, diagnosis, or ability.
- “American Pie” – This song is obviously a classic, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like singing along to the chorus. It might not be your first pick for a piggybacked children’s goodbye song, but it was mine :)
- “Amazing Grace” – It’s most often associated with seniors and hospice patients, though everyone should have a few hymns in their collection.
- “Blue Suede Shoes” – My students dig this tune, even though most of them have no clue who Elvis Presley is! Older clients, of course, are familiar with both him and the song.
- “Blue Skies” – I use this as a weather song sometimes, or to give everyone a mood lift. It has always been one of my favorite songs.
- “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” – This one is great for discussing positive feelings, and I use it often as the basis of a songwriting activity.
- “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – Also known as “In the Jungle” or “Wimoweh”, I adapted it for young children and sing the original version on a regular basis.
- “Lean on Me” – It’s all about knowing there are people to support you, and that’s applicable to everyone. Plus, it’s repetitive and easy to sing.
- “Ob-La-Di” – Did you know that this song makes an excellent hello song? I rewrote the words a few years ago, and use it all the time.
- “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – I think a lot of people have an emotional connection to this song. It’s interesting to hear what’s “over the rainbow” for clients who are verbal and capable of abstract thinking.
- “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” – Baseball is America’s pastime, right? It’s fun to bring out this song every spring and hear about everyone’s favorite teams.
- “This Little Light of Mine” – I learned this song for my internship interview and have been singing it ever since. As a movement song, as an inspirational song, and however else I feel like adapting it on a given day.
- “You Are My Sunshine” – A traditional song that almost everyone knows. It’s easy to adapt for just about any client and setting.
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