Music Therapy as a Career

One of the most fun aspects of writing this blog is the feedback I get from readers via email. I absolutely love hearing from you, whether you’re sharing a success story or asking a question. One of the questions that I get asked the most is “how do I become a music therapist?”. I receive one of these at least twice a week, with people wanting to know what kind of education and training are required, how long it takes, where a music therapist can work, etc.

So I was thrilled when I came across a blog post by one of my Twitter friends, fellow music therapist Kimberly Moore, addressing this very topic. For those of you who are curious about the path that leads to a music therapy career, please take a moment and read How to Become a Music Therapist. And keep the emails and comments coming!

Ten Little Suns

I know I’m always complaining about our crazy midwest weather, but in these last few days, I haven’t had much to complain about. We had a beautiful weekend with temperatures in the low 80s, and of course, lots of sunshine. All of these sunny days got me thinking that it is time to do a little counting…summer style!

Counting time, it’s counting time,
So let’s all sing this simple rhyme.
Ten little suns in a row,
Now let’s count them nice and slow:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

How many suns?
Ten little suns.
All lined up in a row!

I’ve been so busy this summer that I haven’t taken complete advantage of the summer sun; I wish I could stockpile a few days for the winter months, when I really need them :) August will be here before we know it – go out and enjoy the last few days of July!

Music that Motivates

Believe it or not, I’m one of those crazy people that gets up and goes to the gym at 5 am. It sounds completely awful, I know; but I love getting a jump start on my day and having my workout finished before most people are even out of bed. Besides a really loud alarm clock placed strategically out of my reach, there is only one thing that keeps me going every day: music.

I have filled my little iPod shuffle with songs that I know will keep me moving from the second I step onto the treadmill, through all of my strength training reps, to my cardio cool-down at the end. A few current favorites are the Black Eyed Peas, Michael Jackson, All American Rejects, and Kelly Clarkson.

Music is a great way to motivate my students and keep them moving, as well. As a music therapist, I always forget how useful recorded music can be – in fact, I was just having this conversation with another music therapist recently. I have been trying to use it to my advantage more lately, and I am being reminded that it can really give my students the push to do their work and meet their goals.

So here is a little list of the songs on my iPod that my students are digging, and that they will work extra hard to hear at the end of their session:

The Jungle Book – “Bare Necessities”
High School Musical – “We’re All in This Together”
High School Musical 2 – “You are the Music in Me”
Laurie Berkner Band – “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)”
Alvin & the Chipmunks – “Witch Doctor”
Smashmouth – “All Star”
Jonas Brothers – “Live to Party”
The Lion King – “Hakuna Matata”
Justin Roberts – “Hey Hippopotamus”
Lou Bega – “Disney Mambo # 5”

This is just a short list of the many songs that I find myself humming after a long day of music therapy! Are there any others you can add to the list? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Friday Fave: My Grandma

This is my grandma and I this past spring at my brother’s graduation party. She is coming home today (she lives in Naples, FL) to celebrate her 80th birthday, and our family is throwing a party for her. My mom and I wanted to do something really special for her, so we decided to write a song. The song is called “Legacy” and as I mentioned in last week’s Friday Fave, we utilized the wonderful GarageBand to record it.

A legacy is measured in many, many ways
It’s not the wealth you leave behind,
Or the number of your days.
The little things that mean the most
You won’t read about in the evening post
They’re in a knowing smile,
And the laughter of a child.


The music of your life
Will never cease to play,
The wisdom of your lyrics
Shaped who we are today.
The melody is familiar,
We’ve known it all along.
Your legacy is in this gift of song

The hands of time fly quickly and every moment counts
You must leave your mark and give your love
In unlimited amounts.
For all the hearts you’ve held so dear
Even those no longer here
Know this one thing’s true,
Our lives were blessed because of you.


Let’s spend this day in celebration
As we tell you how we feel.
We may not have the words we need,
But the sentiments are real.


We put a picture slideshow together, and this song is the soundtrack to it. I can’t wait for my grandma to see it at her party on Saturday!

Learning Left and Right

This concept is just plain hard. I struggled with this as a young child, and even today when giving someone directions, I have to stop and think before I decide whether it’s a left or right turn. Maybe this is due to the fact that I am left-handed; us lefties have it rough ;) It’s hard to explain left and right to a child, so in this song I describe the same method I used so long ago:

The sky is up,
The ground is down,
But if you take a look around
There are other ways to go,
Left and right are what you need to know.

Hold up your hands
And reach your fingers to the sky,
Point your thumbs in,
Do you wanna know why?
Well the hand that makes an L
Is the left one.
The other is the right,
And now you’re halfway done.

Stretch your arms to your sides
As far as they can go.
Look at your left hand
And you will know,
That this way is left,
And the other way is right,
You are learning your directions,
And that is outta sight!

Do you have a better way for teaching left or right? If so, please share! You can never have enough tools in the box when it comes to teaching skills like this one.