Music Therapy for Children with Disabilities

Can I just tell you how excited I am to be writing to you from Springfield for the first time in over a week? Really, really excited. As much as I love traveling, attending/presenting at conferences, and meeting new people, it feels good to be home. I can’t wait to see all my kiddos today, and get back into the old routine.

But first, I wanted to share with you the information that I presented yesterday at the Illinois State Board of Education’s nonpublic schools conference. It was great to be able to meet teachers and administrators from across the state and educate them about music therapy, and I can’t wait to do it again next year! Below, you can download my handout and slides, both in PDF format.

Download: Music Therapy for Children With Disabilities

It’s funny to think that just a few days ago, I had a completely unfounded fear of public speaking. But I’ve quickly realized that if you’re passionate about your topic, standing up in front of people and sharing information is easy and – I thought I would never say this – fun. I’m already looking for opportunities to present again in the near future!

Music Therapy in the Blogosphere

After five days in warm, beautiful San Diego, I can’t say I was thrilled to come home to the cold, rain-soaked Midwest. But such is life, so here I am, back in Springfield, though I am about to leave and head north to the suburbs of Chicago (where it is undoubtedly colder and rainier). I have one more presentation to make, this time at a conference put on by the Illinois State Board of Education, before I can return my suitcases to storage.

I have had several requests by people who were not able to attend the national music therapy conference to see my presentation, so I am making it available to anyone who is interested. All you have to do is follow the link below to download a handout and my presentation slides, both in PDF form.

Download: Music Therapy in the Blogosphere

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask away. And for those of you who want to hear the full conference scoop? Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon to spill it!

In Honor of Friday the 13th…

Here are 13 highlights of the national American Music Therapy Association conference thus far, in chronological order:

  1. Arriving in sunny Dan Diego!
  2. Finally meeting fellow music therapy blogger Kimberly Sena Moore and sharing a conversation-filled dinner.
  3. Reuniting with Michelle Erfurt and getting to meet her awesome hubby.
  4. Seeing my songbook in person for the first time. We’re talking squeals of joy!
  5. Watching people buy aforementioned songbook in front of my eyes.
  6. Listening to a fascinating lecture about the link between music neuroscience and music therapy. More to come on this later!
  7. Attending the first ever music therapy tweet-up and meeting some new friends.
  8. Learning the ins and outs of applying for a national roster internship.
  9. Having the presenter of that session recognize my name and congratulate me on my aforementioned songbook publication. Too cool!
  10. Getting together with fellow Illinois State University alumni and faculty and having a blast reminiscing and catching up.
  11. Eating a delicious dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, courtesy of the ISU music department!
  12. Blogging before bed…gotta get my fix, you know.
  13. Knowing that my first session doesn’t begin until 9:30 am tomorrow.

There is still much more fun to be had over the next 1.5 days, including my presentation, Music Therapy in the Blogosphere, on Sunday morning. I will continue facebooking and twittering (yes, those are both verbs) throughout it all, so that you can all get in on the conference action!

San Diego Bound!

In just under 24 hours, I will be hopping on a plane and making my way to sunny California for the American Music Therapy Association’s national conference. Though this won’t be quite the sight-seeing San Diego vacation that I enjoyed last spring, it will certainly be a memorable (and educational) experience. This is the first AMTA conference that I’ve ever attended, and not only that, but I am presenting, too. Just trying to make the most of this conference and challenge myself in new ways!

I want to share my experiences and insights with you all during my time in San Diego, so be sure to check back here at Listen & Learn throughout the week for mini posts (and pictures, too!). Also, I will be tweeting and facebooking frequently, so find me on those sites, as well:

Rachel on Twitter
Rachel on Facebook

I can’t wait to meet those of you who will also be attending the AMTA conference, so if you are, make sure to find me there! I will be hosting a Listen & Learn table (alongside Michelle Erfurt) in the AMTA members section of the Exhibit Hall, so please stop by. Oh, and check out my presentation, “Music Therapy in the Blogosphere”, on Sunday morning at 9:15.

See you in San Diego, either face-to-face or via the internet!

The Sound of Hope

A couple of months ago, my students and I had the honor of performing at The Hope Institute’s Celebrity Chef gala, an annual fundraiser held right here on campus. “The Sound of Hope” was a song I wrote especially for the event, and it was included on the souvenir CD I made for the guests. I’ve been meaning to share the song with all of you, and am just now getting around to it! It was inspired by my students, as reflected in the title:

Bells chime and choirs sing,
Dogs bark and phones ring,
Cats meow and birds tweet,
Frogs croak and hearts beat,
The world is full of noise.
But what you hear, well, you have a choice:

We are the sound of hope,
We are the voice of love,
Turn your ear and listen well.
And let it be the bridge
That lets you carry on.
Your song says more than words can tell.

Sometimes the lyrics aren’t clear,
Or the music’s too soft to hear,
That is what makes it your own,
And you are not alone.
Each song has a different name.
But its spirit remains the same:


Life’s a journey,
Take my hand,
Don’t be afraid of the melody.
Music teaches,
Music heals,
And we’re waiting for the whole world to see:


We are the sound of Hope,
We are the sound of love,
And we know that you’re listening well.
So shine your light,
Bright as the sun above,
Your song says more than words can tell.
Your song says more than words can tell.

This song is a lot longer and wordier than the ones my students are used to singing with me, so I was extremely proud of their performance. Just one of the many bright, shining moments I’ve experienced over the last couple of years as a music therapist who gets to work with amazing kids!