Singable Story: Miss Mary Mack

Miss Mary Mack - Children's Book

Hand clapping games were all the rage on the playground when I was growing up.  “Miss Mary Mack” was one of the first I ever learned, so when I came across this book on Amazon, I couldn’t pass it up.  I’m glad I didn’t, because Miss Mary Mack ranks right up there with Down by the Station, Going on a Bear Hunt, and Goodnight Sweet Butterflies as one of my favorite singable stories.

There are a few ingredients that make for a good children’s book in an educational setting.  Repetition, alliteration, and rhyme are key, and Miss Mary Mack is chock full of all three.  I found a fun little groove in Garageband to serve as accompaniment for the melody:

I know this isn’t the traditional “Miss Mary Mack” tune, but I found it to be a little more melodic (especially important since it’s sung over and over again) than the hand clapping version. No matter how you sing it, this is a great story for kids whether you’re targeting specific learning objectives or just reading it for fun.

Friday Fave: A Fabulous First Week of School

Hope Learning Center

Fabulous, yes…but also extremely busy! So far, my 4th year at The Hope Institute is proving to be full of adventures. Classes have only been in session for five days, and we’re already planning a big student performance, several speaking engagements where I’ll be representing Hope, and the brand new music therapy internship program is well underway.

An entire summer has passed since I’ve seen my students, and it has been so much fun to see the growth and progression that has taken place in the last three months.  I love walking into a classroom and having so many smiling faces anxiously waiting new songs and music therapy activities.

How did your first week go?  A lovely balance of chaos and excitement?  Yep, same here.  As much as I’ve enjoyed these past five days, I am certainly ready for the weekend :)  I need some time to recharge my batteries and prepare for another week, especially since my private practice reopens for the fall session on Monday.

Add 30+ students to an already hectic school week, and what do you get?  One very worn out music therapist.  But trust me, I’m not complaining — in fact, I can’t wait.  Bring it on!

Adventures in Music Therapy Internships

I still remember the feeling in my stomach as I headed to St. Louis to begin my internship with Midwest Music Therapy Services.  That same mix of nerves and excitement came rushing back today as I embarked on a new adventure: becoming a music therapy internship supervisor.

After months of coordinating, contract writing, and preparation, The Hope Institute is now a university-affiliated internship site for music therapy students at Illinois State University.  Getting to this point was a journey in itself, but now is when the fun really begins.

I’ll be writing about my internship experiences (both as intern and supervisor) frequently over the next nine months, and I’d love to hear about yours, too.  A few questions to consider:

  • What were your greatest challenges?
  • What do you wish you had learned more about during your own internship?
  • What were the most useful aspects?
  • What were your greatest successes or breakthroughs?

It would be interesting to hear the perspective of current interns, long-time professionals, and internship supervisors alike.  I’m going to be answering each of these questions individually, but in the meantime, please share your own thoughts in the comments!

Music Therapy Round Table: Podcast Episode 7

Happy Monday, everyone! If you’re like me, you probably need an extra dose of inspiration and motivation at the beginning of a new work week. In that case, I have the perfect thing: a brand-new episode of the Music Therapy Round Table podcast!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Round Table, it is comprised of myself and two other music therapists, Kimberly Sena Moore and Michelle Erfurt. Each month, we choose a topic related to music therapy and then share our thoughts and opinions for other music therapists (and anyone else who might be interested) to hear.

Episode 7 is available today by visiting the Music Therapy Round Table, or you can find us on iTunes.  This month we’re talking about how we keep up and improve our music skills, and we also share some input from our listeners, which they provided via Twitter and Facebook.  Lots of interesting and innovative ideas — the three of us were so inspired that by the end of the episode, we were ready to go play or sing!

Our podcast is the perfect lunch date, workout partner, and companion for commuting.  So go check it out, and hopefully it will inspire you just as much as it did us.

Friday Fave: Getting Things Done


I’ve only been back to school for two days, and I’ve already gone through several to-do lists.  I started my day by posting the following tweet to my Twitter account:

Today’s goals: unpack new #musictherapy equipment, organize office, prepare next week’s session plans, & burn classroom CDs. Yikes.

Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed when I arrived at school this morning. But I took a deep breath, rolled up my proverbial sleeves, and got to work. Funny enough, I tackled each task in the order listed in my tweet, beginning with unpacking my new equipment.

While I was away for the summer I received a brand new acoustic-electric guitar, Q-Chord, keyboard stand, bench, a dozen tambourines, fruit shakers, a few new pieces of recording equipment, and a few other small instruments.  I’m thrilled with the new additions to my program — my students are in for a treat! — but it was quite a challenge figuring out where to store everything in my tiny office.  It took me a little under 4 hours, but I managed to not only find places for everything, but also to make my office more space-efficient in the process.  What a feat!

After a well-deserved lunch break, I got back to work…this time, planning next week’s music therapy sessions.  It was much easier to work now that my office was in good shape, so planning did not take long at all.  I moved on to burning CDs for all 15 classrooms, during which I multi-tasked by filling out some paperwork.  By the time I made copies of song packets and distributed them to teachers’ mailboxes, I had only stayed 15 minutes past my usual departure time.  Not bad at all :)

I owe a good deal of my productivity skills to a book by the same name as this blog post: Getting Things Done, by David Allen.  It has completely changed the way I prioritize, break down big projects, and manage my time.  Oh, and while you’re collecting productivity pointers, I should mention my friend and colleague Kimberly Sena Moore’s free e-book, Music Therapy Maven’s Productivity PrimerIn my best infomercial voice: “You too can have awesomely productive days like the one I just had!”

I hope you have a productive yet relaxing weekend.  I’m singing in a wedding tomorrow, helping my mom become a WordPress guru (now that I have it figured out myself) on Sunday, and gearing up for my first full week of school.  Lots more to-do lists in my future!

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