To Teach, Or Not To Teach

Teaching Lessons

Before I go on, let me qualify that title: whether or not I will continue teaching lessons is NOT the question. But it’s a curious topic amongst music therapists.

Yesterday, I had a brief conversation with one of my music therapist friends about teaching lessons. It seems that there are two different camps in our profession: those who stick to music therapy and don’t offer music lessons at all, and those who do. I most definitely fall into the latter camp.

Even before I made the decision to become a music therapist, I taught lessons. It was a great way to make spending money back in college, and what I realized early on is that teaching was the perfect way to keep up my skills as a musician. In fact, I owe several young children (who are all grown up now) for getting me back to the piano — an instrument with which I had a love/hate relationship at one point — in order to teach their lessons.

Now all these years later, I am a much better pianist because of those lessons, and feel like I continue to get better the more I teach. Same with guitar and voice. And all of those skills carry over into my music therapy work, which is why I consider teaching to be a crucial part of not only my business, but also my professional development.

As a music therapist (if you are one), what are your thoughts on teaching lessons? Do you fall into my camp, or are you a music therapy purist?

August Sponsor Shout-Outs!

It’s time once again to give you the run-down of all of the wonderful Listen & Learn sponsors. I’m extremely proud to feature all of the following resources here on the blog — please take a few minutes to check them out below:

Music With Miss Leslie is the place to nurture the song in your child’s heart. Check out her specials on new and gently used music books and games here and save up to 60%. Be sure also to visit Miss Leslie’s wonderful blog, where she shares articles and videos to help people incorporate music into their lives.

Opus Music Education is one of Listen & Learn’s newest sponsors!  Opus Music Education offers a searchable database of music teachers in California and affordable private music lessons in virtually every instrument. Every first music lesson is always free.  Opus also offers Opus Music Worksheets, a database of high quality, free printable music education resources, including free music theory worksheets, free music flashcards, free music business forms, and many other free music learning resources for music teachers, music students, and parents.

Online Piano Chords

August has been a very exciting month for OnlinePianist, as they have just recently celebrated 150,000 registered members. This is the place to learn piano online! They are about to launch their new player at the beginning of September, as well as a new design for the entire site with a new and improved piano tabs section. All registered members will get a free two-week trial on the new premium player.

Theta Music Trainer will help train your ear with fun music games, sharpen your sense of pitch and tone, unlock the hidden patterns in music, and strengthen your music theory skills. They’ve added five new music games over the summer, as well as many new features for teachers and students. It’s now easier for teachers to assign games for homework, check student progress on games and submit feedback. You can check it all out at

Music Therapy Tunes

Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, manages Music Therapy Tunes and now officially has videos on her website! And you can now download physical CDs, as well as MP3 “albums”! Another new feature is that you can choose your fave five songs for $5 or top ten tunes for $10 ( in MP3 form.) All in time for the new school year.  Lastly, her CDs are in the upcoming Kimbo and Music is Elementary Catalogs!

Make Me Musical

Susan Seale of Make Me Musical is one of many co-authors in The Gratitude Book Project: A Celebration of Personal Heroes, and this September it will be available as a free e-book at her blog.  If you nurture children through the arts, then check out Make Me Musical.  Join Susan Seale as she shares games, songs, orchestrations for use with early childhood and primary ages.


Have you heard about the Soundbeam? This seriously cool system detects the distance, direction and velocity of body movements in a defined space, and translates these body gestures into control signals for creating electronic music or manipulating multimedia. It’s being used in special education, music therapy, the music classroom, museums, and science centers…and you can learn all about it at the website of our wonderful sponsor, SoundTree.

Involve Me Music Shout-Out

Jen Sokira, the music therapist who provides valuable music education information at Involve Me Music, has just completed August in-service trainings and is now accepting bookings for the 2011-12 school year, including August 2012.  If you’d like more information, be sure to visit this link.

More With Music

Music therapist and songwriting extraordinaire Amanda Ellis of More With Music offers free song lyric sheets with chords marked along with any song customers who wish to purchase. Visit Amanda’s blog, where she consistently shares educational and memorable songs for children. Her latest is A Shape Called a Circle, with many more to come as the school year gets underway.

Stefanie Anderson Eckert, MM, MT-BC is the owner of A-Z Music Therapy Services, which provides services to individuals with disabilities in San Antonio and South Central Texas. Stefanie works in many different settings, including schools for children with autism and assisted living facilities. Her website offers additional resources and contact information for individuals interested in her services.

Music Therapy Maven Shout-Out

Kimberly Sena Moore, the Music Therapy Maven, has been extremely busy of late! Not only did she recently launch Music Therapy Pro (with myself and Michelle Erfurt) but she is also starting her doctorate at UMKC. I’m sure Kimberly will be chronicling this new journey in her blog and newsletter, so be sure to join and follow her adventure!

Rhythm Ring

Rhythm Ring rocks! If you haven’t picked up your own Rhythm Ring yet (they are only $5 each!) then you need to drop everything and get one. I love mine, and use it all the time with my students, at gigs, and even in my “Sunday Singalong” videos. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and announcements.

Joyfull Cup

Joyfull Cup has an exciting new focus! Fundraising! Do you own a non-profit, or do your kids have to fundraise for their extra curricular activities? Why not raise some money and be able to offer a healthy alternative to cookie dough or wrapping paper? This fundraising opportunity will be selling healthy coffee! I bet almost everyone you know drinks coffee, why not offer them a healthy alternative? If you are interested in more information, please contact Stephanie Shehan at

Music Therapy Tween

Michelle Erfurt is quite the busy bee, between running her Music Therapy Tween blog and Music Therapy Tween etsy shop. If you’ve ever wondered how she manages to do it all, not to mention provide spectacular music therapy services, consider checking out her latest project (with Kimberly and I), Music Therapy Pro.

Music Therapy Connections

Music Therapy Connections kicked off its fall session just last week! Lessons and music therapy services are in full swing, and there’s already lots of great progress (and music) being made. A huge thank you to all the parents who have been referring their friends and family to Music Therapy Connections.

Interested in becoming a Listen & Learn sponsor?

You can get the full scoop on sponsorship, including all the perks, right here. Sign up now and get your first shout-out in September!

Spotify = Total Game Changer


I freely admit that I am a total junkie when it comes to technology — particularly technology that I can use to make my work easier. I have highlighted a few of these in the recent past (Music Teacher’s Helper, Dropbox, Gigbook) and now I’m adding another to that ever-growing list: Spotify.

When I first heard about this new application, I thought it sounded cool but didn’t take the time to really look into it. I knew you had to have an invitation to get the free version, so I figured I’d just wait until it was more freely available.

But then I kept seeing posts and links to Spotify on Facebook, so finally last night I decided to see what all the excitement was about. Ten minutes later, I found myself springing for the $10/month Premium version.

The free version of Spotify lets you search for, play, and share with your friends millions of tracks — pretty much any song you can think of — via the Spotify app on your desktop. Pretty cool. The unlimited version ($5/month) lets you do this without advertisements and for as long as you like. The premium version lets you do this not only from your desktop, but also on a mobile device WITHOUT even being connected to the internet.

For example, last night I created a playlist of both songs I own (Spotify imports your iTunes library and even retains your playlists) and songs I searched for in Spotify. Then I connected my iPhone and iPad to WiFi and without even connecting them to my computer, the playlist synced to both devices. Today I listened to that playlist in my car using my iPhone.

But the coolest application of Spotify for me is how I can utilize it in my studio. I can create unique playlists for my students and play them either on my computer or on my iPad. Instead of listening to just a sample of a song or having to purchase it, we can stream the entire thing so that my student can decide whether or not to add it to his/her repertoire.

I have only just begun to explore the possibilities, but I’m already hooked. Warning: searching for songs and browsing your Facebook friends’ playlists can be quite addictive! Have you jumped on the Spotify bandwagon? If so, I’d love to hear how you are using it.

As I mentioned earlier, the free version of Spotify requires an invitation. I have 8 left to give out, so the first 8 people to comment on this post will receive an invitation in their email inbox!


Sunday Singalong: Greyson Chance

Greyson Chance is the “it” boy of the moment, if you ask just about any of the tween and teen girls in my studio. I first learned of him when he made it big performing the Lady Gaga song Paparazzi on the Ellen Degeneres show, but didn’t hear his name again after that…until I was bombarded with it this summer!

One of my voice students asked to work on “Waiting Outside the Lines” back in June, and she started a trend — because now 8 students have added it to their repertoire. Luckily, I really do like this song and don’t mind hearing it multiple times a day.

Greyson Chance gave a concert at the state fair earlier this month, so his popularity is stronger than ever around here. The thing I like best about him is that not only can he sing, but he can also play the piano. I encourage all of my voice students to at least learn the basics on the piano, but Greyson is a lot more convincing than I am.

I always thank my students for keeping me in the loop when it comes to what’s new and cool in the world of pop culture. Many times I can appreciate their viewpoints but don’t necessarily agree; in this case, I do!

Friday Fave: A Fantastic First Week!

Thumbs Up ~ Fantastic First Week

After writing on Monday about my first day back to work (and official full-time self-employment), I was hoping today’s “Friday Fave” would be a celebration of a successful first week back. And guess what: it is!

I still have today’s lessons and music therapy sessions to go, but I’m optimistic that they will go just as smoothly as the previous four days. It has been such a relief to have students coming through the door exactly as scheduled — because as I’ve written about before, scheduling is the hardest part of running a studio and private practice.

But that hasn’t been the best part of the week. Not even close. Far and away, the best part has been seeing and hearing my students’ progress (mixed in with a few great excuses here and there).

Yesterday, for example, one of my piano students blew me away by playing “Hey Jude”. We had just started it at his last lesson before the break, and three weeks later (after working on it completely by himself), he gave a nearly flawless performance. Those are the moments that remind me just how lucky I am to do what I do.

Of course, there are still kinks to work out…like adjusting to having so much unscheduled time during the day. I’m working on a schedule that will help me use that time more productively, and I think next week I’ll have a better handle on it. It’s always tough to get right down to business after a long vacation, which is why I’m trying not to be too hard on myself ;)

How has your week been? I hope you are celebrating its fantastic-ness right along with me today. Here’s to an awesome Friday and a fabulous weekend!

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