Friday Fave: Being Elmo

Being Elmo - A Puppeteer's Journey

Earlier this month, my dad told me to check out a documentary on Netflix called Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. I found his suggestion to be a bit random, but he insisted that it was quite entertaining and I would enjoy it.

So I finally watched it, and he was right — I enjoyed the documentary so much that I just had to tell you all about it, too :) It doesn’t relate specifically to music or music therapy, but it does send the same message I share with my students who have big dreams: follow your passion, work hard, and someday you’ll make them a reality.

Kevin Clash is the puppeteer who has played Elmo on Sesame Street since the early 1990s. The documentary tells us the story of his life, beginning with his early child when he first started putting on puppet shows for the children his mom babysat.

Not only did Kevin Clash do anything and everything he could to improve his skills as a puppeteer, but he went out of his comfort zone to make connections with people in the industry. That is what led him to Jim Henson, and how he started his career on Sesame Street.

I don’t mean to be so cheesy, but I really did feel incredibly inspired after watching this. We could all use a little extra inspiration from time to time…I hope you’ll take my (and my dad’s) advice to watch it, too.

March 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:

Songbird Serenade

Some exciting news from Emily Sevcik of Songbird Serenade: “This past month I have been participating in Kat Fulton’s Online Zennn course so I am excited to launch an entirely new look soon. I have also thought long and hard, and I have decided to absorb Songbird Serenade under my private practice name of Milestone Music Therapy. These changes should hopefully take place in the next couple weeks.”

A Perfect Lullaby

A Perfect Lullaby is a CD that helps moms and dads sing to their babies. Research shows that singing to infants has many benefits for babies AND parents. Make sure to visit the website for educational resources including podcasts and articles, and to hear the music. A Perfect Lullaby CDs will be for sale at the Midwestern Region of AMTA conference in Iowa city on April 13 and 14.

Mundana Music Therapy

Kimberly Thompson and Megan Resig are the fabulous music therapists who run this private practice in Portland, OR and manage the popular blog by the same name. Check out their Wellness Wednesday column, join them on Facebook, and follow Kimberly and Megan on Twitter.

Music with Miss Leslie

Have you ever thought about teaching the music of the American cowboy to your students?  How the West Was Sung: The Story of the American Cowboy and His Songs ( presents this heritage music in its historical context, using songs, text, and black-line graphics to trace the journey of cowboys from the rancheros of Mexico, through the cattle drives, to the cowboys of the silver screen, and the life of the modern cowboy.  This unit is full of ideas for teaching, song sheets, and online resources so that you can tailor it to your students’ needs.  Great for music teachers, elementary classroom teachers, and homeschool parents.

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.

OnlinePianist has added a new feature to the player. From now on, every new song on the site will include beginner & intermediate version for it. The user is now able to move between the version from within the player based on his progress. Visit OnlinePianist for fun virtual piano lessons!

Theta Music Trainer has developed some more new features for music teachers this month. Teachers can now add multiple student accounts just by pasting a list of student email addresses. Teachers can also now share their subscription plans with other teachers at the same school or studio. And finally, teachers can see at a glance how many accounts from their subscription plan are currently in use.

Music Therapy Tunes

Margie La Bella, a music therapist and educator, manages Music Therapy Tunes and is considering a new format making it easier to blog and foster discussions. She’s also working on a new video called “15 Goodbye songs” to complement the “15 Hello Songs!” Her song “Love Grows” also makes an incredible Graduation song for end of year ceremonies. It is available on Margie’s music page as a free download. If you’re still looking for good winter activities, there are videos called “The Wolf” and “The Polar Bear” song on YouTube.

Make Me Musical

Make Me Musical is a joyful resource site for those of us who nurture children through the arts.  You will discover integrated arts themes, songs, games, developmental movement activity and more!  Come visit and don’t forget to sign up for the resource newsletter.

More With Music

More With Music is a song resource website where parents, teachers, and therapists can find songs to help teach the students in their lives. Amanda Ellis manages More With Music and works as a full-time music therapist in a public school setting with students ages 5-22. Songs posted on More with Music can be purchased online for 99 cents each and song sheets (complete with guitar chords and lyrics), are free by request. Do you need a song to help teach a skill or accomplish a specific goal? Amanda also takes requests and can write songs for specific goals and skills by request. It all starts with an email to

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 herself, sends this update: “I am very excited to be presenting at the upcoming Midwestern regional conference in Iowa City, where I will be co-facilitating an Advocacy CMTE and an Advocacy Plenary session with Judy Simpson, AMTA’s Director of Government Relations. In addition, I will be attending this year’s Arts Advocacy Day in Washington DC (super stoked about this!). Finally, I am excited that, in a few short weeks, I will be finished with my first year of the PhD program.”

Rhythm Ring

Rhythm Ring has some exciting news to share. They’ve got a new logo they’re preparing to release, as well as a black ring. They’re working on a new web presence, too. Rhythm Ring has recently entered into a promotional marketing market where they’ve placed other’s logos on their rings. They have actually approached some music therapists who facilitate corporate team building events to partner with Rhythm Ring. They offer discount wholesale pricing with this. Very cool!

Music Therapy Tween

Check out the Music Therapy Tween and see what Michelle Erfurt, the tween herself, is up to. Also, be sure to take a look at Michelle’s specialty: Boom Totes! These boomwacker bags were a huge hit at the national music therapy conference in November, and are still selling like hotcakes. Order yours today.

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 April!

I Love the Rain

I Love the Rain

Spring not only brings a change in the weather, but it also brings a change in mood. At least, that’s true for me and many of my students — like me, lately they’ve seemed just a little more smiley and excited than usual. Day after day of sunshine and warmth has been amazing!

But I also appreciate a good spring shower, which is what this week’s song is all about. There are already so many great songs I use in music therapy sessions on this topic, but I was inspired by a friend to write this one. Check it out:

A couple of good showers have snuck their way in amongst all this sunshine, and already the trees and flowers are blooming. Just the other day, their beauty caught me by surprise as I drove down my tree-lined street, and at that moment, it felt really good to be alive. Corny, yes? But like I said, spring has that affect on me!

Friday Fave: Night of Music Therapy

Night of Music Therapy

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost six years since I finished my graduate coursework in music therapy at Illinois State University. But lucky me, because I get to go back this weekend and hang out with music therapy students at their student organization’s Night of Music Therapy.

It really does seem like just yesterday that I was taking my first music therapy class and realizing I had found the perfect profession. Two years of classes and practicum experience later, I went off to St. Louis to begin my internship; nine months after that, I was suddenly in the “real world”.

That is one of the topics I’ll be covering in my presentation — making that scary transition from student/intern to professional. Finding a job, starting a private practice, making your mark on the field, and of course, a little songwriting and recording thrown in for good measure.

Because even though six years have passed since I was in those students’ shoes, I still remember exactly how it feels. I had so many questions about working as a “real world” music therapist, and that list of questions only grew as I got closer and closer to becoming one. Hopefully I can answer some of theirs tomorrow.

And the music therapy fun doesn’t stop there, because on Sunday I’m headed to Chicago for a collaborative workshop at the Old Town School of Folk Music. This is officially the last event I’ll organize as the outgoing secretary/programming chair for the Illinois Association for Music Therapy, and hopefully it will be as wonderful as last year’s workshop.

I hope you have a fun and exciting weekend in store, too. Bonus points if it involves music in any way :) Happy Friday!

Student Spotlight: Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”

Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain"

I can pretty much predict the songs that will be the most requested by students in my studio by what is popular on the radio.

Let’s just say that this has been the year of Adele: over the summer it was “Rolling in the Deep”, in the fall it was “Someone Like You”, and the current front-runner is “Set Fire to the Rain”.

Jayla P. knocked this one out on the park in just one take (and only a few weeks of practice). Her voice just gives me chills, like so many of my students. Here’s her lovely version of Adele’s hit.

This song is appropriate for today, since the rain is on its way after several days of beautiful sunshine. In fact, rain has been on the brain this week — you’ll understand when you hear my latest original song on Monday. It is spring, after all!

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