Lisa Barnett | Start Of A New School Year

The following is a guest blog post by Lisa Barnett, a fellow music therapist and songwriter in Michigan. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your wonderful resources with us!

I am so excited to write this blog post for all of you.

The reason why is that after much uncertainty, I am actually returning to work as a contracted music therapist in the Berkley schools, which is one of the suburbs in metro Detroit. I have worked as a music therapist in the public schools primarily with children on the autism spectrum for over thirty years. I spent eighteen of them in an intermediate school district, another six in a local district and the last eight years in a local district not as an employee but a contracted service provider.

Last fall I was informed that I would have to go through a bidding process to keep my position, which meant that other agencies and individuals could submit bids and I was very fearful that I would lose my position to a company or individual that would come in with a lower monetary offer.

As it turns out, the school district did receive a lower bid, but many parents and one specific administrator went to bat for me and I will be returning this fall to provide music therapy services to children from preschool to high school.

I have many people to thank for helping me get through a very challenging time. The uncertainty was very stressful, and I did not know that I would be returning to work until the last week of school. Working under circumstances like that can really take its toll on one’s sense of well-being.

I thankfully enrolled in Ami Kunimara’s course called Resilience Over Burnout. While I am just completing the modules now, I am filled with gratitude for belonging to that special group of music therapists who met once a month with Ami to discuss a variety of topics related to burnout and stress.

Another resource that I found to be so helpful is Rachel Rambach’s Facebook page, Music Therapy Connections. Rachel and her team have such a commitment to sharing different applications of music therapy. Her willingness to share ideas via blog posts and her entire collection of songs here at Listen & Learn Music really kept me going during a time where I wondered if I seriously was at the end of a long career.

I am filled with gratitude!

With that said, I am so excited to share a song with you that you may be able to use right away as the new school year gets started.

“Start Of A New School Year” was written in 2012 as a welcoming song for students returning to school. I wanted to convey to them how excited I was to see them, and the lyrics contain messages about what might take place in music therapy.

Here is a sample of the lyrics:

I’m so excited, it’s the start of a new school year
I’m so excited, wanna get to know you
I’m so excited, it’s the start of a new school year
Oh won’t you listen to the things we will do

Each year since 2012, I have created new binders for each of my classes. On the first day of school I take photos of the students, and I insert the photos on pages that contain the lyrics.

We engage in the “photo shoot” over the first few days of school and the second week I “unveil” the new book of the year. I always create a cover with a new picture of the school where the classes are held, and because I travel to several schools, I have many collections of these books.

Here are some examples of what you might do with the lyrics.

I’m so excited, it’s the start of a new school year!

(Take a photo of the entire class with their hands up in the air. I have also had some amazing photos of children jumping and have caught them with their feet off the ground!)

I’m so excited, wanna get to know you

(Have two students shake hands with one another)

Oh won’t you listen to the things we will do

(Have a group of students touch one ear as if they are listening intently)

We will play some drums

(Take photos of your students playing drums.)

And we’ll sing a song

(Take a photo of a student singing with a microphone.)

We’ll try out lots of things

(Take a photo of children playing multiple instruments.)

It won’t take us long

(Take a photo of the classroom clock.)

Use your imagination; there are many creative ways to use all of the lyrics.

I am so grateful for the fact that I will still be working as a music therapist in a school district that I love with children and families who value the true essence of music therapy.

I hope you can find a use for this song in your work! It can be purchased for just $1 on Bandcamp right here.

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